Gary, my friend and fellow blogger, recently had the idea to start a blog ring/group for writers and readers of fiction. The name of the group is Idiosyncratica, and you can find links to all the members in my menu.
Although I’m more of a reader than a writer, this has rekindled a long-neglected desire to write fiction and I have to admit, it’s somewhat frightening.
You see, I’ve tried writing fiction and as much as I enjoyed and even felt a need for it, circumstances always seemed to interfere and I was never able to accomplish much. And if I’m completely honest, despite this deep desire, I’ve never had much confidence in my ability to do it well. I’m not sure exactly why; what little I’ve written was never criticized by anyone (not that many have seen it), and I did get an A in a creative writing class I took. Still I fret, doubt myself, make sure I’m “too busy” with other things and make a variety of other excuses for not getting started.
Well, after a long talk with my wonderfully supportive husband, Knower of Odd Trivia and Disciple of Thor, I think I’ve figured it out: I don’t want to know that I suck. If I put myself out there and fall on my face, then what? Will the desire go away? Not likely. Then I’m stuck with a longing to do something I have no talent for. Maybe by ignoring the desire I’m being a coward, taking the easy way out; that’s really not my style.
Style – could that be part of the problem as well?
I’ve been reading the blogs of my fellow, Idiosyncraticans and something kallioppe said at Missing Mojo struck me:
I don’t want all my stories to have special effects. Can’t I just have a woman and a man having an unhappy dialogue in a parked car? I’m no Raymond Carver, but I’m no Gabriel Garcia Marquez either.
When the mood compels me dammit, people will fly. Until then, I want my characters to stay grounded. Is that such a bad thing? I am aware that my strength is probably not in creating everyday scenarios. Good realism writers have my utmost respect, for they are unbelievably captivating with their tense moments painted in stark, beautiful prose; while my efforts read as overwrought and overcomplicated layers within layers.
But of course! Why didn’t I see it before? As much fiction as I read, I’m well aware of the many different genres and approaches to writing fiction. I simultaneously had a revelation and a well duh moment (“well duh” directed at myself and not kallioppe, of course).
For one of my creative writing assignments, I wrote a story in which the ocean and sand on the beach were aware of their surroundings and communicated with each other. Just because I scored well on the assignment doesn’t mean that my strength lies in writing this kind of fiction.
Perhaps realism is my strength. I’ve spent many years observing people and trying to figure out what makes them tick, how they interact in the world and why they do the things they do. I find it fascinating and intriguing. And maybe it hasn’t been a complete waste of time – it could go a long way towards character development, provided my characters are human rather than inanimate objects.
It seems so obvious now, like the trees stepped out of the way so I could see the forest.
I appreciate Gary starting this group, and all the members for their participation. While I’m still scared out of my head, and intimidated by all the surrounding talent, I feel more motivated than I have in a very long time.