Finding My Fictional Way

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.

But why?

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.

Oh no! I’ve lost my Mojo

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.

With this new direction in mind, I think I will try a technique suggested by Damian, author of D. F. Rucci’s Writing.

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.


5 responses to “Finding My Fictional Way

  • kallioppe

    Hello fellow Idiosyncratican,

    I am glad you found something useful in one of my posts. The revelation that I wasn’t a certain type of writer, was something of a ‘DUH’ moment for me as well. For years I’d been trying to emulate a style that wasn’t my own. What a relief to figure out my strength was in something else. In writing classes they are always going on about ‘voice’ but discovering it is SO important. Anyway, here’s to more sharing and good luck with the writing. One of the most crucial pieces of advice anyone gave me (after find your own voice) is don’t be afraid to fall on your face. Yes, terrifying. Yes, at times heartbreaking. But oh so necessary.

  • Lottie

    Hello to you too! And thanks for the encouragement. I actually started working on something new last night, and I feel quite good about it.

    I think you’re right about falling on our faces too. I just had a vision of my son when he was learning to walk. He fell on his face and his butt every single day. But he never gave up and I think he learned something from each fall. He just kept getting up and doing it over and over until he’d mastered it.

    I know the analogy is a bit obvious, but it works. 😀

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the support.

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  • Gary Murning

    I’ve been meaning to reply to this since you put it up.

    I think the really important thing to remember is that we all pretty much start off at the same place. Very few writers wake up one day and discover that they’re Tolstoy or James Joyce (thankfully!) Most writers — well me, since I can’t really speak for anyone else — have to develop their talent, and the only way to do that is to throw caution to the wind and write. I really can’t stress that enough.

    Remind me to try and find the first novel I ever wrote and show you it, sometime! Either that or simply take my word for it; it was utter rubbish! My second novel was also rubbish — but it wasn’t quite as bad as the first! That, for me, was the real breakthrough. I saw an improvement. And with it came the realisation that all I had to do was keep writing.

    Cast those inhibitions inside and go for it, girl!

  • Lottie

    Thanks, Gary. Your support means a lot to me.

    I actually started working on something a few nights ago. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for years and never had the nerve to put in writing. I haven’t even finished two pages, but I feel good about what I’ve written so far.

    Cast those inhibitions inside and go for it, girl!

    I think you’re absolutely right. And I need to remember that, at this point, it’s just for me. I don’t have to be afraid because, unless I decide otherwise, no-one else ever has to see it. Maybe if I keep that in mind, I can really let my hair down and find out what I can do.

    Thanks again for commenting on this and for starting the group. If you were here, I’d give you a great big hug right now! 😀

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