Some interesting things have happened in the last two weeks. Well, truthfully, there’s been a lot happening in the last few weeks. Last Sunday, I met my brother for the first time ever, and saw one of my sisters for the first time in about 30 years.
But also, that little piece I wrote for a contest and read to my new Writers’ Group exploded into a book. And, I have realized my identity as a writer, and it’s one I’m going to stick to and own and be proud of.
I don’t write like most other people do. It doesn’t fit into the molds of straight-forward genres, and my plots are also not so very mainstream. And while this makes it really hard to find my niche and readership, I quite like it, and am not going to sink into any pit of despair over it.
I wrote that contest piece while driving along some unexpected hills south of where I live, in the flats of Illinois south of Chicago, on the way to someplace happy. Think it was the drums of the pow wow that did it. Those are amazing, and the strength in the voices that sang. My son needed to stop at the library on the way home, and while he was gone, I speed wrote it in the car on the back of the pow wow itinerary. I wrote it all at home in an hour, and in the coming days I kept ordering myself not to delve any further. Leave it for what it is. Do NOT think about its past. DON’T worry about its future.
You can imagine how well this went. Ignore the dragon with his mouth wide open in front of you. He is pissed, but really, don’t worry.
Crap. He bit you, didn’t he?
Ok, fine. Write what happens next. And that’s all.
Simultaneously, something else had been nagging at me, another something of a story possibility. Another picture prompt. There was a blurry person or creature in the corner, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I knew immediately that, to me, it wasn’t a creature, but a woman. A strong, intelligent, independent woman of rank. I knew what her task was- to save someone. I also saw something about her appearance that made her beautiful, though women generally find such a thing as an attack on their identity as a woman (no, nothing to do with boobs! Knock that off!).
Stop it. Write BOOK TWO!
Yea. Not happening. The first piece really sunk in. I could not turn away from her. My brand-new little green notebook is filling up fast! AND! And, I discovered that it has a secret pocket in the back to hold all my little scraps of paper I write on when I can’t use the notebook!
Picture prompt number two: What if I combine these two very different story drafts? My losing piece with my little glimmer of one?
That’s not really possible, and I don’t want to. I want them separate and short.
Then I randomly saw a picture of an airship. A steampunk airship.
I haven’t read anything of that genre, but I’ve been completely in love with the whole look for the last several years.
I shrugged it off. Airships and steampunk goes into sci-fy. That’s not my thing.
Wait, do I really have a set ‘thing’? Why can’t I write something intelligent and sci-fy-y?
What if my MC has an airship?!
And right there, the whole entire story- beginning, middle, end- unfurled like a mainsail set free in a good wind. Those very different story possibilities stitched themselves into one whole, absolute, dark and beautiful book which finally slapped me upside the head and showed me what my writing purpose is.
There was a bit of shock in the silence that followed my reading of that piece. No one said anything, and my heart just dropped. I was and am absolutely in love with it, and proud of it. I’ve been writing RMOS for so long, I wondered if I could write something else, something less emotional (well, not really) and more intricate in plot. And I did! And I lost the contest to something more mainstream and popular, and I’m proud in a different way.
I’ve learned finally what kind of writer I am, the responsibility I feel that I carry. I’ve taken a pretty deep glimpse back over what all my writing has picked at, where my inspiration comes from, what my points are. Art (film, writing, pictures) is necessary for entertainment, for escape. But it’s also a reflection, a way to show people what they maybe just can’t acknowledge in reality. So we soften it with fiction, with fantasy, and hope an impact will be made in any small way. I’m quick to say that I’m female but not a feminist, I’m a vegetarian but I’m not an activist. My favorite thing to decipher is perception. My favorite word is metamorphosis. But I am all these things when I write, and more.
My stories have some difficult social issues: child abuse, murder of a loved one, spousal abuse, the kidnapping of a child, hatred of another’s gender. Things I see in life that haunt me, so I run to my computer and work it out in a story. And then this new book’s central plot. If you ask me what genre I write in, I’ll answer fantasy, but that’s not the whole truth. Perception is a multi-faceted thing.
My writing is different. The more I’ve said that to myself, the more proud I am of it. Of me. I hate the question: Who do you write like? I’ve realized maybe my answer to that, and I don’t feel it’s a bad thing. I’m not trying to copy or mimic her, but maybe we’ve come to the same conclusion, how we feel our talent may best serve others.
If you write, do you know why you do? To entertain, to reflect, to share, to help someone escape for a few hours? I don’t think any one is greater than the other, all are imperative, but it sure helps a lot when you know the answer.