What is missing from the writing? Something isn’t right. I feel like I’ve climbed over plenty of walls to get to this place–writing everyday, spending time with other writers, creating a writing space, even feeling like a writer (whatever that means exactly). But I still feel something isn’t right, and I don’t mean publication (though that would be nice–very nice, in fact).
But does any writer ever believe she’s figured it all out? What happens to the writing then?
Well, if I pay attention to the writers I love, the stories I want to read, the movies I want to see, and the art I hang on my walls, I have to acknowledge what they all have in common–magic. Oh, fantasy and fairy tales, myths and legends…I’ve loved these all my life, so why aren’t they in my writing?
I don’t like gritty realism, and I don’t think this means I want to hide from reality. Seen Pan’s Labyrinth? Now there’s a brutal, real movie that is magical. Loved that movie though it broke my heart. Too people are snobs about fantasy, or they just think it doesn’t apply to them or whatever…I don’t really know what they think, but they certainly think writing something serious like The Gathering is more literary, more worthwhile, than writing about falling stars or wicked witches. I don’t mean to suggest that The Gathering isn’t great or worthy of its prize. Since I haven’t read it, I don’t know. But why are some stories deemed inherently better because they are “realistic”? A good story is a good story–shouldn’t matter whether people fly on brooms or not.
If a book speaks to someone out there, then its a amazing and worthwhile thing.
Anyway, this may be a long justification for writing what I want. I think I’ve often tried to make my writing fit a mold I don’t really want it to be in–and I’m old enough to not do that anymore. But complaining about this is a bit like making excuses for not doing what is expected–like cleaning house or taking your kid to play groups. Or something like that. Decide on your path and take it.
At least I can say this about myself–it takes me forever to make a decision, but when I do, I don’t look back. If only… is just a parlor game as far as I’m concerned. Trust your judgment and other people’s judgments as well. Make the art you want. Write the story you want. Why is this so hard for so many of us?
For a magical and well-told story, read Uncle Vernon’s Lie by Patrick Samphire. It’s my current love.