Friday, January 29, 2010

My Thoughts on Elric

For those of you who don't know, Elric is the albino sorcerer who stars in some of Michael Moorcock's writing. Moorcock is essentially one of the giants of early fantasy, like Tolkien.

What struck me the most about his work on Elric, is just how very cliche it all is. Which made me laugh because the only reason it's cliche is because everyone has been copying him for the last 50 years. There's nothing new and original in the Elric works because everyone else stole from it. We write what we know, right?

It was interesting reading and going "yep, that's Arthas" (if you don't know who Arthas is, go play some Warcraft you heathens), or "yep, that's just about every adventure story ever".

What I was not really prepared for was the forerunner of Emo. I was reading along and Elric broke down into one of his (I found out) rather recurring emotional fits. I was not prepared for a dark, evil, his-blood-is-so-ancient-you-like-couldn't-even-understand sorcerer to break down and cry. I remember actually saying outloud to the cat (because no one else is around and hey, I don't like admitting I talk to myself--which I do) that I couldn't believe that Elric was so freaking emo.

How could this happen to me? I made my mistakes.... ok I'll stop now.

But still, it's been fun reading one of the forerunners of the fantasy genre, and despite the fact the work didn't age the best, it's still an interesting read. If nothing else for the sheer perspective on the evolution of fantasy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Thoughts About Critiques

I know earlier I said critiques are necessary, and they're helpful. That's all true. But it doesn't change the fact that I get knots in my stomach and try to slink away when I see a critique in my inbox. I get nervous. I get scared. And I don't want to read it because the world is nicer when I don't know what's wrong with my writing.

Funny thing, though, I usually feel glad I read them after I read them. Then why am I so afraid?

I think it's in part because I'm afraid someone is going to prove that my writing isn't good. And if my writing isn't good, then am I good, what does it say about my worth as a person? (Like I said earlier, nothing, but that doesn't mean I can take my own advice). Also, every time I re-write it's like I admitted something wasn't good enough (it wasn't brain, grow up already). I worry I'm losing something by turning it into something else. I'm frustrated that I wasn't good enough just on my own.

Some day I'll get over it. Until then I'll just keep slinking away from my inbox until I gather up the courage, read the critiques, and be glad that I did.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Faith in Writing

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the incorporation of faith in writing. I've read several stories from various faith perspectives--some of them were more historical, others more personal. I think it's interesting how our world view can influence our writing. I wouldn't doubt that some (if not most) authors frame characters around their perspectives of right and wrong, even if no particular mention of faith comes up.

As a follower of Christ, I sometimes wonder what place my faith has in my writing. I write largely science fiction and fantasy (mostly fantasy), and it just doesn't often times seem right to shove religion in. I have a deep fear of twisting my faith and turning it into something it isn't. I don't want to vet what I believe to make it fit into the story. I know allegory can be done well, I've seen it done well. I just don't really feel that it's my place right now. I've read The Chronicles of Narnia, and C.S. Lewis I am not. And I really don't want to feel like I'm sucker punching someone with a Bible. If I think that it feels fake, the people reading my stuff certainly will too.

I am a story teller that delights in fiction--the make believe, the unbelieveable, the untrue. I make up false worlds/events in interesting ways. Incorporating what I feel is truth into the made up just often seems strange. I approach fiction in general with the idea that what I am reading is under no circumstances real. I can file it all away in my brain as make believe. So when I start throwing my faith in there, I get uncomfortable. I also don't like feeling preached at when I'm reading fiction, and I have to imagine others feel the same way. If I'm groaning and going "don't give me another goody two shoes message about how doing the right thing is always best" then others are as well. And if I'm just writing a story for fun, it feels irreverent to throw my faith in with it. Like I'm making fun of God. Not really sure he'd be cool with that.

If and when incorporating large parts of my personal beliefs into my writing feels right, I'll do it. But until then, I'll just keep writing stories I find entertaining.