Thursday, October 19, 2006

All We Really Do is Steal.

Or: A Writer on the Business of Writing. The Eccentric Buggers essay.

I feel like I can write on this subject with a little authority. I spend a many hours each week putting words on paper, sometimes even in an advanced fashion that qualifies as authorship. And I dedicated a semester to writing about the sticky, awkward, and revealing relationship bewteen the writer and the writing. We put ourselves in our stories, and our stories come into us. We are less ourselves for every character we invent, whose mannerisms and thought patterns we mimic --and then, often unconsciously, adopt.

And at the same time, we are more wholly ourselves for the creation. No one imagines a plot or person in a vacuum: there is always some shared desire, some caveat or tic or memory the author shares with the authored. That bond --and the self that originated it-- are reinforced with every word. It's why I would argue that even the infamous casulaties of the craft --Hemingway, Plath, Woolf, Faulkner-- were healthy in their way. Their writing utilized their flaws, was the healthiest expression available to them, and the vehicle of the only wholeness they achieved.

However tortured the act, writing is fundamentally an act of hope, of reaching out. You don't put words on paper if you don't think anyone will ever read them. You don't put words on paper if you don't believe that you can make your reader care.

Anyway: there isn't much creation to authorship. Anyone who thinks there is should read the following: The Faery Queen, The Lord of the Rings Cycle, and The Eye of the World. Do it in that order, too. Georgette Heyer, then Connie Brockway or Julia Quinn. War of the Worlds, Martian Chronicles, Red Mars. Gibbon and any work of modern history. The Iliad --just the Iliad. (Here you see my Western bias: but I assume it's the same in other cultures)

Ideas are passed from hand to hand, writer to writer. We're all in secret fellowship with one another, squirreling away little bits of others' accumulated genius to add to our own. If any profession in this world has a Hive Mind, it must be writers. Ill-disciplined, eccentric Buggers.

Read my writing and you're reading Tamora Pierce, Patricia A. McKillip, Kim Stanley Robinson, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robin McKinley, Kinuko Y. Craft, Charles de Lint, Andrew Lang, Jared Diamond, and so many others, a list that includes the Social Science Fiction of the 1950's, modern "Feminist" fantasy, Urban fantasy, fairytales of all eras, Shakespeare, and modern Anthropological theory.

More on this later, WOW raid. x.x



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