Monday, January 27, 2014

The Definition And Inspiration

These days, writing is on my mind a lot. Maybe it's because I decided this year would be the one where I actually finish writing a book. Maybe it's because I've actually started writing and working toward that goal.

Whatever the reason, I like it.

I spent the evening yesterday--and well into this morning--visiting Jenna, and one of the topics that came up was about the books that helped us define our writing style. Not just the genres we write, but the overall voice and flow of our stories.

For Jenna, JK Rowling's Harry Potter and Suzanne Collins' Gregor the Overlander series were integral to the development of her style. She still holds a great love for those series, and if you asked her would happily gush over them even now, despite having not read them for a while.

In direct contrast, I can no longer say that I love the stories that define my voice.

As a child, I hated reading. I got bored easily. Now, I can say that I was never given a chance to choose stories for myself, to decide what I found interesting. Books were thrust at me and I was to accept them one way or another. So I simply didn't read.

Until my mother began reading Elfquest to me every night before bed. Age nine and I fell in love with this series of graphic novels; the world building, the art, the characters, everything about it.

I can definitively say that Elfquest made me want to write. It made me want to read.

But I can't say it helped me pin down my style. It simply inspired me to find it.

Ultimately, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series is what defined my style. I still see the evidence in everything I write. I won't go in-depth on why I've fallen out of love with that series. The list is long and somewhat depressing. But I accept that I will always owe something to LKH, though. If she hadn't written those books, it would've been several more years before I found my own style. (I wish I could think of a word that fit better than "style" because I've used it so many times in this post, it's losing all meaning for me.)

My style is not your style, and that's a good thing. No one should mimic exactly what another does. It's only through experimenting with different methods that you find one that fits for you. Anyone who reads my work can see the influence of LKH--also of Karen Marie Moning, Patricia Briggs, even of Elfquest. But no one can say it is not distinctly my own voice, my own flair with words, in every piece of my work.

In short, my thoughts are this:

Don't forget who inspired you. Don't forget the roots of your voice. Appreciate it. It may inspire you again.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Rules Of Publishing Are Not Gospel

Due to some unfortunate circumstances involving old URLs that were taken by other people, and spam bloggers, etc, and my own growing frustration, I was forced to completely start over with blogger. Completely new account, new set up, with a proper URL.

So, welcome to the new den, my loves. Gods willing, this will be a good thing rather than a source of great annoyance for me.

We're more than halfway through the first month of the year, and I am no longer sure what kind of year it's going to be. On one hand, I'm horribly behind on my personal goal of reading one book a day, but on the other, I've actually been writing. So, it's kind of a toss up.

I've been trying to get myself caught up on the things I've missed from the publishing world, without letting it influence me too much. I remember when I first started blogging--y'know, five years ago--and I read agent and editor blogs like every post was the Word of God. I still kind of have a wide-eyed enthusiasm when it comes to agents and editors, but I like to think that, for the most part, I've lost the Take Every Word As Gospel mentality that I once had.

Jenn actually made a post recently about Rules and Regs and it really hit a cord with me. There are a lot of things that I know I still wince at in my own writing purely because I've read so many blog posts and tweets from agents and editors that say Don't You Do That Silly. (Don't use dialogue tags, don't use adverbs, etc etc) But, let's be honest, you're going to do those things. I absolutely (adverb!!!11!!) still do those things. It's nothing to panic about.

I know from personal experience that, when you worry too much about the "rules," you freeze up. You obsess about what you're doing wrong and if So And So will reject you based on This Rule or That Rule--Stop. 

Stop that right now. 

The fact of the matter is, it's not that big of a deal. Tell a good story. Tell the story you care about, in a way that will bring others to care about it too. If you're so stressed about not breaking the rules, you won't be doing any writing anyway, so what's the point?

Write first for yourself.

Edit for the readers.

And this isn't just advice for you, dear reader. This is advice for me, too. Because I still freeze up every time I go to put in a dialogue tag. (Said is so boring how can you know what kind of tone they're using goddamnit???)

(I'm okay, I swear.)

This has been a post.