Back Work

1 06 2011

#SampleSunday is an interesting thing.  For those of you who do not know what it is, it’s a Twitter event, whereby writers who are working on their own a lot of the time, share snippets of their writing with other writers.    Readers too, and it is an excellent way to get word out about your writing.  I heard about it before I published Changeling, and used it to preview the opening chapters before launch.  I’ve also used it to show character studies and some such elements of How I Write.

But I don’t have a huge folder of back work to use for fodder, for #SampleSunday.  I don’t have massive amounts of written work hanging around!  And I’m writing the new stuff,and that can’t go out every week.

However, I find #SampleSunday a useful discipline.  It concentrates me on my readers, once a week.  It makes me think of you, and wonder what snippet I can offer you?

And that’s very useful.  And nice.  Thinking of readers reading my work, makes me happy.  Not quite as happy as actually writing does, but it’s a nice side dish.

So, in the spirit of finding snippets, and odds and bobs, and knowing how popular my How I Write posts are… I have dug out the massive folders from the very back of the cupboard.  Typed.  Typed on a manual typewriter.  Filled with bits, bobs, half started, half finished, almost begun, never quite got there, bits of words.

Very little of it is horror.  Much of it is fantasy, with a little bit of science fiction.  Some of it is poetry.  There are three very fine short stories.  Complete.  Almost.  Looks like the odd page is missing in the folder.  Oops. Type written.  No back up disc.  We’ll see.

I will offer this folder to you, over the next few weeks.  Some of it is dire.  Some of it is mediocre.  Some of it is okay.  A couple of bits are great.  There are hints of greatness, just every now and then, gleaming under the leaves.

Quite a lot of it is self-indulgent.  It’s the stuff I wrote on my way to making myself a writer.  The raw ideas that were JUST WONDERFUL the night I had them, and total dross two weeks later when I read them back.  It was before I’d learned to sweat.  To toil.  To murder my innocents.  Before the voice of the editor became strong enough to force me to make the idea work better.  Before the word smith had learned to take out here, put in there.  Jump time frames, move about perspective, change the viewpoint.

They are also, mostly, before I found my voice.  I didn’t want to be a horror writer.  Science Fiction is my great love.  Was my great love.  Will always be my great love.  Fantasy too.  Pure fantasy, less so, but Science Fantasy, Fantasy Lite, I have always adored.  I wanted to write the stuff I loved reading best.

But I can’t write Science Fiction.  I’m bereft of a single idea that would come under science fiction.   If I try and write sf, I’m crap of such epic proportions, I knew it was crap the day I wrote it.

I was slightly better at fantasy.  Indeed, my fist published writing, on winning competitions, was fantasy.  They won as the writing itself was sound.  Unfortunately, the stories were generic.  In fact, when I won my first short story competition, and it was published in a fantasy gaming magazine wiht the runner up.  The editor of the magazine told me that the runner up story was a better story, but mine was better writing.  I’d won because I was a better word smith.

I was extremely annoyed by this at the time.  I WAS THE BEST WRITER THE WORLD HAD EVER SEEN.   Well, nearly.  I knew I still had stuff to learn, but really, if you didn’t think you were good, you’d never keep going.

Double edged sword.

Now, looking back at the folders, I not only agree with the editor, I understand it in a profound way.  My fantasy writing was generic as it was not my voice.  It was what I wanted to write, not what was truly in me. I liked reading horror, don’t get me wrong.  But I guess I wanted to live in a nicer world.  I wanted space ships and dragons and harpers and sidhe and magical islands and fairy stories that were soft around the edges.   But it was not to be.

My fairy stories have hard edges.  My fairy stories are the ones were blood and death are up front.  Where Snow White’s stepmother was invited to the wedding and had red hot iron boots soldered to her feet and she danced in agony until she died in front of the wedding guests, for her wickedness.  My fairy stories are ones were the heroine suffers the beating with real blood and cuts, not a gentle tongue lashing as she clean out the cinders.

It wasn’t until I went with my true voice, that I found my power.  And most of that power is in Changeling.  Not much else was written, apart from the Trilogy, for the past 15 years or so.

So there is not much back work to show you, that makes sense of who I am as a writer now.  But what is interesting, is that the kernel is there, in everything I wrote.  Sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden.  The themes and sub tests of isolation and pain and being changed… all there.  So I’m going to present it to you over the next few weeks, in #SampleSunday.

Even the really bad stuff.  🙂  After all, it’s about the journey.  My journey as a writer.  Some of you will enjoy seeing the foot steps.

Just Remember!  I really did get better.  Much better.  Honest.  🙂

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