I realised today, whilst out in the country, that I have complete creative freedom. I don’t have to be tied to any particular kind of novel — as long as it’s fairly “literary” (I’m not good at genre fiction, and publishers like Legend wouldn’t be interested, anyway.) I can play with ideas, with form, with character and really let myself go, if I wish. Just the kind of thing that plays to my strengths. I don’t necessarily have to write another Carl Grantham novel (potentially a waste of time if Children doesn’t sell) but I can nevertheless build on what Children has — from my point of view, as the author — achieved.
Such moments of uncertainty, such enforced period of waiting, are an opportunity to explore new avenues and, quite possibly, new ways of working. I don’t know what they are, yet, and I’m determined not to think about it too rigorously. I’ll just let it happen and have fun finding out.
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
© 2008 Gary William Murning
A short, interesting video that I’m sure some of my regular readers will find very helpful. Character is always a fundamental starting point for me and here Joyce Carol Oates shares her very similar approach…
Today I finally got round to admitting to myself that the outline for The Yesterday Tree isn’t firing me up as much as I would have hoped. I’ve tiptoed up to the edge of this a number of times over the past few weeks, but today — whilst it was developing quite nicely, with many elements that I like — I had to bite the bullet and accept that it just isn’t what I want to write. The truth is, it’s becoming rather too genre for my liking (there’s nothing wrong with genre fiction per se — I actually really enjoy good genre fiction — but I do find it extremely restricting as a writer.) There are certain themes and ideas I want to explore, and the plot was becoming far more dominant than I would have liked. I can’t see a way of fixing this without it becoming a different novel altogether and so it’s now officially on the backburner. I may return to it, but my past record suggests that I probably won’t.
It also didn’t help that I couldn’t quite see it as a follow-up to Children of the Resolution. I’m fairly sure that should Children be accepted I would face opposition to The Yesterday Tree. It’s just too different, and from a marketing perspective it could have quite possibly been a nonstarter.
It isn’t as depressing as it might sound, however. In fact, it’s a very common situation for me and actually quite liberating. I find ideas need to be thoroughly tested and in order to weed out the good ones a few must inevitably fail. I have something else up my sleeve — a couple of possible projects — but that’s where they’re staying for the moment!
Writing Advice for the Day: Always give a project a chance. Do not abandon a novel simply because you’re having a bad day. But do not be afraid of abandoning it if it continually leaves you feeling half-hearted and uninspired. You must feel passionate about the project. Without that it’s very likely to be a complete waste of time.
© 2008 Gary William Murning