Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fighting the Hum-Bug

Photo by Nin(j)a .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
I have turned into something of a holiday hater lately.  I think my problem is that I always surf close to the edge of what I can accomplish and/or endure.  So the additional stressors that the holidays bring usually put me over the edge.  I become slightly manic.  Last year I was pulling all-nighters trying to finish my second novel right around Christmas.  I'm not doing that this year.  But, even so, I am feeling a strong pull to write.  And, so far, I am having little time to devote to writing.  This makes me feel a bit "Scroogey".

Some good things are happening, though.  I am getting the flashes of inspiration that I rely on to fuel my writing.  And the scenes that are taking time to reach in the manuscript (due to delays in my writing progress) are benefiting from the extra time "in the oven".  They are going to be more vividly realized once I finally get to write them.

I've also been contemplating what I will write after Hemlock Book III.  My latest thinking is this:  while Book III is going to be a strong conclusion to Hemlock's story, it may not be the end of it.  But I will probably write something different after Book III.  Right now I am considering a novel based in a fantasy world called Zhune that I conceived many years ago.  I need to sit down and think about how it would fit into novel form, but the good news is that the "imagineering" is already done for this story.  So I would be able to sit down and just start writing.  That would be a nice benefit to that project.  I also have another novel idea on the back burner.  This one is more of an urban fantasy, and concerns the role of fantasy in our modern lives.

I hope you are feeling more festive than I am.  I did catch an old stop motion animated Rudolph TV show last night.  It brought me back to my childhood years, and I think it helped me "reconnect" with Christmas just a little.  There is hope for me yet!  I wish you all the best over the holidays, and in the new year!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Unexpected Inspiration

Photo by h.koppdelaney .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.
I just finished reading a great fantasy book.  I won't name the book because it really doesn't matter, and I'm not interested in turning this post into a book review.  Like many good books I read, this one made me take stock of my own writing and think about ways I can improve.  This book started from a place that I typically hold in disdain: it didn't bother explaining much about setting or world, instead relying on the collected conventions and archetypes of the established fantasy worlds that have come before it.  But, man, was it well written within these limitations!  Sure, the book could be branded as an official genre novel for a popular fantasy role playing game.  But, dangit, it was a fun read!  It's a book I never could have written: what with my penchant for odd locales, a touch of weirdness, and heaps of earnest drama.  But this book is nothing less than another author fully realizing their creative vision within their own parameters.  It was an excellent read!

I once read that any good book carries the essence of its author between and among the words of the story.  Each book is an individually crafted set of words that should collectively invoke the spirit of the author.  This book I just read succeeded in doing that.  For instance, one thing I now know about this author is they would make an unparalleled fantasy game master (as a side note I am fortunate enough to have another one of these as a close friend!).  This is also a person who understands emotion and has a sensitivity to people.  His characters were warmly and lovingly rendered.

I think this book will influence my forthcoming novel (Hemlock Book III).  I really admired the characterization and set piece battles in this book.  I typically don't drag out my battle sequences for an entire chapter like this author did.  But his account of a climactic battle didn't descend in miscellany or get boring--rather, it was like a small play unto itself with well defined acts and a satisfying climax.

Sometimes I get tired of reading fantasy because it permeates so much of my life between writing, gaming and media consumption.  But this book has reaffirmed the importance of a genre writer keeping up with the works in their genre.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!  I'm not sure if I'll blog again before the New Year; but, if not, please have a safe and happy New Year celebration as well!  I'll be busy writing over the holidays unless I get ensnared by something unexpected.