My very talented fellow sci-fi writer J.W. Alden reminded me of something important with his latest post: that blogging about your honest interests as they pertain to writing, however wild they may be, is a very good thing. Because it comes from a real and immediate place within you, and the passion translates. And blogging is nothing if it’s not about creating a sense of community where people can relate and join forces.
This really hit home with me, because I’ve been pondering blogging about my… let’s say ‘uncommon’ interests for a while now, but I was frankly too chicken to try. I was worried I might come across as a weirdo, lose the interest of the writerly readership that might be looking for writing tips & posts about the turmoils of the fiction writing craft and life.
But know what? J.W. is right. ‘People: Uncut’ are way better than just ‘Plain Writing 101’. So I’m gonna flip off my queasiness and just do this bit by bit every week (in addition to blogging about writing & such), and maybe I’ll find out more about all of your interests and how you bring them into your writing, and that would be totally awesome! So here goes.
*takes deep breath and eases her foot slowly into the water*
How I Got To Write Science-Fiction
I didn’t suddenly wake up one day and decided “Hey, let’s squeeze this brain lemon real hard and squirt out a sci-fi novel!” Nope. It was a long and windy road of discovery, filled with discomfort, angst and surprising realizations, both about myself and my interest in writing. It pretty much twisted me like a pretzel and forced me to change a lot about my life and my priorities. To say it wasn’t easy is an understatement. It was freaking skull-crushing hard! *look at my scars!*
But I got through it, and then I came here, and then I got here, and here I am! I know exactly what I want to do and how to do it, and I’ve never been happier in my entire life!
So how did this happen?
Well, it started rather inconspicuously. I wanted to share a story. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted the story to be about, and the core story-problem hasn’t changed until today. But all the rest around it? Ha. Nothing like what I initially imagined.
First time I attempted to write this novel I went for “normal” realistic fiction, happening in the here and now, in our world. I went into the novel for about 20K, but then it got uncomfortable. I couldn’t push it further, and I had no idea what was wrong with it. It felt like a pair of shoes that was two sizes too small. And made of stone. And I felt like a dumb camel trying to wear them.
I had not ventured into the wide and rich online writers world at that time, so I had no clue there were countless other people dealing with similar problems with their stories. Thus, I was also not aware of any solutions. To me the story was a dead fish, so I dropped it.
Time passed, and the monster inside of me started chewing at my synapses again. This time I investigated my options and came upon Holly Lisle’s amazing writing advice blog. Needless to say this radically changed my perspective! I now had all these awesome, incredibly logical tools and techniques to figure out how to make my story work. And, Holly being a fantasy writer, the spark of possibility for my story to tread into Genre Land was bright and fresh.
So I started again.
Three years and four additional false starts later I’m finally where I want to be. My story feels damn right! And the difference from where I started? It’s grown to be adult science-fiction, made out of all my deepest passions, darkest nightmares and strangest interests, and it couldn’t have happened any other way. Even though it’s neither easy nor fast to write, I’m more in love with it than ever, and I’m patiently building it up bit by bit until it’s ready. And every day I wake up with a tingle in my hands and a grin on my face, and can’t wait to get writing.
I don’t come from a background of science-fiction fandom. In fact, my mental database of science-fiction novels is still painfully and shamefully limited. I’m working on it. I’m also not a scientist, which has its own pros and cons, but there’s not much I can do about that. However, my decade-long and practically obsessive interest in theoretical physics, cosmology, neuro-psychology and psychiatry come quite in handy in writing the kind of fiction I want to read. It’s these interests that were missing from my initial equation, and they are now represented in full. That and, uhm, insects, parasites, invertebrates and viruses. Yeah… But, you know, bringing all this into my writing made all the difference to me!
Did it take me longer to realize what I’m “meant” to write than it took most other people? Probably. Do I care? Not one puny bit.
Does it matter that I’m not an expert in science-fiction trivia and haven’t read all of the big names yet? It doesn’t mean a thing to my desire to write.
But there’s sooo much to learn, so much that needs to be done… Is that cold sweat dripping down my temple? You betcha. Do I still want to do this? Oh hell yeah! Where do I sign?
The only thing I care about is writing the story that lives inside of me, in such a way that it can feed off all my passions and everything I know, and come to life on the page as well—and maybe others might even like it! How cool would that be! I had to first understand how prose works (before, I only wrote and published poetry and philosophical essays) and I started on what I now know is a life-long journey of learning the craft. But I love every minute of the way, love every word that goes into my story and every word I cut out, and I can’t imagine doing anything else—or writing in any other genre.
The decision to pick science-fiction was not one based on my familiarity with the genre, and it most certainly wasn’t related to what was “hot” (as I was completely oblivious of literary trends in the western society at that time). It was the organic result of several difficult attempts to write a story I loved deeply, and it has grown to be the most important and most beautiful choice of my writerly path so far. There’s nothing I’d like to change about how I got here.
So what about you? How did you guys come to your genre and how do you bring your interests to it? I’d love to know!