Artistic Linage Part 2
After a few busy days I had the time to continue Suyi Davies’ exercise on tracing your artistic linage.
2) Catalysts: What stories (or aspects of stories/storytelling) have you since actively enjoyed, and have spurred in you the desire to write yours? If you have, over time, become drawn to specific styles/kinds of stories, try to articulate why in writing. Are there any specific aspects of subject or craft or the reading experience, etc that appeal to you? Describe that. Look at your Forebears and see if you can draw a line between what you like now and the stories you were raised on. If you have plans to become a writer, ask yourself: What would I want to write, and why? Of all the stories I’ve consumed, whose style would I follow, and why?
This is something much harder for me to pin down because I read almost indiscriminately. I will read cereal boxes if desperate enough.
Seriously, there is no one kind of story that I like. I read across genres and everything I read I like for different reasons. Sometimes something is so beautifully written I say, “I wish I could write like that” or a story is so unlike anything else that I have come across I wish I had come up with those ideas (looking at you, Dungeon Crawler Carl).
I am currently reading an advance copy of Warrior of the Wind. I fell in love with Son of the Storm so I have been impatiently waiting for this book. I recently read 6 of the books in the Curvy Girls Club YA romance series. These two book series are nothing alike. The only thing they have in common is characters you become invested in. Actually, now that I think about it, there is also a deal of diversity in both. For me that diversity is important because I don’t want characters that are carbon copies of each other. I hate reading romance books where the perfect girl gets the perfect guy. So many writers do this. I mean, I get it. The point of romance books is to live vicariously through the characters but it’s really cliché that the beautiful girl everyone wants gets the handsome guy everyone wants making the perfect couple. People are flawed and far from perfect.
There is something about every book I pick to read that I like.
- I love world building but a story doesn’t have to have it. It’s the difference between Neil Gaiman and Chuck Palahniuk.
- I love books that don’t take themselves seriously (Fan Fiction by Brent Spiner) as much as books that do (Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro).
- I love books that are full of pop culture references like Dungeon Crawler Carl as well as books about historical atrocities like The Farming of Bones
- I love books that are fun to read (Starter Villain by John Scalzi) and ones that make you think (Rosewater by Tade Thompson).
- I love books that are filled with mythology from other cultures (Black Leopard, Red Wolf) as well as obviously (and sometimes painfully) “white” books (The Tempest)
I know there are people that look for very specific things in books, and read only one or two genres because those things are there. I am not that person. I am the opposite of that person. Every book has something to offer. My great-grandmother was the only person in my family who would give me books as gifts and she kept me supplied in the likes of Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, and Ursula K Le Guinn. I appreciate these books as an adult in ways I couldn’t as a kid. While I thought The Left Hand of Darkness was a cool sci-fi thing as a kid and I understood it at the most superficial level, I now understand there was so much more going on.
I want to write stories people want to read that have interesting and complicated characters. That sounds simplistic and maybe not thought through in any way. I did my undergrad degree in creative writing and played around with different styles. Part of what we did was imitate others for specific assignments. We looked at different ways stories can be written. The short story Kill Marguerite by Megan Milks comes to mind and how it was written like a video game character cycling through lives. I took the opportunity to play with the advice of Chuck Palahniuk in Consider This. I know I haven’t found my voice or style or what I want to write or how I want to write it.