The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer
When we sit, stare, think about what we want to do after we finish our current project, sometimes we think of another project. There are so many books out there it is important to find something that is you. Uniqueness comes from inside, from being who you are, not from being who you are not. Finding a balance between the two is important. It is only in this balance where the true art of the story can come through.
In the last year I’ve read a lot of books that I considered Art, The Road by Cormac McCarthy is one of them. I know this book is..different and a lot of people had trouble with it. I loved it for its uniqueness. It is one of those books that is beautiful because it’s so different. Creating the world of The Road in my head while reading I found myself wondering what I would do with a story in similar environments.
It’s in these types of books I find myself. I know their darkness and am drawn to them like a spider to a fly. I stare at them, waiting for the fly to twitch and then I devour it. My reading has grown darker as I’ve grown older. I think I’m finding what I like more about darker books is that unique understanding the writer has with the subject. With Anne Rice and her creations it came to be an intimate look at her love of her husband and family. With Stephen King it is a darkness that hides, something we all keep but he is able to let it run free with a skill I feel is unmatched in the horror genre.
Those of you who have read the short stories I’ve linked from my Live Journal blog know that some of them are darker than what I show on The Bleeding Ink Well. Having these two things separate has allowed me to write a things that are different. I think keeping them on two different blogs has allowed me something I wanted, “a unique creative freedom.”
With having these different blogs the usual question comes up, “How do you do it all?” There is only the answer that the Keymaker from The Matrix Reloaded gave, “We do only what we’re meant to do. ” For me I do it because I feel I must. There are things I feel must be done, having different ways of expressing myself on different blogs is one way I do it. It is my uniqueness, my individuality. IT is what defines that which is me. Maybe that’s a philosophical answer, but sometimes answers like that are the only ones we can come up with.
I write in many genres, limiting yourself to one genre, at least for me has led to stale writing. I believe that writers should explore every genre. Create something different, even if it’s a short story, those little short stories add up to a lot of writing practice. Sure putting everything down on the page seems daunting, frustrating and at times may feel like the devil is pushing you to work the fires in hell, but to use a quote from Batman Begins, “You’re not the devil. You’re practice.”
It may feel like you’re to your work a slave at times. But there are other times, times that things click so well that you will feel like you’ve been blessed with your gift. The more you write the more it feels like that. When I write I feel more like me than at any other time. It makes me whole, the way meditating does.
Finding your Individuality
This can mean a couple things.
1. That you write/create something that only you have had experience with. Which is one of those things that doesn’t happen often. Life moments or things that have happened in your life are unique to only you. I’m not saying write an autobiography, those are for politicians, actors and people who already have a name, unless you have a very unique viewpoint. I am saying pull from your life things that have happened to you. That is what is meant by, “Write what you know”
2. That you write/create something that either hasn’t been done–which is next to impossible–or you do something that hasn’t been done enough. There are a few ways to view this one. Almost every story has been done before in one way or another. Let’s look at one of my favorite movies, Inception. It is a wonderfully made movies with an amazing cast, score and special effects that make you believe everything. But what you may not realize is that the story has been done before. If you have read Dante’s Inferno and his trip into hell you have read Inception. Each layer of burying the “Idea” is another level Dante in hell.
To the second part. Something that hasn’t been done enough lately. There are a lot of books about vampires, werewolves, zombies out there. But what about other types of creatures. If you look in any book on mythology you will find other things than the three I listed, they may not be as well known, but in capable hands they can be done amazingly well.
Getting it out
Once you have the idea, there is a series of steps you must take. You will see them before you. Write, edit, revise, revise, send to an agent, possibly revise again, wait for a response. These are steps, but they should be taken seriously. There are things about these steps that you must understand. Write first, always. Then focus on everything else. It is not until you revise a few times that the story is truly done.
A first draft is exactly that, First. The first draft is where you get the story out, every draft after that is where you define it. Look at your story like a sculptor. A sculptor has a piece of clay (your paper) he begins to mold it (write) and at first he begins to take shape. Only after getting the chisel from the drawer that the sculptor truly makes what turns into a piece of art. Think of your draft like that. Chisel it until it is ready to have it fired (sent to an agent) in the kiln. Avoiding revisions will cause more work for you and for your agent at the end.
My writing has many things that make it mine. I have a love of history, mythology and strange fascination with diseases. Some of these are in my stories. In a few stories all of them are incorporated. My love of these three things makes me unique, the stories I’m able to tell using these three makes my writing unique to me.
It took me a while to see these three things in my writing. But when I did, I found something that I’d been looking for. Something that made me unique. It made me different than other writers. I know some parts of history, mythology and diseases better than I know my favorite movies.
We all want to write. It is why we sit at our desk and do this most solemn of things. Being a writer is one of those things that not a lot of people can do, they don’t have the courage, conviction or unique viewpoint on life to create. As writers only we can make that.