Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Aloha! Greetings from Hawaii! Have a merry jolly holiday and a wonderful new year.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Self-Absorbed Writer

I'm beginning to believe that all writers (or artistic types) must simply accept that they need to be self-absorbed. I don't mean we have to be horridly selfish, unkind, and disingenuous. It doesn't mean we don't care about or are helpful to others. Still, by nature, artists and writers are often stuck in their own little worlds, and it seems that our poor little minds really have to be confined and left alone without the distractions of the real world. There's not a lot of room for anything else.

Bills? What bills? Dinner parties? I ain't got the time. School plays? Honey, can you take the kids and just leave me alone in the dark?

Often I find myself needing, wanting, desperately seeking that alone time and space, not just to be reflective by myself, but to completely involve myself in that creative realm and fictional world, where the meatspace doesn't exist anymore. Only me and my characters and that alternate universe. There are times when I don't want to communicate, don't want to see other people, don't want to have a real conversation. I am, as the cliche goes, "in my own little world" far faraway. And then I catch myself, feeling guilty for neglecting the people I love and not being totally involved in their lives, not being there for them when they're in trouble and reaching out, not appearing caring enough as if, well, I'm in my own little world. That I'm totally self-absorbed.

The flip side is that when I'm caring and involved and trying my best to be a decent, selfless person that I should, my creativity suffers. Often I sit down and try to write and nothing comes out, because my mind would be distracted by whatever else I need to do, whatever responsibilities I have, and whatever real world problems I am facing. Even when I've got the time and space to myself, I'm not there. I don't belong to that alternate universe anymore and my characters don't speak to me.

Because I am now in THIS world -- the real one. The one that has bills and doctor's office and family obligations waiting for me. I find myself not being able to be in two worlds at the same time. I have to choose. Unfortunately, the real world wins every time.

Many others have said to me: "Just sit down and write. It will come to you." Well, it may work for you, but it certainly doesn't work for me. I don't just transcribe. I need to be totally immersed and involved. I feel like I need to be that self-absorbed son of a gun to pull it off. My characters need me. It's not just work for me -- it's a whole different way of living, as if there's that line I must cross, the door I must enter to be in that other world, and yet how can I leave when there's this world here needing me?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Magical Realism

I've been thinking on my WIP for the past few years and were struggling with a key plot element in the novel that deals with the supernatural. The problem is, my story is really a drama set in a the real world set against WWII. I kept thinking: Will that work? Will readers find it ridiculous that a real-life drama is mixed with supernatural elements?

Then I read a list of dramatic/literary devices and came across the term "magical realism." I've heard of that, of course. One of my favorite movies, Like Water for Chocolate (which was based on the novel by Laura Esquivel), makes heavy use of magical realism. In fact, this "genre" is popular in Latin-American literature and cinema.

Magical Realism (n): a literary or artistic genre in which magical elements appear in an otherwise realistic setting.

Even though I knew about this, I didn't consciously make the connection as I struggled through my story. Now that I've realized I've been writing a magical realism story, I feel much better. Especially as I realize the wealth of "magical" elements in the cultures about which I'm writing, I feel really good about following through with my artistic instinct. I think it will work beautifully.