Monday, 27 September 2010

Juggling Styles

As I near the completion of the twelve short stories that will accompany Swan Song into print, a single goal has been in my head throughout the writing process.

Each story should be different.

I've attempted to change tone, pacing, structure, theme and mood with each new idea that I've penned down, desiring that each new tale starts completely fresh, both in style and intent, from the one previous.

So far, it's worked out, I think, but can you have too much of a good thing, no matter how varied?

What if, whilst attempting to showcase the multitude of styles I have at my disposal, I overwhelm my reader? Might it finally appear in conclusion that in order to appeal to everyone, I've thrown in everything, including the kitchen sink?

This dilemma takes me back to my music days.

I once had a phone conversation with an A and R man at Fire Records who attempted to explain to me that a band that sounded like all their favourite bands was a bad thing.

'You have to find your own unique sound...'

He explained.

' can't sound like Madness one song, Nirvana the next and close the demo sounding like Sting. It won't work. It will sound like you are trying too much to be everyone and you will end up sounding like no one.'

'Isn't that a good thing...?'

I cheekily replied.

'...what band in their right mind would try that? That could be the unique sound!'

To this day, I am not sure if I was being serious or not.

His point was well made.

He meant be true to your own style and try not to juggle too many styles or you will appear directionless.

For the established artists that can re-invent themselves with every new work, well I guess that comes later when you have gained the freedom and power to do so. In the beginning, mark your territory.

(Look at me! I'm only one novella down and I'm already talking about being true to my own style! You see how blogs make you pretentious!)

In literature, I think there is a lot more lee way.

In an author's collection of stories, I expect him or her to mix it up. I expect variety of all sorts, be that moving from a first person narrative to a third, and so on. More than anything, I expect a difference in mood and resolution to the stories. Not everything has to end like The Shining right?

I want to surprise my readers with how different each of these stories will be from one to the other, yet throughout, my writing voice will remain the one constant, promising that although the playing field and focus may shift, my control on the narrative will not.

I'm curious to see how it all turns out.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Mood Writing

My wife recently went on holiday (sort of) back to her home country of Minsk, Belarus, leaving me twiddling my thumbs. I thought, great, space and time to do some serious writing.

Nothing got done.

Nothing at all.

And the reason?

I was too lonely to write.

Which inspired me to write this blog tonight; how important is your mood to what you end up producing, if at all?

Cliche; do you need to be happy to write a happy story? Do you need to be sad to write a sad story? Do you need to be angry to write an angry story? Etc....

I found that with my wife gone, even though I suddenly had all this time at my disposal, I lacked the simple drive to get anything done. I generally write my best work when she's sitting on the sofa not two feet from me, surfing the net. We don't talk, not when I am writing, but I know the minute I am finished, she's dying to read it fresh from my fingertips. I guess I never realised how much of a support I find that, it really helps!

I re worked a few ideas, tinkered with titles and juggled the order of my stories that will soon appear in the paperback edition of Swan Song, but nothing new really got created. I was surprised.

Relax Gaynor, my long suffering publisher, she came back a while ago and work is now full steam ahead once more. It just left me thinking about my fellow writers; have they ever experienced anything like this?

George Lucas publicly apologised for the sheer overwhelming darkness of 'The Temple Of Doom', citing his divorce as a reason. In fact, now I think about it, many writers, both novelists and screenwriters, have admitted traumatic experiences have lent both style and creedence to their ideas at the time. I find this endlessly intriguing.

I will say this, before I hand the floor over to the writers whom I know and want to hear from; falling in love definitely didn't stop me from writing and exploring dark material.

So why the hell couldn't I write brutal evil material when she was gone for only a week and a half?