I read some of The Boy & Little Witch to Miya tonight (and Luna too, she was there, peeping through the bars of her cot), and couldn’t help but do it in the voice of the BattleBlock Theatre narrator/announcer. It made it even more fun than usual.
I’ve been reading through parts of Imogen Shroud tonight, taking a little break from Charlotte Powers. I know that I resolved to be positive about my own work, I know that I said I wouldn’t self-deprecate about my writing, only about myself, but I still feel uncomfortable and arrogant when I say things like, this is really got-damn good. Towards the end especially. The first part is gloomy and lonely, the second part is horrific and fun, the third part is tense and exciting, and the fourth part is … it’s sad. Really, really sad.
There’s a rule with my books. If a character’s name is on the cover, they’ll probably live. Otherwise, well …
Sometimes being a writer makes me feel really evil. I do such horrible things to my characters. I don’t like doing it, I don’t enjoy doing it, I’m the sort of person who always takes the ‘good’ path in games if it’s offered and can’t understand people who enjoy being ‘evil’. People who drown their Sims or starve them to death, how is that fun? I just don’t get it. But as a writer I have a responsibility to the story, I feel that if I’m going to write a book then I have to make it the best book I can possibly create, and sometimes–often–that means putting my beloved characters through terrible things. Because how are they supposed to show who they really are, except under such hideous stress? And sometimes, sometimes there’s just no good way out of a situation. Sometimes you fight your hardest and you lose anyway, sometimes bad things happen to good people. As a writer I have the power to change this, to make it so fighting your hardest is always enough, that if you’re a good person then you’ll survive terrible hardships no matter what. As a writer I could make it so those things are true. Except they’re not true. They’re lies. Being a good person isn’t always enough and it doesn’t mean you’ll always survive. Fighting your hardest does not ensure that you will win. Maybe my duty isn’t so much to the ethereal ‘story’ as it is to the truth. That’s what I always try my hardest to show; truth. And that doesn’t mean realism, because let’s face it, a lot of the stuff I write about isn’t realistic at all. But just because something never happened–just because something couldn’t happen–doesn’t mean it can’t be true. I know I don’t always completely succeed and I know I have a lot to learn, every day, almost an impossible amount to learn. But I always try my hardest and I like to think that I succeed more often than not. Above all else, I care, and I hope that shows. I care about writing and I care about my books and I care about my characters even as I put them through hardships–even as I kill them. And I care about improving myself, about improving my skills as a writer. Every day that I sit down and pour out any number of words I get just a tiny bit better, and I hope that never changes. Did anyone ever say, “All right, that’s it; I’m good enough at writing now, I can stop learning, I can stop trying to improve”. Even if they did, I hope that I never say that, or anything like it. Right now I feel that I’m a good writer. I’ve certainly put in the hours and the words towards achieving at least a basic mastery of writing. At last count it was something like 1,750,000 words of fiction written; who knows how many hours. But I’ll never be perfect, because nothing is. And no matter how many books I write I know, I KNOW that at the end of each one, no matter what else I think, no matter how proud I am of what I’ve created or how good I feel it to be, there will always be some part of me thinking, “The next one will be better”.
I don’t take myself seriously–except, of course, when I do. But I take my writing very seriously. Imogen Shroud is a good book. Once I’ve finished editing, it’ll be great. I’m proud to have written it and I can hardly wait to share it with the world.
I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.
But the next one will be better.
By the way, this factoid is 100% true, I’m not even trying to be funny:
BJK Factoid #227: I am scared of balloons.