For a while now, I've thought I could point to what I thought were two distinct and very different writing “eras” in my life.
The first extended through high school and college and shortly thereafter, where I was convinced I wanted to be a full-time author, and cranked out a ton of sci/fi, fantasy, and even horror stories (William Gibson, Stephen King, and Tad Williams were all authors I loved and emulated)…let’s call that the Before Life (BL) period. In other words, before I took a very l o n g hiatus, and embarked on a wholly different, non-writing career; I had my daughters, moved all around - you know, did all those things where life intervened. But when I finally took up the pen again – we’ll call this the After Life (AL) - I discovered that I was returning to write anything but sci-fi or fantasy. I still love and probably read more across those genres than any other (keep writing George RR Martin, keep writing), but for my own AL writing, it's just not where my head or heart has been. It’s a curious change, and one I've tried to attribute to all the changes I’ve experienced and been through since those earlier writing years.
Of course, the key to it is: what I thought. A few weekends back I actually dug around in the garage for an old plastic container that I’ve lugged around now through seven moves (different countries, back and forth across the US) that holds old hard copies and floppy disks of a lot of that BL writing. What I discovered inside were stories and parts of stories that definitely point in the direction of the stuff I’m writing now. Sure, there were my Gibson and King knock offs by the score, but there were other things too; embryonic ideas without a sword or a werewolf or a cyber cowboy in sight. This bright line I thought that existed between my BL and AL eras was neither bright nor even quite a line…it was more of a gradual continuum…a continual exploration.
Neither better nor worse, there have always been stories I wanted to tell that I could do just as well without a sword…Maybe there are parts of our creativity that move with the tide, but still don’t fundamentally change. So while our surface interests, and our expressions of them, wax and wane, those deep-down impulses, the ones that fire off all those questions we’re trying to ask and push out the words we’re trying to make sense out of -- the stories -- are always with us.
No matter where we've gone, or where we're going.
That's it for this time around, but let me put out a plug for two Putnam authors. David Joy's WHERE ALL LIGHT TENDS TO GO is out now, and the reviews have been fantastic. Coming out in July is Brian Panowich's BULL MOUNTAIN, which is riding high on a wave of early buzz. These are the debut novels for both guys, and both books are well worth your time.
As always, keep writing. JTS