January 1, 2006
My Personal Writing Statement: January 1, 2006
I read a quote somewhere from an author explaining why he wrote that said something about a glowing pit in the depths of his stomach that manifested itself as … well, at the time I thought it was a creative way to explain this insane venture. My statement won’t be as creative, I suppose, but I tend to be rather straight-forward.
I write about life; its glorious conflicts, struggles, joys, wonders, insanities, and its nature. As a literary novelist, I put my characters first. They are so deeply defined in my mind before I allow them onto paper that they simply take over whatever story I begin to tell. They are real, as though they could be someone’s neighbor. Women tell me they want my heroes to come to life so they can claim them as their own. Maybe they are just enough beyond real, just enough more caring, sympathetic, understanding than most men women actually meet to be qualified as fictional heroes. On the other hand, I have had someone tell me she does know a man like one of my heroes.
I think turbulent times are what make people heroes. They aren’t extraordinary in general, but something happens around them to make them at least temporarily extraordinary. My stories involve many conflicts, internal and external, and the characters involved are forced to either rise to the occasion or get swept out of the picture. This is reality. My heroes are those who rise to the occasion and come out ahead.
Where I go beyond reality is in describing my characters’ thoughts and emotions so much more intensely than we can ever really know another person’s thoughts and emotions. I try to explain the “why” of who they are. We all have reasons for being as we are. Sadly, we don’t tend to understand the reasons, even our own. My characters have flaws. They make mistakes. Along the way, though, the “why” of the mistakes are revealed so readers have trouble criticizing the mistakes. Or they do criticize them, but they forgive them, for the most part. There is always the “villian” that we can’t seem to find a reason to forgive. That’s life, too. Not that there isn’t a reason, but the reason can’t always be clear enough, unless we create a whole separate story for that character to explain the “why” of his actions. Some things are always left unknown.
I write because it’s who I am. I have been creating stories as long as I remember; it’s what I remember most vividly from my childhood. Stories and characters are as real as the rest of my life. I can not be who I am if I keep them stifled. They have to live and breathe so that I can actually live and breathe instead of simply exist. More than once, I have been called a “born storyteller.” There could be no bigger compliment, as far as I’m concerned.
My most-expressed theme that spreads throughout most of what I write is “loss.” I believe what we lose in life and how we deal with that loss is largely what defines us as people. We all lose people and things that change us forever, or sometimes temporarily. I think we don’t always understand that.
When people read my fiction or my poetry, I want them to be able to relate in some way … to draw something from my words that touches their lives, that makes a difference. I want my life to make a difference. I want to reach out to others and help them understand things in a new way or to show them that we are all in this big struggle together and the only way through is to stand together and help one another. Friendship is a big theme in my work, also. So is love, all types of love.
My novels and short stories are literary romance that deal with societal and relationship issues. As a student of psychology, I feel that writers who want to create memorable, meaningful characters need to study the basics of what makes us who we are. On the other hand, readers want to be entertained. There should always be laughter and hope and successful love affairs in fiction, despite the conflicts and struggles. I love humor and try to intersperse it enough that a reader never gets too sad for too long while reading my work. Although my stories vary in humor level and style somewhat, they all have the proverbial light somewhere within the tunnel.
In nearly ever story I ever write, readers will find references, large or small, to at least one of the arts. I’m an artist overall. Writing is what I most do, but I can not say it is more important to me than music and fine art and theatre and dance. The world would be ugly, indeed, without the arts.
I am an indie. Although I would love to have my poetry and short stories published in literary magazines, my novels are and will remain self-published. They are part of who I am and I will not allow them to be sold to the highest, or even the first, bidder who sees them only as potential money makers. I do not plan to make any actual income from my novels. I simply hope they get out there well enough to touch people’s lives. This is why I am willing to fund the publishing on my own. The stories are what matter, not the glory of having my work on any lists or book store windows. Not that I would mind seeing them there, if it happens to work that way, but it is not my goal. Other jobs are meant to be income-earning. I have had several types of those. Writing is an art. The true expression of art has no financial value. A novel that makes thousands of dollars for the author does not show its real value. How it touches people is what shows its value.
I hope that my writing can touch many different people, of different ages and interests. I hope it will stay with them in some way. I hope, at the least, they get pleasure from the time they spend reading.
Reading about others helps us to understand others. Understanding leads to compassion. Compassion leads to positive action. This is what good fiction, and non-fiction, can do for the world. Albert Camus says, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” I have to believe this is what he meant. Words carry a great power. Writers must be careful about using that power responsibly, to further the good of civilization. This is true of all art. Artistic responsibility must come before artistic freedom. That is a belief I carry in my soul which affects everything I write. I hope to pass it along.