|18 June 2002|
|I have so many things I've decided I want to
accomplish this summer: reading lots of books for classes as well as for
fun, working hard to significantly improve my Spanish, redesigning this
website, and doing lots of writing.
Part of that writing will be letters-- I'm already branching out more this year; writing letters to many different people instead of many letters to one person is a different experience-- but I also want to do some creative writing this summer. Poetry, sure, but also stories, and even working on a novel.
You know, I've never been very good at trying to write short stories. Whenever I envision myself writing fiction, I'm always thinking out full books. Sometimes they turn into decent short stories, but in my head, they're just segments or chapters of the book I'm planning in my mind. I think that so far I've actually made serious attempts at writing three books, and semi-serious attempts at a good four or five more.
Somehow, I've always thought of myself as a writer, ever since I was little. Maybe I was just captivated by L.M. Montgomery's Emily (a much better character than Anne, and don't let anyone tell you differently), and wanted to swear that I was a writer down to my core, deeply and inescapably. But it has stuck with me, long past the time when my childhood (and teenage) ambitions of being an actress faded away. (Parenthetically, I'm amazed how many people who took my friendtest didn't know that I dearly wanted to be an actress for quite a long time. An actress less likely than an artist? I'm a painfully awful artist, and never liked it much at all.)
I just somehow feel comfortable and natural expressing myself through words. I think I'm pretty good at it, despite the fact that these journal entries are often hurriedly written and thus not always the best examples of my writing. But I enjoy writing letters. I've often used poetry to deal with strong emotions, and some of it's halfway decent. And then, there are my stories.
I think that one of my greatest flaws as a writer is my difficulty at pulling characters out of thin air. When I write, I'm constantly getting characteristics, or sometimes practically complete characters, from people I know or of myself. It's not that I can't invent believable characters, but I just have a very hard time working with them naturally. Once I have my characters, I can put them through all sorts of original plots and situations. But I'm always thinking, "What would so-and-so do when faced with this?"
Honestly, all of the semi-mature fiction I've written, since my early teens, has been either solidly or loosely based on people I know, or "fan fiction" using already-created fictional characters. Even the fantasy novel I tried to write used characters based on people I knew and on myself. I mean, granted, I've come a long way from being thirteen and writing what was basically nothing more than an autobiography chronicling my daily life. (We'll put aside the fact that I thought that the day-to-day life of an eighth-grader was interesting enough for the world to read.) I've at least learned to draw from characters instead of trying to capture them whole, and to come up with more compelling plots. But still, I can't remember a really good character of mine, not one of my favorites who really seemed to live, who I couldn't trace in part to a particular person.
And of course, this comes into play now, as I decide what to do with the idea for a book which has been floating around in my mind for several months. Like always, the characters and the story pull significantly (though not totally) from my life; like always, I insist on attempting a novel instead of some shorter piece based on the story. My weaknesses as a writer show up yet again.
But I like this idea, I like the characters and the plot, and I'm excited about the idea of writing it. I think it could be good if I work hard on it. Perhaps I do lack discipline as a writer. Perhaps if I really want to write, I'd be better off doing non-fiction (like the great consciousness-changing book I'll write someday). But oh well. I've got a summer and an idea, and I'll try to explore it.