January 29, 2014

Image by Torley (CC)
Fantasy Confession

I fancy myself a writer, with several books published. Most of the stuff you can buy written by me these days are technical literature. I’m doing alright with that, although I write (and wrote) a lot of other stuff too. Like fiction, which I’m focusing on at the moment (alongside the revision of The Writer’s iPad of course). I’m mostly writing short stories and novellas at the moment, but I’ve got larger things in mind too. There’s a novel that I need to revisit, rewrite, and then ship off to an editor and/or agent. Then there’s all of those ideas, the thrillers and the quirky stuff, the horror and the love stories. The things I write.

Image by Torley (CC)
Image by Torley (CC)

But I have a confession to make. The thing I write best, or at least the thing that’s easiest for me to write, is fantasy. You know, swords and magic and dragons and stuff like that, although not necessarily in the straight-forward flippant way I just said it. Fantasy can be quirky and dark and weird and mature and sad too. I’ve been so engrossed in fantasy literature and pen and paper role-playing games as a kid that it’s made such an impression on me. I get ideas constantly, I have no problems whatsoever building worlds or creating creatures and outlandish characters. It’s a bit weird, because science fiction is further off, although I think I’m pretty good at that too. At least if I take a step from the scifi cradled in today’s science, into the abstract, weird and twisted. Science fantasy if you will, although that’s another beast altogether, come to think of it.

Let’s leave it at that, because I have another confession to make. This one’s stupid, I know, but I can’t shake it. I feel silly writing fantasy. It’s kids stuff, not proper literature, too easy, too far from social commentary and real people’s lives, too far from important things. When I told people about my projects, years ago, they just wouldn’t take them seriously because it was rooted in fantasy. ”I just don’t get into that stuff,” they’d say, and I would feel even more silly.

How stupid of me, right?

Today fantasy is mainstream. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies made it so, big time, and the Game of Thrones TV series underlined it. Suddenly fantasy’s not just for nerds, everyone watches it, albeit perhaps not reading typical fantasy books. Yet I still feel silly telling people about this world and series of books and short story arcs that I’ve got planned, that I’ve been writing. It just feels weird talking about that stuff.

The whole thing’s stupid, and it’s all in my head. I shouldn’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about what I’m writing, I should only care about the story. If someone reads it then that’s great, and if not I’ll be sad and move on. But letting people who apparently have no interest in the genre nor in my fantasy writing get to me’s just not fair.

Yet here I am, with over a thousand downloads of my most recent fantasy short story, as well as a previous (no longer available) short story collection in the same world that people seemed to dig, and I’m still struggling with wether I should be writing fantasy. I can honestly say that I’m not sure how much of that struggle is me letting myself be limited by the outside world and my notion of what they might be thinking, and the fact that I’ve already written so much fantasy already and it might be time to try something new. I don’t like the feeling I get when people want to talk to me about my writing, and we all get uncomfortable when it’s not something the talkative people are even remotely interested in, nor capable of talking about.

Yeah, still stupid, I know, I know.

I’m not a person uncertain of myself. I run successful companies and give talks. I regularly put myself in harms way, not caring the slightest what people think of me should the situation warrant it. But my writing, and the idea I have of my writing, that’s fragile.

I’ve got the next couple of months pretty laid out in terms of writing projects. Mostly it’s short stories and novellas, but come summer, when my Primary Novel Project is rewritten, I’ll have to face the music again. Because I have this outline you see, this storyline that I think would turn out pretty well. To make that happen I need to finish the short story arc planned when I first released the Estam short story for free, and then I’ve got two more of those arcs. Then there’s the prologue book, which is halfway done already, and the culmination of all that in a book or two, possibly some short stories, I’m not sure yet. Anyway, there’s that, and the book that comes after, which I really, really, really, want to write… It’s an extensive project, one that’ll take years to work my way through, not counting whatever Hell actual publication might bring. I can honestly say that this mammoth project is enticing, and I think it’d turn out great. And it’s fantasy, in case you couldn’t tell.

I’m so torn by this. Things would obviously be a lot simpler if I didn’t have any other ideas, but I do. Plentiful in fact, I could just decide I don’t ”do” fantasy anymore and be done with it. No more doubt, no more silly feelings of being inadequate or whatever it is. I’m afraid that’d pose other questions though, perhaps doubt even. And I don’t like trying to fool myself either.

So there you have it, my fantasy confession. If I lost you along the way, it’s because I feel silly just writing this, which probably means I should man up and not give a shit. I’ll write what I’ll write, and that’s the end of it.

Right?

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.