I have this bad habit of being myself whenever people want me to be someone else. I can’t say I’ve been trying all that hard to break the habit. I see it as a lost cause; guess I’ll just have to keep on being me.
That’s alright, though, I hear no one else is currently occupying the position.
I never realized just how much my mind does for me. Then I was driving the long drive to Indianapolis today, almost two hours all interstate. As usual, my brain took a detour while I drove. It went straight back into the world of my novel in progress. I haven’t been writing on my favorite book for over a month. I blame it on NaNoWriMo.
The truth was more than that. The truth was hiding in the fact that I had reached a lull. I knew where my characters were going, knew how I wanted it all to end. I had a clear path to get there. The problem wasn’t a lack of a clear goal. The problem was my boredom with the journey.
Driving along another boring journey today and what with the failing of the local radio stations to keep my interest – I had an epiphany. Well, I had something as close to an epiphany as one can have while driving a moving vehicle at 70+ miles per hour amid medium traffic.
I was mentally running through my characters and all of the various things they’ve done and said to each other. They’re quite the active group. I determined fairly quickly it wasn’t the character’s interactions with each other I found dull. It was where they were interacting.
In my deep seated need to maintain ties to my home planet in my writing, I had lost sight of something. There is absolutely no need whatsoever my supposedly ‘created world’ had to bear any resemblance to Earth or to reality at all. I find I have the same problem when I paint.
I am a bit of a realist. I like my paintings to be realistic and portray real things that a viewer, most likely an Earthling, would recognize and easily identify. In my writing I find the same difficulty in letting go. I think it is the sense of familiarity. If I stick with creating worlds and people which resemble those things with which I am comfortable and know incredibly well, then it is good. Familiarity is linked to contentment and ease.
Perhaps some small part of me seeks approval by my readers so much that I offer them what I know they will easily accept. It is laziness on my part and denial of what truly lies within my mind. I am playing it safe by basing my worlds on reality. As long as my worlds and my characters are still tied in recognizable ways to reality, I am guaranteed others will accept them.
It is not enough to give my characters supernatural abilities or super powers or magical abilities. So long as they are still human in all other ways and behave in human ways, they are essentially human. It is incredible to think of the many things my world shares with Earth that I took for granted. There are so many things I, and most people, assume out of habit. There are facts, realities; that we apply to everything without realizing that these facts are only true for our reality.
The world I created was of course, a sphere and it has seasons and gravity and a sun and a moon and is inhabited by mostly human like creatures and humans. It doesn’t matter if the characters are elves, vampires, fairies, superheroes or even ghosts. All of those things are human like. Even when I add other dimensions in parallel existence, it is still an acceptable status of existence recognizably linked to our own reality. We may very well live in a mulitiverse. The concept is not beyond reason.
But the problem, again, was not my characters. I like humanoid characters and I stand by that. The problem was my sticking to so many things related to our reality. It is a fictional world in my mind, on my paper and I am its creator. I can make my world whatever shape I choose, I can create whatever source I want to provide light and/or seasons and weather to this planet. I can make up whatever I want to be their energy source, it could be food, it could be some fictional particles or elements. Their life cycles and the processes of their world are mine to create.
In my epiphany earlier today, I realized one simple fact. I have been holding myself back. I have been stifling my own creativity by binding it to reality. There are many ideas which have been trapped and ignored just waiting to come out in this story. All I had to do was let go. I had to give up my reliance on familiarity and comfort. I had to step outside that small box where in acceptance is assured.
It was in this enlightening moment I was at last able to resume work on my favorite story. I found a renewed interest in my world. I found that the environment in which my characters live and interact is just as much a part of the story as they are. The environment was what I needed to return to and alter in ways unique to my own twisted mind. If I don’t take my readers on an interesting and exciting journey into the unknown and unexpected then why am I writing at all?