Thursday, September 16, 2004

Strange & Norrell, writing aspirations, Neil Gaiman (!)

Currently reading Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell; it's the kind of book that's so good that I keep on wanting to jump up and write something inspired by it. Consequently, my computer now holds more than one multi-page beginning-of-a-story a la Strange & Norrell. One of the problems with my writing is that it tends to emulate the style and story of whichever author I happen to be reading at that moment. When I was reading Neil Gaimain's Coraline, for example, I began to write a creepy, simple-worded fairytale. With Susanna Clarke, I'm writing about an old-fashioned London with hidden streets and vague magic...and, I admit, footnotes. When I was reading The Lord of the Rings, I would write pages of description about mountains and enchanted forests. This same story mutated when I read Christopher Paolini's Eragon; I added a hero's-journey plot in an invented land. During Helprin's A Winter's Tale, I began a story about a New York City gang circa 1900.

I could go on. I tend to write anywhere from five to twenty-five pages all at once in a moment of inspiration, and then my enthusiasm for the story du jour peters out until I'm spending my time formatting the title and writing a table of contents instead of actually adding content to the story. Maybe next time I'm gripped with a fit of inspiration I'll summarize my idea in here; feel free to give input.

I'm going to be a writer. When I grow up. I always hope that THIS idea or THAT will be the one, that I'll write a masterful novel full of wittiness and metaphors and gripping characters and romance...that I'll be lauded by the critics and readers alike: a teenage prodigy! So talented, yet so young! Unlimited promise! Ah, it's a fantasy every writer-dreamer must have.

It's scary, wanting to be a novelist. I know that most every writer is unsuccessful and lives a life of obscurity, whiling away months in moth-bally rooms, scribbling bad stories onto yellowed papers... (Oh, the romantic mind; excuse me.) And it seems most likely that I won't come to any success or significance in the world; that's what scares me the most. Because the only thing I really want to do is to have some kind of purpose in the world, to make a difference in people's lives, to add something beautiful to the world. And I know I could be more successful in other fields, because I'm driven and (I hope) smart enough. But the only thing worse than failing as a writer would be to NOT be a writer. It's all I want to do, and it kills me.

I'm sorry, I'm so melodramatic. I have a friend who also wants to be a writer (she doesn't know I want to be, though. I'm too shy; I've never told anyone. I'm scared someone will tell me not to be). She's already written a book and she has a publisher! She's in high school, for chrissakes. And she's working on a sequel and a prequel, and I know that they'll all be fantastic because she's so damn talented. And it makes me jealous. Because why can't I have the drive, the persistence to finish one of my brilliant stories. Am I too lazy? Or do I just lack the OOMPH it takes to really be a writer? I want desperately to be happy for her, and I think I shall be, at least on the outside. But, greedy and cruel and self-centered as it sounds, I really don't want her to be wildly successful and me still writing twenty opening chapters a month. I want what she has, and it's my fault that I don't.

This is turning into a rant. But, when I'm a famous writer I'll mention this blog and people will read this as my first entry. "Ah, what a long way she's come since then," they'll say.

Incidentally, I should probably introduce the point of this blog. Contrary to what you're probably thinking right now, it is not merely a place for me to vent on my insignificance in the world. I want to write about books, films, and music that I'm interested in. Politics. Science. The world at large. My high school hell (but hopefully not too excessively). For those of you interested, my college search and the application process...I'm a junior in high school, now. And more.

My email is Please send me a message in response to things I write. I want to hear input. Criticism is just as welcome as compliments. Questions. Anything you damn well please. If I get a lot of interesting things, I'll post the messages and my responses on here, a la Neil Gaiman in his journal-blog. Damn, I love that guy. Check out his blog; check out his books. He's friends with such greats as Alan Moore (author of Watchmen), the singer Tori Amos, and the writer Susanna Clarke, who I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Seriously, I would marry Neil if I could, he's so great.

Oh god, what an angsty teen I sound like. Oh well, at least I'm no Holden Caulfield.


Blogger Lasciate said...

When I was younger I had the same sort of frantic passion. I wrote a full novel once, and even got an agent by pitching the idea over a two minute phone call. The novel was rejected eventually, and that was probably the most shattering rejection of my life.

But here's the important part: It was rejected because it wasn't ready, and I knew it wasn't. I was kind of hoping someone would tell me how to clean it up, what to do, where to go. I was playing the Big Game but still looking for feedback.

That was a mistake to learn from. No matter what good advice you get, trust yourself more than anyone else, and listen to yourself the same way. Don't try to get it right...just write.

2:12 PM  

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