Thoughts on Writing #42: The Very First You by Seanan McGui


Tell us what you thought about the October 2012 issue!

Moderator: Editors

User avatar

Long Fiction Editor

Posts: 2621

Joined: January 11, 2010, 12:03:56 AM

Location: by the time you read this, I'll be somewhere else

Post October 20, 2012, 02:00:09 AM

Thoughts on Writing #42: The Very First You by Seanan McGui

Three cheers!

Be sure to read this; it's very uplifting.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2503

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post October 21, 2012, 12:52:57 PM

Re: "You"

Who are / is "You" anyway? (Extra Credit: Buddhism has a very startling answer! But I'll pass on that one for now!)

In a way this links back to Dan's editorial for me. Part of my fiction writer's block is that like chicken-egg loops, I am slow writing fiction both from lack of practice so my "voice" hasn't developed, so then when I write anything at all, I get fed up with the results and abandon it.

However of the few times I have gotten going on a story, I think I recall one of the only ways I was able to do it was to steep myself in some 1000 pages of other fiction (such as two novels and a bunch of short stories). Then at least I can "borrow" someone's voice and produce something "in the style of ___". It still isn't great - but - it's not a blank page.

Maybe some writers such as me and others, have to write fiction in a multi step process, where first we borrow a voice just to get past the blank page, to get something resembling a story on the page/screen, and only much later modify it to "our" voice.

In _____ days I'll try to do the experiment on myself and report in with the results.
User avatar

Long Fiction Editor

Posts: 2621

Joined: January 11, 2010, 12:03:56 AM

Location: by the time you read this, I'll be somewhere else

Post October 21, 2012, 02:46:23 PM

Who's "Me"?

In my own experience, I've found that when I begin any new kind of artistic endeavor, I seem to have a fear of being derivative, or of my work being too much "like" someone else's. So I then tended to overcompensate in order to be unique and different. The results of that are never satisfactory; I see them as lacking sincerity; in trying to be different from everyone else, I just wound up being weird, usually -- and not being true to myself and my own expressive needs -- not being "me."

The only cure I've found for this is to keep producing stuff, and keep trying to remain true to my own need for self-expression. After a while, I quit worrying about having my influences show, and sometimes I openly celebrate them. Parts of my work may be "like" those of other creators, but the overall product is still uniquely my own.

And, by the way, I've been quite surprised at times with comments I've received on my writing as reminding readers of other works that I had no consciousness of, and some that I'd never read at all. We just have a lot of stuff in common, and reading is actually quite a subjective act. Worrying about how your writing will be perceived by a reader is counter-productive; you can't control how a reader will react to your work. Write it to satisfy yourself, and somewhere, you'll have an audience who find themselves identifying with it, simply because we all have a lot of stuff in common.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2503

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post October 22, 2012, 08:28:36 AM

Re: Who's "Me"?

Lester Curtis wrote:In my own experience, I've found that when I begin any new kind of artistic endeavor, I seem to have a fear of being derivative, or of my work being too much "like" someone else's. So I then tended to overcompensate in order to be unique and different. The results of that are never satisfactory; I see them as lacking sincerity; in trying to be different from everyone else, I just wound up being weird, usually -- and not being true to myself and my own expressive needs -- not being "me."
...
Worrying about how your writing will be perceived by a reader is counter-productive; you can't control how a reader will react to your work. Write it to satisfy yourself, and somewhere, you'll have an audience who find themselves identifying with it, simply because we all have a lot of stuff in common.


This was/is a strong barrier to overcome for me. Even as far back as childhood I think I read SF mostly because "real life stories were boring." It got even worse in my early studies of New Age. I definitely think the mood of pre-internet culture played a part there. Back in the day the bookstores were the public face of what literature was, in my youthful mind. (Libraries sorta didn't count.) So the bookstores had usually the same 80% stock between them, and the last 20% were the unusual treasures. The tide turned when I came across the beautifully opaque writings of H. P. Blavatsky. They're like the paper version of a Steam Punk Basement. Slowly, since then, as I worked on my personal spirituality, it became more important to be able to apply new concepts to my life, and I had less of a need to engage in pure stargazing.

--------------------------------------------
(Footnote: The "quad" is 2 works by 2 volumes each, totaling some 2500 pages of 8 point font (with lots of even smaller footnotes!). In the pre-internet days all the 18 year old me could do was "stargaze" at such gems as: "This is the doctrine of the Supralapsarians, who asserted that He [God] predestinated the fall of Adam, with all its pernicious consequences, from all eternity, and that our first parents had no liberty from the very beginning."

In response to the cheap rhetorical dismissal of "all new age is crap", I knew even in those early days that her conclusions might be a little off the deep end, but she'd done some homework, and that individual snips were legit. 18 year old me said "You can't just make that stuff up." And 18 year old me was right. Along cometh the Internet to maybe crack open these mysterious tomes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapsarianism

"Lapsarianism is the set of Calvinist doctrines describing the theoretical order of God's decree (in his mind, before Creation), in particular concerning the order of his decree for the fall of man and reprobation. The name of the doctrine comes from the Latin lapsus meaning fall.

Supralapsarianism (also antelapsarianism) is the view that God's decrees of election and reprobation logically preceded the decree of the fall while infralapsarianism (also called postlapsarianism and sublapsarianism) asserts that God's decrees of election and reprobation logically succeeded the decree of the fall.[1] The words can also be used in connection with other topics, e.g. supra- and infralapsarian christology.[2]

Many Calvinists reject both lapsarian views for various reasons. Herman Bavinck rejected both because he sees God's decrees as eternal.[3] Other Calvinists (and many non-Calvinists or Arminians) reject the lapsarian views because they perceive any particular ordering of the decrees as unnecessary and presumptive speculation. Critics of lapsarianism often argue that it is impossible to conceive of a temporal process by which God, in eternity, issued decrees, and it is impossible to know the mind of God without direct, scriptural evidence.")
User avatar

Long Fiction Editor

Posts: 2621

Joined: January 11, 2010, 12:03:56 AM

Location: by the time you read this, I'll be somewhere else

Post October 22, 2012, 12:48:26 PM

. . . huh -- ?

Yep, that's opaque, all right . . . about on a level with tungsten, I'd say.

I won't ask what makes people go off into such esoteric tangents of religious technical theory -- it sounds like something about on a par with contract law -- I'm too busy trying to make the connection between that and the original topic. In other words, how did we start there and suddenly wind up here -- ?

Oh -- and,
18 year old me said "You can't just make that stuff up."
Sure you can. We do it all the time. We make up every damn thing. Someone even makes up contract law, but it isn't me.
I was raised by humans. What's your excuse?

Editor Emeritus

Posts: 2503

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Location: Mass, USA

Post October 23, 2012, 03:41:14 AM

Re: . . . huh -- ?

Lester Curtis wrote:Yep, that's opaque, all right . . . about on a level with tungsten, I'd say.

I won't ask what makes people go off into such esoteric tangents of religious technical theory -- it sounds like something about on a par with contract law -- I'm too busy trying to make the connection between that and the original topic. In other words, how did we start there and suddenly wind up here -- ?

Oh -- and,
18 year old me said "You can't just make that stuff up."
Sure you can. We do it all the time. We make up every damn thing. Someone even makes up contract law, but it isn't me.


Okay, trying to swing back to bring it home, my self built spirituality comes from a "research" perspective, digging into fine details. Then if my concentration holds out, I surface again with a new principle to apply to my life and that I can sometimes adapt to teach others.

Return to October 2012

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware.