Don’t Fence Me In

When I was fourteen, I had copies of Roger Zelazny’s “A Night in the Lonesome October”, T.S. Eliot’s Collected Poems, “The Lorax”, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, and the collected works of Jane Austen sitting on my nightstand.

This may or may not have influenced my writing.

I found, even as a teenager, that what I was drawn to in stories wasn’t really about the category that they fell into.

What pulled me into a book and kept me reading was a combination of characterization, striking imagery, and a story that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go.

I could sacrifice pieces of some of these things, but I had to have that electrical spark run down the back of my neck at some point in the book.

I can speak of characterization, imagery, and plot, but that spark is an intangible that every writer seeks to grasp and few achieve.

Which is why I want to make a case for cross-pollination.

I value genre, but I value the enhancements from understanding multiple genres more.

T.S. Eliot has powerful lessons about imagery and rhythm.

Zelazny knows how to make a plot sit up and sing.

Adams writes humour that holds an image and forces us to think about how close to the bone he is cutting.

Dr. Seuss shows the heart of a tale, the power of stripping back imagery to use only the words that pack the punch.

Jane Austen holds an unflattering light up to her society and world, even as she layers very human interaction over top of deceptively light plots.

I am a writer.

But first I am a reader.

Do not ask me to pick a narrow corner, to confine my lessons to a single stream.

If I cannot be a giant myself, I will hop from shoulder to shoulder, acknowledging the giants before me.

IMG_0022A lovely fence, an unwanted barrier

If you want to see some of my unfenced explorations, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

A World with a Thousand Suns

I used to dream of a world without a sky.

I wondered what it would be like to live in a world where the light came from all angles, where the view around you was obscured by the brilliance of the view above you.

Physics is not my friend.

Sometimes I remember those dreams when  I write.

Not because I write of impossible planets.

But because I think of the old Hollywood truism about children and small animals and the problems of working with them.

A good story has a few characters that dazzle and shine and obscure everyone around them when they appear on the scene.

A bad story has a thousand of them.

There are certain characters that, by their very nature, will either irritate everyone who meets them or will overwhelm the world around them so completely that all else is lost.

Because we only have the one sun, we do not always have light when we would wish it.

But with too many points of brilliance, too much heat and dazzling illumination, nothing is distinct and easy to recognize.

I think of a world with light in every corner.

As I write, I remember the power of light.

As I dream, I remember the power of darkness.

IMG_0615The character type that will always upstage you