As I mentioned before, I am taking part in a writing course spanning the whole of 2014. That’s right! A whole year of thinking, learning, and doing everything writing related. There are a bunch of other people in the course, and for our first assignment, we are to jot down 20 ideas for things to write about. 20! Ideas! WHAT?! This has been difficult. It’s almost like the more I sit and try to think of an idea, the fewer come to me.
I was browsing our discussion forum, and one of the other members, Brian, posted on his blog some thoughts about the assignment and what it is to be a writer, further what it is to be a kind of writer. There are all kinds of writing, and he’s on a mission to find his niche. And that made me realize something about myself.
I am a product of a University English department. Such departments are overrun with the novel, and in fact, many writers are obsessed with their own idea of the “Great American Novel.” I know many an English student and professor chasing this white whale. I have to admit to being guilt of doing so myself. But this is a myth. A fool’s chase as large as Moby Dick itself.
It has dawned on me recently that not every great writer was a great novelist. There are ALL KINDS of fantastic writers, writing in all kinds of different genres and styles. And I know, much like my idea of creativity in a vacuum, that may sound so basic, but I keep finding myself trying to shoehorn my fiction prose into some artificial, arbitrary style. It goes right down to my diction. I find myself becoming overly formal, almost too structured, and I can’t let myself just flow like I do when I’m writing prose like these blog posts, much akin to an essay style. I don’t know why I do it, I just have looked back over fiction I have written, and I saw it in every single piece. Maybe it’s a matter of practice. Maybe it’s a matter of just letting go a little bit, and realizing that I don’t have to be Milton or Forrester, because I am NOT them.
This paragraph in particular, from Brian’s blog puts it in great perspective:
That acceptance thing keeps coming up. It seems to be a key to a very important lock. Yet, soon as my friend asked if I was working on a long piece, I tensed and felt embarrassed by what I’ve been doing, anxious that I’m not working at what I’m supposed to be doing.
I am me, with my own style hiding out there somewhere. I’ve got a voice, I just have to find it, and my goal for this year, for this class, is to make strides in finding that voice.
As Brian put it, “I’m working on something big.” I just don’t know exactly what that big thing looks like, sounds like, or smells like yet. But, then, if I already knew it all, where would be the adventure?