Friday, October 27, 2006

Novel Ideas

I've been feeling like a very negligent parent for the past few weeks, which is strange seeing as I don't even have a child. I do have a novel, though, and I don't think I've written more than five pages in it since I've gotten here. That's pretty depressing, because I'd hate to think that something I care about so much could be dead. I know; it's just a novel--it can't actually die. But it can fade into oblivion. I believe it was Stephen King that said if a book is dead in the author's mind, then there's no salvaging it. I don't want that to happen to my work.

But I'll start from the beginning here. As you know I'm an English major. I love the written word in nearly all its forms, and ever since I was a child I've wanted to be a writer. Why? Ayn Rand said it best: "Not in order to save the world nor to serve my fellow men, but for the simple, personal, selfish, egotistical happiness of creating the kind of men and events I would like, respect and admire." Or, to put it simply, because I enjoy it. ;-)

I wrote my first novel, entitled Whaler, in high school, and it took me the better part of Junior year to complete it. It was a fantasy novel, but I made sure it was devoid of castles, dragons, elves, and whatnot (Tolkien did those best, so I think modern writers need to leave them alone). I would go into the details of the plot here, but I'm not sure how copyright works on blogs (and I'm sure you wouldn't be too interested, anyway ;-). I will say that it was a blast to write, though. I wanted to make it surreal and dreamlike, so I didn't hold back with my imagination. Whatever extraordinary images leapt into my mind, I put them on paper, and I tried to connect them with a plot. It's probably not the best literature in the world (though I can proudly say that it's over 50,000 words), but it was fun and it definitely made me think of writing as a possible career (or at least a long-lasting hobby).

So, in Senior year I started what I thought would be my magnum opus. I know--it's dumb to want to write a magnum opus after only one novel, but come on, I'm a teenager and ambition is definitely up there on my list of characteristics. I had already figured out that I enjoyed writing fantasy as much as reading it, so I decided to write one gigantic fantasy epic--incorporating all the images and half-formed characters that were floating around in my head. But unlike Whaler, which started out as a vague concept and then worked its own way into a more definitive plot as I kept writing, this magnum opus was much better planned out.

Having always been a fan of American folklore, I really wanted to incorporate it into this novel. But I didn't want the incorporation to be too overt, otherwise people would be able to directly pinpoint influences (as can be done with a lot of Tolkien's European-based works). Generally, I just wanted the setting and the characters of my novel to have an overall American tone, reminiscent of the frontier and Old West in some places, and of Turn-of-the-Century industrial cities in others. And of course this is all set against a fantasy backdrop which still incorporates magic and mythology. The title for this magnum opus is the name of its central character, Asher of the Desert.

So that's what I've been working on for the past year or so. Word-wise, I'm 50,000 words in, so my pacing is about the same as it was on Whaler, which also took a year. I just haven't written anything in a while, and that can really mess up the flow of my work (not to mention, since in true fantasy fashion I've tried to make my world seem as real as possible, I've lost track of some details, which can lead to continuity errors down the road).

Basically, I'm just praying for some motivation. I've had time to work on this, but I get so easily distracted here. I used to use every spare moment to write, but now, even when I'm not doing anything with friends, I find myself wandering around the Internet or doing something else trivial. So, the title of this post isn't about the ideas for my novels exactly. It's more of me asking for any tips on how to motivate myself to do this task. We all can procrastinate sometimes, it's just it's strange that I'm putting off doing something that I really enjoy.

(Oh, and I have two more exams this week. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers ;-)


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