During my months of vision impairment I spent a lot of time frustrated by my inability to write each day. During that time, now many months past, I found myself listening to podcasts on the topic of writing. All these months later a few things stand out.
Firstly, a lecture by Stephen King. Oh – I listened to lots of his lectures and talks and interview – but yes, one stood out. In it he spoke about notebooks. Now at this point I imagine many a writer out there nodding sagely and expecting me to harp on about the value of the darn things. Wrong. Mr King descried them. Said that all you do is end up with a book full of half-boiled ideas (or words to that effect). If something is truly gold then you will remember it, he claimed. This resonated with me because I do remember the good ideas (eventually) and I really don’t want to keep a list of all my bad ideas.
Secondly upon stealing ideas. Do it. Just not from one person. Steal ideas and approaches as broadly as possible. This may be another King-ism, I’m not sure. But it sounds like him. I believe the crux of it is that if you as an artist or author borrow from many different sources then you may well create some fresh new vision. Already I am planning my chilling story of a Vaudeville comedian who hides down the sewer system enticing tap dancers with balloons from Broadway musicals. I envision a scary yet fun dance scene called “Singing in the Drain”. Do you reckon that I borrowed from enough sources? But seriously, this concept of borrowing from many sources does seem to hold value.
Thirdly – be concise and avoid adjectives.
Fourthly – write what you like to read. Ummmm. OK. I have a problem here. I enjoy reading verbose and complex prose. I love clever word play. I revel in unusual words. Many an acknowledged “hack” writer is a joy for me. Lovecraft for example. I have read so many people drone on about his lack of characterisation – yet he builds this wondrous atmosphere and sense of place that is often ignored by critics.
So yes, expect my novel when complete to be purple throughout because that is what I like to read.
Just as a note, when I write I like to afterwards record myself reading the words aloud. This helps me to detect poor flows.
To give you the gist of what I mean, I present you with a section of the novel where I set the scene in a manner perhaps convoluted but enjoyable to my own ears:
“Late afternoon Out Beyond; a place of white isolation and crippled obsession. Westerly winds howled. Ripped veils of mist tumbled over a shattered abandoned city. Snow flurries raced through the gray gaps to escape an afternoon tempest. Distant thunder warned of meteorological tyranny delivering one more evening of misery.
Shade – the world city, not the chasm city nor the hallucinations of rotting artificial flesh. Shade; stark; empty; frozen; a vast metropolis of the dead. For there were indeed corpses; most long hidden. A few visible; frozen; mangled and scattered; tossed aside like meal scraps which indeed some were. And not the same vintage as the city that cradled their bones. Whereas such older dead were most likely dust, and the eldest unsafely asleep, these last lot had been explorers from recent eras; their torn clothes a testament to fashions come and gone.
There were memories here too; haunting the place. They plagued the broad highways that stretched between those tumbled pinnacles that once would have scraped heaven. They peered from dust bowls that suggested ancient gardens and watched sastrugi march endlessly across the broken landscape. They whispered among themselves in the deep and dark places using languages that no longer boasted heirs.
Vague and unsettling memories.
What was this place? Who had been these people?
A certain terrible grandeur hinted at their awesome might. Some would say godlike. But so, so long ago. Eons perhaps. A time before today