Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Au Natural

Tools! Never mind what they're used for. It's far less interesting than their appearance. The guy in the center is known as a "spinner wrench" in the locksmith industry but we enjoy calling it a "Klingon" because my older supervisor is reminded of a Klingon Bird of Prey. It looks nothing like that, mind you, but he's really not much of a science fiction buff. I think it's important to find inspiration in your job before you're a successful author and can proudly make your living off of your true passion. Locksmithing found me, actually. I was working as a student assistant and the lead locksmith approached me and asked, "Hey. You want to be a locksmith?" Of course, being a female, nobody had ever approached me and asked me if I wanted to enter a skilled trade before. Come to think of it, I don't know how many people in general are approached to join a skilled trade. I assented because it sounded awesome and I had nowhere to go until I was published. At this point I was writing a kindergartner's version of Tolkien with lots of fairies, mystical beasts and epic journeys. You know how that always ends up. The crappiest end battle scene of all time because only 5% of the writing population can write a good battle scene without boring the most ardent military enthusiast to tears.

My aunt is currently on her way to finding representation for her YA issue fiction and she found her inspiration working in social work. Likewise, my cousin is an attorney and writing murder mysteries. My other cousin enjoys writing fantasy for the younger crowd and is a substitute teacher. Of course, this isn't out of left field. We all have interests outside of writing and these are reflected in our chosen genres. In my writing critique group, we call this "organic". You can smell an unnatural piece a mile away. It's forced, choppy and contrived. Sometimes when adults try to write YA, it ends up looking like an elderly person in a sideways hat throwing up a hang-loose sign.

It's taken me a long time to discover my niche and even now I'm coming to terms with the fact that I just can't write some stuff. The martial arts background helps with hand-to-hand combat scenes but I'll have to take a freaking class before I can really pound out a publishable epic battle scene. It's okay to pursue progress in weaker areas but for the most part, we writers need to stick with what we're good at. In my case, it's character development, neat settings and gadgets with magical energy sources. If I ever try to write an issue book, it'll end up looking like Dennis the Menace with an attitude problem because I've never been around adolescents who have substantial "issues" as it were. If I tackle mystery, you'll know who did it before I would because I'm usually the last person to figure it out in Scooby Doo even. As for writing fantasy for the kids, they'd all end up sounding like Stewie from Family Guy, and that's probably not such a good idea for the 10+ crowd.

Keep writing!


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