Jan 25, 2014

Change of Projects, Change of Pace.

Lately I have felt worried about my writing career. LDS literature is what I've had published so far. It's what I have written that has been accepted and sent out there into the world to be read by people. And now people are kind of niche-ing me. Or starting to. I've had interviews lately on Modern Mormon Men and Motley Vision and Mormon Artist, and in each of these interviews I have been asked why I chose Mormon Lit as my venue. Well, it sort of chose me. That's what I've published so far.

Lately I have thought, well then, I need to make that my focus. I'll write three more LDS stories and give them over to my publisher. But when I'm done with those, I'm going another direction.

My feelings have changed suddenly. I have been editing two manuscripts. One of them is my sister's. One is a friend's. Both are fantasy.

See, my first love? It's fantasy.

Fantasy is what I breathed growing up. And it wasn't just writing, it was games in the backyard about fairies and monkey people and hags and good and evil and poor kids with magical abilities and rich people with lots of jewels, orphans with royal birthmarks, people who make their clothing out of flower petals.

Growing up, fantasy was my favorite. The Book of Three, the Black Cauldron. Dealing with Dragons. The Alanna books. The Ordinary Princess. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Stolen Lake. And all those scholastic or apple paperbacks about wishes that come true or dragons hatching from eggs or teachers being aliens. So, I have written and lived in fantasy from the time I was too small to really be writing yet.

Up until I started writing seriously, with more focus and intent, giving myself a word count and everything, my less-than-serious forays into novel writing (three abandoned chapters, five abandoned chapters, sketchbook full of maps and character descriptions and drawings of characters and places and people, ideas that accumulated in word documents and then got scattered and lost because there were so very many word documents containing ideas) was all fantasy.

Today I got a great idea about how to start the fantasy novel I have been rewriting for the last fifteen years. I did my most recent rewrite of it after Lightning Tree, and Cedar Fort rejected it due to some content. I would have gone on to submit it elsewhere if I didn't know it still needed a lot of work (including the content Cedar Fort objected to. I'm still not sure how necessary it is to my story. Trying to decide.) But today, I got an idea that I think will solve all of that. You have to start a novel at the correct point in the story--that was my problem. I started it in the wrong place.

I also realized that I was writing the story like it was a YA fantasy. This story is an epic fantasy. Totally different. For one thing, an epic fantasy can be longer, so I don't have to think "Okay, how do I tell this entire story in the space of 350 pages." And for another, it's kind of expected that in epic fantasy you meet a lot of people and go a lot of places.

Try telling an epic fantasy in the space allotted to a YA novel. If you're a fantastic writer, you might be able to do it. I'm betting H.G. Wells could do it. I'm not a fantastic writer yet, however. I'm just a pretty-ok writer.

Anyway, I got this idea for a starting point, and the idea just boiled over in my head. And I felt, today, more excited than I have felt about writing in a while.

I kind of need to write this one, maybe. Next. Not after my butterfly story about the guy who ages out of the singles' ward and the third in my planned trio of Historical LDS novels. I've been saying that to myself for a while in the same way you say to yourself, salad first, then dinner, then you can have your dessert. But the thing is, if it's what I love to write most, and it's what's taking over my brain right now, why am I making myself do other stuff?

I am niche-ing myself and drying myself out as a writer. And I'm feeling discouraged because while the audience for LDS fiction is very loyal and wonderful, it's not very big. I can't go ahead and tell all my Facebook friends, "buy my book, you'll love it!" Because some of them wouldn't. I have tons of friends who love fantasy, and a smaller number of friends who love Mormon fiction. Not even most of my Mormon friends read Mormon Fiction.

And while I do love Mormon fiction, in fact, love it enough to write it even though I know I won't find a big audience, my first love really is Fantasy. And man, I need to get back into it.

So. Plans changed, I think. I'm going to launch myself back into the deep-blue of fantasy. I'm going to draw pictures and maps. I'm going to think about amazing places and impossible people and the mysteries of the universe. And then when I've finished this story, I'll probably enjoy going back to the funny, close dearness of an LDS contemporary fiction story or the driving curiosity and deep, aching issues and mysteries of an LDS Historical Fiction.

Am I allowed to do that? Write everything? Will that confuse people?

I don't know. I'm just writing what I need to write... sorry if that's confusing.


Luisa Perkins said...

Write whatever you want to. Nobody puts Sarah in a corner.

Sarah Dunster said...

Love you Luisa. Honestly.

Joy Buhler said...

What Luisa Said.

Th. said...


Burn, baby, burn.