(Cross-posted to CLStegall.com)
What are you trying to do with your writing?
That was the question someone asked me the other day. After almost 30 years of writing everything from bad poetry to decent short stories and novellas to my first well-received novel… I was at a loss for words.
What the hell was I trying to do with my writing?
I had to think about that for a while. Was there a purpose? Was there a goal toward which I was driving? Was there a moral I was trying to get across? Some greater theme that tethers all of my work like hydrogen bonds in a DNA strand? Like a string of grade school kids touring a museum?
No. Just. No.
Do I want to be the next Tolstory? Of course not. I don’t even want to be the next Martin or Tolkien or even Hicks.
I just want to write a good story. What I want to do is to write a story that allows a reader to escape from their day-to-day life for a few hours. Truly, that is all. That is my goal. Those are the stories that made me smile and cringe and gasp and curse when I was growing up (and, to this very day). Those are the stories that I have always wanted to write.
Should I have some deeper meaning embedded in my tale? Only if the tale warrants it, I should think. I do have characters whose lives are dominated by rash emotion, or tend to make poor decisions, or perhaps have a bit of a temper. Their stories demand some perspective and therefore present a web of greater meaning than at first perceived. But, those bits and pieces of “theme” and “morality” simply grow out of the characters’ world. I’m just relating it as best I can.
I cetainly don’t look forward to writing the next great American novel. Not my thing. I’m an escapist at heart and – God willing – so are my readers.
I will continue to do my best to write a good tale. Fun. Adventuresome. Exciting. Romantic.
You know… Fantasy!
I only want to help you escape your own world for a little while, to join me on the adventure my characters are going through. Share in their laughter, love, pain and excitement. That is escapism. Those things are the ties that bind a good tale. The end result is the DNA of a storytelling. The double helix of writing.
So, what are your writing goals? Are you looking to write the “great American novel?” Are you looking to emulate your hero(es)? To be the next Stephen King? The next Koontz? The next Bunch and Cole?
Or, are you like me?