Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Never," said the raven.

Saturday was in many ways a massive disappointment for me. My family and I went up into the mountains in search of cooler temperatures and found that while it wasn't as unbearably hot as where we live, that was relative. Additionally, the hike that my husband remembered as mostly in shade wasn't. It was filled with sun, which is very bad for me as I have PMLE, a condition that makes me feel very ill when exposed to sunlight. The long sleeves the PMLE compels me to wear weren't fantastic when the temperature hit 90F either. I was somewhat fortunate to make it back to the car without passing out.

But there was one redeeming thing about the weekend. When we walked into the Ranger Station to renew our parking permit, my eyes fell on the most wonderful raven puppet. It was love at first sight and I left with the raven clutched in my arms.

As we drove off, I thought about what to name my new friend. “I think I'll call him Always.”

My husband shrugged. “What's wrong with Quoth?”

“Quoth is a good name.” At least I liked it when Terry Pratchett used it for the raven in his Discworld series. “But I keep being told that saidisms are bad. So Quoth should be Said.”

“Said the Raven?”

“Yeah. Not as dramatic, is it?”

I did decide to go with Said, mostly to remind myself that while it's good to be aware of your writing and to seek out advice on improve it, following with blind fervor is bad. If I applied the net's advice to Poe's most famous line, Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!” would wind up reading ”Never,” said the raven. And that would be a massive pity.

On a related topic of being careful how much weight one gives to external influence, Jessica Faust made a post on Monday titled Be True to You. It was about writing what it's in your heart to write, not what people tell you is hot. As Polonius said, “Above all, to thine own self be true.” Everyone and their cousin is clamoring for steam punk right now. It makes me sigh and wish like anything I had a steam punk story anywhere in my soul, or better yet in my Documents folder. But while I enjoy steam punk, it's just not something I'm drawn to write. Trying to force it would at best result in a lifeless lump of a manuscript and a depressed author.

If you want to write high fantasy, don't force yourself to write something you think has a better chance of selling if it's not a genre you love. And if your ravens go about quothing, “Nevermore,” I say let 'em.

The main problem I personally have with taking the above advice is one of belief in my instincts and myself in general. A week ago, Nathan Bransford asked readers Tell Me: How Do You Deal With the “Am I Crazies?” How do you keep from drowning in uncertainty while pouring so much of yourself into something that may never garner recognition or respect, let alone income? Well... Maybe it's by being stubborn. Or maybe it's by answering the question with a proud, “Why, yes, of course I'm crazy. Who'd want to be sane?”

No comments: