28 August, 2007

Well that's interesting

Other friends, say, not so for them. Emotional turmoil will slow down the writing, or change it. But, apparently, my internal world is pretty solid. It chugs along no matter what's happening in my own life. It's probably why all the people that try to make analogies between my life and Anita's always amuse, or puzzle, me. For another writer, it might be analogous, but it just isn't for me.

Laurell K. Hamilton, purveyor of fine pulp-vampire-romance-and/or-lesbian-love books, reports that her emotional state doesn't affect her writing, and further, that she has an acquaintance for whom the same is true. What I find strange is that there are people who apparently cannot write when their mood is "down", or the opposite of what they want to write. I suppose this can mean a number of things:

  • I'm a terrible writer and/or nothing like successful writers.
  • I write very dark books
  • I am generally in a very dark mood (along with the above point)

I generally cannot write unless I'm in a pretty foul mood (this, to a point that my wife has started treating my greeting of "I started writing again!" as a warning sign). This may be because the first thing I wanted to write was a very unpleasant book about death, war, and failure. As I look through the stack of work I've started, there's only one thing that could be considered sort of happy, and even that is a happy story about being undead.

This is irritating, primarily because my being in a foul mood negatively impacts my marriage and my work life. I tend to not say hello to people, not acknowledge hello's, work odd hours, and get sick more. But golly, I hate what I write when I sit down and force myself to write. It's the stuff that comes out after I've had a multi-hour-long nightmare or I'm recovering in the hospital that I look forward to reading. It's written better, with more, you know, feeling.

I haven't cited Charlie in a little while, but in his discussion of how Accelerando came to be, he mentions it was a particularly shitty time for him in dot-com land. One has only to read the book to realized that Manfred is generally not a happy dude, and his ex-wife Pamela are not especially happy either. Going down the line, neither Amber nor Sirhan are happy people, either (one can even bring up Sadeq and his deeply neurotic self-hatred; however one cannot discuss same without a discussion of deeply neurotic islamic self-hatred, and that's not anything I want to discuss publicly). Was such a novel — to my mind, a magnificent novel — composed when Mr. Stross was all fluffy bunnies and just-from-the-dryer socks? It seems to me, probably not.

Glasshouse was not quite so bleak. In some ways it was, in the same way that Banks' Excession was (with respect to the GCS Grey Area a/k/a Meatfucker or perhaps Use of Weapons', uh, Chair Incident). However, it lacks some of the hopelessness and shaking-fist-at-god (little g, not big G) that Accelerando had. So it seems to me that perhaps an author is somebody who was initially motivated by enough heart-or-ass-pain to sit down and pound out a few hundred pages, but when they've finished, the pain or whatever diminishes to the point that they are able to operate as an author with less of it. I know the process from page 0 all the way through finishing the book forced me to be a better writer. Perhaps it is after that point that writing something that is more classical and less about angst becomes easier, and possibly something one wants to do. It's certainly not for the money.

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