Life is Very, Very Serious… isn’t it?
December 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
“…now be, be serious. I want to talk very seriously.” – Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.
It’s become apparent to me lately that I am virtually incapable of being serious for more than about five minutes at a time. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am more than capable of being silent for considerably longer than that, and quite frequently, but that’s not the same thing. Inside, I’m laughing at us all.
I actually didn’t do too badly with this blog. I managed several more-or-less serious posts until it all went to pieces. Not a bad effort for me.
I test out character concepts sometimes with the help of the noble tradition of text-based rpgs. By far the most successful characters I’ve played have been essentially (though often secretly) light-hearted and witty (edit: Okay, sarcastic b**** is probably more accurate). When I’ve tried to play a more serious, earnest character with (dare I say it?) more emotional depth it’s been less of a triumph. It takes a few weeks at most before I start slipping into whimsicality, and besides that, it can become stressful and even tiresome. I take this as a Sign.
Why might this be? It sometimes happens that a person is subjected to so much seriousness of the bad kind at an early age that it adds up to enough to last a lifetime. I don’t know if it’s possible to cancel out too much drama with an excess of levity, but I’m certainly trying very hard.
What this has to do with my writing is that, like all apprentice writers, I’ve spent – and continue to spend – a lot of time floundering about trying to discover what kind of writer I am. And – probably like most writers – I’ve got it wrong a few times already.
I’m about twenty thousand words in on a sprawling piece of fantasy fiction which has, I have to finally admit, died. It has died and cannot be revived. This is not because it’s fantasy – I love fantasy – but because it is far, far too serious. Too epic. Too sprawling. A story that involves me shoe-horning comic relief in anywhere I can while my characters stress about something Very Important is not a recipe for success on any level.
This epiphany is good, in a way. It is progress. I am now almost ready to admit that if I can’t fill my writing with frivolous whimsicality, then it probably won’t work very well. The downside is that my two major loves are therefore Fantasy and Humour and I have it on good authority that there is no market for comic fantasy unless your name is Terry Pratchett.
Ah well, c’est la vie. According to this guy it is imperative to write what one wishes to write, and to hell with the rest until it’s done. Sage advice.
Humorous nonsense it is, then.