Better known as “How Phil wrote a lot of truly terrible, dry pieces of fiction before he started to write better, less likely to induce eye-bleeding, fiction.”
First, however, I hope a happy Thanksgiving was had by all. I’d like to say I was in a turkey-induced coma. In reality, the turkey I had chosen for dinner sprang to life, knocked me unconscious, and took me back to the vast and diabolical Holiday Fowl Empire. It was an entirely unpleasant experience, and I’d rather not talk about it
So back to finding my voice.
I wanted, so badly, to be a writer of high fantasy. That’s not fantasy written while on drugs, although I’m sure there’s someone out there who does that quite well. I’m talking epic, Lord of the Rings-style stuff (or George RR Martin, really, since there are now more pages in his books than there are trees on the planet). I wanted to write tragic, amazing characters who people would fall in love with, then watch them weep as these characters endured hardship. Then bottle those tears and drizzle them over waffles every morning.
Joking about the tears on waffles part. Maybe.
As it turns out, my fiction cannot take itself seriously. The moment it starts to take itself seriously, it either makes an abrupt U-turn and starts becoming progressively more snarky, or it becomes so serious about itself that it just sort of crawls up its own ass. I wish I had a better way of putting that.
Then I discovered Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” books. I wanted, so badly, to hone my humor to that point, and in trying to do so I ended up with some horrible, hideous mess with too many attempted witty footnotes and not enough actual substance to carry the story past paragraph one. If a train wreck and a nuclear blast’s worth of atrocities came together and had a child, it would be the stories I tried to write in this fashion.
After going through high school, college, and much experimenting, I found a good way to get my snarkiness in while still going for character-driven works that, I’m told, aren’t entirely similar to jamming icepicks into the vision center of the reader’s brain. I’m going to chalk that up as a victory.
Let it be said, however, that I am by no means done tweaking and changing my voice. That’s one of my favorite things about writing. Watching your work evolve and change over time, then sort of scowling at what you’d written like in the past.