Rowena here …
Following on from Dave and Amanda’s posts, I came across Chuck Wendig doing his 25 things on the topic of Self Publishing. You have to hand it to Chuck, he doesn’t pull his punches.
It’s funny how things come together. Over the weekend I was on a panel where we writers were talking about Resonance and the things that help us get into the zone to write. For most writers it is music and for a lesser number it is visuals. The panel was really interesting because it gave me an insight into the many different ways a writer can come at a book.
But one of the writers talked about writing from a Dark Place. This person had undergone terrible events in their childhood which would have crippled a lesser person. It was these terrible events that helped them to create truly frightening scenes in their books.
By chance, I spent this evening helping my daughter put together lesson plans for year 10 English students on Roald Dahl’s autobiography. He was sent away to boarding school where he was bullied and mistreated, and he was utterly miserable. But look at the wonderful whimsical books he wrote. In a completely different way he triumphed over his childhood.
One of the audience at the panel asked if you had to have suffered in life to write. (Show me someone who hasn’t suffered in life). But their point was, if you’ve lived a relatively normal life, what can you bring to your writing to give it depth? Will it have the highs and lows? Will it have verisimilitude?
I think some people are like the colour on the old TV sets, you could fiddle with it and turn it right up or down. Some people feel intensely and they don’t need earth shattering events to go from ecstatic to angsty.
How much of our writing is us trying to figure out the world? Sure, we dress it up in story with characters, but we’re exploring themes that trouble us. I keep coming back to discrimination and persecution. I’ve been to the primary sources and read biographies. I’ve researched the psychology of it and I still have trouble getting my mind around it.
Where does your writing spring from? Is it a dark place? Do you tackle it by responding with satire or whimsy? Some of the funniest books spring from the darkest places. Do you find yourself coming back to the same theme over and over again?