Thursday, June 3, 2010

Time's Affect

I liked Melissa's idea from her post earlier this week.  So I'm going to add some of my thoughts on the subject.

I have read other blogs where authors have posted about "why we write."  Oftentimes, it is boredom, intense imagination and the like that spurs the author to pen the first story.  (This is related, I promise, wait for it...) Sometimes it is an inability to find a good book, so a writer turns to their notepad or computer and out comes a story.   For me, it was different.  My favorite story of why I started writing fantasy was because the characters in my favorite books weren't "doing what I wanted them to." But that wasn't when or why I started inventing stories.

You see, a few years earlier, when I was eight, I was introduced to the concept of serfdom.  It unsettled me. My little kid self just couldn't handle the injustice of some people subjugating others.   I had already come to idolize Dr. Martin Luther King, and his preaching of equality had left its imprint behind.  But the world is a far harsher place than I wanted it to be.  This was as true of my home life to my academic questions.   So I came up with a "play" about a serf girl who escapes and finds friends who protect her when her lord comes to drag her back to the lands she, as a serf, was tied to. The whole premise was heavily influenced by Disney battles and such.   I made the other children in my daycare act out the play.   It became so popular I invented another...only to forget all of it a few years later.  But Sara Fay stayed with me.   I had liked the name, thinking it sounded pretty.  Now I know I had unwittingly named my main character "Fairy Princess" with a Hebrew-Celtic fusion of a name.

That said, I think that our state of mind heavily influences how we deal with subject matter.   I know issues of class, ethnicity, and cultural differences have always hit a chord with me.  I know I will always see these themes in my writing. But how I stumbled through these topics a decade ago and how I address them now?  Very different.       

When I was younger, it was Coming to America stories that inspired me.   I believed my friends, whose parents had such dramatic life stories, were a representation of strength and heroism.  They had sacrificed for family, for their children.  They had been persecuted in one place for political, economic and ethnic identities, then found their way here.  I saw them buy their first house.  First ever.  To me, the old-fashioned American dream lived in them.   It gave me hope.

Over my lengthy college career, I studied the process of culture change.  I watched my friends go through some of the first throws of culture-clash with their parents.  My studies and my life complimented each other.  My characters and world began to diverge from its original construct.   And like the slow changes I witnessed around me, my manuscript evolved before my eyes.  But some of the threads belong to the newer, more vibrant and complicated world.  The other is stained with the child's firm lines of right and wrong.

Strength changed in meaning, in my head.  My writing demonstrates the change.

That said, my main female character in my most recent short story is far weaker than most of my characters.  I think she is partially a reflection of my own depression, as being out of work for a year has not had a very positive affect on my mind or writing.

I think what I create now will be influenced by where I've been.  Experience always affects writing.  Time leaves its own stain.   That said -- it isn't always for the better.  Sometimes different is just different. 



Anonymous said...

That's really neat, Drea, about such issues influencing your writing of fiction. Similar issues have influenced my own: the tension of one trying to achieve equal status of success in a world where there's this delusion of in order to succeed one has to push the other person back. This often stems from the, what Harlan Ellison calls "moral majority's" fear of losing their power to the minority or marginal. And so many of my characters are in the second category trying to make it in a world that too often thinks it can only survive through competition of power.


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