January 14th, 2005, 10:50 AM
Wired into the Imaginary...
I never planned on being a writer, and yet I wrote and wrote for a period of almost twenty years. I built this immense and very dark world for nobody. It just occurred to me that I'm really not sure why - aside from the fact that I obviously enjoyed it. Certainly it has a lot to do with Tolkien and Herbert and Howard, the three men who scarred my imagination the deepest.
There's something about digging your fingers into the muck of emotional and historical associations we all share, and sculpting something at once both ancient and new. That's probably it. A good old fashioned god-complex!
So there you go, I started this thing not having a clue as to what to say, and now I've gone and said too much. Which is pretty much all a book is, if you think about it.
January 14th, 2005, 10:57 AM
Very interesting way to start off, which leads me to a question for you, Mr. Bakker, if I may be so bold. I have your book The Darkness That Comes Before on deck right after I finish The Runes of the Earth. It definitely seems very dark and also extremely detailed. One answer you have already stated: you've been writing this story for twenty years. Was it ever difficult for you to keep going with it? How much patience must one have to build a world so in-depth as the one you've created seems to be? I only ask, because I find myself at my wits' end most times while I write. Thanks.
January 14th, 2005, 11:17 AM
I'm on deck after Donaldson, you say?
For me the biggest problem, hands down, was that I was never satisfied with my writing ability. I had this story I wanted to tell - that I had to tell - but my writing never seemed to do justice to my expectations, and so I found myself spinning my wheels in the space in between. I sometimes think I spent so much time expanding and deepening the world because that allowed me to avoid writing the story... I 'loved' writing, but my writing didn't seem to love me back.
The thing is, I was in university all this time, writing essay after essay, reading primary text after primary text, and then at some point I can no longer identify, my knowledge and my ability suddenly seemed a plausible match for my ambitions. I was suddenly happy with what I was writing.
The old adage is true: people love what loves them back. The key for me was to keep at it until I my writing seemed to love me back.
That's my story, but so much depends on your temperment, and I'm constantly surprised at the descriptions different authors give of their own creative process. The only constant, I think, is to make sure you keep doing it.
At least that way something is always happening.
January 14th, 2005, 11:30 AM
Hey Scott, I am so glad that you will be here now with your own forum. I am kind of getting used to chatting with you. This makes it easier.
I honestly believe that anything you write would be compelling and thoroughly interesting! PW doesn't lightly make superlative comments about new authors. Knowing you, I will be able to read your books with a different insight, and I think that forums like this one will help everyone to understand and appreciate the complexity and thought that goes into your books.
Have you considered writing a novel in any other genre? I have written a few myself, but my love is undoubtedly fantasy. As I have told you before, when I am writing fantasy, I close my eyes and my mind just flies.
I am certain that there are direct links in the brains of those who gravitate toward deep thinking, speculative philosphy, self-understanding, and the love of speculative fiction. And yet it astounds me that so many people fail to see the genre of fantasy as more than swords and sorcery.
January 14th, 2005, 01:05 PM
Thanks to you, Gary! This was a great idea. Thanks for the invitation for the kind sentiments - right back at you!
I actually have a draft of a novel I wrote immediately following The Darkness That Comes Before called Neuropath. Once I'm finished The Thousandfold Thought I intend to rewrite it so my agent can start shopping it around this fall. It's a near-future psycho-thriller.
I'm one of these crackpots with literally hundreds of ideas for different books - in all genres. But I suspect epic fantasy will remain my true love for some time, with breaks now and again to do something science fictiony.
The heat that fantasy - and epic fantasy, in particular - take from the 'literary mainstream' burns my ass. There was a time when I referred to my 'hobby-that-dares-not-speak-its-name' as 'speculation fiction' because I was actually ashamed of the words 'epic' and 'fantasy' used in conjunction. I stopped as soon as I realized I was being a poser. Since then, I've literally lost count of the number of times I've seen eyes glaze over when I tell literary types that I write epic fantasy. Sometimes I swear I can even hear the door click shut.
Stereotyping lives. Flourishes in fact. Those literary bastards
January 14th, 2005, 01:22 PM
It's even funnier with me sometimes. I say that I write fantasy, and when people question whether I write for children, I always say, "No, it is quite adult." They then assume that I write pornographic novels!
Myself, I have always been proud to be an author of Epic Fantasy. For me, since it has been such a source of enjoyment and fascination all my life, as well as a provocative experience during some very formative and impressionable years, I have no hesitation about telling people. But then again, i am no longer in an academic situation professionally, so I don't have to contend with that mindset.
I find Fantasy to be among the most literary of genres today. Am I crazy? It's poetic, descriptive, imaginative, inspiring and thought provoking. What more could I ask for. I expect the same things from the music I listen to.
January 15th, 2005, 02:25 PM
It comes down to the all too human tendency to tar things with one brush. We'd rather dismiss and simplify rather than live with any real consciousness of the overwhelming complexity of things.