Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my recent new projects, and how much lighter and more positive they are in terms of mood and setting. Not filled with Shiny Happy People, mind you, but neither have I filled them with Miserable Wretches. I’m quite sure this is a personal emotional and mental reaction to things going on In Real Life, but I’m fascinated by this decision nonetheless.
The Infamous War Novel was written a) when I was a moody-ass teenager and b) during the last few years of the Cold War in the 80s, so you can well imagine how much of a funfest that book would have been. Several of my trunked stories from that era and up to the late 90s were written during my high school, college and post-college years when was trying to figure out who the hell I was and what I wanted to do with my life. So a lot of Gen-X whinging going on there.
It wasn’t until the project that became the Bridgetown Trilogy that I forced myself out of that rut and made it a point not to write purely as a reaction to Real Life Stuff.
In a way, though, I haven’t really shaken that off, not completely. I know I’m not the only writer who’s done this. Put it this way: I’m nerely making it a point not to write something pessimistic or grimdark, because that’s not where I want to be right now. I want to write stories that are more positive in some way, to balance that out. Granted, I’m certainly not writing Teletubbies-level harmlessness in reactive response, either.
Meet the Lidwells was an exercise in writing something purely for the fun of it, and for someone to read for the same reason, and I think I’ve pulled it off. There are serious moments in that story, but they’re not High Drama. It’s about the evolution of a band, as well as a family, as they grow from teens to adults.
The next project — the Apartment Complex story — is along the same lines. There’s a reason I’ve been describing it as my Studio Ghibli story; the style is not just about the physical action, but also about the evolution of lives.
It’s kind of hard to describe, because it’s not exactly an American style of storytelling; it’s more inspired by Asian fiction than American. There’s a kind of poetry to this style, where your focus on the physical movement of people is just as important as the movement their internal changes — spiritual, mental and emotional. The pace of the story slows down a little, causing you to pay more attention to the details.
Will I pull this style off? That’s a good question. I’ve read so many books of this style over the last ten or so years that I think I have an understanding of how it works. I hope I pull it off, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.