Don’t get me wrong. There are things going on in this world that rile me up, get me pissed off, want to dick-punch anyone who’s fucking it up for the rest of us. It’s aggravating and it’s exhausting.
Back in my high school and college years, I’d write protests — poetry, lyrics, comics, stories — most of which hovered between rose-tinted self-righteousness and vague finger-pointing. I kept most of it to myself, though; I didn’t share most of it with others for various reasons. The biggest reason being that I always felt the end result was crap.
Sure, you say. Everyone’s early writing is in fact crap, because you’re still learning. The only way out of that sludge is to keep working at it until you figure it out. Thing is, I knew my vitriolic writing was misguided and not fully informed. It was merely a release of all the pent-up anger and aggravation. That’s why I rarely shared it with the outside world.
I forcibly shed my Angry Young Male Writer facade when I moved back home in 1995. I knew that was a dangerous road for me, and would lead me nowhere. It wasn’t where I wanted or needed to go. Which is why, when I started writing The Phoenix Effect in 1997, I made sure the book never veered too far into dystopian doom. I needed to write something with a positive edge to it. I’m not talking about Shiny Happy People here… I’m merely talking about writing stories that have an uplifting theme somewhere in there.
I’ve been tempted to write dark and gloomy fiction now and again over the ensuing years, especially when world events intervene in my personal life. But each time I’ll let the mood pass. Again: it’s not the direction I want to go.
Writing both In My Blue World and the Apartment Complex story is partly a response to that. The AC project, as I’ve said before, is my attempt at writing in the style of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki; something meaningful and emotional without being overwrought. In My Blue World takes a slightly similar Ghibli road…there are moments of improbability in there, but that’s just the way that universe is, and the characters accept that as part of life.
Is this in response to the emotions and frustrations of Current Real Life for me? Maybe, but I’m not making it a key component to the stories. If anything, I think of it this way: I’m writing positive stories because they’re needed right now, both for the reader and for myself. The worst thing I can do right now is go back to my doomcrier days; those did nothing for me except make me miserable. And if my writing is miserable, I’m making my reader feel the same. And I definitely don’t want that.
Of course, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t write dark stories or angry songs. In fact, I feel the exact opposite: those are also needed right now! It’s simply that there are many writers, musicians, etc, that can do it so much better than I ever could. I’m leaving them up to the professionals.
I’m just better at Ac-Cent-U-Ating the Positive than I am at Fighting the Power, is all.
You go with your strengths. That’s how you win the game.