Friday, April 29, 2011

If Not Within Myself, Where?

Well, time for an embarrassing confession: I'm a writer. Not a professional writer, a published writer, or even necessarily a good writer. Just a writer. I write fiction and poetry, and I'm enrolled in a creative writing class this semester, which is one of the reason this has been a stressful, but rewarding, semester.
Part of the experience of a creative writing class is having your stories work-shopped, and so far, I've had glowing reviews of the stories I have submitted, often being praised for my "unusual" or "unique" viewpoints and characters, which is pretty much the best darn critique I could ask for.
But I also get asked a lot about why my characters seem to "live inside their heads". Of the stories I have submitted, most of them have had characters either alone and talking to themselves or imaginary people, or else they are with other people, but observe with an inner monologue more than engage in dialogue with other characters, save on vanishingly rare occasions.
I don't do it on purpose. I don't set out attempting to write the next Dexter, I promise. My writing isn't nearly witty enough. But the problem is, most of my life is contained within my head. I limit the amount of talking I do on purpose (Though I still would be considered a chatterbox by most) because I know most people aren't interested in it. As a result, I spend most of my time thinking, and observing. So, it seems natural to me to write characters who spend a majority of their time observing. When I do write dialogue, I try my best, and I am more than capable of writing a variety of characters who are much more loud, chatty, rambunctious and social, but something always feels like it's missing, or I am misinterpreting something. I don't know how to make it leap off the page the way some of my observations for the characters do.
At first, this bothered me greatly. But as the workshop has progressed, I feel two things have improved: My dialogue writing, and my attitude towards my weakness in dialogue writing. After all, I firmly believe that one of the best parts of reading a variety of authors from different backgrounds is that you get different perspectives. Put ten writers together and give them a premise, and ten of them will give a different story. When I thought of this, I realized that my neurotype didn't mean I could never be a good writer. It just meant I'd be another type of writer. It may not be my strong suit, but there is nothing wrong with writing what I know and how I know to communicate.
After the class is over, I intend to submit my work, with a bit more dialogue sprinkled in, but I hope that the editors, the powers that be, will maybe appreciate a story which is more withdrawn and less action-packed than average. After all, as many different authors as there are out there, there are even more different types of readers to reach.

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