To say that I earned a diploma from Lakewood High School would be an overstatement. I endured four years in the early 1980's and I was given a paper that would allow me to leave and never look back. I could read, my writing skills were pitiful, and the concept of punctuation eluded me. As a matter of fact, grammar and punctuation are still my nemesis. Yet, I wanted and still want to tell stories. I for years have stood paralyzed from trying to write, my thinking that someone who graduated with a D- in English shouldn’t entertain this notion of being a writer.
Yet, I love stories, the act of telling a story to someone is an act of sharing and giving that we humans have engaged in since we huddled around fires in a cave. My grandfather was of Irish stock and he would tell me stories of olden days, times when magical things happened. He had a third grade education but with a cloud of cigarette smoke and a gruff voice he would tell a story about a black horse that could jump any gate and kept Willy Brennan the highwayman safe...until he forgot to pay the fairies their due and they took the horse back. In a voice that could be soft and then loud Granddad wove these tales and made me wonder what was it about these characters that make us care?
It occurred to me as I grew older and read books by the greats like Neil Gaiman, Kelley Armstrong, Jim Butcher and so many other authors, that the same feeling I felt at the end of a book was one of loss . It was that there were no more pages to be read and I had to leave that world created by the author. I realized the same feeling I had, when a book ended was the same emotion of longing for just a little more of the spoken story.
We care about the characters because a good story makes us want to identify with the protagonist and when they are scared and uneasy, we vicariously feel it. When against the odds there is a win for the good guys, we readers feel that evil is vanquished just a little. I knew/know that like cooking I have the ingredients for a great story. However, can I be a good writer?
I am wrestling with an urban fantasy novel right now. I look at my world and wonder are there more to it than what lies on the surface. I have characters, that I try to keep in mind Neil Gaiman’s advice about writing, that are about true things and a window into me. Not total *Mary Sue character’s but enough truth that I hope a reader will identify with them and say, “Oh, that’s me . I would do that.”
After all, in my world the guy who gives you a speeding ticket might moonlight as a werewolf and two time divorcee can discover she is from a long line of witches that her mother conveniently covered up. In my world I like to keep enough real things to keep it grounded, such as, finding money to keep the propane tank filled in the winter and wishing that the chickens would let themselves out at dawn from the coop. Mundane realities that I hope balances my request that the reader believe in Lycanthropy, Witchcraft, the Fey and ghosts and so much more.
So, will my book “Witch” that I am slowly releasing on Tapas.com go anywhere? I guess time will tell, but I am giving it a shot. What do I got to lose?
*From Wikipedia because I am lazy , “Mary Sue is a generic name for any fictional character who is so competent or perfect that this appears absurd, even in the context of the fictional setting. Mary Sues are often an author's idealized or flawless self-insertion.”