Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Realism and Fantasy - How My Writing Has Evolved

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    I've been comparing my enthusiasm levels between the present day and November of 2011 when I first started to self-publish.  I have to say that in those four years I've lost a lot of stamina and certainly a lot of enthusiasm for self-promotion.  I assume my encounter with chemotherapy last spring is partially responsible for that.  Still, I intend to keep going -- nibble away at forming a larger fan base as best I can.  I wouldn't know what else to do.
      I've also become more aware of just what kind of literature I write, and I don't mean cut-and-dried genres.  I think I've lost my taste for typical heroic fantasy.  Elves, ogres, dragons, evil sorceresses, superheroes -- unexplained magic in general -- don't seem to appeal to me these days. I prefer the dark recesses of human (or perhaps one should say, sophont) psychology. 
    When I got my new computer, I added a printer/scanner with OCR capability, and I've begun entering a work I wrote in the 1970's which I liked a lot at the time, and which is standing up fairly well so far.  And I discovered that even in the early days when I was more under the spell of Tolkien, I never was really completely comfortable with the whole heroic fantasy panorama.  My very first endeavors were quite Tolkienesque.  They included a race of immortals, with a wizard very much like Gandalf, white beard, staff, and all.  They also included a villainous Sorceress who wreaks havoc on the lives of the main characters.  That story went on and on but never really developed into anything I will ever be able to publish.  
       But the way I described it at the time was "realistic imaginary world fantasy."  I considered that this was what Tolkien was writing.  My writing included magic, but I never really was comfortable with something that can't be explained by natural processes.  
       But then I turned from that and wrote Children of the Music, the book I'm currently scanning. It's a prequel to the big earlier piece, and it doesn't really include magic.  It's a world like our own, with overtones of the supernatural.  This is a setup I still use.  My termite books include a lot about Seers' prophecies -- certainly supernatural happenings -- and a descent into the Underworld, which is a requisite element of any retelling of epic myth.
     However, I always leave wiggle room.  When Ki'shto'ba and Bu'gan'zei return from the World Beneath, the Companions have an argument about whether what they experienced was real or a dream.  The three rationalists in the group -- Di'fa'kro'mi, Wei'tu, and Za'dut -- never become completely convinced that it was real.  They think it was a vision induced by drinking from the Pool of Memory.  They point out that the King of the Dead never answers any question where Ki'shto'ba could not have already held the answer in its mind.
     Anyway, I discovered that I wrote in a similar way back when I started.  Children of the Music is laid in an imaginary world for sure, one that includes elements of the supernatural -- a holy spring, a people who are simple and good and who live in the flow of the Music, which symbolizes the basic holiness of all life and time.  Unfortunately, however, reality always has to intrude.  Nothing so wonderful as the Siritoch people can last forever.
       Now when I was writing about this world, something else bothered me.  It was vaguely meant to be on a different planet, but it was exactly like our own world -- the geography, the plants and animals, the pastoral lifestyle, etc.  I hadn't fully developed the constructed world (conworld) mentality.  I had not at this time begun writing conlangs, although the book includes an extensive naming language, with a couple of words of the Siritoch tongue translated (Thran, the name of the village, means "bald," from a nearby treeless knob of land; and Wal or Walanath means "Grandfather" or "Grandpapa").
      By the time I abandoned that world completely and went on to Ziraf's World depicted in "The Blessing of Krozem" (FREE on Smashwords), I had begun constructing a milieu much less like Earth. Everything is blue, there are two moons, there are spirit beings that live alongside the humans, and there are four gods who control everything that happens.  I also worked more on the language, although it still consisted of simply a vocabulary with only minimal grammar.  But the basic premise of a realistic depiction of an imaginary world was still there.  And dealing with the dark recesses of human psychology was a major element.
      After I started writing again in 2000 after a hiatus of 17 years, I turned to science fiction.  The worlds have to work on scientific principles, even when elements  of the supernatural are included.  And I became interested in future history -- how is the civilization of Earth going to evolve?  I've never liked dystopian stories much, so even though I gave Earth its Second Dark Age, I also used the optimistic ploy of allowing humanity to rejuvenate itself and come back more rational and stronger than it had ever been.  No magic here!  But still I leave room for the supernatural, particularly when I write about other planets.
       And so we come to The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, which I'm going to be working on simultaneously with Children of the Music.  It's definitely science fiction, laid on 28th century Earth and dealing with space travel, but it occasionally includes hints of the supernatural, and it definitely deals with the dark recesses of the human mind.

Four of my ebooks are on sale for 99 cents
through Friday, Feb. 5, 2016


  1. Fascinating stuff Lorinda - I'm looking forward to reading both those books (I'm about half way through The Buried Ship at the End of the World) :D

    1. Thanks, Chris! If you're halfway through, you've discovered the big reveal that I dare not speak about for fear of spoilers!