Thursday, May 05, 2005

So I'm writing a novel

Which is really nothing new. I've been writing some novel or another for the past seven years. It's a hobby. Only this one actually has potential. There's a small publisher here in Canada that's interested in the idea and wants to see the manuscript when I've finished.

For the longest time I felt like I had to make the manuscript really sensible and grounded in reality—that what I wanted to write wasn't "mature" enough or something. That it wasn't something "adults" were going to want to read.

The issue was that I set out to write something like a modern version of Japanese folk tale, using a lot of the culture and mythology of Japan to make it work. So I did all this research. Okay, I did a heck of a lot more research than I've done for anything else before. Usually I just sit down and start writing. Anyway, I got wrapped up in trying to be accurate and have some kind of reference or source to back up what I was writing.

I would try to write a chapter, over-aware of how "respectful" and "accurate" and "mature" I needed to be. How the mythology had to work with the pre-existing mythology because I didn't want to "get it wrong" or offend the Japanese.

This need to get it right was killing my characters, because instead of letting them develop naturally into who they needed to be, I was constantly checking their developments against a pre-established set of rules.

It was like I was trying to write someone else's manuscript.

When I stopped and thought about it, I realized what I've always admired about Japan is how the Japanese can take something completely alien to their culture (like Christmas, for example) and reinvent it so that it works for them.

So that's what I'm doing now. I'm taking some concepts, ideas, and some mythological figures that already exist in Japan and reinventing them so that they work for my culture. It may "get things right" and it may offend some people, but damnit, it's going to be a hell of a lot more fun.

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