Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Booby Traps

I suspect that I may be writing too much in the way of Antaria, and too little in the way of general fiction.

It's not healthy to stay in one universe. I suppose that moving around talking to the characters and experiencing the locales makes for a very nice exercise in world-building, but there's a fine line between developing as a writer and getting stuck in a realm of your own creation.

It's "Fan Fiction Syndrome", if you think about it. Too many writers of fan fiction find themselves enamored of a certain setting, and thus spend their entire literary lives scratching out mediocre works that happen to be based on it. They neither find the inclination nor the effort to move on, and therefore never harness the true potential of their creativity.

While Antaria is an original creation (as opposed to a work created by some distant author), it may pose a similar danger. It is, admittedly, one of the crunchiest settings I've ever conceived (and I've gone through a few), but the last thing I want it to do is to prevent me from writing other pieces of fiction.

As of this post, I've written no less than thirty-one pieces relating to Antaria's story or setting for this blog, yet I've featured only two short stories ("Untitled", "Body Parts") that stand on their own. That's a huge gap.

On the other hand, the reasons for such a discrepancy may be attributed to any number of things. There's the possibility of copyright, for example: Maybe I am writing enough stories, for instance, except that I just don't put them up on this blog because of copyright worries. (In contrast, I don't hold similar concerns for Antaria because any plagiarists will have to copy a massive number of works.)

There's also the fact that a lot of writing contests have cropped up over the last year. No contributing writer is likely to place his submissions online, after all, especially when the better works are selected for publication and the worse ones are best left unread.

And then there's the nature of Antaria. It's clearly not meant to be a short story, for one -- it's a fully-realized setting with characters and places and tense political situations. Its tale is at least series-length, now that I think about it. And you really need to immerse yourself in the universe to understand what's going on.

That's probably why I only expect to come out with an Antaria post around once a month. Writing more often than that would entail a partially serious commitment (or at least an indication that I have nothing better to do), and writing less often than that would risk my losing the story completely. I'm looking at an undesirable situation either way.

It's a fine line, all right. If it were any finer, you'd string it around your knuckles and wrap it around somebody's throat.

So now there's the question of what I plan to do.

Ironically, there doesn't seem to be much that I have at the moment. If I'm inclined to write something about Antaria, then I might as well sit down and write something about Antaria. If some majestic plot for an independent short story comes to mind, then I can write that instead. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of choices involved in an effort that depends so much on inspiration, after all.

I suppose that, while I'm languishing in this train of thought, there's only one thing that I can do: Write. The topic shouldn't matter, really.

All I ask for is this: If I seem to be leaning one way or the other, do let me know. It's probably the only way I can learn to right myself in a sea of uncertainties.

And if that somehow helps improve the pace at which I write -- Antaria or otherwise -- then I'm all for it.


eClair said...

There's the dilemma of copyright. True true. In any case, it is good to see your progress. I don't get to read everything though. Waaah.

In any case, it's good that you have the Antaria stuff listed on the sidebar. Helpful for your readers and those who are new to your blog :)

Cheers! :D

banzai cat said...

Well, if it helps...

... personally, the reason I do my fifteen-minute ideas in my blog is that I now have a bank of story concepts I can develop further. Obviously, a story concept will be hard to plagiarize despite being posted. (Good luck to them anyway!)

Likewise, I can't do this half-assed: doing a fifteen-minute (or five or ten) writing on a possible story is almost a story itself, like an egg ready to hatch or a seed ready to germinate. That way, I can do posts but without committing myself to a full-fledged story. At the same time, if I do want do up a story for a submission or something, I can pull up one from the file and finish the tale.

That way, you can have it both ways: full stories for Antaria, ideas for your other fiction.

Anonymous said...

"While Antaria is an original creation (as opposed to a work created by some distant author), it may pose a similar danger."
- hmmm... I remember your (angsty) entry about that... if I'm right...

anyway, all I can say is that... when there's no progress, there's stagnation and when there's stagnation, there's death.

I think, nobody from us would like to "die" figuratively.

Sean said...

Clair: The sidebar listing is more for a chronological arrangement than anything else, actually. Sometimes it's difficult to get all the details straight...

Banzai Cat: How do you do that? I can never seem to continue old story concepts unless they're really large and all-encompassing. Once I start writing a short story, I need to finish it quickly, or it gets lost.

Reiji: I get the feeling that any fictional universe will inevitably be a source of angst for its creator/s. There are too many things that they force us to worry about, only a few of which will involve stagnation and literal death.


Sometimes I wonder why we even bother with such things to begin with...