I believe that all writers have a philosophy, whether it's to write the Great American Novel, to win a major award, or to make a lot of money (or at least a living wage). I also believe that all writers, at least the ones who are any good at all, love to write. They love to tell stories, to entertain or to educate. Some are better at it than others. Some of the most acclaimed writers of the last hundred years seemed the least talented in the realm of entertainment to me. Many writers confined themselves to the real world, the world of everyday troubles, of people trying to find themselves, to solve their problems. To find the love of their lives, or to discover who they really are. I wish them well, but that is not the area where I choose to write. I see enough of the real world in the real world. I hear enough of abuse and crime and man's general inhumanity to man, and woman, at work. I do not choose to spend my time wallowing in the suffering and everyday trials and tribulations of my fellows.
At an early age I was attracted by the fantastic. My childhood was not a great one. I was teased unmercifully by the bullies at school, boys who were for the most part my intellectual inferiors. My reactions of anger and rage only egged them on. I found my escape in the words of Burroughs, Howard, Wells, Verne, and Heinlein. I got lost in Star Trek and the Outer Limits, and even the general silliness of Lost in Space. I went to the movies to see James Bond save the world again, and Dave Bowman defeat HAL in 2001. I stayed up late at night, well past my bedtime, to watch Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolfman, and low budget space flicks. I was already learning the good and the bad of fantastic literature and movies, and enough of a background in them to stand me in good stead. I also read volume after volume of history, much of it about the great wars of the 1940s, much of it clouded with half truths and untruths. In later years I reviewed the new materials, released after all of the paranoid leaders had decided that maybe the Nazis wouldn't be able to use Enigma against us after all.
As a child I was told by several teachers that I should write. Instead I drew and worked with clay and built my own fantastic worlds. Always it was in the back of my mind to write. When the opportunity finally came, or circumstances became such that I could finally embark on this journey, write I did. For fifteen years. There have been years when I produced prodigious amounts of verbiage. In my first year I produced four novel length manuscripts and a dozen short stories. In 2010 I finished the first drafts on five novels, over 600,000 words. I have gone over all of those in 2011, while finishing none of the seven novels I started that year. Over the years I have established a body of work, submitted them where I thought they might find a home, and continued on. Now with the self publishing phenomenon I have decided to publish some of the work that I think deserves a shot at a readership. Included in the is The Deep Dark Well, a manuscript which garnered praise from two different publishers on the characters, settings, plot, action, just before they told me it wasn't right for their market.
And that brings me to my writing philosophy. It seems that in this day and age the publishing industry and the agents that serve them concentrate too much on Fresh Writing, on Avoiding Cliche's, of having a New Voice. A lot of the things I read in the pulps are Fresh to the point where they are incomprehensible. Like the writer is putting words together to just to make it sound different, even though the story suffers. I believe that people still want a good story, something that lets them escape their everyday existence while still provoking thought. And not to the point where everyone dies in the story, the kind of outcome so loved by the critics, I believe that cliche still has a place in writing, as long as it's not overdone. That straightforward descriptions and action can drive a story. That characters can act intelligently, while still getting into enough trouble to satisfy any conflict hound.
One thing I can promise my reader. My stories will contain an element of hope, no matter how hopeless the situation feels at the time. Never will I write a story in which everyone dies, like some of the atomic war novels of the 1960s. Good will triumph, though at a cost, and if it's a series maybe not until the final volume. Main characters will be strong. Especially female characters, who will be smart and resourceful and will not scream every possible moment. They will not be smothered in angst. Sure, they will make mistakes, they will second guess themselves and wonder where they went wrong, but not for four hundred pages. And they will not fall down while running from a shuffling monster they can out-walk, then lay there screaming while the stupid beast eats them. There may be some secondary and tertiary characters who do all of the above stupid things, that is why they are called victims. I promise to give my reader as good an escape as I can, as good a ride as most at Disney, a good story written to the best of my ability. And I promise to listen to my readers. That's not to say I'll kill off an entire cast because all my readers individually hate some or all of them. But I will listen, and do what I can.
I do this for the fun of it. Sure, I hope to be successful, but if I die having written fifty books, and none are a success, I will still consider myself a success. At least it lowers the chances of contracting Alzheimers.