Writing for Fun

By: Sara Cleveland

Only a month and I’m already falling behind on this blogging thing!

So, I’m currently in the middle of taking a break from editing Saving the Dragon to get out some ideas for the sequel on paper and I find myself thinking again something that came to me often during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. This is so much fun. It strikes me as completely outrageous and tickles me absolutely pink that I had so much fun writing STD (yes, I know, very funny, the book’s initials are STD). Why? Because for the first time I was writing the story just because it was fun and I wanted to see where it took me.

I have a bad writing habit. Maybe habit is the wrong word. Desire. Yeah, let’s go with that. I have this strong desire to be the next George R.R. Martin, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, you-name-it fantasy author (I’m sure I missed about a dozen amazing authors in that short list). I tend to think BIG. Grandiose, even. The scale of the stories in my head are enormous with plot lines spanning generations and continents.

I never finish them. The closest I ever got was a laundry basket full of paper written on a typewriter (I’m not really old enough that typewriters were ever really common in my experience, I just love typewriters). It was full of story-text, world-building notes and hand-drawn maps. What happened to that laundry basket? Ask my mother. On second thought, don’t ask, she’s tired of me bringing it up for going on seven years now.

The reason I never finish these grandiose stories is, I suspect, not just an appalling lack of dedication (I have been at this since middle school, after all). No, I think the problem stems from getting so bogged down in the sheer weight of the story that I never come close to a half way point. There’s nothing light about these stories aside from the occasional comic relief (I figure if I can make myself laugh I’m doing well). In the end I cave into the pressures facing my heroes before they do. I also suffer from what I call “middle-syndrome.” Holly Lisle has a great article on her website about struggle that is the middle of a book. I highly suggest that if you have ever hit a wall in the middle of a story you drop what you’re doing and read her article. As many books as she’s written it makes me feel better to know I’m in very good company when I say I struggle with middles.

I had no problems with the middle of Saving the Dragon. This is, I think, because it was just so much fun to write. It’s not heavy. It doesn’t beat you over the head with heavy-handed questions about ethics and morality. The general themes are pretty straight forward good-vs-evil true-love-conquers-all could-have-been-a-Disney-princess type themes. It’s what I call “fluff fantasy.” It is not high fantasy. But it is, in my humble opinion as the author (therefore a biased opinion, of course) a fun, light read. I think that’s a good thing. As much as I love the heavy 100,000 word terrors of the fantasy world I also love shorter, light books I can sweep through in a night. I think the world needs as many “fluff” fantasy novels as it does epic sagas of epic-ness.

There are those of course who would strongly disagree with me to the point of near-violence. They would say I’ve committed some of the worst sins of good fantasy. A stubborn princess, for example. There was some real hate on that trope in the NaNo boards this year. But you know what? I don’t care. I wrote this book because it was fun, and it feels so, so good to say that.