The Idea That Lives in my Bathroom

I talked about this on Twitter the other night, but it deserves it’s own post. You see, I have this book idea living in my bathroom. There’s all kinds of visual cues running from that specific location to this idea, and I have no hope of breaking them unless I move and/or change my grooming habits significantly.

The thing is, it’s a good idea. Really, really good. Like, every time I’m reminded it exists (which is every time I walk into the bathroom) I want to work on it. Working on it presents a problem though, because it’s Urban Fantasy and it’s the third or fourth Urban Fantasy idea I’ve had and they keep worming their way into the list, ahead of my other ideas. I never really thought of myself as a person who writes Urban Fantasy. I like the genre, but I always thought I would grow up into an Epic Fantasy writer. I’ve barely lived in cities (3 and a half months in New York in 2008), but I grew up on a farm. I have limited knowledge of the workings of adults in cities, but I am eminently experienced in the plucky courage of farm children. I don’t much care for the things that make up the minutia of modern life, but I can discuss or translate Homer, Arthur, or Tolkien off the top of my head.

Epic fantasy is a part of how I think of myself, but I haven’t really written any. Not since my aborted first NaNoWriMo novel in 2005. I can excuse it to some extent, citing NaNoWriMo’s silly insistence that discovery writing is the only way to fly, saying that Steamstress was a purposeful diversion, and I had to write A Thousand Years of Nightmares because I’d already pitched it. Those are all excuses, and they don’t mean much when I tally up my mental list of what I should do next. Looking at the at that list (the sidebar is woefully behind) and then looking at the rest of my life, I can’t help thinking that I’m not just avoiding Epic Fantasy in my writing.

I’ll read just about any Urban Fantasy that sparks my interest, but I still haven’t made time for In the Name of the Wind. I’ve  binge read my way though at least ten UF series (ranging from two to eleven books in length) in the last year while the second Codex Alera book has been on my shelf for 15 months. I dropped everything to read the last Soul Screamers book when it arrived on my Kindle from the library while Lies of Locke Lamora has sat there for three weeks and expired, twice. I left wondering if I may not be the reader or writer I always thought I was.

And I’m not really sure what to do with that.

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2 Comments

Filed under Books, Writing

2 responses to “The Idea That Lives in my Bathroom

  1. Hmmm. I wonder: do you think any of this has to do with what’s going on in the genres right now? I haven’t read a lot of high fantasy in recent years, either, so I could just be woefully behind or simply not noticing the new, exciting things… but generally, when I wander the scifi/fantasy section of a bookstore and pick up a high fantasy novel, the back cover copy rarely excites me. It feels like well-treaded ground: plucky farm children, wry rogues, chosen ones, wizened mentors… and while I’m not trying to denigrate or besmirch those tropes, I’ve also seen them all before, and there’s just not a lot there that makes me think I need to pick up *this* new novel, *this* take on high fantasy. (This isn’t universal by any means, but I think it’s common.)

    But, while urban fantasy isn’t often my thing, I think that the recent explosion there is a lot more diverse (idea-wise, anyway). It’s got plenty of tropes and conventions of its own, but it feels like there’s still a lot of experimentation going on there. (Maybe akin to what’s going on with the YA explosion? Which also is pretty urban fantasy heavy, come to think of it…)

    (In terms of read, another thing for me personally is that I don’t have the patience for what feels like a never-ending series where every volume is doorstopper-sized — what little urban fantasy I’ve read has been generally shorter, and more episodic when it’s part of a series, so there’s a feeling of completion even among multi-book stuff that isn’t as common in high fantasy. But that is 100% subjective.)

    … alternately, this could all be me projecting (gee, ya think?). I’ll say, though, my currently project is the first thing I’ve written in eight years or so that’s been high fantasy, and I *also* always thought that was my thing. It was all I wrote in high school and nearly all I wrote for the first few years of college. And I was really startled when I realized that, too, so I 100% understand where this post is coming from. :)

  2. I think the static state of Epic Fantasy is a contributing factor, but it shouldn’t be. I have years of catching up to do in the genre, but I just… don’t. I grab the latest Sanderson, Sanderson/Jordan and now Martin, but the only new (to me) epics I read last year were the Martin ones. I do think the connection between YA and Adult Urban Fantasy has a lot to do with my preferences, as does my expanded interest in comics, which is pretty much Urban Fantasy.

    I’ll also own up to the fact that I don’t always want to take on the weight of worldbuilding and character creation that I love so very much in epic fantasy. I *can* do it, but I haven’t figured out my process for keeping that much detail straight. I always want to get down to telling the story right damn now and working out an entire world before I do it is less appealing. Maybe epics need to germinate a bit longer before I’m ready to start. Maybe I need to be more willing to write an epic novel three times to make the world work (we’re one number 2 with my Sleeping Beauty adaptation, largely because of worldbuilding reasons).

    Basically, I’m not sure what exactly the deal is, but I sure do have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it.

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