My friend, Lovely, was telling me the other day, via a Facebook instant message conversation that I shouldn't worry about what other people think of my writing. She says that I need to listen to my "inner reader". (She lives in New Zealand. It's late summer in New Zealand. When we were younger, she went to college in Hawaii while I went to college in fun-filled Idaho. But I'm not bitter of her adventurous and tan life.) Anyway, back to my inner reader. I think she got that tidbit from the author, Shannon Hale's, blog. (Is that right, Lovely?) I am supposed to write the kind of stuff that I would want to read.
Ummmm... hmmmm... the kind of stuff I would want to read.
Well, there would be this girl and she would be ordinary. Then she would fall in love with this guy, who would turn out to be a vampire, only a good vampire. And he would sparkle. Oh wait.
Okay. It would be the early 1800s, in England, and there would be this girl and she would be ordinary. Then she would fall in love with this older guy, who we would call by his last name. Maybe it would be "Rochester," only Rochester would have a deep, dark secret. Oh wait.
And that is the thing! Every time I try to really think of a new story, I can only think of the stories I've already read. There are many books that have become so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I don't know how to filter them out in my own writing. I don't think I could ever write a hero to equal Edward Cullen, or a heroine to equal Jane Eyre. Everything in my head just seems so plain in comparison with the incredible people I've met on the page: Anne with an E, Josephine March, John Adams, David Copperfield, and on and on and on. When I sit down to write, my Inner Reader thinks "Hm. You go ahead. I'll be over here with Eclipse."
In an attempt to follow Lovely's advice, though...
She will never forget, sitting on that beach. Looking out over the water and realizing, as she took in the curve of the shore and the palm trees, that she was sitting in a place that could be called exotic and adventurous. She didn't even know how she'd gotten there, really. She had a new, unused passport. There was a cheap flight. Really, she hadn't even thought about it.
The flight had connected to San Francisco, where she met up with a friend, and they proceeded from there to Seoul, Korea. Eight hours watching incoherent Korean television, drinking something from a vending machine called "SWEAT", and shopping duty free stalls in the airport. On another plane to Jakarta, Indonesia. Here, they had been met with men carrying AK-47s and humidity that licked at your face as you stepped out the door.
As they made their way to their gate in Jakarta, and to the restroom, something in her was delighted to have a choice between a toilet and a hole in the ground. There was a hole in the ground in the bathroom! Later, waiting to board the flight, a woman came up. She stood very closely, invading any sense of personal space. Reaching up with her small, brown hands she had taken her pale, American face and said in lilting English "You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen." Her friend was annoyed. She had never been happier.
One last leg of the trip from Jakarta and its guns to Denpasar, Bali. The last flight in for the night, the lights in the airport being shut off, and no one to meet them. They grabbed one of the last taxis out of the airport and said simply, "Hotel?" Two white American girls, zigzagging their way into Kuta Beach.
He brought them to a hotel--a very nice one. $23.00 a night. They agreed to the price, and paid him his fare. The room, clean and spacious, smelled of sandalwood and spices. The carved wooden headboards were intricate and lovely. On the toilet in the bathroom, a sticker with a little man standing on the toilet to squat, with a big "NO" across it. Poor native, who would be wondering where his hole is.
Curling down into the covers that night, she wondered what adventures she was about to have. What the next 4 days would bring.