The ramblings and musings of author and musician Geoffrey Young Haney.
Much more coherent and loveable fare from his wife, Michelle.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Inspiration From The Works of Others

I'm reading two books these days. That's a lot for me, considering I rarely read one. Yes, I'm one of those guys - a writer who has a hard time diving into books. When I decided a couple of years ago to take my writing seriously, I knew I would have start reading again, just as when I was in a band and I consumed every ounce of new music in my respective genres to see what the competition was like. But I am cursed with being a very slow reader. So I began downloading audio books and I love it! Listening to a book for about 6 hours at work is a great way to enjoy a book in a matter of a couple of days - reading it from the pages would generally take me a matter of a couple of months! So I am listening to a book right now at work. But I'm also reading one at home before bed.

Go figure that the book I'm reading is one I actually already LISTENED to a while back, Neil Gaiman's American Gods. If my life goes anywhere near the way I want it to and I have the power to call some shots in my career, I am going to meet this man and personally beg him to let me write the script for a film adaptation of this story. Maybe even convince him to let me direct it? Convince him to call me his personal protege? Convince him to be as obsessed with my stories as I am with his???

But I digress.

I love American Gods (hence I'm reading it a second time...) and it would make a great film. And why should I not be the one to make that happen!? Hey, a guy can dream, right?

The book I'm listening to, however, is what sparked this entry. It's a story called THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA* by Scott Lynch. It is the engrossing tale of the titular orphan boy who grows up under the guidance of a master thief known as Chains, a blind priest of the Nameless Thirteenth god. He goes on to form a skilled thievery group named the Gentleman Bastards.

What strikes me so much in this story so far (I'm only into about chapter 2) is that it is so insanely visual. Lynch is a master of language and takes great care in describing his characters and settings, as well as customs and language differences of the varying "counties" where his story takes place. I find myself blown away by his voice. It is akin to The Name of The Wind (which I also love) by Patrick Rothfuss in it's in style (loose fantasy told around a central character in a back-and-forth, from childhood-to-present-day type of non-sequential narrative) but I don't think I've enjoyed the language used in a tale this much since I first read Poe or The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It's just gorgeous.

So the reason why I am only 2 chapters into a book that I find this engaging is? Because its so well written that it's challenging me to write MY stories better. Every 10 minutes or so I find myself stopping my iPod so I can make notes about The Sons of The Moon! Its really great when you find that inspiration from the works of other people. An aspiring writer such as myself could view this sort of tutelage as something to fear, that this story or that story is too good to match. It could bring us down, make us doubt ourselves. But that's only if we let it. Great art of any kind should be an empowerment to create our own art, as skillfully and successfully as we can. At least, that's how I've always tried to look at it. It may be my downfall someday, this confidence, ("The Mona Lisa? I could do that... gimme a year...") but it's the only way that I know how to be.

I have things I want to say with my words - tales that mean something to me and reflect certain ways in which I see the world. But these words I craft are not really mine. My talents have been giving to me for a reason. Now whether that reason is to be as well-known as J.K. Rowling or to simply have a cool fantasy story sitting on a shelf that I can break out every now and again and read to my kids, that has yet to be seen, for God's will on the outcome of all this is still a bit hazy to me. All I can do in my heart is trust in that I've followed Him down the right path and take a few pointers from those who have come before me...

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way. It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.
C.S. Lewis
*Be warned if you plan on reading this book. It's not for everyone. Though set in a sort of Renaissance, Oliver-Twistian society, the characters use a lot of modern cursing and a wry British wit that contains many dark humor overtones. Not everyone will be into this styling I'm sure. Basically... it's not your traditional picaresque fantasy novel... this is more like Monty Python had Quentin Tarantino directed it. At least, that's what I've gathered so far. My opinion of the work could change when I finish it, since I haven't even bitten into the meat of a conflict or really seen the arc of where the plot is taking me.


Mic said...

This is probably my favorite blog you've ever written. This has allowed me to see that much deeper into your soul and passion for writing. You are brilliant, and I can't wait to see what God has in store for you.

Geoff said...

Thanks honey! It only took me ALL DAY to write! :D