Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Echoes: one year later

As of Saturday, it's been a year since I completed Echoes. It was, I think, a very important phase of my writing career thus far. It's certainly the fastest I've written a story, especially one of that length. The Blind Illusions took me several years to finish. Nicholas Torrence took up all of my time since then until summer of 2008, when I started working on the outline for Echoes. While TBI is reasonably good, I think, it's also lacking in some originality. At some point, I plan to rewrite it. The same likely goes for Nicholas Torrence--a better story, overall, but now, thinking back on it, there are some significant holes because in the end, I didn't pin down the backstory well enough.

I like to think my writing has improved significantly since those stories. Writing is something that improves with repetition and practice, after all. But there is only so much that can be improved without feedback. We don't see our own writing clearly, after all. Things we think are obvious or make sense often don't to others, to people who don't know the story backward and forward like we do. That's one reason for the importance of beta readers as well as listening carefully to criticism in reviews.

I admit, Echoes never really took off the way I thought it could. I don't regret having written it; I enjoyed the experience very much, and creating the character of Imi and her utterly pathological mind was very rewarding. I love the character so much I could almost write her again, in a different context. I don't think you can write a character well without loving them in some way. Most characters see what they do as fundamentally right or necessary, as serving some purpose that they thing should be pursued. I'm not saying everyone sees themselves as moral people, but those who reject morality must feel that morality has negative consequences. Imi commits out-and-out murder because she can't bear her pain. She doesn't see it as good, but she considers it necessary, and she's convinced of it. People justify their own actions, or they excuse them by saying they weren't in control.

Echoes really got me started into looking closely at the pathology of the human mind. TBI was about people opening their horizons. Nicholas Torrence was about a society that bends greatly to try to save itself and thus starts dying in the process. But Echoes is all about coping with mental and emotional stresses, and that theme's been really formative for Identity and The Color Red to come after it. It's a niche I'm really enjoying exploring. It's a niche we can all relate to: at some point in our lives, we all peer into the darkness.

Will you go deeper? Or will you turn away?

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