Sunday, June 3, 2012

On How My Head is So Full of Voices; I'm Still Trying to Find My Own

This is kind of a "place-holder" blog - I've had quite a few blogs simmering, on horror and post-modern horror and idealism and being an idealistic horror writer (not only idealistic about my career, but idealism IN my horror, if that makes any sense) - but for some reason, those blogs have swirled and simmered but not really coalesced. 

Of course, it's the end of the school year, massive grading and finals are due, plus I've actually been solicited to write a short story - my very first - so besides my ongoing posts over at The Midnight Diner and my reviews - I've not been blogging, much.  But I  like to try and keep this space active, so I thought I'd post some musings about all the different types of stuff I read, stocking all these voices in my head, in hopes of finding my own. 

One of the very first things fledgling writers do, I think, is try to imitate their favorite writers. I've been through that stage. Actually, been through  several stages. My very early, unpublished stuff - so folks have told me - sounded very Stephen King-ish.  So that was my Stephen King Phase.  I also went through a Ray Bradbury Phase, then an H. P. Lovecraft Phase. My Peter Straub Phase ended in an unfinished, 600 page manuscript that I may or may not revisit.

The closest thing to something in my voice would be my novella, Hiram Grange & The Chosen One. I think.  Maybe.  At the very least, I was trying to say things my own way, without consciously copying someone.

I probably should worry less about it.  Should spend more time writing, less time reading and absorbing so many different voices at once.  The thing is - and maybe this is a conceit - I desperately want my voice to be MEMORABLE.  I've read so many books and short stories that made no impact, stories and voices that I'll never read again. And then SOME of them were so powerful, so enduring, I keep coming back to them, over and over.

Anyway, I'm reading a lot right now.  Very different stuff. And I have some serious (perhaps ludicrous) reading plans for the summer ahead. Now, I just love reading.  I read fast, and I basically consume books.  So this plan works well for me on a very selfish level.  But I guess I'm also trying to absorb as many styles and voices and stories as possible.  

See, I don't think I've found my voice yet. Most my stories are adequate. Competent. Hiram Grange  was certainly fun and fast-paced.  But I'm not sure if I've ever written something that's MINE.

Mort Castle once told me: "The real stuff, the stuff that lasts, comes out late-night conversations with your very own self." 

Well, I've been doing two things, lately. LISTENING very deeply to those late night conversations (I've always had  them), and reading as much stuff as possible.  Here's my current reading list (always changing), what's on the plate right now: 

Every morning, before and during breakfast: 

King James Bible - Book of Ephesians
A chapter from Miracles, by C. S. Lewis
Undead: Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, (Cemetery Dance) by John Russo
One Robert Frost poem 

Before writing, morning and night:

A short story from Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson 

Whenever I have a free moment at home (or, whenever 10 minutes comes and I'm doing nothing): 

Danse Macabre, by Stephen King

First Period Planning at school: 

Faces in the Fire, by T. L. Hines (teaching to 10th Grade Honors) 

Every night before bed:

Scream Quietly: The Best of Charles L. Grant
One William Blake poem

Now, the summer ahead, I've got some ludicrous plans. Of course, as a teacher, I have the summer off. And as an English teacher, I tell myself this is an important part of my JOB, after all. To read all the time, keep my mind sharp and nimble.  In addition to books I'll be reviewing and books for just plain fun, here's my agenda this summer, in no particular order:

A Ray Bradbury short story every day, from my omnibus containing The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, and Golden Apples of the Sun

Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

House on Haunted Hill, by Shirley Jackson

House of Seven Gables, by Nathanial Hawthorne

The Man Who Was Thursday, by G. K. Chesterton

More Manly Wade Wellman

An exploration of the first Gothic Fiction novels

Supernatural Horror in Literature, by H. P. Lovecraft

I know. Crazy.  And this doesn't even count random books just "because", or the books I'll be reviewing. But you know what? The sad - or fortunate - thing is, I'd rather be reading, honestly, than most anything else (except being with my family - wife and kids - working outside in the garden, and of course, writing).   Even when I'm at Cons, most of the time, you can find me holed up in a corner, reading.  Sadly, I think I'd rather read than talk to people, sometimes....

So what voices are in your head, at the moment?