The spiritual side of writing

Sorry about not posting yesterday. I got back from FablesCon Sunday night and immediately went to work on writing it up for Robot 6. That, plus just being gone all weekend, didn’t leave any time for here.

I won’t go over again how much I loved the convention as a whole, but I can go into more detail about the effect it had on me. At some point over the weekend, I tweeted that the cumulative effect of the panels was “incredibly inspirational for storytelling. Like, spiritually so.” What I meant was that being in the same room with experienced writers like Kurt Busiek, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Chris Roberson – and listening to these guys talk about not just writing, but storytelling in general – kind of filled up my tanks.

Writing is a lot of fun for me, but I don’t always feel passionate about it. I discipline myself to write every day whether I feel like it or not, and that keeps me productive, but though I always enjoy writing as I’m doing it, there are times when I don’t really want to sit in that chair. I’ve also developed disciplines to help me organize my stories and keep them on track and that’s all really good. I need that, because I’m not that disciplined by nature, but it can get stifling.

At FablesCon, I got a lot of permission to let loose and just enjoy the flow of ideas. Roberson, Carey, and Gross talked a lot about it (Matt O’Keefe has a good write-up of that particular panel at The Beat) with Carey even saying that he doesn’t teach three-act structure anymore in his workshops. Carey also poked holes in other writing conventions, like the idea that characters can steal control of a story from the writer (he writes more about that on his Good Reads blog, which is now in my bookmarks). He admits to being a very organized, outline-using writer, but he also lets himself play, as does Roberson. Their excitement about telling stories was contagious and motivating.

I want more of that and I think my experience at FablesCon showed me a way to get it. I got to chat with Roberson a couple of times in addition to attending some of his panels and was blown away by how well-read he is. I’m pretty good at consuming large quantities of stories, but Roberson makes me want to be a better, pickier reader. Though I don’t do much linkblogging anymore, I still tend to read the Internet that way: scouring for details about comics and movies that I’m not even interested in. That time could be better spent on a critical essay or two; or even watching Life of Pi, which I understand has some deeply profound things to say about the power of stories.

In fact, I’m going to add Life of Pi to the top of my Netflix queue right now, because if it’s everything I hear it is, I have post in me about it and Roberson’s famous quote about Superman and Jesus. Thanks to FablesCon, I’m starting to realize how much of a spiritual activity storytelling is and I want to think and discover more about that.

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