Saturday, October 12, 2019

What Writing Gives to Me ~ Tracy Ball

When I think of my writing, I tend to think in terms of what it can bring to the world. I hardly reflect on what it brings to me. But, in truth, writing makes me a better person.—At least in my head lol, which is good, because that’s where I spend most of my time, anyway.

There aren’t many rules to writing—there are, but they aren’t universal (they’re applied on a story by story basis). One of the few non-negotiable rules is, be true to the world you create. You’re the god of your story. You make the rules. If you don’t like the rules, you’re story-god, you can change them. But, if you put a rule in place, you can’t break it. I.e., if in chapter two, you tell a reader your character has never seen the color blue, she shouldn’t be describing sapphire lakes and azure skies in chapter four.

In being true to my fictional worlds, I am learning to be true to my reality. I am responsible for the little world of Tracy. I need to be true to the person she is. Not who others think she is. Not a projected image she hopes she can pull off. In Tracy-world I am the main character. I have dreams, and goals, and limitations. They exist in my world, so I must be true to them. I can’t pretend I don’t matter, because I’m the main character. The rule is, the main character has to matter. I can’t live up to other people’s expectations, because my life isn’t their story—my character wasn’t created to follow their rules. Likewise, I don’t apply Tracy-world laws to other people. I’m not writing their story, I’m writing my own.

Another gift my writing gives me is a love for the villain in me. I’m not talking about being bad or evil. But a villain is the hero of their own story. They only become villains when they are present in other character’s stories. As I said, I was not created to follow the rules of somebody else’s story. That will often make me an antagonist by simply existing.

My very best villains have taught me to be okay with that.

My villains—and I want to emulate them—concern themselves more with action and achievement than they do approval. My villains conquer or accept their limitations and adjust accordingly. The villains I love are badass precisely because they follow the rules of their own story. Even if that means being the bad-guy in somebody’s else’s tale.

This frees me as a writer and as a person. Because I’m following the rules.

Listen to Tracy A. Ball's podcast episode here.

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