Support Your Local Demon

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.
– Roger Zelazny

I love Zelazny. His Chronicles of Amber series was one of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy series. There was even a Tarot deck created in its honor (of which, sadly, I do not have a copy).

I think too often we squelch ideas that at the moment they first appear look like one of those “Aha!” moments, but on closer reflection we decide oh no, that’s too silly, no one will believe that, that could never work, and so on. I know I do. I talk myself out of it before even giving it half a chance to develop and see where it leads. Sometimes that’s likely a good thing, but I think I give in to my insecurities far too often. In the ‘Stupid, ridiculous or brilliant’ race, I generally expect Stupid will win hands down. I’ve got stupid ideas in spades. At least that’s what it seems like most of the time. Somehow I need to give more credence to my little inner demon. Maybe if I gave it a name…

9 thoughts on “Support Your Local Demon

  1. Hey, you’re the one who told me that your best audience is yourself: the Prose Police are not going to come arrest you if you try something a little nutty. As I tell the younguns, try writing one night as though there are no rules, no “grades,” no limits, THEN go back after a good night’s sleep and a pot o’ coffee, and see if there’s anything worth salvaging.


  2. Ha! Yes, but crappy prose aside, dumb ideas are still dumb ๐Ÿ˜‰

    But that is excellent advice you give your students. You’re ahead of NaNo in teaching them to silence the inner editor: Just open a vein and see what flows out. The thing is, when I go back to see if there’s anything salvageable, I usually veto most of it.

    However, lately as I read I give a more critical eye to the events of the stories. As I go through a scene I sort of mentally pull it out and examine it and ask myself, would I ever conceive of doing something like this, or would it seem ridiculous? It’s interesting how often a scene I like in a book is one I would probably toss if I had come up with it. Maybe my ideas aren’t as bad as I think?

    I need to woo that demon. I wonder if he likes chocolate? ๐Ÿ˜‰


  3. The thing is, I can help a willing students with the editing process, but they need to learn on their own how to open the vein without fear. The kids who succeed are the ones who are willing to meet me halfway.

    The English teacher in me thinks you need to read something outrageous – go back to Douglas Adams, maybe, or Lewis Carroll, or some of Shakespeare’s comedies. Or you could rent something like Big Lebowski, or Hedwig & the Angry Inch – you see what I’m getting at. Of course you want your plots to make sense, and your characters to have believeable motives, but what’s fiction, after all, except fantastical bullsh!t that somehow manages to touch the heart? It seems to me that all of the best novels I’ve ever read got that way b/c they made sense to my heart, not my lawyer’s brain.

    BTW, I wouldn’t trust any demon that didn’t like chocolate ๐Ÿ˜‰


  4. Oh, this would be a good time for Lewis Carroll, before I see the new movie. And I’ve still never read the original “Oz” books by Baum. Perhaps more Terry Pratchett is in order.

    Mostly I’m afraid this thing is either turning into a romance (which was never the intent) or a YA thing. Then again, judging by how many so-called “adults” are going gaga over YA novels (Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.) maybe that’s not such a bad thing.


  5. Maybe the Y.A. in you is just yelling to make an appearance. Let her out, see what happens, and take it from there.

    My brother gave me a nice paperback copy of Alice in Wonderland for Xmas – let me know when you are going to re-read yours


  6. Hmm, I might have to try that.

    I’ll let you know when I crack open “Alice”. We should probably plan to do that soon, if we want to see the movie. I don’t need to see it opening weekend, but I do think it will bear viewing on the big screen.


  7. Wonderful advice and I’ll definitely have to take it to heart. There’s nothing like pushing that envelope out as far as it will go. Figure I can always pull it back in if need be. ๐Ÿ™‚


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