Writing With Silvia Hartmann
On The Joys Of Writing Fiction!!For many years, I've been earning my living by writing non-fiction books, handbooks, guides and manuals.
I think a conservative guess is that I must have a couple of dozen non-fiction books to my various names; and I think that doing this for so long has made me think that the hard work which is non-fiction is all there is.
I am DELIGHTED to find out that I was wrong.
I was just blinkered, got involved in the "art of non-fiction for sale" and that became my world.
In 2002, I took a holiday from writing - and wrote a novel instead. That was In Serein, and even though it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and I would include childbirth in that, simply on the grounds that that was over in 48 hours each time, whereas In Serein had me rolling around in agony for an entire YEAR, it was also one of the most satisfying experiences in my life.
I never thought of it as having anything to do with earning money or even selling the book; I put In Serein up online, and wouldn't have bothered with producing hard copy at all if the publisher hadn't automatically added it to the catalogue as "one of Silvia's things".
I thought no more of it and went back to writing non-fiction.
Then, one day it occurred to me that I would like to write another novel.
A vampire story.
I've always loved the genre and I always, always buy a book if it has the word "vampire" in the title; I also hire DVDs and watch movies if that's the topic.
Usually, I end up bitterly disappointed and still longing for something else, but that has never stopped me from trying again in the hope that one day, I'll find something that I really like.
So I started writing Vampire Solstice.
I enjoyed it thoroughly; it was a classic Project Sanctuary creation with things just turning up on their own accord, and all I have to do is to journal it and report on the occurrences, events and "unfoldments" as best as I can keep up with it.
But this time, there was a different strand to it.
In Serein had been written primarily as an exercise for me; this one from the start was going to be a normal novel, one that I would expect to see published, advertised, publicised, reviewed and sold properly to the requisite audience.
Unlike In Serein, which is virtually unclassifiable, being sort of fantasy but not fantasy fiction because it "doesn't contain dragons, dwarves and elves", Vampire Solstice has a genre.
And that means, it HAS A READY MADE MARKET of people who, like myself, like all things vampire related and will buy a new vampire book if they see it.
Oh, my God!
How easy is that going to be?!
There are vampire forums, vampire sections in Fantasy magazines, lists of vampire books - there is a place for my new book to go!
But as if that wasn't enough yet, it gets even better still!
Hold on to your hat, because this is virtually REVOLUTIONARY.
In fiction, you don't have to give people a refund if they didn't like it!
There is no money back guarantee on fiction products - isn't that remarkable?
I've ALWAYS had to write in the non-fiction department under these huge burdens of providing proof, research data, case histories, "value for money", heaps of techniques that would HAVE TO work with just about anybody, create writings, indexes, diagrams and a flow of events that would HAVE to be life changing to the reader - the STRESS OF IT!
And frankly, I didn't realise just how much stress that actually is, not until I wrote Vampire Solstice.
Think of it! No Dr Egghead PhD is going to be able to wade in and say, "Well the evidence procedure of this form of vampire transformation has not been rigorously scientifically evaluated ..."
They are vampires!
They are FICTIONAL!
They are INVULNERABLE to any such criticism, because they are my creations and thus, I'm the irrefutable expert on them in all ways.
What a RELIEF!
With those non-fiction how-to BURDENS comes also this whole thing with having to be politically correct and not OFFEND ANYONE - in fiction, that's not even there.
So of course the hallelujah evangelists are going to HATE what my vampires get up to - but hey, that's alright!
It's just fiction ...
Just a vampire novel ...
It is FANTASTIC.
I can write.
I can say what I want.
I can play with language!
I can entertain and have fun without any dour "needing to teach anyone anything" making it into hard work for me - OR for them!
I can have happen whatever I like AND ...
... there's no money back guarantee!
Is this heaven or what?
Will I ever return from here?
I don't know but I can't see why I should want to get back to the drudgery of non-fiction, and all the chafing burdens and grating limitations that come with that.
I'm delighted to have discovered this, and the future has become quite a bit brighter, all of a sudden.
I wonder what else I've always wanted to read but never found it anywhere ...?
Onwards and upwards!