I am omniscient!
There I said it. I’m probably really not omniscient, though it is the voice that I choose. It is real you know; head hopping and all (insert gasp from those in the business of popular fiction). And I’m okay with that. So what if I might never be on the NY Times best seller list that caters to the ebbs and flows of the everyday reader overwhelmed with life and seeking an escape. I DO NOT WRITE POPULAR FICTION.
For the majority defined as modern day great writers who say the best way to be a writer is… I have yet to be able to finish one of their books. Never been able to finish a Stephen King novel nor a JK Rowling. And while I have found an affinity for Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books, when I read these books the story beyond the story is what speaks to me. I am in no way saying that these ‘great writers’ are not masters of their craft-the craft of popular fiction, but I can spend hours at a time with old American and British literature books for they share my voice and the rules I choose to write by.
The Omniscient voice has been long ago banished to the grave. I’ll be the first to admit that for many it is a challenge to read. It requires attention to subtle details, investment in the story beyond the superficial, desire to delve further into the human condition. It is not for the faint of heart nor those wanting to be easily entertained. And that is why I love it so.
I am an alchemist, more than willing to mix and match literary elements long forgotten after warm fingers wrap around that college diploma. I challenge the machine churning out that which is easy to assimilate and quick to dismiss. Compare my writing to those of Chaucer and Huxley for it is these voices I strive to return to my modern society. Maybe the birth of my writing has occurred at the wrong time. Like with many famous painters, appreciation for their work only occurring years after they have been touched by the hands of death. I accept the possibility that I walk in those painter’s shoes; that the discovery of the modern day keeping of the old literary ways may not come to light within my lifetime. The thought deters me not because fame and fortune are not the motivation of my stories. The tales themselves drive the need to put the stories to paper.
There are thousands of great stories that will never be read by the masses, tucked away under the title of literary fiction. They find their homes in anthologies, literary magazines, and college campuses. They are deemed inferior because they do not generate millions of dollars or appeal to the masses. Their voices –Omniscient, Second Person, Third Detached- a direct challenge to what the modern day entertainment industry defines as good writing.
But these are the gems that I seek. These are the stories that for me stand the test of time. I may read a book on the bestsellers list and when the cover is closed for the last time, I won’t remember a thing about it. And that too is fine. For me, those books are an escape not meant to be marinated on for some additional underlying meaning. They are there to tell the story of those particular characters and when it is over I return to the reality of life. A necessary escape at times, when the formula is just right, when the rules of popular fiction are followed, I can get lost and come out with a happily ever after…or not.
But it is the literary fiction stories that haunt me in the night. They summon me to look deeper than those particular characters in a story. I am compelled to see myself in those tales, to consider when faced with the social and psychological intricacies would I too submit to the madness of Edgar Allan Poe’s victim? Would I too collapse to my knees driven to the brink of death at my own mind for a ticking that may or may not be real?
So will I continue to test the limits, using elements long summoned to the abyss of history? Yes. Will I remain true to my stories even if they don’t fit into the modern definition of good writing? Yes. Will I continue to challenge the formulas constructed by this modern societies and venture out on my own as my characters see fit? Yes.
I have accepted my calling and I will walk the path that speaks to me.