by Pauline J. Alama
I was a bit daunted, at first, by the idea of blogging about the process of writing short speculative fiction. I avoid con panels about the writing process, because they tend toward heavy moralizing, loading a ton of “shoulds” (you should write every day, you should accept criticism gratefully, you should be relentless in editing your stories to perfection) onto a process that I believe should (oops!) be playful.
Let me circumvent that moralizing tendency by writing in praise of imperfection.
I’m no good at drawing, having the manual dexterity of a cow, but I enjoy it anyway. Once upon a time, my son asked me to draw the Big Bad Wolf, and I wasn’t sure how to do it. I looked at a picture in The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales of the wolf in Grandma’s nightgown. That can be a terrifying image: the predator disguised as a nurturer. The first nightmare I can remember from childhood was finding in my Aunt Betty’s chair not a beloved curmudgeonly aunt, but KING KONG! The wolf in Grandma’s nightgown can evoke the same nightmarish sense of betrayal and insecurity.
But when I tried to draw him, the wolf didn’t look scary. He looked a bit embarrassed. Thence came the inspiration for my “fractured fairy tale.”
If I’d drawn the wolf perfectly, the subtle wind of inspiration would have lacked a chink to enter my soul. Very often, too, books I thought had stupid endings or infuriating plot holes inspired me to write my own stories. Creativity doesn’t flourish in the sterility of perfection: it needs to be nourished by the fertilizing manure of error.
Pauline J. Alama is the author of the fantasy novel The Eye of Night Bantam Spectra 2002) and stories published in Realms of Fantasy, Abyss and Apex, and various anthologies. A lifelong fairy tale fanatic, she published a fantasy based on three Grimm tales in Sword & Sorceress XVIII (DAW 2001), and encountered the Grimms’ scholarship during a
doctoral program in Old English. Although driven out of academia for her controversial theory of the Klingon origin of Beowulf, she lives happily ever after in New Jersey with her husband Paul, their firstborn child, and two royal cats.
To learn more about Pauline and her work, please click HERE.