Writing my latest short, "Nomenclomancers I Have Known," I am forced to admit that, despite the panoply of fantasy in my library of compositions, I just can't really get into writing classic - "epic," "heroic," "high" - fantasy.
This is a weird thing to be thinking when, just the other day, the first article of my six-part series, "Keeping Fantasy Fresh," appeared at Fantasy Faction (you can read the article here). Shouldn't I, y'know, enjoy writing fantasy if I'm proselytizing and/or pontificating on this sort of subject?
But, looking back on those articles (I wrote them several weeks back), I'm realizing that part of the problem is that I approach writing fantasy with disregard for my own theories about fantasy. In other words: I'm not trying to keep fantasy fresh.
Take the latest, for example. "Nomenclomancers" is about, well, nomenclomancers: spellcasters whose power is founded in names, naming, and secret words. This is cool, but other than that special magic aspect (which has probably been used before, somewhere), it's quite standard fantasy. However, what I ought to be doing is finding genuinely new - and viscerally so - landscapes and characters; new types of fantasy, in short, rather than just different modes of the old. Ideally, these new zones of exploration would be just as enthralling as classic high fantasy, but more modern, more imaginative, and, well, different.
Those who've read my blog much probably know I'm a big fan of China Miéville and Jeff VanderMeer, who, though fantasists, are of a wholly different order than the "classic" authors of the genre. With these thoughts and influences in mind, what can I bring to the table that would make me more like the stuff of legend?
I've toyed with the idea of cyber-fantasy before - i.e., cyberpunk fantasy. Although it seems counter-possible, I really just mean psi-battleaxes and magi-optic eyeball enhancements; lightning rods and typhoon trains. I guess, in some strange way, I sort of mean "heavy metal fantasy." Whatever it turns out to be, fantasy that is seen, as it were, through a glass darkly, would be more interesting than my own imitations of the old masters.
The point is, classic fantasy isn't my forte because I think it's boring to reproduce things that have already been done, and done well, by others. And yet, I keep writing it. Thusly: I am writing stuff I don't like. There must be some deep-rooted psychological mechanism at work here; but, in any case, the resolution is simple: this is the last conventional fantasy story I will write. After this, it's on to weird fantasy, first and only.