Gabriel M. Antuna is one of PR’s very talented and hardworking interns this semester. As is our tradition, our interns write a blog post for us during the semester. Enjoy Gabriel’s musings below:
My literary aspirations were vast and lofty. Penning the next great franchise was my chosen torch, and I wager that I wasn’t alone in that goal; my fellow creative writing students passionately attempting to write the next Hunger Games, find a place beside names like Rothfuss and Paolini, planning not simply novels but entire series that would span years of effort.
And in the fledgling years of my writing career, I did just that. Experimenting with both the gritty principles of military science-fiction and politicized fantasy, I played with character tropes like the super-soldier and the philosopher-king. These were the realms and characters that populated my youth, surely it would have been there that my fortune resided.
But several months ago, as part of a class analyzing the myriad styles of literature, I was asked to compose a short piece using one of the aforementioned styles. Assigned flash-fiction, I wrote up a brief encounter I witnessed at a bus-stop and discovered several things, several remarkable things.
In writing that assignment, I shut everything I had ever learned as a writer, every instinct and impulse born of my personal literary tastes behind a door and sat before the keys. And as Hemingway put it, I bled. In a foreign and genuinely intimidating land, I discovered personal novelty. I discovered that I enjoyed the lean, economical sentence I previously thought was beyond me, and the next time I wrote, once again in my favored genres, I found my style had changed.
Therein was the final discovery. That in the admittedly difficult process of venturing beyond my comfort zone, I had grown as a writer, far more so than when I was writing page after page of the familiar.
A recent discussion with a professor reinforced this revelation, as she argued for this latest generation of writers to expose themselves to new and unfamiliar methods in order to promote literary growth. Romantics delving into the galactic, mystery writers indulging in the satirical, for instance.
Now, contrary to how I would have approached the concept before I actually tried it for myself, this is not to dissuade them from that which they love, but to enrich their understanding of their own style. How else can we broaden our horizons to the point where our own work reaches that lauded apex of blurred genres, archetypes and flair? How else can we differentiate ourselves from the countless others seeking to craft the next great work?
That leap of faith into virgin territory has no downside, no reason to dissuade new writers from experimenting with and entertaining the unknown. Self-imposed tradition is what keeps us stagnant, and regardless of the kinds of stories we want to tell, at the core of every writer is the ability to venture into uncharted territory with unique perspectives.
I never thought I would be writing contemporary fiction. But as I currently revise my latest piece, I revel in the turn of events that led me to this new genre, and the opportunity for personal growth it provides.
A chance encounter with a Parisian sketch-artist is a far cry from advanced civilizations and torn battlefields, but who knows? Perhaps what I eke from it will give those future settings and plots a certain piquancy.