Often as writers, we cling to our old way of doing things. Perhaps our writing method, voice, or plots. But, to grow as writers, we need to be constantly in search of new ways to express ourselves. This can cause friction, both for the writer, and for the reader. Why?
Think about your favorite author. Have they ever written something that made you say, “well, that certainly is not like the other stuff they’ve done.” Perhaps it even made you angry, and you threw the book out the window, hitting some poor old lady who now has amnesia and is wandering the streets naked. Why naked? How the hell should I know. You’re the one that threw the book.
At any rate, I think we’ve all been there. Either you liked the new direction, or perhaps you felt betrayed by it. Why is that? Because, once we consumers have found something we like, we aren’t keen on giving it up. That is why there are so many of those series books, where there are more books than you have time to read them. Honestly, anything more than a trilogy is just plain greedy.
But, as artist, we have every right to expand our creative horizons. Imagine if every Picasso painting was the same. Sure, there is a definitive style that leaves its mark, but the paintings changed over time as he pushed himself to try new things. Writers are no different. I love Clive Barker, but anyone who read Hellbound Heart would be disappointed when they read Mister B. Gone. Not because it wasn’t any good, but because it was so different than his earlier works. That is his prerogative. After I thought about that for awhile, and put myself in his very rich shoes, I realized that as an artist I want that same right.
Yes, there are a lot of great things about the old we love and want. But, the new is often sleeker, more refined, and often more relevant.
Take my Ninja Turtles for example. Old Donnie is the one I grew up with. I watched the cartoons, and played with the toys. I like Old Donnie. But new Donnie is pretty freakin’ cool. Yeah, the story is different than the old cartoon or the comics, and it is computer generated instead of traditional animation. But, I find that I genuinely enjoy the new toys and show as well. I’ll even put up with a Michael Bay, alien Ninja Turtle, so long as it is delivered properly.
My beleaguered and tired point is this: push yourself to go places with your art you never expected. If you keep going over the same ground, you will hone your art, but eventually you are just grinding it down to the hilt. Expand. Create. Live. And, grow.