Sep 182009

Remember how I said that I couldn’t do five short stories in five days? My creativity decided to make a liar out of me. Monday I had an idea and I wrote it. Tuesday I had an idea and I wrote it, Wednesday I had two freaking ideas and I wrote them both, and Thursday I had an idea for a two part story and I wrote half of the first part yesterday.

Next week I will write four stories and feel like a failure.

I think part of my creative surge has been reading Roger Zelazny again. At Dragon*Con I found a new collection of his early short stories and poems. The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny: Threshold is a fascinating book. I have read most of these stories before but not with as the ability to appreciate them like I do now. I am older now. I get many more of his allusions than I used to. I understand the pain he talks about a bit more personally now.

Zelazny was always a fantastic science fiction writer but he was also always a poet. I see that more clearly now. I see that my willingness to make up words that drive my editors crazy comes from him. Zelazny creates images and moods and thoughts that normal language fails to deliver on. He creates metaphors and lyrical prose that does what words can not.

At the same time, he has a crispness that I see I emulate. I get driven up the wall by erotica that describes sex as anything but sex. Erotica needs more action. Sometimes a cock just has to go into a cunt. As much as he was a poet, he preferred a no bullshit style to excessive flowers.

There are six books in the collection. I am still reading the first. I discovered Zelazny as a teenager. Nine Princes of Amber was a call to arms for me. It encouraged me to quit my teenage bitching and do something. From there I went to Lords of Light, Dilvish and dozens of others. He became my favorite writer. He still is.

When I started writing, I would open a Zelazny book for clues. I saw how little description he used and it freed me. I saw how important action and introspection was to showing the character of a character. Zelazny’s style encouraged me to find my own writing voice and to not hide any of my cynicism, my personal hopes or more outlandish wishes.

When Zelazny died in 1995, I felt tremendous loss. This was before I had a computer. This was before I was writing. I remember physically hurting. I felt that by losing Zelazny, I lost a parent. Looking at his older stories, and seeing things that remind me of my writing, I realize Zelzany was a literary parent to me.

So this week I had a writing streak that just so happens to coincide with reading some great old Zelazny stories. I can’t say that reading Zelazny will do the same for you, but you would be reading some great wonderful stories. If you have never read the Chronicles of Amber, I genuinely envy the journey you have ahead of you.

  4 Responses to “Roger Zelazny and Me”

  1. What do you think of Philip Jose Farmer? Zelazny was the better writer, but Farmer was, I believe, the inspiration for ‘Amber’, a reasonable writer in his own right.

  2. Anonymous- I have a hard time thinking of a Farmer book I have read. I have the memory that he was a good writer, but I guess he didn’t impact me like Zelazny did.

  3. I have never read him, but will check ye olde Kindle Store.

    I might be a good fiction writer if I had a role model. I love too many authors. I could easily boil it down to three, but that is still too many. I love Raymond Chandler’s dialogue, Michael Moorecock’s introspective characters, and Piers Anthony’s wit. I can fake the first two, to a degree, and Anthony flows through most anything I write. Oh, and Richard Preston’s non-fiction is great. Robert Louis Stevenson… Dammit! See what I mean? ;-)

    capcha word: wootte n. sound made by French nerd when he locates a rare item for his collection.

  4. Darius- Best capcha word ever.

    I am greatly annoyed by the lack of Zelazny books I see in bookstores. Lord of Light was reprinted two years ago and it is one of my all time favorites.

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