Things I don’t write about

Note: This post is about my writing, not this blog. This is also one of the most personal things I’ve ever posted online.

WritingI wrote my first novel when I was 11. It just happened and it felt so natural. More natural than having a chat with kids my age (which explains the need for novel writing: lonely kids who like to read often write their own stories).

Novel writing was what I did in elementary school and in middle school (called high school in America). I wrote more than 10 (I know the exact number but it’s not important here). I never wrote short stories or poems. I don’t know how to do that: it just never felt natural. My early novels were short, about 100-200 pages long, but later I realized I was unable to write anything under 400-500 pages. Genres were adventure, detective/crime novels (with my hero detective) and SF.

It was back in the 90s. Those were very, very bad times in my part of the world. But I don’t think I used writing to escape that, though it did help, I guess. I did it because I was lonely. But in any case, it was my way of having fun, and escaping the bad things that were happening. I wasn’t delusional: I knew it was just daydreaming, but it did help to have something of my own, something I could control, something to put my mind, and will and heart into it.

It’s been a long time since I wrote a novel. And it’s not like I don’t have a need for it. “Need” is a good way to describe it, maybe the only one. I never wanted to write to be rich, popular or successful. I never even tried to publish anything (though I do want to publish my new novel, and all of the future ones- I feel like I’m finally ready for that). But basically, I just need to write, and plan my novels.

But there are some things I don’t want to write about, even if I’m expected to.

Things I don’t write about

Writing Eastern Europe and its madness. I know this is what everybody expects a Balkan writer to write about (both domestic and international audience), but frankly, I don’t have any wish to do that. Being born and raised here certainly makes me the way I am, and I am not trying to hide or escape the fact I’m Eastern European, female, Serbian, straight, archaeologist, ex-Yugoslavian, white, Eastern Orthodox; that I am shy, have possible social phobia, that my father died when I was 10, that I am nerdy, that I panic and worry a lot, that I love animals and that I often use profanities.

I don’t want to hide or escape any of it. It’s not possible to do it anyway: you are who you are, and if you are a writer, it shows in your writing no matter what; even if you want to hide it.

But it doesn’t mean my subjects and interests should be what is expectable of an Eastern European woman. In short, I am not interested in writing about Balkans. At all. Nor am I interested in writing “girl power” books that trash men. Nor am I interested in writing about Orthodox Christianity, or even about kids who lost their fathers. Everything described above is a part of me and will show in my writing any way or the other – but it doesn’t mean my books need to be about any of it.

I also don’t write about family or childhood. Maybe I’m just not ready, or maybe I’m just not inspired. When you try to put your reality into words it often falls flat. It’s not even close to how it really was. So while I do think writing what you know best is a good advice, I also think writing about reality – especially your family – is one of the most difficult things.

Maybe I choose not to write about these subjects because I use writing to escape the madness around. (In fact, it’s the most likely cause). My husband, on the other hand, feels relieved when he writes about living here, about the problems in the country and politics, or family. It makes him feel better. It’s not like I don’t understand it, but it was always different for me. Constructing and planning a story, using everything to make it work, exploring new ideas, learning about new things (such as lands and people) was always the most exciting thing for me. And there is no need for writing if it doesn’t bring either excitement or a relief.

17 thoughts on “Things I don’t write about

  1. Ankhesen Mié

    It’s not like I don’t understand it, but it was always different for me. Constructing and planning a story, using everything to make it work, exploring new ideas, learning about new things (such as lands and people) was always the most exciting thing for me. And there is no need for writing if it doesn’t bring either excitement or a relief.

    I really do get what you’re saying. I think that’s why it’s taken me so long to release a third book; I’m trying to decide once and for all what I want to write about.

  2. zekjevets

    this was a really good post! it was nice to get into the head of the woman behind jefflion =)

    when i write i always write about people based on me, my life, and my world, and then i send them somewhere i, or that they could never go. like an adventure, almost.

    i put ordinary things into extraordinary surroundings, then see what happens.

  3. Mira

    Ankhesen Mié,

    True, this process can sometimes be very slow and difficult. There are times when you are sure what you’re writing/planning is fantastic, and those when you’re sure it sucks a big time.

    But these moments are fine; the worst is not knowing what to do next, the blockage.

    You have a sharp and witty writing style and I like it, btw.

    Zek,

    True, I don’t usually like writing personal posts, but this one was really easy to write and it was almost a relief. I guess the moment was right.

    i put ordinary things into extraordinary surroundings, then see what happens

    That is a really good way to do it! Also, putting realistic people in unrealistic/surreal surroundings works as well. But if characters are weak or unrealistic, everything else sucks (imo).

  4. Emilee

    Let me first say I almost always get bored when reading a blog, but not yours! Reading your blog, makes me really want to read your books. That being said, from your blog I can tell you’re a very talented writer, and since you haven’t held anything back in your post, I know what you write is the truth. I really hope you get published!

  5. Mira Post author

    Emilee,

    Thanks for your comment and nice words!

    Actually, I tend to be somewhat reserved on this blog. I don’t share much of my personal life (so I often blog about pop culture), but I do try to write truth.

  6. islandgirl

    o.k., now I totally understand. I’ve seen so much on the internet about women from that area, so I looked them up. There was no variation, they were all slim. It seems your culture doesn’t seem as accepting of different types as the U.S. That is unfortunate. Now I understand what you’ve been saying all this time.

  7. Mariana

    I think you know how I’m anxious about reading something from your novels (if you didn’t you know now)

    You have unusual curiosity, originality (thou sometimes you think you don’t) you have outstanding critical sense and you can keep your readers interested.

    I hope I can read one of your novels one day! I hope I can buy one of your books in a bookstore around these parts. ;) You’ll be a successful writer, I’m sure!

  8. Iva

    Mislim da bi ti i ja trebalo da se latimo one poslednje spomenute no-no teme, u svetlu dva razli?ita aspekta. To bi moglo da pomogne ljudima, bolje nego razna popovanja….ali prvo da poradimo na socijalnoj fobiji. :)

    Odli?ni novi tekstovi, najzad sam sve pro?itala.

  9. Dr. Vagrant X

    Wow, this post is really…deep. I’m not sure what else to say other than that. However, I hope you get published. Like Emilee said, from reading some of your posts I think you’re great writer and would love to read one of your novels.

    More natural than having a chat with kids my age(which explains the need for novel writing: lonely kids who like to read often write their own stories).

    I know where you’re coming from. As a kid I rarely played with others unless they approached me first (that didn’t happen to often, and since I was, and still am, terribly shy I was often alone) and spent most of my time either writing or drawing. Both seemed like natural outlets for me; they were almost as natural as breathing.

    I guess there’s just something inherently artistic in introverts. :)

  10. Mira Post author

    Wow, this post is really…deep. I’m not sure what else to say other than that.

    Well, I am usually pretty hesitant to write about personal issues or to open myself online. Not sure why. But sometimes, I am in the mood, like with this post.

    However, I hope you get published. Like Emilee said, from reading some of your posts I think you’re great writer and would love to read one of your novels.

    Thanks! It means a lot. I am not confident enough, especially when it comes to my English. I can’t/don’t write in English, but I know I’ll have to, eventually (to translate them at least). I believe they are universal enough to appeal to wider audience. If I ever decide to do it, I’ll probably use a pen name, though… I don’t want people to expect a book about Eastern Europe, like they often do, when it comes to Eastern European authors.

    Both seemed like natural outlets for me; they were almost as natural as breathing.

    Exactly! Humans are social beings, but we are not the same in that department, and we should not be forced into it. There’s nothing wrong in being shy/introvert! Granted, it does make certain aspects of life more difficult, but at the end of the day, you are who you are.

  11. Dr. Vagrant X

    If I ever decide to do it, I’ll probably use a pen name, though… I don’t want people to expect a book about Eastern Europe, like they often do, when it comes to Eastern European authors.

    That sounds like a good plan to me; being stereotyped tends to limit one’s audience unfortunately. I plan on doing the same if I ever get around to publishing anything.

    Exactly! Humans are social beings, but we are not the same in that department, and we should not be forced into it. There’s nothing wrong in being shy/introvert! Granted, it does make certain aspects of life more difficult, but at the end of the day, you are who you are.

    *Sigh* If only the rest of society felt that way.

  12. Mira

    That sounds like a good plan to me; being stereotyped tends to limit one’s audience unfortunately. I plan on doing the same if I ever get around to publishing anything.

    I know! Writing under a pen name is a good idea for me, but the problem is, I want a pen name that is gender and race/culture neutral. I am not sure if it’s possible to come up with something based on that criteria.

    On the other hand, I sometimes (not often) have this urge to just go with my real name (that I almost never use even online: Mirjana). It’s my name after all, and I should not be ashamed of it, right?

    But at the end of the day I know writing under a pen name is a much better idea.

    *Sigh* If only the rest of society felt that way.

    Well, there are many introverts out there. There are many people who share the same beliefs. The problem is not that they don’t exist, but that they often try to accommodate themselves to the rest of society, and in the process force themselves to be something they’re not. People in general should stop listening to media, or even people around them to tell them what to do.

    It’s good to take somebody else’s advice, but people should be able to think for themselves and choose what is best for them… Even if others disagree with their choices.

  13. Dr. Vagrant X

    Mira,

    On the other hand, I sometimes (not often) have this urge to just go with my real name (that I almost never use even online: Mirjana). It’s my name after all, and I should not be ashamed of it, right?

    Well I for one prefer anonymity for various reasons, but that’s just me. However, I think your real name (not sure I’m pronouncing it right in my head, though I hope I am) sounds really nice, so it’s not like you’d have to make up a pen name (unlike if your name was Sandy Cox, or something like that). At the end of the day, however, you should probably do what’s most comfortable for you most of the time. Just my 2 cents.

    It’s good to take somebody else’s advice, but people should be able to think for themselves and choose what is best for them… Even if others disagree with their choices.

    I couldn’t agree more, but of course that will almost certainly never be the reality of the situation.

  14. Mira

    Well I for one prefer anonymity for various reasons, but that’s just me.

    It is a smart choice, for many reasons. Safety is just one of them. The problem with the Internet is that you have no control over the info/material you choose to share.

    However, I think your real name (not sure I’m pronouncing it right in my head, though I hope I am)

    Not sure how to explain the pronunciation. Meer-yan-a might be close. Definitely not (like some… many English speaking people think) Mar-jenna (shrugs). When presented with letter “J” in my language, it’s best to pronounce it as “Y” in “New York” or ignore it all together, if possible. But definitely don’t pronounce it like “J” in “Jane”. (Sorry for the rant).
    sounds really nice,
    Thanks! Many (Internet) people said this. It’s definitely different than how my name is seen in my culture (it’s somewhat old fashioned).

    At the end of the day, however, you should probably do what’s most comfortable for you most of the time. Just my 2 cents.

    Indeed. To tell you the truth, I’d be most comfortable with a gender-neutral, culture/race-neutral name. But I am not sure if it’s possible to make up such a name.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>