After attending a spectacular class given by a member of our writing group last night, I came to the intimidating conclusion that I should throw out all of the material I'd worked up on the novel I'm currently writing. Fortunately, it's our week to clean up the house, so all of it is being shuffled into a folder and crammed at the back of my already full writing drawer. Tomorrow, starting over from word 1 (outline level one, actually).
So, now that I'm in the mood for analysis, I've been thinking about conflict. Specifically, why I'm so bad at getting my characters into serious trouble. Part of this is that I enjoy meandering and looking at stuff, so that characteristic tends to pop up in my writing. Part of it, though, is that I'm realizing that I prefer a kind of ultimate stability, the kind of temperate grace that Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Madeleine L'Engle, Robert Silverberg, and early Anne McCaffery portrayed in their societies and use of magic. One might go through a thunderstorm, but one was relatively sure that the grass would be softer for it. I prefer to read it, but I don't yet understand how to write it. Or if it's something that I still believe in.
Even when I worked in the city and the pigeons were crying from the dumpster lip, I was imagining fairies with 20's finery, fashion bruised green and purple from it's brush with modernity but still enchanting. Shifts in taste have brought us to a landscape in which urban decay, madness, lust, and the last reserve of humanity lash about, loving and killing the monsters that stalk through the stories. Plots revved ever higher squeal past in sequel after sequel. This isn't my headspace, although that does not bless or condemn it. Fantastic fiction has become a new city for me.