I've been working on a story in a realistic, contemporary setting which transitions to the spiritual world. The character has a vision of the past. Now I'm having trouble getting her back into the present where I will somehow have to address her psychological concerns. How to get back to writing realism after enjoying writing a dramatic surrealist scene?
I started out writing contemporary realistic fiction. I was never interested in much else, until I was inspired to write my futuristic fiction story "Virtual Center." I did write fantasy stories for children. I thought of fantasy as mainly for children.
But among short stories, my first and greatest love is for the vintage Ray Bradbudy stories. I read "The Gift" and "What Fun They Had" as a child, and just kept on reading his stories until adulthood. His range amazed me. So although my natural tendency was to write realistic fiction, I was open to writing any kind of story my idol did, including sci-fi and historical. Eventually, it became the main kind of writing I did.
Now, suddenly, ironically, I'm having difficulty writing realism.
I did write a historical novel recently. That isn't quite the same thing. We don't know everything about the past. It is different, and must be evoked in similar ways to a fantasy setting. I can take some liberties with many elements, too. The distant past may not be fantasy, but the way we view it is. And
I have to admit I haven't been reading much contemporary realism. There are just a few books that I keep going back to. Here, my idol is Anne Tyler. I'm talking pure realism and not the kind with surrealist elements like Amy Tan and Margaret Atwood's works. I always wonder how I can read passages from Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant over and over and still not find the mental processes of the characters tedious. If these were members of my family, I would weary of listening to their absurd obsessions. How they get stuck in a rut lamenting a husband's abandonment, a mother's favoritism, a quarrel or an unfair punishment. I dissect it and still can't figure it out. How does Tyler keep me in thrall over something I'd hate to hear in real life?
Everyone in my family has his issues and rants that they never get over, that they bring out again over and over. I do too, only it's only my husband I make suffer listeing to me, and only on rare occasions. The book reflects this aspect of reality, which I and probably most people can relate to. In real life, it irritates me. But the people in the book aren't my own family, so I just find them funny or pathetic. It's what's called dissociation.
Perhaps that's my problem in straddling realistic matters in my fiction. How to write from my experiences and still be dissociated? My writing is at its best when I feel deeply into the situation. So how can I keep the writing flowing when I am detached?
I once said writing is like acting. What I need is to feel I am in the character and not focus so much on analyzing her situation the way I would see it. It is strange, but I think I can only dissociate myself from a realistic situation when I can fully immerse myself in my character.