Passion, Paths and Choices

This is an expansion of something I posted on Facebook earlier today.


I’ve come to a realisation recently.  I think I have finally realised why my writing has come to a complete halt.  Why any excuse is a good one for not sitting down and hitting the keys.

I don’t have the passion for my stories.

Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Gary McMahon, Joe Hill, Adam Nevill, James Herbert, Simon Bestwick.

These are just a few of the writers that I admire and have tried to follow in the footsteps of.  I have come to realise that I’ve made the wrong choice.  While I like horror, I came to it late.  The path I have been trying to carve for myself in long form prose is the wrong one.

All of those mentioned above and countless other writers are great storytellers, fantastic atmospherists and wonderful character creators.  Things I admire and aspire to match the skills of.

In my admiration, I’ve tried to tell similar stories, draw on them as pure influences.

I made a mistake.

Their stories are brilliant, but they aren’t what I always want to read.  They don’t create the worlds that I have always loved.

They don’t weave the magic that captured me when I started to write.

As much as I like their work and will re-read and buy their novels, they aren’t my passion.


David Gemmell, Joe Abercrombie, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, Robin Hobb, George RR Martin, Trudi Canavan, Fritz Lieber, Robert E. Howard, Brian Jacques and, of course, JRR Tolkien.

These are my heroes, those who have tread the path and explored the worlds that I find myself repeatedly drawn to.

Fantasy, High, Heroic, Sword and Sorcery, Grimdark, it doesn’t matter.  Those archetypes, that magic, the swordplay and honour.  The thieves, the heroes, the dark lords and the wizards.  The strong and the weak, the endless pulsating conflict of good and evil.  The final triumph and the preceeding failures and losses.

These are the things that have always fired my imagination.

I don’t know why I stopped writing it.  I think because I finished a YA heroic fantasy and could find no takers for it.

Maybe I was a little put out by that.  I love the world I created and thought the story was strong.  But no-one else seemed to, except the people I let read it.

They weren’t enough for me.  Because I always wanted to earn a living as a writer and I needed the validation of a publisher picking it up.

I was disheartened I think.

So I turned to horror, hoping that would make my fortune.  (That laughter you can hear right now are most of the authors I first listed, hunched over and wiping the tears from their eyes.)

But that hasn’t worked.  I have spent the last few years trying to turn myself into a writer that I am not.  Even the dark, horror tinged novel I got 50 thousand words into, when I stepped back and properly looked at it, takes the shape of epic fantasy.  The lone band of heroes fighting a hopeless battle against the great darkness.  Just using machine guns instead of swords.  Magic abounds there and is dangerous.

So, I think I have always known what I should be writing.  I have known what it is that makes me excited to write.

Finally, I know it, truly, truly know it.

I have the first scene of my epic, I have the finale.  Both are fixed squarely in my head.  I have my merry band of heroes.  I see them, I know them.  I have the setting for the first part, and that excites me greatly, because I think I have something fairly original.  Not completely as I have taken it from real life and moved it into a fantasy setting, but I don’t think anyone else has done it and if they have, they probably won’t have done it how I plan to.

The voices are spinning, the second list of writers, the fantasy authors inspire me.  But I finally realise, I don’t want to be them.  Not like I tried to be a Horror writer exactly like the ones I mentioned.

Instead I want to stand beside them as myself.

Robert Spalding – Fantasy Author and Proud.

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2 Responses to Passion, Paths and Choices

  1. Are you, by any chance, the same Robert Spalding who wrote “Men With False Faces” (“by any chance” may be a bit of an exaggeration here, as I think a coincidence would be rather improbable)? Just finished it, and I do think it was one of the strongest stories of “Terror Tales of the Seaside” so far. Truth be told, I thought certain passages still needed a bit of polishing here and there, and the final paragraphs may be a bit too explicit for my taste (certainly not being squeamish about it: it’s just that I thought the ending tended to weaken a bit what preceded it by explaining too much), but all in all, it is an excellent story, with many a surprising and disturbing image. Campbellian influences, obviously, but assimilated in the best possible way, I should say. If there was no passion in that, it certainly does not show. You simply cannot abandon horror completely: I already hear the ghosts of M.R.James and Arthur Machen malevolently mumbling behind your back. Do not thwart their evil intent, I adjure you!

    • robspalding says:

      Yes, that was my story.
      I’m glad you liked it.
      Its probably the best horror story I’ve written so far.
      I wouldn’t say I’m abandoning horror, if I get any more good ideas then I’ll write them.
      I’m just more focused on fantasy at the moment. But there’s plenty of scope within in the field to add horror to my stories.

      Thank you for the comment

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