Beat Him With His Own Schtick

If there is one thing I hate in art, it’s repetition. It’s fine to have connections between works, or to have works that are part of a greater whole, but I have an absolute horror of repeating myself. And, to be honest, I tend to look with disfavour upon artists who keep writing the same book or making the same movie. (Tim Burton is a good example of the latter; an artist whose complacency has made him a prisoner of his own abilities.)

I like to think that it’s possible to see this belief in variety reflected in my work. My games may share themes, but there’s a vast distance between The Museum of Broken Memories and Desert Bridge, or either of those and Phenomenon 32, and even vaster distances between those and the novel I’m writing. Hell, there’s vast distances between every single chapter of the novel.

But then there’s stuff that is quite similar, and that’s something that’s beginning to worry me a little. Not because I think I’m doing something wrong, or because I worry that people will think badly of me, but because I do believe in trying to represent certain artistic principles. I don’t want to start giving the impression that I’m that guy who does everything in black and white and puts Blake quotations, visual or textual, everywhere. I would really hate people to come at my work from that angle. (That was one major reason for choosing to write Desert Bridge after The Museum of Broken Memories.)

I do have reasons for telling these stories in the way that I’m telling them. The Urthona Revolution is not really just a pastiche of Blakean images – in fact, I’m hoping that as it goes on, people will see that its central motif is not related to Blake at all. The Great Machine: A Nightmare is perhaps the work you will find the most familiar, but that’s because it belongs quite firmly in my web of stories about Urizen. But it’s also likely to be the last story of that kind for a while. There will someday be a story called Urizen, but I’m not ready to write that one yet.

It’s quite frustrating not to be able to share more of my work, some of which is wildly different (I’m quite certain there was not a single reference to Blake in The Lord of the Thingies). Ah well, most of it is my own fault – I just need to finish it and get it published. Hah.

Is there a point to all this? Mostly I want to reassure you that I’m not falling into a rut. I don’t think black and white equals art, or that every damn story has to be about war. There will always be some central themes to my work, but I’m not trying to find a niché, or trying to establish a style. I still believe that every work of art requires its own approach and has its own spirit, and any artist who does not keep this in mind will end up either crassly commercial or pathetically pretentious. There you go, I ended on an alliteration.

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