Hello and welcome!
For those of you in the United States, I hope you had an excellent Independence Day yesterday. Earlier in the week, I wrote a blog post on Iterations of Zero encouraging Americans to remember the meaning behind the holiday; you can read it here if you so desire.
My fiction writing (and my reading/promoting of already existing fiction) goes well. I’m almost done recording chapter 5 of The Chasm and the Collision. It’s slightly longer than the previous chapters, so editing it may take more time, but I still expect it to be available for your listening pleasure* by the end of next week, or perhaps by the middle of the following week. Reading for audio seems to take much less time than editing; this is in contrast to the process of writing a story, where the composition takes far longer than the editing process, even when that editing is thoroughly draconian.
Next week being the second Thursday of the month, I plan to release the latest installment of “My heroes have always been villains.” I haven’t yet decided which villain I’ll discuss; there are so many great ones from whom to choose, and they have so many interesting characters and attributes. I want to avoid staying within the same narrow genre of villains too many times in a row, but I know that I’ll be subject to personal bias in this, and I guess it doesn’t matter much. Unless and until I get feedback from readers about what they like and would like to read, I can only proceed from my own preferences and whims. Even if I get such feedback—and I do welcome and encourage it—I’m not sure how much influence it will have on my decisions.
That’s pretty much all the “news” I have to share, so I’ll finish by reflecting on a phenomenon I’ve noted, with the implicit question of whether any of you have noted it in yourselves.
I’ve always loved two main forms of literature: fiction (especially fantasy, horror, and science fiction) and non-fiction (especially science). I suppose that’s tautological, now that I look at it. Since the terms literally dichotomize all literature, “fiction” and “non-fiction” are the only games in town. That, however, doesn’t change the reflection I want to share.
I’ve noticed that, as the years have gone by and my life’s story has unfolded, I’ve tended to spend a greater and greater proportion of my time reading “new” non-fiction (especially science, but also veering into philosophy and history) than reading new fiction. I sometimes find this disheartening; I worry that it may have a deleterious effect on the quality of my fiction. Of course, the opposite may be the case. I can well imagine that exposure to writers who can make even dry, scientific topics gripping might have a strong, positive influence on my ability to make an exciting story even more engaging than it would be otherwise. Still, there tend to be differences of style in the presentation of non-fiction versus fiction, analogous to the differences in technique between a documentary and a dramatic TV series.
Humans are story-telling animals, though, and even our documentaries are presented thus. Who could deny that David Attenborough spins a mean tale indeed when he waxes lyrical and poetic about the habits and trials of various life-forms around the globe. I certainly don’t think reading Carl Sagan or Richard Dawkins or Stephen Jay Gould is going to have a detrimental effect on my ability to communicate through prose, since those writers are each gifted in their ability to convey wonder and engagement through beautiful writing.
Perhaps I worry unnecessarily, but I chafe at the fact that phenomena such as the Harry Potter series—books so engaging that while waiting for book seven to come out, I read book six no fewer than seven times—are so rare and far-between. Even Stephen King, surely as reliably engaging a writer of the fantastic as any alive, hasn’t been able to grab my attention with any of his more recent books. This is depressing, and it says more about me than about the eminent King. My excitement even for beloved books such as The Shining and The Lord of the Rings is difficult for me to rekindle. Among the only “new” fiction I’ve consumed with any regularity are the English translations of several Japanese “light novels.” I think part of this fascination is that they are the products of a different culture, and so are more novel—if you’ll pardon the term—to me than most of the works of western authors. It’s hard for me to be objective, though. And to be fair, I’ve never been much of a consumer of the vast majority of best-selling fiction, so I don’t find that fact particularly concerning. Still, I await the arrival of the next Belgariad, the next Harry Potter series, the next Dark Tower, or the next Thomas Covenant with bated breath. I fear the exhalation may never come.
I wonder what the experience of my other fellow lovers of reading and writing is on such matters. I would dearly love to hear from you.
With that, I bring this week’s blog entry to a close. It’s longer than I thought it would be when I started, which is not unusual for me (a case in point is my current work, Unanimity, which is already my longest book so far, and is getting longer and longer as time goes by). I wish you all well; indeed, my hopes for you are positively Panglossian. Do take care.
*or displeasure, I suppose, though I don’t know why someone would listen if it was not pleasurable for them