Yes, another post about writing and life. I’ll have one on the other blog tomorrow about packing for the trip for your amusement.
When I post these blogs, I usually only have the stats to go by to see if anyone read them, much less liked them. You don’t always get feedback in the blogosphere. The feedback I have gotten has been extremely positive, and is usually done off channel. I appreciate all the encouragement and kind words I have gotten. In a weird way, this has been shaping my content.
An interesting thing I found out on the travel blog was when I wrote about backyard chickens, I had over 200 hits from the UK. I don’t know what to make of that, since there were no likes or comments made on the post. Sometimes I wonder if these “hits” aren’t just bots that are poking around the corners of the internet, just mining content. I get some really weird AI generated spam from time to time.
But last night, I had a good conversation with a friend who had been reading my book, Song of the Cinder. I really enjoy talking about fiction with people because not a lot of people have read my book, and those who have don’t say a lot about it other than “This was good!” So far I have yet to hear someone tell me it sucks, and for that I am grateful.
He had just finished the book last night and we were discussing characters, scenarios, plot and pieces that stuck out for him. In a way, it was pretty surreal. I mean, this was the way my friends and I used to talk about books we were reading at the same time. Only I had written this stuff!
What this conversation really did was allow me to focus on what a reader thought was fun. What stuck out in his mind. When you write SF, action, adventure, etc. sometimes you get lost in the weeds of theme and narrative. Characters. You get so sucked up your own ass that you forget the parts that really had a blast writing. Those big leaps you took where you wondered if they were going to work or not.
A lot of what is out there isn’t very fun to read. Fiction gets mandated by what editors and publishers think is going to be new enough to be the next big thing, but safe enough not to alienate any readers of a typical genre. It’s a balance beam they have to walk to make sure sales are steady and they can keep Starbucks on Madison Avenue in business.
I was happy to hear that a lot of my big leaps I took DID work. The story is a fantasy adventure. It isn’t War and Peace. I didn’t write it to change the world. I just wrote something I would want to read, because everything out there was just being so nauseatingly safe.
Oddly enough I was watching Ready Player One last night and this resonated with me upon reflection. The 80s are this source of nostalgia for so many people these days. They really got away with a lot of stuff back then which would never happen today. That is why everything that is out there is a reboot or based on tried and true source material.
They took risks. Lots of them. That’s how you get cult followings for movies like Spacehunter or Ice Pirates.
Today, you will not see a Buckaroo Bonzai, Trancers, Robocop, the Lost Boys, the Goonies or most of what really made the 80s as tacky and amazing as we remember that decade to be. They tried recently with movies like The Golden Compass, Mortal Engines, Mortal Instruments (so much mortality), Beautiful Creatures, Pacific Rim, and and a few others that promised to deliver trilogies and just fizzled. Series like Defying Gravity that were too expensive and people lost interest in after one season (the series was brilliant, and I wish Netflix had been buying series when it ran).
Taking risks is not rewarded when your movie costs $300 million to make. Unless you are Avatar, which I still am mystified why that one took off. Dances with Wolves in Space!!
Pigs in Space!!! would have been a better movie.
Popular books get popular movies with big budgets because they have an existing fan base. Lots of people read comic books, even if they don’t follow them, they at least know the basics, which was a big reason everyone has jumped on the Marvel Comics Universe for the last ten years. It’s like getting to know characters everyone can recognize, without hundreds of issues of soap operatic writing and four color art to slog through.
Anyway, talking about my book not only reminded me of why I wrote it, but it made me happy that someone else enjoyed the trip. I took a lot of risks. Bits and pieces that editors of magazines wouldn’t touch. The next book needs to be this fun to write! It gave me a better focus hearing what really stuck out too, since those elements are in the current work in progress, but I have been holding back. Because you don’t get big advances and three book deals from publishers for taking risks.
Time to cut that shit out.
Why should anyone live their life based on the anticipation of a paycheck, when the writing itself should be its own reward? I don’t get paid for this blog, yet people enjoy it. It gives me an excuse to write too.
In a perfect world I would wake up to a wheelbarrow full of money on my doorstep every day for what I write. But that isn’t my life. But hearing about how someone liked the story I wrote, well, I think that was pretty awesome too.