It’s Been A Long Road

So here I am, stuck in the middle of a road that runs all directions at once. I’m nearly done with my novel, and the prospect of finishing is looming large above an inescapable horizon. I’ve learned a lot about writing in the last month, and a lot about what motivates me and inspires me. There’s a big difference between what you love to write, and what you want to write.

tumblr_lrsfuv118r1r1xia1My book, for example, is a sci-fi book. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it takes all the imagination I have to keep it going and imbue it with life and make it real. But I’m also becoming more aware that fantasy, sci-fi, these are things that, try as we might to fight reality, don’t exist. And because of this, there will always be a disconnect with the reader. A part of them that will be unable to connect with what you’re writing. Because it’s never happened to them. It’s never happened to anybody. They don’t understand it.

We do understand our own lives though. Or at least, we’re familiar with how they work and what happens and our own mistakes and screw ups and successes and triumphs and heartbreaks. That is all well and good, we know that stuff. And the more I realise this, the more it seems like that’s the kind of story I should be writing. Because I feel it, inside, that there is this truth behind the curtain of daily living that wants to be captured.

Hemingway captured it, for sure. I’m reading Bukowski right now, he got it too. Bukowski is like if Hemingway had written smut. It’s dark, it’s dirty, it’s gritty. I don’t honestly know if I like it, but it’s fascinating, and it’s real. That’s the kind of story I want to write. Something that grabs you by the balls and says no, this is what it’s about, go ahead and try and deny me but I’ll be here whether you like it or not.

Anyways. I’m writing, I’m reading, and living and learning. I’ve started going sailing recently. It’s fun.

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17 thoughts on “It’s Been A Long Road

  1. I think that’s an important point. No matter what the environment of our story is, what is going to connect and affect the readers the most are the inner qualities, conflicts and personal explorations of the characters.

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      1. And I’d entreat the north wind blow, and I’d pray the fair seas calm, and I’d watch you on your way, and I’d pray the sun a balm.

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  2. I agree that many people feel disconnected from science fiction or fantasy, but there are lots of us who adore immersing ourselves in imaginary worlds. I’m an old fart who’s been reading sci fi since it was considered ‘uncool’, long before “Star Wars” popularized the genre. If the writer has enough skill at world building, there’s no real disconnect for those willing to stretch their imagination. And today’s reader has grown up on a variety of space epics, which makes it easier for them to accept a science fiction premise.

    However, I do turn up my nose at lazy writers who ignore the laws of physics. I’m still appalled by a well-known romance writer who wrote a futuristic romance where two lovers made love on a puffy floating rock! Research is very important to create a realistic environment. While I can accept the idea that the laws of physics may differ in an alternate dimension, I want some reality in my science fiction or I end up hurling the book at the wall.

    So give me grit instead of puffy floating rocks any day!

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  3. I think you might be missing the point of science fiction, at least the way I see it. Fundamentally, good science fiction stories aren’t driven by the fantastical elements. Like any other good stories, they’re driven by the characters and their motivations. Philip K. Dick’s best novels made me feel sick to my stomach sometimes because I could relate so well to the characters and their tragedies (think A Scanner Darkly; The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said). Or think of Fahrenheit 451, for example. The story is brilliant not because of the book-burning, but because of Montag’s inner turmoil OVER the book-burning. Even if the science fiction elements of a story don’t exist, the sensations and reactions that they cause do exist. That’s what makes science fiction as real as any other piece of fiction.

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    1. well, you’ve certainly read more science fiction than I have. My own list is limited to the Dune series and some random sci-fi books by C. J. Cherryh, Heinlein, some other blokes I can’t quite recall. Anyways. Yes, it is the characters that make them memorable, in any case, you’re absolutely right. I just think there’s something more grounding, relatable, in books that aren’t fantasy or science fiction. People are always the focal point in any great story, and settings that are familiar, places we have been, or have seen other people go to, things we can interact with, this is what makes a story more real. A romantic story about two lovers by the Seine is more compelling than a story of two lovers by the floating forests of Gnar’Thak. Anyways. Good characters are essential to a good story, and I feel like they get lost in a lot of sci-fi books because the setting is so important.

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  4. Pearson, I always enjoy your posts. I had no idea you were writing sci-fi. I assumed you were writing the book you described as the one you want to write. You are almost finished with the sci-fi book, and already you have clarity on what your next book will be. That’s exciting!

    Saw your sailing photo on your About page. Must be a wonderful feeling, and I still think you look like the leading man in my books. 🙂

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