Shimmer Magazine included me in their “Five Authors / Five Questions” series. Question number one was “How do you begin a story? Does it start with the idea, a character, an image, a line of dialogue, or are all stories different?” Click here to read my answer.
Thanks to E. Tobler and the rest of the Shimmer crew for including me.
I’m posting this here for my own benefit. You are free to take, leave, or modify this rule as you see fit, but this is how I want to live.
The proper response to a book or short story* is not a blog post about the injustice of the book or story’s existence or why it is just so WRONG WRONG WRONG, but to write another book or story addressing the very issues bothering you.
If it’s a story that makes you angry then write a story fueled by that anger. If you think the author glossed over important details, then by all means create something that widens the scope or changes the perspective. If the story reduces the argument to simplistic terms, then write a story that forces the work back to address a wider spectrum.
Don’t write an angry blog post. Don’t leave a comment. Don’t rattle a saber because you like the way it sounds. Don’t put a chip on your shoulder just to have one there.
Yes. It may be difficult to place that story. It may run counter to prevailing tastes or whatever clique happens to be dictating what’s in fashion these days. Don’t let this stop you. Write the story anyway. Write it with that passion that your words need to be said. Write it like you would that blog post.
But write the story. Articulate your position in prose. And if you decide to post the story online, then make it your blog post.
The best reaction to a thing you disagree with is not a defensive reaction but to create another, better, thing. Explore the initial position, attack it, subvert it, twist it to your own ends, but make something new.
Let the emotion fuel better work, not add to the online noise.
* I’m keeping it limited to fiction because it takes a lot of time and money to make a movie/TV show, and if it’s a comment online that’s making you angry, well, take a deep breath, take a step back, maybe see if you need to clean out the hair-trap in your shower, walk the dog, do the dishes, go to a different webpage, because it’s an online comment and all you need to shoot one of those into the ether is a lizard brain and a twitchy finger hovering near the return key.
Make something new.
Make something better.
I reread Edgar Pangborn’s “The Singing Stick” this morning. It’s a caveman detective story initially published in 1952 by Ellery Queen Magazine.
“Beyond the river was the melancholy green, almost blackness of advancing pine forest. Ambling naked from his cave into afternoon sunshine, Gnar-of-the-Long-Arms, the Old Man, the leader of the tribe, gazed across the valley. Trouble would come; when it came, the pines would know.
The pines were kindred to the Not-Men they sheltered — bear, wolf, snake; kin to the black leopard who five winters ago had writhed past Samar’s spear when that Old Man’s foot had slipped, giving Gnar leadership of the tribe. The pines knew.”
What I love is the way Pangborn plays it straight. He uses the tropes of a Chandler-esque Private Investigator story without resorting to too many of the cliches.
Now if only I could find a copy of his novel Davy.
An interesting piece on Jan Morris and her struggles with academia over at Ridlerville.
She took a lot of heat for becoming who she really was, despite being a war veteran, amazing historian and journalist, and wonderful writer. Rumours abounded that positions of influence in universities were denied Morris because of her journey from one gender to the other, that her life as a travel writer was in part a result of these challenges.