I daydream. I suspect most people do – I do a lot (or rather, I assume I do it more than most – I haven’t done much research into this assumption). And in one of those day-dreams the other day, I pretended that I was being interviewed (as, you know, a published, successful, sexy writer with a string of titles to his name), and the question that first popped into my wildly-hallucinating head was: why do I write?
Realising that I had the medium to express the answer to that question in a mildly saner way than in an imagined interview with myself, I thought I would do so. This post is also instigated by this excellent post by Sarah A. Hoyt over at The Mad Genius Club, decrying the lack of innovative, interesting, heretical sci-fi and fantasty works these days. I look forward to the comments section, which will undoubtedly be filled with titles which meet her heretical requirements, thus forming the basis of a new wish-list for myself 🙂
I don’t want to write heretical books. I’ll leave you to ruminate on the shocking nature of that sentence for a moment or two. Done? I thought so. I don’t consider this to be much of a revelation, but maybe it is, I dunno. I have never seen it as part and parcel of my aim as a writer to subvert the order of things, to challenge the way way we think about things, to change the genre in which I work, sending it off to new and interesting places. It would be cool, and probably quite fun, but not something that I consider to be a necessity of my mission as a writer.
My mission, if you want to think in those terms, is to entertain. If I happen to enlighten, open, or (in all likelihood knowing me) preach to someone in the course of writing something that keeps them reading from start to finish, brilliant; but at this point in time I have no desire to make that a core tenet of my writing.
(I mention preaching, because I hold to the belief that it is exceedingly hard to change, or indeed engage with, minds that are not open to what you are pitching. I know its true of myself – maybe I am selling the rest of the human race short, but I suspect not, on the whole.)
To take an example of a genre close to my heart – steampunk. At the heart of the genre, indeed contained within its name, is an element of subversion, rebellion – punk. And yet I’m not a punk. But if I want to indulge in the aesthetic, if I want to call myself a steampunk wordsmith, surely my writing has to contain that element of social upheaval, the underclass rising up and all that. Right? Not to say that I don’t want to write that – far from it; I think there are stories aplenty to be based in such turbulent settings. And that’s just it – I want to write good, interesting stories, not stories that are based around a specific agenda or message.
Having written all that, I have ask why; why don’t I want to write heretical, controversial works? Is it out of some market-fawning desire to get on to shelves? I don’t think so – I’m not there yet