Signals and bits: Keeping up with the conversation

17 02 2010

So once again: new issue of The Absent Willow Review is out! This is really good, really free fiction. Treat yourself to a short story this week. For my non-writing readers (who are telling me they view this as a humor site…hmm) when was the last time you just sat down, gave yourself twenty minutes and read a short story? It is so good for you! I would like to plead with you all, go to Absent Willow, or any of the fine spots listed under best reading category and read a story. Go to my past stories of the weak and pick one. It is such a simple thing to do for yourself. Stop promising that you’ll work out or stop smoking and promise yourself something you might actually do- read a short story a week. You may think that a science fiction short story isn’t something that interests you, but you’ll pay ten bucks to see Avatar. These stories are free and the special effects are better. end spiel

My regulars will remember that I spent some time going over the process of idea generation for the intrepid writer. I want to revisit that now from a slightly different point of view. I want to talk about writing as conversation. When you write, unless you’re Emily Dickinson, you intend for your work to go out into the world and be experienced by others. Whether this happens or not, you have it in mind else what’s the point? Since you don’t exist in a cultural vacuum it is impossible for your work not to take on some of the flavor of your world. You’re not an egg put to close to an onion, not some passive culture aroma sponge. You can actively engage in the world around you and that can effect your writing.

Part of engaging in the conversation is keeping up with the artistic and intellectual currents of your particular pursuit. This is a sci-fi genre writer’s blog so we’ll stick with that. Reading current science fiction and essays, blogs, articles about same will inform you where the thinking is in science fiction, but more importantly it will help you discover what it is you want to say in

J. Conrad serialized "Heart of Darkness" and thought Freud was a bigot.

a relevant way. This might give you the “I say what I want and if they don’t like it they just don’t get me,” reflex, but is shouldn’t. The reading lists of famous and powerful writers are subjects of endless debate and discussion. I gave a paper once on Joseph Conrad’s magazine subscriptions. The reason critics find this interesting is that it matters and it should matter to you. Conrad was a sailor, Shakespeare an apprentice glover. Neither had formal literary education, but both were highly energized consumers of culture. I don’t mean Matthew Arnold style ‘high art’ either. I’m talking the People magazines and action movies of their respective days. These writers wrote about life, and life hidden in an academic library is much less fun.

I’m not absolving you from a little heavy lifting. I think anyone would do well to have danced with the canon a time or two, if for no other reason than to reference drop in mixed company. Yet I think you serve yourself best by keeping your hear to the wind and find out how the rest of the world is living. Now tell them what you think.

Now to specifics of science fiction I want to take a moment to push another site on you. SF signal is a clearing house of up to the second information of all things sci-fi (or.. lamentably sy-fy) including what gets posted here. It is a central nexus of information that I try and visit every day. You will find things here, ideas, trend discussions, even places to sell your work. It is free and it is thorough.

That’s the Science of Fiction for today.

Next up: The importance of being crapulent.

Far off: Interview with the nicest of rejectors- Chris East of Futurismic!

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