One morning, I was traveling on a road with other weary cavaliers of the pre dawn hours. The jaguar sun was nowhere to be found. Most mornings, he would already be in the sky, prowling the safaris of the far reaching horizon. The blue sky had been erased and painted with the cold, leftover ashes […]
The Fact of Fiction
How cozy do writers, much less anyone who dabbles in photography, music, or art, have it in today’s world as compared to one thousand years ago? One hundred years ago? Fifty years ago?
This thought tickled my brain because I cannot imagine having to write a fictional novel by hand. I marvel at the authors of old and their perseverance, even when using outdated typewriters. We no longer worry about dipping a quill into a bowl of ink and majestically scribbling down thoughts. We do not have to find a piece of coal from a dead fire and draw on a cave wall. We no longer have to grab a hammer and chisel at a piece of stone until our glyph is left behind for others to stare at and decipher.
Language, communication, and art, our global Tower of Babel, has been rebuilt, and it appears the sky is the limit for the inevitable future, yet again!
In today’s world, we open our laptops, turn on our cameras, phones, and electronics, or walk into our study slash studio, and the creativity begins. With filters, auto correct spelling, and auto correcting grammar, almost anyone can take a shot at what used to be so coveted and revered. This does not pertain to artistic expression alone but carries over to almost every aspect of daily living. We may think life is hard and difficult from time to time, but when compared to one hundred years ago and getting specific forms of artistic expression ‘out there’, we are light years ahead of where civilization used to be.
When I sit down to write fiction, I have my ways and methods that guide me. I listen to music when I type, whether it’s through ear buds or over a speaker system. It’s a specific kind of music from two particular artists that sets the mood of my environment and is lyric free. If I need to thrash during a writing break or attach music to a blog post or Instagram ad, I have an endless setlist for those endeavors. The time of day does not affect my progress as long as I sit behind my keyboard and let my fingers and brain do the work. I admit that I have fallen in love with typing early in the morning over a cup of warm coffee.
I look forward to this like I do cooking Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast.
I browsed the query letters to my novels the other day and thought about the places my mind has taken me. The genres I have dabbled in are all over the place. My time traveling trilogy starts with an eye opening, mind liberating revolution involving a connected group of friends who try to free their town. The conclusion of that story leads to a science fiction journey involving the same group of friends on board a spaceship. They realize why the universe has brought them together and try to merge the best parts of two worlds together. All of this ends with them being thrown into a post apocalyptic zombie filled world where hope seems all but lost.
I have written a time-bending, chapter swapping drama involving the life of a typical, confused boy and two friends who set out on a cross country road trip. I have designed a Christian fiction novel in which a brave crew battles another world wide flood. In my portfolio exists a dystopian futuristic romance involving two rogue government agents. My most raw and adult themed writing style comes in the form a comedic-imaginary friend-end of the world-hell ride. I have completed a Southern gothic novel set inside a haunted hotel. Rounding out my works is a Wild Western involving rogue cowgirls yet having a misogynistic twist, a story that takes place inside a small store and has eight lovable characters and a humble ending, and a three part novella in which two people seek to be left alone in love but something in the world will not allow it.
It has been stated by professors and intellects that the South produces the best writers. I have questioned this theory since I first heard it. I wonder if this hypothetical exists because life in the South is rugged? Is it because people in the South live a more calloused life and mask it with hospitality so visitors will still feel welcomed? Is it because the Bible Belt attracts more demons and devils than it repels away? Is it because people in the South have a hundred different layers to peel back based upon their temperament on that given day? Is it bred in us Southerners to be so unsophisticatingly glamorous that it is hard for people to look away when we finally get their attention? Does a birth in the South and experiencing these things truly make a better writer?
When it comes to character development and plot, I confess that living in the South helps because those elements thrive and fester in the land I call home. In other areas, I can see where Southern writers would struggle when compared to the global standard. Writing properly while living Southern is a tedious task and there are many reasons why.
Southerners like to add extra words, leave some off, and constantly misplace our modifiers. Sometimes Southerners blend two sentences without a comma and coordinating conjunction. Sometimes when Southerners speak they leave a ‘G’ off the end of a word. Sometimes Southerners use an ‘I’ for an ‘E’ and vice se versa (i.e. GET or GIT). Sometimes where I’m from, Southern lingo makes the word ‘THE’ sound like ‘DUH’. I’m not going to continue to dissect the internal logistics of other Southern draws and hiccups and why they exist because there is not an answer that would suffice any Grand Wizard English Major. It simply is what it is and will continue to be that until the robots try to overtake us (good luck because we bear more arms than a mutated centipede) and chase us back into the woods, creek banks, and rolling hills.
So, the fact of fiction for me, would I be as ‘whatever’ of a writer as I am if it were not for where I was born and currently live? Do you think you would have a better, more defined life if you were born in a different region of the world? Do we let these stereotypes shift us into a predetermined category or do we break the standard, stand out on the ledge alone, and show the world what we are made of? Would we be a lesser or better version of ourself if we had not experienced the things that we already have?
The fact of fiction – when someone can take an imaginary idea, knead it until it makes sense and there are no loopholes, and make a friend or stranger feel an emotion, does it matter where you were born or grew up? If your words drives someone to tears, do you let the reader have the moment that THEY deserve, and if they choose to share it with you, then so be it? If your words makes the reader angry or uncomfortable, do you humbly start the clock and listen to them vent? If your words makes the reader happy and transforms their day into something better, is that still considered success even though the writer will know nothing about it? If your words makes the reader think, do you have a power trip or bring them a glass of lemonade while they sit in silence and reflect?
The fact of fiction – a writer, a good writer, feels vulnerable just as soon as they start typing and finalizes their decision to connect with you when they publish their work. Any writer that does not take this invisible tango seriously and merely fiddles with people’s emotions for money or sensationalism needs to have their arms replaced with an extra set of feet and set out to pasture.
The beauty of the writer slash reader connection lies in the writer already knowing that if he or she commits their whole heart to their work then people will respond to it the way they see fit. An extra pat on the back if a reader reaches out and tells the writer how it made them feel. Readers are not obligated to do this. Writers do appreciate the gesture and can serve as a life line when the writer is having a dark night of the soul.
The fact of fiction – social media, intellects, algorithms, and experts will preach and teach that artistic creativity is about likes, followers, comments, and engagements, and I applaud the entities that have a kazillion followers and only one thousand likes. A writer, much less any artist, can easily change from a guilty pleasure, to a nobody, to a somebody, to an inspirer, to the greatest ever, back to a mere shadow in the span of a year.
My process revolves around the views, visitors, and returning readers who have helped me build my site and advertise my art in their own way. I put my best work out there to grow my audience, yes, but in retrospect my main goal is to connect with my readers even if there is no exchange after the post is published. We only have but so much time on this Earth, and there are a bunch of things I need to type to all of you.
The fact of fiction – what happens to the writer slash reader connection when there is more truth in fiction than in reality? What would make a writer hide his personal secrets, secrets about the world, secrets that the writer knows about the reader, and put them inside the binder of a book instead of just coming out with it? In a day and age of instant gratification, scripted media stations, and back seat businessmen, what sense does it make for a silently explosive writer or artist to merely sit back, grin at the world, do their thing, and watch the trees sway in the breeze?
For some of us, there are rules and reasons and, one day, when you disconnect from the world of today and insert yourself into the pre-written genre of tomorrow, everything will make sense, if it has not already. There are a lot of connections that exist between the people of the world, and one of the hardest ones to master, much less forget, is between two curious strangers whose secret rendezvous lies behind the veil of a book.
The fact of fiction – each word an honest writer thinks, each sentence a good writer constructs, each time a perceptive writer’s thumbs hit the space bar, our hearts beat and pump life into a world that would have us silenced so our connection would not exist. The writers of today and tomorrow, the ones worth your time, are tougher than anyone can possibly imagine. The controlled, excited chaos that floats throughout all our bodies but is contained like a gift inside the wrapping of Christmas yuletide – the excitement in the hearts of people and the happiness you see on their faces on that one magical day – the restless night before when all one can think about is tearing the paper off certain surprises – the writer gives these sensations freely and knows the reader will experience it unbeknownst to them.
If me and you, the reader and writer, can have this much fun in something as simple as a blog post, can you imagine what we can accomplish, and the memories we will share, if we are allowed two hundred pages together? Five hundred? A thousand? Which characters will you relate to and which ones will drive you crazy? Have you been to a place similar as this? Could this really happen in the future? Why did they have to die? Why did they have to live? I cannot believe that character did that? What will happen next?
Oh, what journeys lie ahead for those willing to go to the edge and back! I look forward to our future adventures but, for now, let’s soak this moment together while we still can!
It’s better than nothing, eh?
Fiction writers live in the future and readers live in the past and somewhere in the present is the moment we get to sit down together and connect. I am eternally grateful to be sharing that moment with all of you, now.
This is the fact of fiction!
– BELOW are SAMPLES of my FICTION WRITING in the form of BLOG POSTS –
– there are also TWO POSTS about the GOOD OLE SOUTH –
Just for the sake of ME being honest with YOU – “The Morning Fog” is my LEAST viewed blog post even though I hold it in high regards – I was reading FITZGERALD at the time of its inception (typical southerner excuse, I know…)
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