Thursday, March 24, 2005

What stories would a peaceful world tell?

I'm wondering about the fiction of the future. If we get to the kind of future I'm hoping for and working towards -- one where conflict is resolved through talking, not fighting -- will they still enjoy the stories we write today? Or will our plots and characters strike them as distastefully violent and conflicted, the way the unexamined racism of much 1930's pulp fiction grates on our ears today?

The barest skeleton of plot is: problem, resolution. Our best-selling novels pile one problem on another -- the lead character sets out to solve one problem, and then things get worse. And worse. Until finally everything is resolved, usually quite close together, in the last small portion of the book.

Would this look stilted, tortured, and unnatural to a world of peaceful people? Will they make some breakthrough and look back at us as though we all lived Idiot Plot lives? Future readers might pick up our novels and say, "Hey! This guy's violating the 3rd law of How to Get Along! And there his love interest goes violating the 4th law! And now they're both breaking the first law! Are they both idiots? Man, I just can't relate to this. Why'd anyone read this stuff, anyhow?"

See, maybe the future will be better, because people will learn something that seems simple and obvious to them -- even though we don't know it yet. The way it seems simple to us to wash our hands before eating. Or that the world is round. And then, when they look at how we ignored this glaringly obvious principle, they'll find it hard to empathize with our problems.

And maybe -- since I'm postulating peaceful people -- the whole idea of problem, resolution -- will just not interest them all that much.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

You know, I have a belief that my life is not very interesting. To others, anyway. I enjoy many daily small interests -- the weblogs I keep up with, the games I play, my studies in self-improvement and poker, insights I have while writing my other journal by hand. I would never bore you with the two pages I spent considering whether I'd learned anything from discovering I had different expectations of friendship than Catherine. Or with the consideration of how rotating an asymmetrically patterned piece of origami paper can have a different effect when turning it into one of the 170 Fuse boxes I recently made. I don't expect you to want a box by box commentary through 170 boxes.

Did you see Beyonce performing at the Oscars? I found myself thinking -- how many love songs has she sung in her life, and isn't she tired of overemoting basicly the same lyrics again and again? How can any of that expression be meaningful if you apply it to all the songs?

I don't have a defined audience and subject matter. Penny Arcade does -- gamers and games -- and they have been very successful with that. I don't have glamour brought from celebrity in another field -- like Wil Wheaton or Neil Gaiman -- that brings people in to be captured by the excellence of the writing. I don't have the scheduled reliability of Topic or the gonzo iconoclasm of David Brin or J. Perry Barlow. In fact, I may not have the excellent writing to hold you, should you happen to come by.

And yet.

When Wil Wheaton writes about events that in other hands might seem small, I care. So the subject matter I have to offer need not be inherently boring.

And I _can't stop_. Late, infrequent, trivial -- I still find myself wanting to write here. So, read or not, watch out WWW, here I write.

And hey, maybe the excellence will come later. As Marion Zimmer Bradley used to say, every writer has a million bad words to get out of the way before the good ones come.