Yesterday, I was reading through some critiques I had gotten back from my group. One person complained they didn’t know whether I was trying to write a comedy or something more serious. To this, I say, “Good.”
While my first two books might be considered comedy, I like to think they are somewhere beyond the norm, and they would look silly sitting next to 100 Mother-in-law Jokes, and other things that sit on the humor shelf in the bookstore. Minion isn’t quite Horror. Fangs isn’t quite Urban Fantasy.
In my new book, Panic No More does this as well. I did not sit down and say, “I am going to write X genre.” I just sat down and said, “I want to write a book with computer programming and Pan in it,” and I let it be what it wanted to be.
Yesterday, I thought I’d look for a new coffee shop closer to my house. I opened Google Maps and search for Coffee Shop. I was surprised to see a Starbucks in the middle of nowhere. Now, I’m not usually a Starbucks enthusiast, but this one had two things going for it which drew my attentions. First, it was less than a mlle from my house, and second, I was reasonably sure it didn’t exist.
While nothing was on the satellite image and the area is not built up, I do know that Starbucks is always looking for new places to build more Starbucks, so I drove in that direction.
Seeing no Starbucks, I ended up just past this intersection at a local garden center. I parked there, and entered the address into my GPS. It took me back on the 4-lane road and told me to turn off onto the access road for a small airport. I drove by the airport past some pretty planes, but I found no Starbucks.
However, the GPS was not done, it led me about a mile down a gavel road and told me to move south. A quarter-mile south on my next gravel road, I saw a farmhouse. While I’ve never personally been to a remote farmhouse with it’s own Starbucks, I know they are always looking for new expansion opportunities, and I believe old farmers like coffee so I kept driving. However, the GPS took me past the farmhouse.
I ended up back on blacktop, heading back the way I had come. I followed my GPS all the way back to this intersection, where it announced I had arrived at my destination.
Someone posted this video of a young Liberace to Reddit today. The commenters all went on and on about how talented he was. This is true. Liberace was a talented piano player. He had skill, style, talent, and personality. However, it is a mistake to believe he was the most talented piano player in the world. He was merely the richest.
The same can be said about the writing world. There are writers that have great technical skill. They write great, literary works. They get outsold by Stephanie Meyer. I’m told this should bother me…. No. It doesn’t.
I would totally wear this.
Personally, I’ll take the glamour over mundane quality any day, because, as Liberace shows, people love a spectacle. And I want to give people what they want. If you can mix that spectacle with a tacit competency that’s all the better. Does that make me a clown? Maybe. But let me share my favorite quote about Liberace.
My favorite story about Liberace:
Liberace called up his brother and said, “George, remember that bank I used to laugh all the way to? I bought it.”
Last week I reviewed a science fiction piece that referred to a train capable of doing 200kph as a “bullet” train. I insisted that in the far future, a 200kph train should be so commonplace, they should just be called “trains.” In fact, having grown up in the era of “bullet” trains, I already think of them as commonplace.
When you are writing in a time period, it’s important to see the world through the eyes of your characters. To me, my 2006 Honda CRV is a typical, small SUV. To the driver of a model-T Ford, it would have been considered a mechanical marvel. In 30 years, I’ll probably remember my CRV fondly, but as no comparison to my China First J49S-274Y 2040, which is powered by my own brainwaves, and urine.
So, if you are, right now, writing a book in 1913 about life in 2013, and your character gets into his 2006 CR-V there’s no need to mention that it has computer-controlled all wheel drive, traction control, and anti lock brakes. Don’t even bother to mention how easily the CR-V blazes past the Model T’s top speed of 45 miles per hour with its 156 horsepower engine. In 2013, very few people care about such things. They just get in the car and drive.