I admit that I've never participated in NaNoWriMo, despite it being one of the most popular events for the past several years for aspiring writers. The goal of it is to help people establish a writing habit, so it's not that I don't support the mission. In fact, I post writing prompts here on the site precisely because I want to encourage people to write more. And the idea of basically free-writing a short novel in the course of a month isn't a bad one. As unreasonable as it might sound, writing fifty thousand words in a month is not all that much of a stretch, if you're willing to make a routine out of it.
As much as I intend this site to be a publishing apparatus, a means by which to present my own works, and eventually those of others, to a broader audience, this site is also about the writing itself, what goes into writing stories and making characters come alive for a reader. By no means can I, or do I, claim to be any manner of expert in how these things are done, and certainly I cannot assert how they ought to be done. There is a void, though, at least to my mind, and it is a void which I believe that perhaps in some small way I can help to fill. You see, there are so many books out there, and so many people who would love to be able to tell stories like that, and yet the process by which authors arrive at their magnum opuses is shrouded in mystery.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about the authenticity of different communication mediums. Its central claim was that, as methods of communication go, text-based methods are generally considered the least “authentic.” That is, according to their cited case studies and survey results, a plurality of people tend to consider emails or text messages to be easily faked, devoid of real emotion or sentiment, and a bit of a cop-out. Now, I realize that I am somewhat biased, being an author, but even outside of the realm of stories I think that the article takes an unfortunately confrontational tract. There are times, occasions, and circumstances that befit any communication medium, and in each one might be better than another, but that in no way detracts from another.
Today, we’re going to talk about math. No, don’t stop reading: for one thing, I only said that we’re going to talk about math, not that we’re going to do math, and for another, the whole point of this post is to talk about why it’s important not to allow our own perceptions of our abilities to interfere with our actual capabilities. This post in some ways is a follow-on to my post about the importance of reading, and really both of them could be lumped under the topic of education, but I’m not trying to propose a restructuring of the education system here. Reading and writing, to me, is about conveying information, and math is just another way of doing that. However it is done, mathematically or through words, it’s important that as many of us as possible understand both how to create and consume that information.
Perhaps it’s not terribly surprising then that I try to avoid introducing contradictions into my fictional worlds. For most of the time that I’ve been writing, I’ve operated in world creation under the premise that contradictions in world-building will drive readers away and make the world less believable. After all, overt contradictions would seem to undermine the idea of plausible impossibility, and leave the reader less immersed in the world. A contradiction can act like a sort of car accident that abruptly stops the flow of traffic and ejects the reader from the story.
It is absolutely essential that we keep our minds open to alternative explanations for the universe in which we live and with which we interact. Just because one explanation is the accepted explanation doesn't mean it is "right" - there may not even be a truly "right" answer to a lot of the deep, probing questions about the universe. If we hew too strongly to a single explanation simply because it is the one that is commonly accepted, then we will inevitably be scoffed at by our ancestors the same way we scoff so readily at those who did not accept Copernicus's teachings.
There are a lot of last days of the month falling on a Tuesday or Thursday this year, or at least it seems that way, and while I haven't use all of them to talk about Blood Magic (which as you know releases a new episode on the last day of every month), I did want to do so this time, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it's been awhile since I posted about the series, and for another, this is the halfway point of the first season. Six episodes are now live, with six more to go to round out the first full season. So it seems worthwhile, at this point, to pause for a moment and take stock of where we're at in the series, both within the Blood Magic world, and in our own.
This is another one of those “why write” posts, where I talk about why I write and why I read. I’d like to address something that I think I’ve alluded to in a few different places on the site or in previous posts, but never really explained fully. Now, everyone writes for different reasons, and everyone reads for different reasons, so by no means am I trying to assert that anything here constitutes some manner of ultimate right or wrong. Which leads nicely into what I actually want to talk about, because I don’t think that we should look to stories to tell us right from wrong.
With this review, I guess I'm writing about writing about writing. At least, I think that's the right number of layers. You know, I've never really had much in the way of formal writing education. I took a grand total of one creative writing course in high school, and I only took one English course of any kind in college. In my defense, my studies of astronautical engineering were somewhat time consuming. However, I've never done a lot of reading about writing, either, especially considering my penchant for teaching myself things by reading books on them.
I have a lot of interests, especially when it comes to learning, which is a large part of why I try to read so broadly. One of those interests that is especially conducive to indulging through books is philosophy. Although I don’t have any philosophy book reviews on the site yet (maybe someday I’ll make … Continue reading Futility or Utility?