And thus a story is born … maybe

<Begin rambling contemplations>

Typically, in my experience, a story is born by that which we want to write. I mean maybe a story we don’t want to write just now doesn’t let you be until it’s been written, but still it was something you wanted to do.

Every now and again we find ourselves, unbidden, composing a tale we feel needs to be told.

I find myself tonight contemplating just such a story.

I generally take the approach: if I don’t want to read it, I shouldn’t think about writing it. But sometimes our subconscious can make compelling arguments for certain ideas and makes these stories hard to lay aside and forget about.

In my case, I love happy stories. Not just a happy ending, but a generally light-hearted tale. Some exceptions exist in my fantasy collection … and thus is the first compelling argument of my subconscious.

Whatever could I be considering writing?! What could be so terrible? Well, rest assured I’ve not decided to become the next Laurel K Hamilton, Anne Rice, nor Stephenie Meyer. No, I’m wondering over the plot and characters for a story that contrasts Now & Forever.

I don’t know that I could have the stomach and patience to write such a story, nor that I could make it a comparable length series. And by contrasting I don’t think it would be a tragedy, per se. I think, as a Romance, it ought to have an ending that is happier, but then again I have lost count of the times I’ve read Dragondoom despite its ending always leaving me in tears. Same with more than a few of Mr McKiernan’s books.

By contrast I primarily mean in the sense that, where Now & Forever paints the positive side of being a homosexual teen; showing what life can be like for those who have understanding parents, loving and supportive friends, etc. This hypothetical opposite would be the darker side. Both paint a reality. For some, being gay is no bigger a deal to their true friends and their family than being blonde, but for others it can be a nightmare. I never wanted to portray the nightmare. I felt more than enough of the other gay teen fiction out there did a phenomenal job of it, and I should stay out of it; I can’t stand to read it, so let others write it. As I said, I like happy stories, there’s darkness and tragedy aplenty if I read the news should I crave any.

Perhaps I should write this idea. Perhaps, then, I could show … what? What do I gain putting one more dark, teen gay novel on the shelf? What is benefitted by showing the reality of the unfortunate in contrast to the reality of those who fate chose to bless? Ah, but stories needn’t make a point. Nothing need be gained. There’s the crux of it. I have neither reason to write it, nor reason not to. Not according to Logic, but I’ve never cared for logic – I always thought poorly of Vulcans.

So, then, what does my passion, my soul, my heart say? It could be a powerful and emotional story, one that could be an interesting experience. It could be something that really moves people, one that could be a very positive thing in the end – by example of what not to do, I suppose. A very moral tale, something like a fable. I also feel depressed and slightly ill at the thought.

I’ve discussed characters and ideas that won’t go away until you pay them attention, this isn’t one … yet. It threatens to be.

Perhaps an informal poll. Just post a comment. Do you think there’s any call, happy end or sad, to put one more story – fictional or truth – about gay teens whose parents are not supportive, whose “friends” are not understanding, who are bullied and harassed, whose lives are – externally – better if they hide who they are and how they feel, who are found out or who try to be honest … you get the picture? Bleak. Dark. Sad. Tragic. Angst, woe, drama. I could get endorsement deals with Kleenex®.

<end rambling contemplations>

Great stories

It’s funny really.  A lot of literature can be useful.  It gives us a language for discussing what it is we like about a story, or a poem.  It gives us a language for discussing the differences between two works.  But that’s all it is, a language.

Literature geeks, lit majors, professional and armchair critics alike try to use that language as ammunition for trying to set up definitions for what is or isn’t good art.

Thing is, no art is truly bad or good.  It’s what is made of it.  Frankly, I think if an artist made no effort — put nothing of herself into a work — then perhaps there is some room to argue a work is bad, mostly because is it still art at that point?  A painter who really is only making goopy pain swirls, or a writer who really is only stitching clichés together into some insane travesty of a plot …

Neverminding that, though.  Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer, J K Rowling and Professor Tolkein, Yoko Ono and Leonardo DaVinci, Mozard and John Prine … these are artist.  Maybe you think they’re fantastic, maybe you think them mad, maybe you think them crap — but they are artists.

People may laugh at Rice and Meyer — their stories, from a technical stand point, can be pretty hard to take.  Still, there are those to whom those characters spark.  The stories, the plots … they speak to these people and the technical failings become ignorable.  Certainly those women feel they have put something of themselves into those works — a spiritual, metaphoric, blood sacrifice was made in the construction of those texts and some people feel that and are moved.  This is why they are successful.

Rowling and Tolkien are beloved by many, though there are those who, again, using the language of Literature, call them poor and silly.  They had the audacity not to follow The Rules.  Their books, however, change people’s lives — clearly, they are artists (or were, in the late professor’s case).

Yoko and DaVinci inspire some, bore others.  Still, they are artists — they believe in their work.  A pile of rocks to one person, is a brilliant statement to the next.  Does this make it bad?

Mozart and Prine … ah, music.  The very language of the soul.  Apparently souls have dialects.  To some the beat is most essential, to others it must be everything that comes together to make it jazz, and yet others believe that music must sound angry and loud and screeching — thus is born metal.  Still, they aren’t canned nonsense — they are art.

Some things are all technique — maybe they’re good, and maybe that was the point.  In that case, perhaps this too is art, though pure technical expertise without any spirit, soul, passion … you border on the mechanical, and it’s been shown that machines cannot make art, “perfect” music played by a machine without so much as a nanosecond mistake in a beat or a note, not one subtle mistuning is actually unpleasant to the human ear.  So too can be said of too perfect a story or painting to the eye, or the imagination.  Machines have never spoken to anyone (Siri notwithstanding).

This, I think, is why I tend to dislike literary discussions and a lot of literary criticism in general.  What makes a story great or not isn’t if they do or don’t use too many adverbs or clichés; it’s not about the three act structure; it’s not about character arcs.  What makes a story great is when it speaks to someone’s soul, or sparks their imagination, tugs at their emotions, or makes them happy and bubble with laughter.  That is a great story.

In that way, Twilight and Interview With a Vampire are terrific stories.  Maybe they’re not as good as others — something about them doesn’t as often speak to people twice.  You will find people saying “God, why did I like this, again?”  That doesn’t mean they’re bad, just less great, because they did speak to them in the first place … just not anymore.

We can discuss books, we can use Literature — as a language — to meaningfully say how a story makes us feel and what elements really inspire us.  Why should we use it to try to quantify art, though?  One man’s pornography is another man’s beautiful play of light on the human form and, even if it is hardcore fetish erotica, perhaps a statement of something — true, it certainly helps if there was any intention that the shot be any such thing, but still.  If we mean to make art, then we do, full stop.  If we mean to make a buck, then we do — but it’s a formula and nothing a clever enough machine couldn’t do one day in the future; there’s no art.

We can use the language to say, too, what we don’t like about a story.  Thus, through the fun quirks of English — we can discuss how “bad” Harry Potter or Motzart’s Fifth are, because we can now say what it is that we don’t like.  This is okay too, but we shouldn’t exactly say they’re bad stories — bad stories and bad music do not have the notoriety that those two have.

Some people like coffee, some like tea.  Just because two people don’t agree doesn’t mean that one is right and one is wrong, just that they’re human and no two humans are exactly the same (well, arguments regarding identical twins aside).

Another 5-Stars!

I was poking around on Amazon and discovered something:  A week ago today I received another 5-star review!

You can, of course, read it here.

It’s always nice to feel appreciated, and that the book is well liked.  I’m even happier to see that it seems to really … resonate?  Resonate seems a good word, we’ll use that.   Yeah, it resonates with people.  It’s warming to know that the characters are so endearing, or that the story itself is in some way moving or touching.

I’ve seen it said recently (it was a quote from another writer posted to The Indie View’s Facebook page, if I recall correctly) that artists are kind of schizophrenic.  At one and the same time we’re incredibly confident and full of pride, and nervous wrecks with absolutely no self-esteem.  It seems true — on one hand we feel as though our work ought to be shared with the world, so there’s your pride and ego; on the other hand we’re absolutely convinced (well, most of us, exceptions like Anne Rice exist — I’m not a fan, don’t ask about her books, I’ve never even watched Interview With a Vampire) that our work is awful and that we will be belittled and berated, stopped in the street and spat upon … well, okay, maybe not quite that bad, but some pretty terrible things and emotions do go through our minds and flood out through our mouths.  I’ve nearly got myself strangled by close friends I fretted so much ~blush~.

Any of you still waiting to buy the book, Kindle edition is 99¢ right now, and the iBooks version is free.

Oh, and for those waiting on a status report for Ready or Not: Delayed. Editor had some issues with her gall bladder. She’s feeling better now, but some other problems decided to come play “kick ’em while they’re down” with her so she’s still rather out of sorts. Things will hopefully get back on track soon and, with luck, we’ll at least have a release around the 1yr anniversary of Love or Lust … pray for a little luck and we might even manage a new years or Valentine’s release, but I wouldn’t suggest any holding of breath for earlier than Easter.