I realized yesterday that my weblog isn’t something that I would like to read and I’m profoundly bothered by it. I prefer blogs with a deeply spiritual background or that are side-splittingly funny and mine is neither. The same for the fiction that I write. I prefer to read science fiction and every once and awhile a fantasy, mystery or even a religious romance novel will tickle my fancy. Every time I’ve tried to write in any of those genres I’ve gotten bogged down in creating a new world and little has been accomplished.
Fact and fiction are so intermingled in my work that now, looking back on it, I can hardly distinguish one from the other. – W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938
If I were to write a semi-autobiographical novel like Somerset Maugham always did, I’m sure that I wouldn’t ever get bogged down in the details of whether lasers or transporters exist, not to mention artificial gravity. No, all those questions are really easy to answer. Yes, lasers exist. We use them to point at things on white boards. No, transporters don’t exist, no matter what IBM wants its investors to think. No, artificial gravity does not exist and since NASA is dying a slow death, I doubt there is even a need for it.
I would sooner a writer were vulgar than mincing; for life is vulgar and it is life he seeks. – W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938
I’m much more likely to write a slow and dragging novel set in the real world where lots of emotional things happen and people talk about their feelings. To me, that sounds like a tear-jerking definition of hell that an English teacher would make me read. That’s has been the block for me. If I truly let myself write the fiction that I’m called to write, I wouldn’t want to read the damn book. Just by the blurb on the back, I would categorize it as “chick book” and toss it aside with the others.
I do not write as I want to; I write as I can. – W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938
Maybe that’s not important. Maybe I don’t need to want to read the type of fiction that I am able to write. Maybe it’s ok to actually hate the type of fiction that I am called to write. Maybe it’s even ok to hate the actual stories that I tell. Maybe the important thing is that I tell the stories. So what if they don’t speak to me. I’m the writer, not the audience. The only thing that makes a piece of fiction worthwhile and successful is whether it speaks to people. It makes no difference whether it speaks to the author.