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Friday, February 24, 2012

One Year Later: Part 2

In my first blog entry, “The Blogging Wars: My Hope,” I essentially asked three questions: 1) Why should I start a blog now?; 2) Why should you read my blog?; and 3) What am I passionate about?  In "One Year Later: Part 1" I addressed why I began this journey.  In regards to the second question, I find myself in a quandary.  Why should you read my blog?  Is what I’m doing that significant or relevant to your life?  So next I’ll tackle the third question, “What am I passionate about?” in the hopes that wrestling with the one will shine a light upon the other.

As I mentioned in my very first entry, “The Blogging Wars: My Hope,” writing instructors seem to always offer two pieces of advice: Write what you know, and write what you’re passionate about.  While I may find myself confounded in other aspects of my life, in this area I feel not the slightest confusion or hesitation.  I love great fiction.  Heck, I love Fiction period.  TV, movies, books: whether well-executed or poorly-made, I love them all.  Every story—in every form--represents an attempt by the creator(s) to transform a flickering, translucent idea into a substantial, fleshed-out narrative.  All art is subjective, and the aspects of a story that resonate with me may have little, if anything, in common with the artist’s conscious intent.  Thus fiction functions like a bridge or a summit conference between people who don’t know each other and arrive with contrary worldviews.  When maker and recipient meet through the intermediary of Fiction, they may speak different languages, they may not understand each other, they may even find they don’t really like each other.  Nevertheless, when they part, they possess a similar experience and fresh insights.  Both return home enriched and refreshed by the time spent together.  Communication.  Enlightenment.  Enjoyment.  That is the power of Fiction.

Our attempts to classify and define often limit our potential.  With regard to literature, we slap labels on that which we love so that we may more readily find the type of story we desire.  Mystery.  Science Fiction.  Fantasy.  We all know such categories are misleading.  I suspect the comedy elements of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels resonate far more strongly with most readers than the “Mystery” or plot elements of the latest bail-jumper she’s attempting to capture.  Novels such as Galileo’s Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson and Drood by Dan Simmons might as easily be shelved under Historical Fiction as SF, Fantasy, or Horror.  Dean Koontz and Stephen King: forget trying to classify them.  Due to those writers’ popularity, bookstores will place their titles anywhere they can, regardless of the genre elements a particular work contains.  Yet regardless of how popular an author is, we try to limit his power over our lives.  In the case of those above, we slap an emotive word on each book: Fiction.  What is Fiction cannot be fact, can it?  How can Fiction contain truth, when we label such “factual” books as Nonfiction?  Isn’t Fiction, by its very definition, inferior to “Fact?”

One thing that has grown clear to me over the past year of blogging is how much Fiction has influenced my life.  Immersing myself inside the novels of Dr. Gregory Benford has reinforced how science fiction and spirituality often walk hand in hand.  Reflecting on the stories of Robert Silverberg has reminded me how fallible all humans are, of how the similarity we share exceeds our external differences, and how much we all need each other.  Peering into “The Cage” has given me greater appreciation for the depth underlying the original Enterprise crew, and helped me understand why many of Gene Roddenberry’s characters seem more substantial than most “real people” I have known.   Lastly (but not comprehensively), English Fiction drew me to visit England.  No “Facts” such as history, climate, or culture has ever lent me the strength to break through my comfort zone and vacation in another country.  “Facts” enhanced what Fiction had taught me, and helped me understand all that I experienced there, but the inescapable truth remains: I would not have devoted the additional time and money to such a trip, had not Fiction first tantalized me with the intriguing differences I would find there.

Last year, in more ways than one, I charted a new course for my life.  While I possess little more than ideas and hopes regarding my eventual journey, Fiction served as my compass, helping me navigate through unfamiliar territory.  More than that: to a great extent, Fiction powered the journey.  Much of whoever and whatever I will eventually become, and wherever I eventually end up, I owe to this tremendous resource.  Whether that makes me an insubstantial, inferior person, or merely more cognizant of my foundations, I do not know.  But while I travel, I know what drives me, what sustains me, what defines me and provides me with joy.

Yet I wonder: would I have realized all this, had I not opened myself to the potential of blogging?  Could Fiction have given me so much this past year, had I not immersed myself in its great works and reflected upon its power?  The surest way to kill love is to hoard it; the best way to feed a passion is to share it with others.  Sharing this passion in my blog this past year has enhanced my life in every way.  Looking forward to crafting each new blog entry has focused my efforts on my novel-writing: I believe I’ve written more Fiction in the past year than ever before, and feel as though what I’ve written is of better quality.  I’ve endured the long swim involved in finishing my rough draft.  I’ve battled the stronger currents of completing a line-by-line revision.  Now I face the churning rapids of enhancing and defining the settings, characters, history, and underlying assumptions of the novel.  Yet you know what?  I’m ready for it.

With greater confidence in my abilities, I set out on the next phase of my journey.  Still plagued by anxiety, I look forward to the coming adventure.

This essay will conclude with One Year Later: Part 3. 

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