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Monday, February 27, 2012

One Year Later: Part 3

Last year, in “The Blogging Wars: My Hope,” I 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 Part 2, I discussed my passion for Fiction, how it often rivaled Fact in my life, and how blogging has enhanced my novel-writing.  In this concluding entry, I’ll tackle the most difficult question I asked one year ago: Why should you read my blog?

In 2011 I read fifty novels (or short story collections); I could have written reviews for countless websites.  As I don’t keep track of them, I have no idea how many movies and TV shows I could have reviewed; doubtless they number many more.  Many might argue that short, to-the-point book reviews on a widely known site would benefit readers more than a few entries on an individual’s blog.  Others might suggest that my time was better spent in using such forums to point out the merits of relatively overlooked movies such as “Priest,” or by contributing to the ongoing fan conversations regarding shows such as “Castle,” “Grimm,” “Clone Wars,” and “Once Upon A Time.”  Instead I concentrated my efforts upon my blog.  In “One Year Later Part 2,” I shared with you what the past year’s blogging has contributed to my life.  But the question remains: Why should you read my blog?  What makes it worth squeezing the time into your schedule?

Life throws so many demands at us that what little free time we can grasp is often given over to family, to activities such as sports and games to help us cast off our stress, or to crashing onto the couch to soak in our favorite program.  Those of us who find value in religion often feel as though we should read our holy texts or associated “Inspirational” writings over secular writings.  Years spent in school have burned us on tackling any works of significance, or impressed upon us that studying Nonfiction will better help us meet the constant demands for increased knowledge and skills in an ever-changing world.  So where does Fiction fit into the scheme of things for most people, let alone one person’s musings and reflections upon Fiction?

Allow me to list one particular example of my efforts over the past year.  When I searched the web to see what other people had written about Dr. Gregory Benford’s first three novels, I was shocked by how apathetic or negative the comments were.  People seemed united in their opinion that the novels were not fun, easy reads.  While I can understand how If the Stars are Gods by Benford and Eklund might perplex people on an initial read-through, Jupiter Project reminded me of the young adult SF novels by Robert Heinlein so cherished by the science fiction community.  One reader even stated that The Stars in Shroud depressed him, despite its exciting plot, beautiful prose, and the protagonist’s relentless pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.  Truly all art is subjective.

I don’t expect you to outline every book you read, or attempt to sketch out the storyline of every movie or TV show you watch.  But if my blog can remind you of one thing, let it be that riches often lie beneath the surface of any artistic work.  Before I began blogging, I might have agreed with some of the above-mentioned reviews.  But by peering into aspects of the novels that intrigued me, I glimpsed some of the infrastructure that held each story together.  Such study helped me to see how aspects of the story resonated with my own life, and challenged me to learn from them.  Perceiving these helped me rethink how I interact with the Fiction I love.  I began to watch and read stories differently.  I gained a fuller understanding, and a deeper appreciation, for all Fiction.  As a result, Fiction grounded me in this ever-changing world, and helped me see interconnections that might otherwise have remained hidden.  

In addition to all this, Fiction challenged me to be a better person.

Life often propels us along at a pace faster than we are comfortable with traveling.  “Facts” often weigh us down until we feel our backs must break.  I can only hope that my blog entries ease your journey and lighten the loads you carry.  If my blog entries can reaffirm this central truth, let it be this: Fiction is far from insubstantial.  In fact, it may serve the most important purposes of all: to “Inspire” us, to “Educate”, and to help us unite with the rest of humanity.  

You see, Fiction’s rewards often exceed its entertainment value.

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