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‘A box?’ said Alice…

April 22, 2010

I have a confession to make! I also write non-fiction – mainly academic stuff (under my other name)! But, funnily enough, I have the same problem with non-fiction as I do with fiction (and if you have a spare $99.95, you can see what I mean!)

At peace, at last...

I don’t do boxes (sorry, Greg, no offence!) …It’s just that the only box I think I would be comfortable with is my own coffin! (At a more appropriate time in my life, of course.) In the meantime, I insist on writing either a story (for fiction) or fiction (for non-stories).

A box? Really?

What do I mean by this? Is this some wacky Brit’s idea of what passes for nonsense? A sort of contemporary trip down Alice’s rabbit hole, into a world of nonsensical irrelevance, just so I can post a certain number of words on a subject I find difficult to relate to?

No!

Most definitely not…

(…though I am a wacky Brit – at times).

Let me start by suggesting that all knowledge is fiction. And that all fiction is (potentially) knowledge. The “what ifs” of  Wendy’s speculative fiction are no different to the musings of science that grow, embryonically, within the research scientist’s mind. The ideas of those who practice science and the ideas of fictional authors are one and the same. They are ideas. Valuable, interesting ideas! Possibilities!

That's it... of course!

Ideas – they are the seed of the future and the unrealized possibilities of the past. Ideas are not bound by titles, badges, genres, processes or outcomes. They evolve within the mind of the individual – they are not categorised until they come into contact with others who have expectations. Wendy’s competition judges, for example – for whom tagging a genre for her story could be tricky!

Expectations are the killers of any art form – even the art of science. Science cannot become knowledge unless academic “peers” decide that the “science” presented by a scientist “fits” with their expectations. And, unfortunately, fiction is frequently not fiction, unless it conforms to the genre expectations of those who “gate keep” the industry: the agents, the publishers and the competition judges.

But the gatekeepers are not to be blamed (entirely), because, in general, we all have our own expectations. We are conditioned by our schooling and experience to “expect” certain things that we have been subjected to in the past. We read something we like, with a certain label, and we look out for that label as a reference point when we look for something else to read. We all appreciate our comfort zone. We taste something we like, and we look for the same things on the next menu we see. We forget that we can have fun, as children have fun, and look at something we have never, ever, seen before – and have fun and enjoy it!

Or is it...?

So where does this leave me? I write stories. I like to think that I can borrow from anywhere to write a story. So, for $99.95 you can read about why I think the study of art is useful to understand how to manage organisations. And, for a substantially smaller amount, you can read a story that starts with a crime, moseys along with a deal of suspense, has a paranormal influence through a recurring dream, and ends in a love story… though I never set out with that mix of genres in mind!

Happy writing and reading. And remember, in my world there are no boxes, and we should all act like children! Wicked ones… 🙂

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2010 8:24 am

    Hey, David, I really enjoyed your post this week! I loved your reminder that, “all knowledge is fiction…” The physicists and the science fiction writer sure do have a lot in common. And history is so warped over the years, it too becomes mostly fiction.

    • April 23, 2010 2:01 am

      Thanks, Wendy. I’m kicking around the plot for a novel set in the near future, more what I believe is called “mundane” science fiction. But I’d hate to tag it that way.

  2. April 25, 2010 7:36 pm

    Good point Wendy. The ones in power always re-write history to suit their needs. Makes you wonder what really happened in life, doesn’t it?

  3. April 26, 2010 4:12 pm

    1984 includes a classic example of the notion of history being rewritten to suit political objectives! It’s a great book to go back to after a lifetime of work experience!

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