“Serious” writer says there is not enough “serious” fiction being written about climate change / Escritor “serio” dice que no se está escribiendo suficiente ficción “seria” sobre el cambio climático

In a recent opinion piece in The Guardian, plainly titled “Amitav Ghosh: where is the fiction about climate change?the “serious” fiction writer Ghosh stated,

When the subject of climate change occurs, it is almost always in relation to nonfiction; novels and short stories are very rarely to be glimpsed within this horizon. Indeed, it could even be said that fiction that deals with climate change is almost by definition not of the kind that is taken seriously: the mere mention of the subject is often enough to relegate a novel or a short story to the genre of science fiction. It is as though in the literary imagination climate change were somehow akin to extraterrestrials or interplanetary travel.

What the hell? How does any author alive today make such a grossly ill-informed comment about fiction that addresses climate change? There are hundreds of novels and stories about climate change. You should read more, Ghosh. Start here, or here.

He asks, “Why does climate change cast a much smaller shadow on literature than it does on the world? Is it perhaps too wild a stream to be navigated in the accustomed barques of narration?”

Barques? Really? Maybe one of the reason “serious” fiction writers don’t write much about climate change is because they’re too busy contemplating how to use 19th century words in the 21st Century and don’t have the inclination to look ahead. Continue reading

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Lessons from the third draft

apsarae6edc5It’s been two years. People are beginning to ask, aren’t you nearly finished with your novel? You must be working on the final edits. And I have to correct them and explain that I’m actually writing a third draft. A tense silence falls, or there’s a lot of head nodding. Either convention will do to signal that we’ve got to move the conversation along. No need to dwell on the obvious problem.

Two years? C’mon? How can someone still be writing new scenes, heck even chapters, after two years? Dead novel writing, they suspect. Remember William Hurt in One True Thing? Yeah, like that.

But I am cool with it, pretty much. I’m learning something from round three, which is a mix of writing and editing. I hope it will be one heck of a cocktail in the end, filled with the right balance of syrups and bitters. One of the things that’s different this time is my lens. Instead of focusing on each chapter’s arc, I’m looking at three or four chapters together in a block and see if they hang together and make a working part.

Okay, I’ve only done this for the first four chapters so far, but here’s what I do know (shaking a finger and speaking with Bernie Sanders’ Brooklyn accent): Chapter four told me that chapter 1 was missing. I mean missing. The old chapter 1 had to become chapter 2 and chapter 2 had to move up to 3, etc. And the real chapter 1 was missing like a black hole. It was such a powerful hole that the whole novel was going to collapse if I didn’t write it. So I did.  Continue reading

Tiptoeing into the uncanny valley of clowns, robots and dolls

clown57d7112f44c86-imageHave you been following the news of creepy clown sightings this year? A sighting was first reported this year in South Carolina on August 21st and then reports pretty much erupted all over the country since then. Reports have been made in Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. There was a “clown hunt” at Pennsylvania State University that resulted in no clown captures and seems a likely case of creepy clown hysteria. More sightings of these uncanny thespians of the absurd are now appearing in Australia and New Zealand, and there seems to be an outright plague of them in Wales.

Evidently this is not unprecedented. Media reports that the creepy clown sightings happen every few years, with 1981 and 1991 being notoriously bad years for this sort of thing, and most of the official reactions to these sightings is to tell people to calm down. But, honestly, who can calm down when they see a clown standing at the edge of the woods behind their house at night? Not me. I like my creepy clowns in stories, not in the parking garage.

Perhaps we’ll see some great writing come out of this. There has been no evil clown-themed work of fiction to truly rival Stephen King’s creepy Pennywise since It was published in 1986. Likewise, creepy doll stories are few and far between these days. Robots, however, still seem to generate a lot of writing and film. All three of these creatures–clowns, dolls, and robots–inspire an unease in human beings that is partially explained by a hypothesis called the uncanny valley. Continue reading