Colds do two things to me. They make me bad tempered in a grouchy kind of way. And they make me want to take shelter from all things in a book. Today I hid out in the audiobook of Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (Read very well but not by Bradbury unfortunately. Note to authors: if you can read at all, try and record your own audiobooks. I love hearing the authors voice) Here is a quote from the introduction:
“Don’t tell me what I’m doing, I don’t want to know.”
Bradbury is in turn quoting italian film-maker Frederico Fellini, who refused to watch the daily rushes of his movies. He, like Bradbury, was drawn on by the act of discovering the story as he created it. Call it the muse, or the subconscious, or the imagination. Call it what you will, it’s the thing that makes the creative act possible. Without it even the most technically perfect story is just a dull, lifeless mechanism. Bradbury captures the same concept in a quote I’ve borrowed many times, ‘First you jump off the cliff, then you build the wings.’ (possibly my favourite quote on writing) and in his short essay How to Keep and Feed a Muse (certainly my favourite essay on writing) The Martian Chronicles is the epitomy of this principle in fiction, short stories that hover on the boundary between fiction and poetry, always threatening to swim away like forgotten dreams. I wish more writers today had the nerve to take the creative risks Bradbury was taking in the 50’s and 60’s, and the skill to do it without crashing into the dirt. So many writers seem set on not just building wings, but complete impact survival systems before they even venture to the cliff edge (while others are hurling themselves into the void without even a sense that the ground exists).
Or perhaps I’m just being to pedestrian in my reading. Who are the writers taking the risks and pulling them off at the moment?
In other news…
Mark Charan Newton asks why science fiction is dying? Maybe the answer is that contemporary science fiction has become quite dull and self referential and even passionate readers like me are losing interest in watching the genre chase its own tail? (You see…grouchy)
John Scalzi reveals his short fiction pay rates (after smacking down a noob publisher for paying one fifth of a cent per word)