One of the great ironies I find myself faced with is that, as a writer, I am not terribly vociferous when it comes to writing things like letters, emails, texting, or Facebook status updates. And as anyone who follows this blog knows, I don’t blog with frequency either. Yet I wrote the Rune that Binds in a matter of weeks. I can write books relatively quickly, but I don’t really have a lot to talk about when it comes to me, and a blog or Facebook post is necessarily narcissistic, or at least egocentric.
Like the vacation photos you get conned into seeing on a person’s phone or at their house, I just don’t figure it’s as interesting to you as it is to me, and frankly as a person who isn’t terribly nostalgic (I have one photo album with maybe twenty pictures in it), it’s not terribly interesting to me either. What happened yesterday, or even today isn’t the exciting stuff. What happens tomorrow, that is what intrigues me. The untapped potential of every tomorrow is so vast, so profound in how it will affect all our future yesterdays that I am always a little amazed we spend so much time looking back and so little time looking forward.
I often joke about how I built a time machine in the future, the idea of which strikes me as particularly funny, but when I tell the joke, it never gets a laugh. I’m the only one who thinks it’s funny, it seems. I even wrote a short story about the concept, and why I think it’s funny. Maybe the joke is too abstract, or maybe it just isn’t funny. I don’t know. The point is I don’t spend a lot of time writing the miscellaneous stuff, the stuff that already happened. It doesn’t interest me, so I can’t imagine it interests anyone else.
I know it does. We are a voyeuristic species, but I have a hard time picking out what is interesting to others. It seems that in the age of the Internet a lot of people say a lot of stuff about a whole lot of nothing. Why do we obsess and care about who slept with whom? What does it matter who is ugly or fat, who gained or lost weight, and so on? These conversations fill the airwaves and dominate web pages, but they mean nothing. As Shakespeare said so eloquently, it’s all “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
So what should I write about? Do I engage in the “sound and the fury.” Do I write about myself? I despise a gossip, so the first is out. The second is dull as dirt. Trust me, I know. So what is left to write about? What fascinates me aren’t people, but ideas, and I confess, for good or bad, I value a person for their ideas more than just about anything else. Ideas enthrall and mesmerize me. That an idea, a truth can not only exist but be recorded, this, for me, is one of the great experiences of being in a library or a bookstore. To be surrounded by the distilled essence of thoughts and ideas, set on paper, one of the most fragile mediums we know of, is a transcendent experience.
If you’ve read The Rune that Binds or A Season of Storms, you’ll see they’re littered with ideas. Whether you agree with them or not, they’re there. The idea that evil is not ugly, the idea that there is a measure of compassion required for punishment to be justice; or that there are right and wrong philosophies and we should be careful about which ones we embrace, the books are full of them, and while the characters make it interesting and relatable, it was the ideas that I wanted to explore. What is vengeance, and why isn’t it justice? For me, at least, these are better explored in stories than on websites.
After all, what is an idea if not the expression of a powerful desire to know the truth?