Bleeding Symbolism

Posted on 26 August 2011

First off: Page 8!

This is the last page of “The Story of Cook”. I hope you have enjoyed this short interlude. Next, a small pimpage of my social media. If you are a twitter or facebook follower of mine (links to the left), then you will soon get a special treat in your feeds by way of the cover art and title of The Tijervyn Chronicles Volume 2! Weee! Anyway, onto actual blog posty stuff.

So, part of the “for sale” eBook I’m putting together for Revenant is that I wrote a special short story/23rd chapter that will be in the “for purchase” version of the book only. Well, I’ll probably post it as a $0.99 download on its own too, but regardless! I wrote this chapter.

And, in this chapter, I suddenly started to realize I was using some symbolism and phrases I’d used in other short stories, in particular dealing with cheating destiny and forging your own fate. And I had the sudden worry: am I becoming a theme writer?

Now, writing by themes is not a bad thing. Every writer, in my experience at least, has some over-arching themes across their work. G.R.R. Martin is a cynic that looks at the human condition through the lens of crap-pot worlds, usually dealing with winter. Robert Jordan played with moral ambiguity in a fantasy world where “right and wrong” should be easy, but still weren’t. Some authors love coming of age stories. Some love overcoming-the-odds stories. I, I’ve noticed, am starting to really focus in on personal agency. For the layman, that is a fancy academic term for free will.

What interests me most about this is that I never really thought I had any particular strong opinions or curiosities about free will. Yes, I enjoy time travel stories and “free will” type stories, but I enjoy a lot of things.

If I had to have guessed what “major” theme I was going to end up with (and in truth probably have besides), it would be an examination of ways to deal with “different sentiences”. That is to say, a rational, self-aware being that isn’t human, or is in some way objectively different from human through tampering, mutation, etc, and how it interacts with humans and how we interact with it. In obvious example: cyborgs who are stronger, faster, and can still feel with their new parts. As I said in an earlier post, this question fascinates me. But I digress.

So, I’ve started to fixate on free will and personal agency. What should I do about it? (If that isn’t the most meta of questions!) As I said, being a theme writer isn’t bad, but there is one thing that worries me about themes, and that is getting stuck in a rut. What I am scared of doing is being that author who always writes about one thing. Just like I don’t want to be pigeonholed as just a steampunk writer (I have urban fantasies and hard sci-fis I want to tell too), I don’t want to be “that free will author” either. So, I’ll keep what I have, because I think it is some good stuff, but we’ll see where Tijervyn 2 takes us. There will probably still be my “different sentiences” and some “free will/personal agency” stuff in there, but I have plans to play with other ideas too. After all, as I once explained to someone, Spec Fic isn’t about dragons and spaceships. It is about being able to ask the question “what if” and explore how people react to it.

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