It's been a long time since I've posted something here and frankly, it is because I think that blogs are rarely read. So writing here is somewhat of a waste. Blogs I think are somewhat of a therapy artifice, used to make authors feel better as they scream into the silent, apathetic universe. Why does an author need to be heard? Well, I think it happens not because of some great purpose or some unique message needing to be heard, though most authors would like to think they matter. I think it happens as a result of the intersection of instincts: needing to socialize; too shy, introverted or autistic to socialize; and the inherent compulsive, instinctual directive that directs every human to share knowledge, even if they don't want to. I mean the ultimate way to give the universe "the finger" is to learn something unique and valuable and then keep it to yourself. There is a certain instinctual smugness in that we all contain the instinct "all we know is all there is to know." Without that instinct, no one could make a decision. However, some people claim that they know nothing about a subject. While it might be scientifically admirable and a kind of faux humbleness, what that really says is I don't want to be held responsible for knowing something. I definitely don't want to be held responsible for being wrong. You can see how shyness could definitely be facilitated by this. In the past few decades, this sort of feeling has been institutionalized by the phrase "I'm just saying."
Part of what's happening too is that our limited mind is trying to come to grips with the sheer number of people in the world. Our mind was never designed to have so many people being "adjacent," something social media helps project. Social media though also gives a false sense of who is in the world. Like who isn't on social media? Well, a lot of people, mostly the successful ones. A successful person doesn't have time to peck away to people with randomly triggered rage who mostly just want to talk without listening anyway. One mark of the hopeless is to try to promote something through social media. If you want to give something away to someone who is unlikely to buy much of anything nor be in a position to share their experience, then social media is for you. Social media and gaming, in particular, is for giving a person a false sense of purpose.
What happened before social media, before social media was around to give a sense of purpose? A factory job or an engineering job producing something tangible, is what happened. The factory gave a person purpose. You became as expert by rising in a company. Your expertise was compared by comparing your company against its numerous competitors. Numerous competitors. When the competitors go away, your expertise becomes de facto, in other words, you just become a cog in a mindless machine. No one truly knows how much you know and how much is the fame of royalty.
And so if you are a cog in a large, monopolistic corporate machine, you come home and do your cog jobs, and then you head to social media to feel valuable. Your children had better be friggin smart and independent, a combination that doesn't always go together. Or if you come home from you success laden job, well the grandparents had better have been reading to your children. Or perhaps you will read, but it can't be that crap from the school book club (store in disguise). It's got to be something worthwhile, something monumental that will teach your kid the things that you are too tired to teach, a prompt for the life lessons you should be giving.
My purpose is simply to be that book. And if I am not, then I will simply shoot the finger at the universe.
This edit was a pretty significant milestone in my career. I believe, if I can remember correctly, that I have been through thirteen professional edits prior to this one. Those edits, taught me quite a lot and were like mini college courses. So what's the difference this time?
In all those edits, my novels were edited as genre fiction. In my former novels, one of the problems I encountered was that readers felt like they had been dropped into an Excalibur test, which was not my intention. Since I had no problem reading these hard sections (and that is significant because I am dyslexic and have problems reading nearly everything), I couldn't understand their problems. With "The Owl from Oblivion", which is the deepest novel I have written thus far, I finally determined the cause of the disconnect.
The problem was that I was trying to write literary fiction in a genre novel style. Genre novels have their own pacing requirements and rarely have time to be contemplative on any situation. One must move on to the next plot point before the reader gets bored. If the author has some deep insight into a character, it must be condensed down to some prescient bullet points, perhaps resulting in an impactful line, then fly away to the next plot point. When trying to grasp for deep philosophical meaning or a trait of humanity embodied by the character, especially with respect to foretelling how that trait will likely impact the plot, the reader, who is streaming along at warp speed, feels that their speeder has just hit a tree on the Star Wars moon of Endor.
More than discovery that my natural writing style is literary fiction, not genre fiction, the pieces in the puzzle (and in my confidence) fell into place when I realized that many of the more endearing children's books are a kind of literary fiction written for children. Children are always trying to figure out how the world works. They haven't been alive for very long. Some things they learn are very confusing. The reason they are confusing is that in a world where it seems like adults have all the answers and therefore "every question has an answer," for some questions, there are no answers. "That can't be right" the children would think. A literary fiction novel shows them that yes, it can be that no one knows the answer to all questions about life, even ones that can be so simply stated. Further, it shows where these questions fit into different kinds of people's lives and how just asking the right question can change the world. One does not need an answer to affect influence.
So with this edit, I received the affirmation that I indeed understand what literary fiction is and can actually write it. But even more revealing was that perhaps there is considerably more to this style, in terms of questions or philosophical ideas pondered, than I knew. Below I quote a section out of the editor's style guide that they wrote to help guide me in writing this book:
In a very succinct way, the editor has crystallized the nature of literary fiction for me. And it has set a task list of to-dos beyond the numerous grammar fixes required: further things to think about and ways to carry the characterization of the characters even further by entwining them in these fundamentals of literary fiction.
Welcome to the newly created Children of Sophista blog. This website is still under construction but feel free to comment here if you wish to communicate with the owner/author. I eventually hope to have a private area for members of this site (as well as a signup for the private area) which will feature book excerpts and other goodies. So keep checking back for changes!
Below is the current mockup for the cover of the book currently being worked on. The gold frame and gold lettering will be done in gold foil and the blue stars will actually be blue foil. Something called spot gloss will make the illustration glossy and give it a three dimensional feel like old fantasy books which used to have glossy illustrations pasted on their matt cover. The blue stars will also feel three dimensional with spot gloss covering them. The whole scheme that I use on the cover and throughout the inside of this illustrated book is a "family heirloom" fantasy book, the kind that would be passed down from generation to generation. It will be printed in large 8x10 illustrated children's book format, so the illustrations should generally be large enough to show up well. The book will be hardcover with thick satin-finish (between gloss and matt) coated high quality paper. Presently, the book is roughly about 580 pages so this will not be a book that you hold in one hand but one that you lay on your lap while cuddled up next to some eagerly listening young teen. If you don't have a child or grandchild to read this with, don't worry, this book is for adults too. It is not a book of fluff but of deep philosophical thoughts about life (by very bright children) with deep, intimate characterization of the children and adult characters in the book. You will also see tinges of a political/espionage thriller mixed with aliens and magical fantasy. It sounds like a mess but believe me, you will surprised how well it all fits together.
Owner of the Children of Sophista Publishing and currently the author of books in the Children of Sophista universe.