Friday, 22 July 2011

There are two kinds of

This from an imaginary review: How To Write Science Fiction: To Change The World First Make Your World (Pwr, 2014):
There are two kinds of people in the world ... no really, there are; this goes deep back into our evolutionary past. On the one hand there are hunter/gatherers, the primordial ape-state of humanity. And on the other there are farmers. Moreover, you already know (almost certainly without having to think about it for five minutes) to which group you belong: whether (however much you have become habituated to sedentary Western civilised living) your gut-instinct is to range out and find what you need, or settle-in and cultivate your homestead. Writers need to know this more than most, because a person actualises their authentic being-in-the-world by the way they write. Either they bed-in, build their world, cultivate it as a garden, assiduously (perhaps even cautiously) accrete their writing around themselves and their own ego. Or they launch themselves out there: range widely through the world (or, through the world of the text: into the writing of others, for instance), tracking down what they need, gathering each trouvé with a sense of satisfaction, and making their writing with a fluid, open-ended sense of seeking. The danger the 'farmer' writer faces is stagnation; the danger the 'hunter-gatherer' writer faces is larceny (for instance: plagiary). Neither of these ways of writing is intrinsically better than the other, although you -- reading this now -- will have a strong sense as to which seems to you preferable. But you need to know, so you can avoid the dangers and write to your strengths.
This imaginary author goes on: 'Fantasy and to a lesser extent science fiction is oversupplied with "farmer" writers, who like to cultivate a world and bed themselves (and their readers) into it, who are happy with traditional forms and structures. This seems counterintuitive, because SFF fans like to think of themselves as boldly going beyond the final frontier, but it's true. You are more likely to find experimental hunter-gatherer writing in the mainstream, modernist and postmodernist play.' But we can take that with a pinch of salt.

No comments: