Peeling Back the Curtain

I had a discussion with a friend yesterday who said he appreciates that lots of us indie authors offer our thoughts about various subjects, and our general life philosophies, on our blogs in addition to stuff about writing.

I found this fascinating. It also dovetails with what friend of the blog, author Alexandru Constantin wrote in his recent blog post “Rethinking the Blog“:

>Yet the biggest undercurrent of development in my growth as a writer has been in the scope of the politic. The more I’ve delved into the culture of the creative the more I’ve realized that all art is strictly in the philosophical and the political. Every act of art is political and cultural because culture is anchored in the political. Culture does not exist independent of politics, because culture is intertwined and reflects the philosophy of the creator.

Accepting the above fact means that I’m no longer going to shy away from using this medium to discuss my philosophical and political observations. Views that have matured and changed drastically in the past five years.

Practically what this means is that I will be using this place as a home not just for my writing but for my observations on culture, life, politics, and religion.

Many people lament that there’s no mystery surrounding their favorite creators anymore. The Internet has taught us that lots of our beloved actors, musicians, comedians, artists, and writers are horrible and sometimes downright evil human beings.

I would say this has always been the case. And artists in the past have shared their ideas about other things and not just their artistic medium. This just didn’t have the ability to be broadcast so far, so fast.

Authors have been engaging in other topics for centuries. Look at Jonathan Swift. Best known for wickedly satirical Gulliver’s Travels, Swift was also an essayist and wrote polemical pamphlets about religious and political issues. Johann Goethe likewise wrote about politics and religion, and like Swift, was actively involved in both spheres. These writers did it all!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

More recently, we know that C.S. Lewis’s fiction was but one aspect of the man, as he wrote extensively about Christianity. And there are many other modern writers–who we would consider more “literary”–who have many irons on the fire in different areas, such as Joyce Carol Oats and the late Kurt Vonnegut.

This is why I have never shied away from topics on this blog, although I try to keep things respectful–I’m not John Scalzi or N.K. Jemisin. I want everyone to read my thoughts and my fiction, whether they agree with me or not. My goal is to entertain, not insult.

In other words, I want to do the opposite of Stephen King.

Okay, that was a bit of an insult.

This is also why I jokingly call myself “either a Renaissance man or a dilettante, depending on whom you ask.” There is so much interesting stuff in the world to be confined to one aspect of it. Hence Amatopia: amateur + utopia.

Like Alexandru, I believe that everything in a culture is connected, and that our stories are the most powerful and important things. That’s why I want to write them and share them with the world.

Along with my thoughts on religion, technology, architecture, media, music, and yes, even old video games.

To those who want to maintain an air of mystery, I find you admirable and wish I had that instinct. Maybe I’m a loudmouth with a center-of-attention complex. Really, I want to sell books. I’m not going to get rich doing this. I just want to share my work.

And a whole bunch of other thoughts as well.


Speaking of my work, my debut novel A Traitor to Dreams is still on sale for $0.99! If you like what you read on the blog, you’ll love my book and have a great time. Plus, it’s got more swordfights and intrigue, plus a woman with a screwdriver.

34 comments

  1. This is how I see it.

    When you consider exchanging money for a product – whether you’re buying a story from an author or a home from a realtor – you deserve to know whether or not the seller hates you. This is because, in buying that product, you directly support the seller with money that he can use to buy weapons or fund communists.

    As a firm believer that our innermost thoughts inevitably influence our actions, I simply cannot bring myself to separate the art from the artist for this reason. Thus, if an author is dumb enough to rant on social media about how much he hates me and wants me to go face-first into a wood chipper, then more power to him. Politics is simply another means of gauging whether or not I should be someone’s patron.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a great way of looking at it. I used to think differently than you, but now, these considerations are always on my mind.

      I can forgive differences in opinion. I can’t forgive people who want me, my family, my race, my nationality, and my co-religionists to die.

      Like

      • Alexander,

        Concour with uncleaver Hans. 2 of the most important courses I took in high school and again at university was social and political thought in literature. Completely blew me away and réoriented my outlook. No longer do i read books ignorantly but closely as to what the authour advocates.

        Those courses also introduced to 2 of my favourite English books Watership Down and the Dispossessed
        xavier

        Liked by 1 person

      • Very cool.

        It’s funny, because a lot of us cane to pulprev, superversive, etc., wanting to get away from this stuff, but it turned out we just don’t want it in our face in our entertainment—as far as the people behind the words, we DO want to know.

        An audience doesn’t want to be insulted. I like to think I’m not insulting anyone, in my fiction or in my other writing.

        Like

  2. If Mark Twain were alive today I bet he’d be on social media and writing blog posts and other online articles daily, all reflective of his personality, in addition to writing novels, and everything would overlap in some way. He’d take full advantage of the instant delivery technology we take for granted today, as a vehicle for expressing himself. Writers who compartmentalize and remain inaccessible and distant from the reader don’t really capture my attention. I like people who speak what’s on their minds, lets you know who and what you’re dealing with, and invites discussion and thought, under the most ideal circumstances. I feel like a lot of these “stay in my lane” authors are content with being in a little box and churning out what’s expected of them, but that doesn’t appeal to me, personally. I also feel like they don’t fully appreciate their audience if they’re not interacting with them at all, keeping that wall up. Obviously after a certain amount of fame is achieved, filtering is necessary, but the non-writing related presence of these writers seems totally automated and artificial. You see people commenting on social media posts on pages run by people they’ve hired and it’s kind of a turnoff for me. Give me that kind of exposure and I’ll make myself into a cultural icon, y’know? Rather be a Mark Twain or an Isaac Asimov than someone churning out genre books that are virtually indistinguishable from one another and being a robot. And of course I’m aware that many don’t want to “rock the boat” because they have a good gig going and that’s totally understandable, but that’s boring to me and I don’t read their books. 😂 I have a ton of ASIMOV sci-fi digest mags from the 70s-now. When he was alive, and was the editor, he answered the letters in the mag, and some of those replies are absolute gold. Then he’d appear on a talk show telling everyone how great he was, and I just love that. That made me want to read his stuff as a kid. Like, wow, this guy has opinions and he puts real thought into it, this is real, and his ego annoys people, and he doesn’t even care, which is amazing. Nobody cares what James Patterson thinks about anything. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bottom line, if you have the charisma, put it out there, I say! I think those strictly opposed to the kind of transparency addressed in the post probably don’t possess that much charisma and presence to begin with, and it shows.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I wouldn’t want to be known as such. “Brand” indicating something contrived and corporate. That’s what I call “faking it.” And I can see right through it, as can many people. Of course many can’t do it works for them. Anything I personally put on my blog is 100% what I’m thinking or feeling in that moment. I see a lot of blogs that are people “building a brand.” They follow me and I don’t follow back because that’s not interesting to me. I prefer authenticity. Again, that’s why I enjoy reading blogs like yours. I may disagree with some stuff, I may wholeheartedly agree with other stuff, but at the end of the day I respect it all because you’re a man speaking your convictions in world full of eggshell tip-toers. That’s what I’m referring to, independent thinkers. I like that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, love Stan. To a kid growing up with his presence felt through comics and tv narration, he made you feel like you were a part of it. Other industry people might have all kinds of “dirt” on him about how they were perhaps treated unfairly, but that isn’t my problem. Open any marvel comic in the 70s and 80s and there’s “smilin’ Stan Lee” beckoning me to join the fun, like “C’mon, true believer, you’re gonna LOVE this issue! Let’s go!” And you’d go on this colorful adventure hosted by this kindly old grandpa who loved telling stories and clearly relished his role in life. I REFUSE to entertain any negative talk about that dude, at all. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, you could really seize onto the messages and it made the characters seem all the more heroic, like they were symbols for the kinds of character traits you aspired to have. Then you’d have a random panel with a comment from Stan written in, like he was all excited about the story like you were. “What’s gonna happen next??? Gasp!” Just so exciting and pure. I can’t even understand superhero comics today. The dialogue is so sparse you can breeze through one in five minutes, and it costs six times as much as the big hour-long reads I paid 75 cents for back in the day. And you can’t buy one title without buying ten other titles to get the rest of a story. But that’s ok because I think it’s trash anyway so I’m not even worried about it. RIP Stan! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d say so. I think it’s because they used the characters’ thoughts as narration. “There’s gotta be a way out of here… but how? If only I could just reach my utility belt…*click*. Eureka! Now that I’m free, I’d better find out where the Riddler’s holding Robin. I only pray it’s not too late.” Something like that. They skip much of that now and rely more on the illustrations themselves to narrate.

        Liked by 1 person

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