Chuck Wendig, Wanderers, and Process

I’ve been reading Chuck Wendig’s new book, Wanderers, and it’s a great read. I’m really enjoying it. His writing is good but it also reads easy. The ideas are interesting. And it feels strangely of the moment for a work of speculative fiction (maybe because it came out last week).

The tension in culture. The problems with our media environment. Government in paralysis. Cynical political actors. Gender identity. Right wing lunatics with swastika tattoos.

I’m not sure I’ve seen another author capture internet culture as well as Chuck does in this book. The snips he includes, from Reddit to Twitter to Instagram, are so dead on that they could only come from someone who actively spends time in online social spaces. The way the characters refer to social media is dead on. He’s in the culture, and can speak the culture.

One character I’m unsure of so far is the rock star. Writers seem to always struggle to write musicians that aren’t wafer-thin caricatures doing drugs, spouting rock & roll platitudes, and more or less living the Nihilist Way. Not sure if Chuck will be able to pull it off. It might be necessary for the character arc…so we’ll see.

But, as I mentioned, I follow him online, and his blog is a great read. He wrote an excellent post on what it was like for him to write this book. In it, he talks about the process of writing the book, and how the book dictated what the process needed to be, defying his expectations about how it would come together:

This book just didn’t conform to the way I thought I did things.

I don’t mean to suggest we’re not, in a way, experts at what we do. And I think we do need to sometimes trust the process. But sometimes we need to go beyond that, outside that, and trust ourselves more than the process. The process is not the book, and the book is not the process.

Books are gonna be what they’re gonna be. They’re gonna be as big as they gotta be and take the time that they need to take.

We all have process. But when you’re working with ideas and creative things, process usually has to take a backseat to the work itself. Because the work itself needs to be what it needs to be. Sticking to process can prevent that from happening. Like keeping a goldfish in too small a bowl will restrict it from growing to its full potential.

Neil Gaiman’s Insights About America

I finally got around to reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It’s unlike anything I’ve read. As insightful as it is original. It’s also why I’m not getting enough sleep.

Neil’s insights on America are fascinating. This one made me stop and think:

“This is the only country in the world,” said Wednesday, into the stillness, “that worries about what it is.”

“What?”

“The rest of them know what they are. No one ever needs to go searching for the heart of Norway. Or looks for the soul of Mozambique. They know what they are.”

Easy Fiction

I’ve had a really hard time getting back into reading fiction. Over the past two years, I’ve started several books that I didn’t, couldn’t, finish. It was awful.

So after I heard enough positivity about the Expanse series, I picked up the first one and set out to conquer it.

It worked. I’m now well into the third book in the series. All it took was something a little less dense, and a little less likely to end up on the New Yorker’s reading list.

Not to say it’s dumb or bad, but it’s an easy read.

And I’ve been able to replace a lot of social media scrolling with actually reading a book. It’s been great. I feel like I’m getting reading in, I’m not wasting time mashing heart shaped buttons.

Interesting thing about The Expanse is seeing the authors projecting our current technology into their future world. In the same way that Star Wars made futuristic space technology look like knobs and flashing lights, the Expanse features everyone using iPhones … Or “hand terminals.”

Thinking about the present as if it were the past

Chuck Klosterman has written an interesting (sounding) book:

… the book explores how (and why) societies in 100 or 300 or 1,000 years might hold radically altered memories of the literature, entertainment, science, and politics of the early 21st century, contradicting the way those concepts are considered in the present. The following excerpt visualizes how television will be remembered in a distant future when TV no longer exists.

The Ringer posted an excerpt focused on how television will be remembered. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the way of life that we’ve all grown up with is a historical aberration. Our reality is a hiccup in time.