THE NEW FORBIDDEN: LONG THOUGHTS

This piece runs to a little under 500  words.  Here on the internet, it will die like a rejected infant. “Ugh, I don’t want that fat, hungry creature. Toss it in the swamp.”  Because…

…this is an age of sound bites, of the internet, of words flickering by on Twitter, of headlines scrolling by under talking heads; of videogames, youtube, and the little chat-room boxes  in which people hopelessly try to express themselves with something more than claustrophobic superficiality. This is not the age of long thoughts.

It’s not allowed, now, especially in writing that is rooted in genre, to have long thoughts, to explore visual descriptions with any depth. Basically what many people do now—sometimes some quite talented writers do this—is they make up their books (and films) out of  Legos, out of  prefab blocks and connectors, pre-existing tropes and premises and images, bits of their favorite movies and old books, and they click them together in “fresh” ways, form them into “new” shapes.

I once saw an enjoyable, high-quality animated movie based on a book by a respected writer, which did just that. I had a good time watching that picture but, despite its pleasing goth edginess, let’s not pretend the writer and filmmaker were reaching for truly original imagery. He had created the picture out of old pictures and stories.

I see the same in urban fantasy novels—perhaps in works of my own! And Lord Knows that’s what the great spreading red puddle of the vampire genre is about: it is parasitism, ironically, on earlier writers. Vampire writing is vampirism.

Well. It’s hard to be original. I wrote a fairly clever story recently—so I thought, but the editor I submitted it to claimed it was too much like a story from the 1970s by one EC Tubb. I may indeed have read that story, and forgotten it, but kept it in my mind somewhere, deep down–and disgorged it, whole, in new terms. I don’t know. But I do know, that’s part of the struggle of being a writer, the search for originality—we’re all products of our influences, our reading. Originality, in the era of tie in novels and “world” novels and endless romantic vampire knock offs, is not encouraged.

It’s also not permissible, on the whole, (despite the occasional miraculous exception) to think elaborately in genre writing; particularly in science fiction…and especially in horror– to look for real poetry in  nightmare. Horror is only to shock—not to express. You’re trying to be expressive with horror? Shocking! The flowering that Clive Barker brought us, once upon a time, has withered.

In the past originality triumphed, in the end–but now…well…appreciating originality takes attention span.  And this piece approaches 500 words…

So I’m probably talking to myself.

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