Every fiction writer will have a reason for choosing fiction. You hear and read a lot of them that sound clever and dramatic on the surface of things. Most of them boil down to one of (or some combination of):
- I have to.
- I need to.
- The voices in my head make me.
I understand all of those, and I’ve felt them all on occasion, but I’m also a huge believer in free will and anything that doesn’t consider it leaves out part of the equation as far as I’m concerned.
The summer I was eight, my uncle pressed a copy of the Lord of the Rings into my hands to keep me busy. Seems a little excessive, doesn’t it? “Here kid, have a thousand pages of fantasy fiction. That ought to keep you quiet for a while.” Not nearly as long as he hoped, I think. I’d already read Fellowship at that point, so got through it fairly quickly and tore into Towers by the next day.
And that wasn’t even the beginning. Dad had plenty of SF and Fantasy lying around when I was a kid in the 70s and I read a lot of classic and not so classic genre fiction. My school library had more and the local library beat both together. I discovered McCaffrey early, and Silverberg, and Niven, Le Guin, Pohl, Herbert, Smith, Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, and dozens of others.
The 70s moved into the 80s and a couple of years later I became a teenager and my reading expanded deeper into the genres. Fantasy came into its own and SF got broader than ever before. Bova, and Feist, and Eddings, Salvatore,Bradley,Jordan, Brooks, Anthony, Pratchett, Alexander, and on and on and on.
The 80s became the 90s and I grew older and kept reading. By the time we rolled the millennium, I had a wife, a son, and a daughter on the way. Less time for reading, but I never let it go. My horizons got broader, but I got pickier at the same time, less forgiving of some things and more understanding of others. My youngest daughter arrived somewhere in there, too.
These days I read less than I did for myself before the whole family thing happened, and more non-fiction than ever before. It’s a strange, winding road, but along the way I found a lot of things that had been lost, like Dr. Suess, and picked up things I never would have otherwise, like Harry Potter. There’s no way I can possibly come up with a guess at how many hours of joy and pleasure reading, and particularly reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, has given me.
And that’s why I write.
Sure, it might satisfy some psychological need I have and maybe the voices in my head like to be let out of my imagination to play through words across the screen, but that’s not why I write.
I write because that’s what I feel it takes for me to pay back all the writers who have gone before me. If someone reads one of my stories and enjoys it, then I’m thrilled to have added a little joy in reading to someone else’s life, and the hours of work that went into it were more than worthwhile.
Read on and be well.
(Cross-posted from my new website.)
Master of My Domains
So yesterday, for the first time ever, I bought a domain name. But not just one. I bought two domain names. And I attached them to something. No, I’m not going to tell you what, yet. It’s a secret.
But it’s cool.
I’ve been thinking a lot about labels and boxes and branding lately. There’s an often repeated mantra/meme running around that we are each our own brand. I’m not saying I disagree because there is a certain amount of truth in the statement, but you can’t just leave it there. Whatever your thoughts on the subject, you do need to choose how to represent yourself, and your public persona is just as important in the online world as in the real one. The real world is far more important in most ways, because that’s where your family is, where most of us have a job, and where we live and breathe. (What, you think there’s virtual air?) But the online world reaches beyond the real world in some ways, letting you make contact with people and businesses and organizations you’d never encounter otherwise.
I’ve taken a big break from online life recently to focus on real life and get my head screwed on straight. I feel a lot better now, my stress level a lot lower, and I’m slipping back into the world of zeroes and ones.
How does that relate? Whatever amount of truth you put into being your own brand, it’s far more important that you recognize you are your own person, and a person is far more than a brand. There is far more to you than the one or pieces of yourself than you’re likely to focus on as your online brand.
If I try to pick a few words to describe what I am, they come easy and it’s hard to stop at two or three. Husband, father, writer, son, friend, student, teacher, karateka, reader, athlete, philosopher, musician, artist… I’m all of those things and a lot more. Some are more true than others at any given moment, but each is a part of how I think of myself. Husband and father are the two big ones, and hard to even consider as separate parts of my personality because they overlay everything else. I’m less of an athlete these days than a few years back when I was in marathon shape, but karate helps a lot, and if I can get my left calf to start functioning as designed, I might work my way into deserving the label a little more. Musician is a new thing and an old one.
You are who you want to be, but sometimes you have work to recognize just what it is you want. I want to be a better me, and maybe shape my parts of the world to leave them just a little bit better than I found them. I have lots of plans, and maybe I’ll follow through on all of them, some of them, or none of them. Plans and dreams and hopes and fears. Those change and grow, too.
So what’s my own personal brand then? I am. It’s not separable, though I’ve tried a variety of themes and ideas in the past. I am my own brand and my brand is me. I’m not one thing, but a gathering of many and changing all the time. We all are. It’s kind of the way humans work.
And what domain names did I buy? Ah, that would be telling.
Fine, okay. There really isn’t anything there yet, but you can try typing renaissanceninja.com into your address bar (or click on the link) and see where it leads. Alternately, lanceschonberg.com will get you to the same spot. Bookmark it and check back in a few days. I’m still fitting together the jigsaw puzzle. There will be much fun and creativity.