Sunday, January 1, 2017

Into the New Year

I hope everyone reading this is having a good 2017 so far. For my first post of the year, I thought I'd put out a rambler of a post.

When I was a boy I found myself drawn to stories. I could never figure out why. As I grew older I began listening to less music, playing less videogames, and dropped out of most every fandom. But one thing that remained the same, and grew, was my love of story. The big change happened when I realized that what I was most concerned with in the stories I read was the fate of the characters' souls. This only really happened about five years ago.

Not to say I don't care if people die in stories, but that is not what fascinates me in them. What draws me into their tales is the struggle with a deeper evil or ill, and how they conquer them. It's not just about one man versus another. This is about conquering an evil that doesn't just wish to destroy, but eat souls for breakfast. It's about more than it seems at first.

If you want to know why I have enjoyed Brian Niemeier's Soul Cycle saga, Declan Finn's Love At First Bite series, David Gemmell's hero tales, shonen manga, old superhero comics, or the stories in Cirsova magazine, it is because there is often much more at stake than mere life or death. This is also why I really got into writing material like Knights of the End, and what I'm going to put out next year. Whether it is facing down Eternity, sin, alienation, extinction of one's kin or species, or the loss of Paradise, it is the struggle between despair and hope that drives the best stories. This is why I'm still a reader.

That is why every good story needs a good guy. Readers need someone to connect with in the grand battle between two opposing forces. This is why even in stories without them, readers will focus their attention on the brightest burnt bulb in the basement they can find. Rorschach in Watchmen is popular for this reason alone. Anti-heroes are subversive enough to draw in the smirking, nose-holding crowd, and the character might even be interesting on some level, but they ultimately fall flat in the long run. If you stain the white with too much black it eventually all blurs into a drab, murky mess of grey. This is all well and good for teenagers of a certain type and age, but for those of us escaping the despair of college deconstructionism, it offers very little beyond that first course sampler. My second reading of Watchmen left me freezing cold.

Heroes and villains work because opposing sharply contrasted ideals are dynamic. Competing visions and characters are exciting. This creates a conflict bigger than the protagonist that he might not even see at all. But the reader will see it on some level. Even in a story with no physical enemy, it is entirely reliant on the protagonist not succumbing to something intangible. There are still enemies.

Life is a battle for the souls. This is what pulses through every single great story, and why I still read them.

There are so many stories out there that I'll never get to them all, but this year opened my eyes to a lot of stories I might have otherwise never touched. As someone who avoided much modern fiction, it was one where I was introduced not only to much pulp, but newer authors more interested in telling a good story than lecturing their audience, as well as other authors I missed entirely that were also crafting their own tales. I learned a lot in 2016.

But 2017 is going to be a bit of a different year for me. I'll still be writing, and hopefully getting closer to my goal to write the sort of story people would want to read, but I'll be cutting my online time way down. What I said earlier about life being a battle for souls is very true, and I'm still going to fight it, however it is also a battle i need tor regain my focus on. This means prioritizing on a certain things at the expense of others. Therefore, this blog will probably only be updated twice a month next year, and there will be less posts overall.

Now, I still have reviews to post, in fact I'll have one this month, and I'll still do posts like this, but they will be less common. I apologize to any frequent readers, but it needs to be done.

As we enter 2017 I want every reader here to have a very blessed new year. I hope this will be a year of growth and improvement for you.

So I'll say it here: Happy New Year!

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