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Jun 4, 2010

Passion for Writing

I just saw a blog post that asks, "How do you keep the passion flowing in your life?". For the past two months I have been trapped in the real world, isolated from my current fiction writing passion, a science fiction story that is tentatively called The Start of Eternity. Being kept away from something is a good way to judge your passion for it....the longer you are away, the more desperate your longing to return and the more intense your desire for reunification. I suspect that if you have to work at keeping it "flowing" then it is not really passion.

David G. Hartwell cleverly noted that "The Golden Age of Science Fiction Is Twelve", and that was about my age when I discovered science fiction. I had seen some science fiction on television before that, but I did not really have an appreciation for the fact that there were written science fiction novels.
Then one day in the library I came across a copy of Isaac Asimov's novel, The Gods Themselves. Soon I started writing my own science fiction stories....with a passion...a passion that has never died.

From the first bumbling steps of my earliest science fiction writing I've been intrigued by the challenge of creating science fiction stories that move beyond the conventional boundaries of our ordinary lives. Star Trek took us off of Earth "where no man has gone before" and while Asimov usually contented himself with stories about events in this galaxy, during my "golden age" of discovering science fiction I read E. E. "Doc" Smith's space operas and so I started thinking about travel between galaxies...as Smith quaintly put it: traveling at the speed of thought.

So here I am, 40 years later and still writing about travel between galaxies...in particular, the travels of aliens, the Huaoshy, human-like beings from "a galaxy far far away" who have spent the past billion years spreading their civilization from galaxy to galaxy.

First Contact
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One of the prominent science fiction themes is "first contact", stories about the first time that humans interact with human-like beings from another world.

Most such stories about "first contact" are set in our future. However, in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the idea was presented that advanced alien beings might have long ago come to Earth, and such aliens might even have been responsible for the way our species has evolved. Carl Sagan took such thinking to the extreme and suggested that our entire universe might have been created by aliens who, by design, made this universe a hospitable place for creatures like us.

As shown by Clarke and Sagan, it is possible to write science fiction novels that assume "first contact" came long ago. However, they wrote stories in which the aliens had very limited interaction with humans. The X-Files depicted aliens who came to Earth long ago and who continued to interact with humans during our lifetimes.

The Start of Eternity is an example of a science fiction novel that assumes alien beings have long been visiting Earth. For such stories, a key issue is: if aliens are here among us, why don't we know about it? In The X-Files there was some kind of complex conspiracy by which some humans on Earth who knew about the aliens continually worked hard to keep existence of the aliens secret. I think humans are too incompetent to keep such a secret, so for The Start of Eternity it is assumed that there are alien visitors here on Earth who have very advanced technology that makes it easy for them to keep their existence hidden from humans.

These simple assumptions about secretive aliens who have long been visiting Earth create many rich opportunities for science fiction stories. How can we not be passionate about exploring these possibilities? After all, maybe there are such alien beings here already.

The Start of Eternity is being written collaboratively; new collaborating authors are welcome.

Image credits. The image at the top of this blog post is an illustration by Henrique Alvim Corrêa for the Herbert Wells novel The War of the Worlds. The second image (photo by Donald Schmidt) shows the library where I first discovered the literature of science fiction.
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2013 reboot. I've "re-imagined" The Start of Eternity as The Foundations of Eternity, now part of the Exode Trilogy.

2 comments:

  1. While it's true that being kept away from a passion can strengthen its pull on you, it's also possible to drift too far and too long. You know how some people say, after reconnecting physically after letting their erotic lives with their mates become dull, "Hey, that was fun. Why don't we do it more often?" Well, I think writing can be like that. Getting over the little hump of starting can begin to feel like too much trouble (okay, for men this MAY be the wrong analogy, I suppose, maybe).

    Anyway, I believe you can feel passionately about writing and still have to put some effort into getting into a flow state with it. Especially if aren't able to write regularly.

    Susan K. Perry
    Creating in Flow blogger

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  2. I agree with your analysis and I don't really want to be a "passion snob". I was thinking about writers such as Isaac Asimov who seemingly had life-long passions...a need to write that could never be escaped. That's not to say that writing was always easy even for Asimov. I love this Asimov quote: "How do I get my ideas? By thinking and thinking and thinking till I'm ready to jump out the window."

    When I wrote my blog post I was also thinking about Elizabeth Gilbert and this talk about creativity. I wonder: can we really make creativity flow or does it somehow flow no matter what we do? I'd hate to find out that we all put effort into "getting into the flow", but all that effort is wasted....that the flow is actually independent of our efforts to invoke it.

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