I subscribed to the idea that you have to make writing timeless for quite some time. Don’t include too many references to the current date, because the book will seem dated within a few years. I’m not sure where this idea came from, but if I had to guess, it’s probably an MFA thing. MFAs, as you know, are CIA propaganda operations, broadly speaking, and so broadly speaking, you want to leave the current events to mainstream news channels (also ops), and let the novels slowly devolve into timeless, toothless nonsense.
Good art and good novels are complicated. They portray human behavior as flawed, which is fine if your novel takes place in some nowhere time, but not quite as fine if it takes place right now, because right now is a present narrative that needs to be controlled very, very carefully, every step of the way.
Not that novels would ever really influence mass narratives (lol), but still. You have to make sure all your loose ends are tied up.
The idea that you wouldn’t want to set your novel on March 15, 2021 because that would somehow date it for future generations of readers is flawed for two reasons. Number one: who gives a shit if future generations read it? You’re gonna die, and when you’re dead you’re not going to care. Enjoy success now, enjoy relevance now. History books won’t remember you, and that is a good thing.
Secondly, the idea that very current novels don’t get read by future generations is, itself, false.
Once you get outside the circular firing squad and propriety panels of current lit, you realize people mostly read books written before 1990. The only people who (pretend to) care about new books are other people who have new books (or fans of YA fiction), which makes total sense, because you want to be a part of that ecosystem. It’s important. Learn to care, or die.
Regular people are excited by old books, everything from Moby Dick to the Bible. And guess what? Those books are pretty dated. I enjoy biblical scholarship because, when it’s really good, it helps you to put some of the downright strange things biblical characters say to each other in context. They’re speaking in the (Aramaic or whatever) context of their time. Rob Bell is really good on this.
References and things of that nature might be dated in just a few short years. I cringe sometimes looking back on books that I wrote ten years ago. I put slang into people’s mouths that people don’t say anymore. It’s dated.
A kind of grand theme of this blog is that you should just make stuff without worrying about it too much. It’s my belief that everyone has a novel or two in them, whether or not anyone else wants to read them. This is me turning my professor chair around and sitting in it very seriously. You are going to be out of fashion some day, and you’re going to embarrass yourself if you try to stay in it. What’s more cringey than someone in their forties trying to talk like a zoomer? No one understands those kids, including those kids. What are you doing?
As a side note, it’s great when older millennials get Tik-Tok and immediately start explaining things to a wide audience of no one who asked. They’re kind of like this blog in that way, although I found out yesterday that blogs have something like 1000x the half-life of a tweet (and probably a Tik-Tok), so I win again! But at what cost…
Anyhow, I hope everyone is having a great Monday (again, lol). The weather is very nice here, which is a kind thing for Oklahoma to gift to me and my friends, as in just a few short weeks it will be trying to murder us with the sky.
The first three books of the Black Gum Cycle can be purchased here for pay-what-you-want, with the next two delivered for free to whomever gets this bundle. Thanks for reading!
I love this one, man.
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