WRITING COVERS A MULTITUDE
SOME GENRES REQUIRE A GREAT DEAL MORE WORK THAN OTHERS. SOME REQUIRE THAT YOU TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF (THOUGH NOT NECESSARILY WHILE WRITING).
If you are going to be a writer, give thought to what type. Some genres require a great deal more research than others—and such research can vary considerably in terms of how you enjoy it—or fail to.For instance, if you are going to write pornography—generally called erotica these days—your research may be a lot of fun (providing you like sex).
I do—and I’m an excellent researcher. Still I haven’t opted for erotica—as yet!
I am far from sure why not.
I imagine researching sex—if you don’t like it—must be hard pounding (no pun intended).
Romance is widely popular, doesn’t necessarily require you to research sex, but it probably helps if your heart has been broken a few times. Frankly, there are few things worse—or so you think at the time—but really you are paying a small price given the rewards that writing brings.
So suck it up!
Mystery stories are probably the sweet spot. There you have intrigue, suspense, and thrills—but the writer doesn’t have to be overly concerned about how people are actually killed. Agatha Christie wrote a veritable library of murder mysteries by relying on little more than arsenic. She avoided all that exhausting technology.
Science fiction is deceptive because many of its adherents are disturbingly well informed. That means that although theoretically you can make it all up, in practice, if your fictional worlds aren’t rooted in scientific credibility, then you are likely to lose readers. Nonetheless, if your underlying concept is sound enough, you can skate technically. John Wyndham proved this with THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (one of my all time favorite books in any genre).
The true gluttons for punishment are those of us who write heavily researched action thrillers featuring the military. There, you are faced with both a vast amount to know and keep up with—combined with millions of both serving and retired military who are only delighted to point out your inaccuracies.
You might well think only a masochist would opt to set his stories in such a context—unless he or she was genuinely interested and was endowed with a ferocious capacity for work.
I plead guilty to both interest and a capacity for work. Also, by and large, I like and respect the military I encounter—especially when it comes to a combat environment. As for the rampant corruption of the MICC (Military Industrial Congressional Complex)—which involves a significant number of people at senior level—I like many people who operate within its ambit too.
Being corrupt doesn’t mean that you are not proficient, good company, or even courageous. It just means that you are lacking in integrity and are downright greedy. It also means that you are a hypocrite and that DUTY, HONOUR, COUNTRY is no more than rhetoric as far as you are concerned.
They would argue that they are doing no more than is necessary to survive in the real world—and to advance their careers. Careerism is a serious sickness as far as the military(and major corporations) are concerned. It is pursued with the fanaticism of Islamists—and is no less unpleasant. Still—it is socially more acceptable, and literal decapitation hasn’t yet caught on. Bureaucratic decapitation is very much in vogue..
Such flaws are regrettable—even contemptible—but if you avoided every person in the Pentagon who was so flawed, you would get little done. More to the point—once your views were widely known, you would be denied access—and access is all as far as a writer is concerned. So a writer has to be pragmatic while endeavoring to avoid being corrupted as much as possible.
Do we emerge squeaky clean?
No, we do not. You can’t go near corruption without being contaminated to some degree. It may be very slight, but we are tainted. All too often, we pull our punches in order to retain access—and thus much of the more egregious behavior of the MICC goes un-reported.
It is just too dangerous to speak out.
As, primarily, a fiction writer, I got cut more slack in the past—though my penchant for speaking out has had quite an effect since then. Fortunately, more than a few in the military, who publicly condemn my outspokenness, privately help me—so I still retain considerable access.
I work long and hard at keeping up to date for these core reasons:
- I am deeply interested—and now quite expert in matters military—and particularly the U.S. Army.
- By and large, I enjoy the people I deal with
- Fiction or not, I want my books to be credible.
- I regard fiction as an ideal environment within which to explore real issues. It communicates widely and vested interests are not directly involved.
- I am arrogant enough to believe that, where some issues are concerned, I can help to make a difference.
Thanks to my much loved grandmother, I suffer from an idealistic streak—a desire to do the right thing regardless of the odds. Do I always live up to such values? I fear not—but they still prevent me from opting from careerism.
Perhaps writing erotica would resolve my dilemma.
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