The more I learn of those bits of culture and literature that are popular, like Game of Thrones, for instance, the more I come to the conclusion that I’m not qualified to write anything popular. Don’t get me wrong, however; I’m proud of that fact. I’m just not negative enough, or cynical enough, or enjoy chaos and violence enough to pour out that kind of work. Moreover, I’d never want to have a fan base that consisted of people who find them entertaining.
I suppose that makes me an anachronism, a fact of which I’m increasingly aware. I read a couple of books a month, and like only a fraction of them. Those I do like are invariably old, often older than I am. I wasn’t raised on the violence of video games. Sure, they had them; I’ve just always found them boring and pointless. Instead of sitting on my fat ass, killing pimps and whores for fun, I spent most of my youth on my bike, usually riding to the beach. Death is for the dead. You don’t grow up in a military family and learn the message that killing is cool. Likewise, I wasn’t Dungeons and Dragons type either. In fact, I hated nerds. As a kid, for Halloween, I used to dress as “a kid who hated costumes.” I’d wear my own clothes.
I did used to love, love, love horror flicks though. By age 20, I am certain I’d seen every one ever made. But then came the age of the slasher flick. Imagination became out of style and wanton, pointless violence was its substitute. Stupid, boring, violent crap. What is scary about a psychopath? If he can die, I can kill him. If I can kill him, why should I fear him? (I blame Jamie Lee Curtis for the death of American genteelness.)
Yet, an entire culture seems to have devolved around this level of stupid violence. My work will never be considered cool or modern, because there won’t be anyone dying pointlessly. That doesn’t mean I’m a passivist. Hell, in my sci fi novel, my main character, Roxx, kills half a dozen people before you ever learn her back story. She drops bad guys like they’re radioactive. I also grew up on Bruce Lee films, and my Roxxy is a Bruce disciple with a penchant for guns and sonically enhanced swords. So, yeah, she’ll kill a mutha quick. But see, none of it is random. In fact, there’s a whispered social message behind most of it, if you squint hard enough to figure it out.
And I’m not judging GOT or the millions who love it — I’m sure it must be brilliant or so many wouldn’t be so enamored. At the very least, penning something utterly reprehensible so that it will appear in all the news feeders is brilliant marketing. I just mourn the days when other forms of entertainment were considered to be as interesting. The days when Spartacus didn’t need to show tits in every scene to be a classic. The days before Pet Sematary (and King’s raging alcoholism) when there were still some things off limits, even in horror films. The days when you could allow yourself to fall in love with characters, because some dumbass, fuck-for-brains college pukefessor wasn’t teaching burgeoning writers that the way to make the story pop and keep readers intrigued is to continually fuck with them every single second of every page. The days when love songs weren’t fuck songs. The days when most of what I read didn’t make me want to kick someone’s fucking ass.
The days when books had to be well-written to be well read.
I miss the days when romance mattered; when the sound of cracked trumpets couldn’t be mistaken for lyricism. I miss caring about characters and breathlessly turning the pages even though I was certain everything was going to work out in the end BECAUSE THE FUCKING WORK WAS WELL WRITTEN and not because I needed to see if they died in the next chapter. And most of all, I miss the days when writers understood that the numbers of sociopaths in the world is dramatically less than the numbers in their stupid fucking shows, and people get PTSD, and feel remorse, and grieve, and don’t just pop over to the next bloody scene so they can fuck the next bloke the hell up.
I miss the days when being a writer wasn’t a thing that made me want to wash my goddamned hands. Most of all, I miss, so dearly, loving books. I missed when books made me want to cry and not because of how shitty they make me feel the world has become.
Y’all don’t hear me.