Struggling to find a balance
I just had a pleasant encounter with somebody who writes speculative fiction, probably with a hint of fantasy. Nice guy too. It was fun — and nobody can convince me that conversations between writers aren’t productive, as well as educational. I believe that it is time to do some serious thinking about my next blog post. It would be great to develop some nifty idea tonight. I have some drafts to work on, but they may be too close to other writing themed blogs I’ve published recently.
What does weigh on my mind at present? Is there anything that makes me mad, or anything I have strong feelings about? Social injustice is always on my mind, but I don’t have any specific ideas. I can always look at my list: it is long, but I rarely consult it. Why is that? Could it be because I tend to rely on sudden inspiration, although I like the idea of planning ahead? Sometimes the themes I suggest pale the moment I’ve written down the idea. That is stupid. Can one blog about blogging? It seems to be a personal issue this moment.
I rarely write history blogs: the problem with those are that I’m a fiction writer. If I research and put together a blog post from my research, my writing tends to get so dry that dust clouds arise when I read it. And I don’t want to inflict sneezing on my unsuspecting readers. So, how could I improve my history blogs and make them interesting to anybody, myself included? Aye, there’s the rub. I love reading historical fiction, if its well-researched. On the other hand, if the book is laden with footnotes that tend to show off the author’s impeccable research, I get impatient.
In other words, the secret to a good educational blog is to integrate the information in the text. It must be done subtly though, and that isn’t easy. I suppose it is a bit like long passages of backstory in a novel. Boredom lurks, unless the author is magnificent. If that isn’t the case, any reader ends up wondering why the past is included in the book.
Basically, readers want to hear what the author has to tell. If it is vital to the plot, backstory must be sidled in sideways: it shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Writing about historical events naturally involves past times, but it is up to the author to make them palatable. What strikes me, now that I think about it, is that undiluted facts are as hard to digest as a diet stones. They lie heavily in the stomach, according to a reliable source. You surely heard about that victimized wolf? Poor thing, wanting tender flesh and sweet bones of a certain red-bonneted girl, he must’ve been disappointed. I digress.
Back to history. How to write well on history. How to bring facts to life and avoid being hampered by too much knowledge. Or worse, hampering the reader with too much information. Mind you, it won’t do to dismiss facts altogether. Why is it that everything always comes down to balance? There is no avoiding it. You have to eat a balanced diet. It is vital to drink enough water and — not too much wine. If you sing, you must find the perfect balance between breathing, muscular activity, text and sound. And I’ve not even mentioned rhythm and melody. It takes years to learn to bring all the elements together. Also, a perfect technique doesn’t touch anybody, if it isn’t enhanced through the singer’s personality. Ballet dancers, especially when using point shoes — it goes without saying. Get the balance wrong: you’ll find yourself on the floor. Come to think of it, there’s nothing more hilarious than a bird losing its balance. Think albatross and try to take off or land.
All of this doesn’t really encircle my initial problem, but maybe there are a few pointers. It is up to the individual artist to make it work. Make what work? In this case, this blog. For others (singers, dancers, actors, musicians, designers, scientists, and perhaps even presidents): the possibilities are endless. My word: it is never simple.
© HMH, 2018