Blog

Telling Stories

The first words I published were on entrepreneurship and branding and other things I knew more about than most people, and that means of communication worked well. I could convey information damn quickly: this works, do this, here’s some information on how to do such things better.

Narrative nonfiction was the next step.

I thought, at first, that it was incredibly pretentious to tell stories about myself and my life. I thought, “Who cares? These are tales about me and my experiences. They can’t possibly be relevant to others.” A sufficient number of people who I respected told me they found value in the stories, though, so I started writing them down.

I’m glad I listened to their advice, because the end result was my being able to communicate even more through narrative than I could by strictly communicating data. There’s a subtlety in storytelling which allows you to touch on difficult to reach facets, and which leaves plenty of room for interpretation on the part of the reader.

Fiction is still a strange cat in a new house, to me. It’s something I’ve come to love, but I’m still a little weirded out by its presence in my life.

That being said, it’s become quite clear, quite quickly, that the attributes I appreciate in narrative nonfiction are even more pronounced in fiction writing. No longer am I limited by my own experiences in telling stories that communicate the ideas I want to communicate. No longer am I limited by my own habits or mannerisms or politeness in asking questions that I think should be asked. No longer do I worry over the perceived (and very real) bias that permeates any piece of narrative nonfiction work.

The filter of an experience is no longer the author, but the reader. The work I’m creating is the experience, and that gives me the opportunity to make it a very real, very entertaining or educational or uncomfortable or whatever experience for those who rifle through the words I’ve written.

That’s not to say that fiction or nonfiction or narrative nonfiction or any other style of writing is inherently better than the others. It all depends on what you want to say, how you want to say it, and who is on the receiving end of your message.

But it’s a powerful thing, telling stories through fiction. I’m still coming to grips with that power, the same way any kid does, the moment they realize they’re not a gangly adolescent anymore, and have come into possession of a full accompaniment of longer arms, bigger muscles, and the hesitancy of experience that hinders one in confidently knowing what to do with them. Yet.


Speaking of fiction, I’m publishing a new book every week until I leave Iceland on March 18. Rave Domino, the second book in the A Tale of More series, hit shelves today. Pop on over if you’re curious what kind of stories I’m engrossed in telling at the moment.

Blog

Bridges

Writing, to me, is like building a bridge.

I’m here, on this bank, and you’re over there, somewhere off in space. There may be fog between us, or we may have been aware for each other for some time, waving across the water from shore to shore, looking forward to eventual contact.

I have specific resources, traditions, ideas, and perspectives, and you have the same. By building a bridge, I’m able to share with you these resources of mine. I’m able to present what makes up ‘The Island of Colin’ to a much larger world; a whole chain of islands, each with a population of one; the inhabitants of each offering up their own collection of resources when we finally come into contact with one another.

There is a chance I’ll meet someone by accident. A metaphorical boat in a storm, washing up on shore, putting me in touch with someone new who I can influence and who can influence me. But I don’t like to depend on luck when it comes to expanding my horizons and pushing my boundaries.

Instead, I prefer to build ever up and ever out, while continuing to grow inward, as well. Doing my best to figure out who I am and what I have to offer. This ensures I have something to say — have plenty of bridge materials — and am always growing through contact with others who are doing the same.

Book

Let’s Say

When I was a kid, a lot of the games my friends and I would play started with the phrase, “Let’s say…”

Let’s say the X-Men have to save Barbie from the Ninja Turtles.

Let’s say you’re a wizard and I’m a thief and we have to find the dragon.

Let’s say we can both fly, and the UFOs are trying to hunt us down.

These were exploratory statements. They set the stage for the adventure we were about to have; contextualized and established a framework in which to explore. It gave us anchors so that we might accept everything else as a variable. You and I can fly, so what happens next? How do we act? What does running from aliens look like when gravity isn’t a limiting factor? How do we outsmart them? What happens if they catch one of us?

I’ve always loved fiction because it allows me to explore these “Let’s say…” scenarios. The worlds presented and the characters who explore them give me the means to suss out more about myself and who I am, while also empathizing with alternative responses to the same stimuli. Exposure to these non-truths are, in many ways, the best cultivators of truth I’ve ever come across. I know myself and my world far better for having seen others worlds from the standpoint of other people.

I’ve written a good deal of fiction over the past few years, and my first attempt at a longer narrative was a series called Real Powers. The storyline is hardcore speculative fiction, and in it I make all kinds of predictions about where the world will be about fifteen years from now, technologically, politically, spiritually, socially, journalistically, and in just about every other sphere of being I can think of.

I wanted to really flesh out the world I was extrapolating upon, so the book is told from the standpoint of six different characters, each with their own personalities, motivations, hopes and dreams and ways of dealing with the world. The thing that ties them all together is that they’re all heroes and villains; super in their own way, though not in the comic book sense. Their world, like ours, is a big, sometimes intimidating place. Each of them, in turn, can be big and intimidating in their own way.

Most of my publishing career has revolved around nonfiction work, and indeed, most of my income still comes from my essays and books about philosophy and things of that nature. I’ll continue to write on those topics, of course, because I truly enjoy exploring the world in non-narratively, and sharing my thoughts in that format.

But fiction has become an increasingly important genre to me, and as such I’m working hard to expand my experience and offerings in that area. I’ve recently published two books, Ordovician and Trialogue, which have been getting phenomenal reviews and have been doing quite well in sales, too. Thanks so much for that, if you’ve given either one a read!

Just yesterday I released the third book in the Real Powers series, completing the first trilogy starring those six characters (there will be more) and giving me the excuse to go back to the first two books and rewrite them a bit, tweaking the language and the formatting and catching a few typos that snuck through in the first editions. Second editions of those first two books have also been published.

I’d absolutely love it if you’d pick up a copy of book one, give it a look, and if you enjoy it, leave a review up on Amazon and tell your friends.

I’m still fleshing out the fiction-wing of my writing portfolio, but the more hands I can get my work into, the more time I’ll be able to spend exploring the world, in every way possible.