Where do you to find ideas/themes that hold you in their grip?

Thanks to Jeannie Lin for tonight’s blogging question. I’m researching for agents and future plots and not finding either. The agent is something I’ll have to workout for myself, but where do you go to find the notion that will not let you go?

The heroism and sacrifice of Romance of the Three Kingdoms cried out for a fantasy treatment. I couldn’t (still can’t) stop until it’s seen publication. But even though I’ve found several areas of Chinese history that I find intriguing, no other subplots, acts of love, heroism, etc have jumped out at me and shouted, “You must let me tell my story!” I will continue to look, but I’m interested in what other folks do at times like this.

A Disturbing Article and Its Comments

I just read a post on Book Blogs and I’ve included the link in my title if you’re interested. While the article itself is interesting and merits reading, I’m horrified by the resulting comments.

The article is by Guy Gavriel Kay who is obviously a hero of mine, so I’m biased. What he states is a no-brainer to me as a writer:

“What is at work today is linked to a general erosion of the ethical value of privacy and a parallel emergence of a widespread sense of entitlement to look at – or to make use of – the lives of others….

Do we value privacy in any real way? Thinking about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace … all these suggest we value exposure rather more. And instead of challenging this transformation, as they are supposed to – certainly at the more thoughtful edges of the art – novelists are buying into it wholesale….

Here’s the New York Times on Oates’s, Blonde: ‘If a novel can’t deliver Monroe’s beauty … it can give us her interior world.’ What has happened when a reviewer suggests that a novel gives us the true inner world of a real person? This is nonsense, and it is pervasive. Novelists are both caught up in this trend and even making of it something of a cause. Listen to Bruce Duffy, author of The World As I Found It, a novel about Wittgenstein. This is from the Afterword: ‘I was disgusted – no, outraged is the word – that to some, Wittgenstein’s life was clearly considered off-limits …’
Disgust? Outrage? Surely this is the language of entitlement. Admitting of no possible alternative, no intrusion, no … loss. Do we want to forbid such writing? Of course not, but shouldn’t we at least consider, be aware of, what we might be losing when these fictions and the worldview that underlies them become widespread?
What I’m suggesting is this: what we see in these fine works – and they are fine works – along with countless inferior ones, is a dramatically expanded perception of entitlement, and of eroded privacy, of a piece with other aspects of our time.”

(I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him.)

Anyway, to me, his point seems a no-brainer, right? Yet the majority of the commenters believe his premise is wrong and that they do have the right and even the duty as writers to fictionalize (and therefore marginalize) the life of a real individual. They seem to feel the only problem with doing this is the potential for a libel suit.

What ever happened to the writer’s responsibility to write truth? (Yes, even in fiction, maybe especially in fiction, one must write about truth.) I do not believe that in order to find universal truths in fiction, one must state that our works of fiction ARE reality. That’s absurd. To say that Braveheart is really the story of William Wallace is the untruth and I’m happy that the writers of that movie did not state such a thing. Unfortunately, writers no longer feel as much compunction and now border on telling lies about reality and calling that real.

I’m rambling now. I’ve been awake for over an hour and have nothing but this blog and my disturbed state of mind to show for it. I guess even rambling about ethics and entitlement is better than not discussing it at all.

How to Use Your Online Web Presence

Check out this interview for excellent ideas on marketing yourself and your work. Writing the book is half the job!

Book Review to be Published

The China History Forum will publish my review of Cindy Pon’s “Silver Phoenix” next month! I’m a happy little empress.

Justine’s New Cover

I got behind on my blog reading and just tuned into Justine’s blog again. It may interest you to know, we got the attention of Bloomsbury. They’re changing the U.S. cover of “Liar.” Check it out on her blog. The link is in my title.