And on the heels of the article “I wrote yesterday”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/12/14/the-literary-sexual-mechanic/, Mark Chadbourn has an interesting article. This one’s actually been in my queue for a while, but the timing is good for me to actually finish writing it.
Mark’s primary argument is that writers of speculative fiction need to make sure that their stories are actually _about_ something. He says that writing works of fiction should about more than the story itself – it should be about saying something. This ties directly into what I said yesterday – the reason that sex shows up so much in fiction and literature is exactly because these writers often believe that the way of life presented in their stories is exactly the way we ought to be able to do things. ((Sorry, I’ll get off this theme soon. I think I’m almost done with it now.)) Essentially, they have a philosophy, a worldview that they are presenting, and they are using their fictional work as a means for communicating that message. This is exactly what Mark suggests that writers ought to be doing more of, instead of shying away from.
I tend to agree with Mark. One of my favorite authors has always been Orson Scott Card, and one of the reasons why I love his writing so much is because he makes me think hard about a wide variety of issues and topics. ((He also does so without using the sexual mechanic.)) That’s the kind of writing I aspire to, the kind I would like to emulate. I would like to write a story in such a way that when my readers are done, they can say, “Huh, I’d never thought about it quite that way before.” My complaint with the sexual mechanic is that I think it actually takes away from this intellectual process, interrupting the flow and the philosophy and replacing it with sensation and titillation.
So, writers who use the sexual mechanic are free to do so as a means for communicating their message, their philosophy, but I am just as free to write _without_ using that mechanic and striving for a different kind of – and hopefully better – story. ((I am also free to not read that author again, as I have opted to do in some cases.))