Wednesday, January 06, 2010

And It's Done

Hello Reader.  I have finally managed to finish The Proxy Wars: Dramatis Personae.  I was waiting on a friend of mine's criticisms of the novel, and she's handed them in.  They're soooo good.  And that leads me to believe that there's a real beauty to peer review.

When someone who's your age is reviewing your work, and I'm specifically talking about novels here, then they are privy to the same cultural touchstones that you are.  These things are the centerpieces of your fictional work, your storyline.  Every story is dated in one way or another, very few truly transcend time.  Of course, there are novels that address themes that transcend time, but each one has a cultural item that is particular to its time.  Mine is a disproportionate influence by J.K. Rowling. 

There seems to be a trend, starting from the '90s I guess - but remember that's when I was born so it could've started earlier - of a triumvirate of friends: two guys and a girls.  There was a show about it.  Cory, Topanga, and Shawn.  Those three names are like, the Trinity of sitcom for '90s babies.  And, king of them all, Harry, Hermine, and Ron.  I've got Briok, Proteus, and Kara.  Influence number one.  Cultural touchstone number one.  Dated book.

I'm not sad about it.  It's something I can't avoid.  My point in bringing it up is that peer review allows the author to see his/her reader enjoy these cultural influences.  My friend immediately recognized the dynamic, and she said she liked it.  That's an amazing feeling, when your reader sees the idea you're trying to get across, or enjoys the relationship you're portraying.  It's fulfilling and makes the ordeal of writing a novel worth it.

Another cultural touchstone in my novel would be the use of religion.  It was interesting to see my friend's reaction when she saw that religion, especially the three large monotheistic faiths, all existed in my far-flung future.  But again, it was an awesome sight to see her appreciating my idea that religion still exists a thousand years from now.  If you look at today's world, religion plays a huge role in geopolitical events.  I'm not going to say moreso than ever before, but religion has certainly become a part of the global conversation.  It's another cultural touchstone that I allude to, and another aspect of my novel that can only truly be appreciated by someone of my own age.

All in all, it was good sitting down and reviewing my book with her.  It made me feel better, see things I wouldn't have otherwise, and receive objective opinions about my novel from someone who isn't as attached to it as I am.  So, here's my weekly question to you, whoever reads this.  What cultural touchstone do you think has become a part of the world, or America's, zeitgeist?  A part of our national, or international, conversation?  Leave comments below.  Until next time then.

1 comment:

  1. You’re lucky to have such a good friend! So many people are willing to read a friend’s story but their comments are less then constructive. On one hand, you’re totally grateful that they read it, on the other you’re burning to know what they REALLY think… But she sounds like a really awesome person. :) And like you said, you have the added benefit her being within your cohort, which means she’ll understand what others might miss.

    I never really thought about how no work of fiction is truly timeless, but I think you said it quite well. The book that very much comes to mind is “Moby Dick”. It is one of the few books most people have at least heard of and is generally assumed to be one of those great works of art that everyone should read once and blah blah blah. But it really is dated; Melville, or, more appropriately, Ishmael, goes into VERY long-winded explanations of whales and the sailing life that are quite out of date. I mean, they still believed whales were fish back then, and he even mentions that many whale species were basically unknown to them (like the Orca, one of our favorites). The book at the time was considered the most comprehensive explanation of whaling and whales and now it is both inaccurate and incomplete… And Shakespeare, ah, everyone refers to him, too. But he’s dated as well; probably half of the modern printings of his books include “translations” of the vernacular of the time because few would be able to decipher it otherwise. In short—I like what you said.

    But J.K. Rowling, how did I enjoy thy work? :) Harry Potter is VERY much a cultural touchstone, as is Boy Meets World (two of my favorites in my youth, both riddled with memories…). And Power Rangers, and TMNT, and the girls played with Giga Pets and there’s Disney movies and 9/11 and…there’s a bit of things that influence us. Pokemon, too. The list goes on. But I agree; the trinity idea is very prevalent in our generation’s media. I have one too, though mine is two girls and one boy, and the trinity is kind of a duo more often than not but the model is still there. It’s very culturally relevant. And I’m glad that you don’t try to avoid it. It’s popular because it creates a great dynamic; it gives you more opportunity for characterization and most importantly (because this is what people like to read): dialogue.

    I know I do and you do (as evident by your chapter titles and this post, for example) and most authors in general spend a lot of time thinking about what our books and parts of the books mean… and so I agree. The best is when someone gets what you’ve spent all that time thinking about. When someone reads a bit and comments with exactly what you wanted to convey. For me, the absolute best is when people understand my main male character, or understand the symbolism in my main girl’s dreams… The “yay someone got it” feeling is definitely one of the best.

    I didn’t know that you had the big three religions in the far away future; is that largely among the human population or have the aliens adopted it as well? At any rate, religion is so important to our time. In fact, I really don’t feel like a culture is complete without it; in my experience, culture forms up around religion… religion indirectly played a role in the formation of my novels in the first place, and it’s something I explore in the text as well. It’s totally a relevant cultural topic, for better or for worse. Everyone has an opinion on the subject, after all, and quite of few of those opinions are passionate...