samuel x. brase likes to write

Getting Warmed Up

Posted in Uncategorized by Sam X. on 4 May 2010

The nihilism of technology lies not only in the fact that it is the most perfect expression of the will to power, as Heidegger believes, but also in the fact that it lacks meaning. Why? and To what purpose? are questions that technology does not ask itself. —Octavio Paz

It seems to me that this quote has much to do with my second novel. My novel takes this idea, that technology functions without meaning, and then asks the question: What does this do to a person or a people who rely entirely on technology? How does this break traditional notions of identity, and what replaces our notions of identity? Is identity simply undermined, or do we reorganize our understanding, restructure identity, come up with something new? These are questions I must contemplate and work on, for they are the core of Novel #2.

In other news; this year has revealed the second phase of my budding writing career. Last year, I wrote about a dozen short stories and a novel. The short stories taught me that surrealism comes naturally to me, and the novel taught me that science fiction is my wheelhouse.

This year, I am reading far more than I have in the past, both novels and nonfiction magazines (primarily National Geographic, Natural History, and Foreign Affairs for now). But I also realized that it might be beneficial to merge my surrealist bent with my sci-fi talent. I took a flash fiction that I created earlier this year and redid it entirely; futuristic setting, expanded characters, more description. It went from 250 words to about 2500, as is probably a more interesting story for that.

The reasons for merging my two tastes are numerous.

First, I think it makes sense to unite them in an attempt to establish a more unique style. Developing a readership and anything resembling a writing career both require a sui generis voice. People need to be able to read ten pages and say, “Oh, this sounds like Brase.” Of course, merging surrealism and sci-fi has been done before. My personal touchstone of Philip Dick provides ample evidence to that point. I just hope I can bring new stories to the subgenre, a new ideological stand point, and relevant themes.

Second, I believe it works to the benefit of the stories. One of my perpetual themes in sci-fi stories is how technology is decentering our reality. This plays naturally to surrealism, and if I embrace that, it will allow me to plumb the depths of that decentered reality.

Third, this focuses my career at this juncture. I spent a lot of last year splitting time between standard fiction and more sci-fi oriented fiction; while certainly useful for my portfolio and attempts to get published, I think it will prove more beneficial to focus on one genre, one style. So I’m taking what I liked best about both, blending, and moving forward.

Despite all this, I’ll probably work on some more mainstream fiction come the fall. I’d still love to get an MFA, and my portfolio for application should probably steer away from sci-fi. Despite my fondness for my story Scary Bells, it was probably a miscalculation to include it in most of my applications this past year. I’ll keep the Recession Menu however.

So; I am feeling confident about this new focus, I’m excited to get to work on a pile of new short stories, I’m excited to read more, and most of all, I’m excited to commence work on novel #2. It certainly is busy for me, but I’d have it no other way. As Mark McGuire said in an interview recently:

There’s so many jams to be made and things to be done I feel like I just have to keep working constantly, there’s no time to waste!

That’s about right. The days are just packed.

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