(Yes, we’re continuing the streak of blog entries with very strange inspirations. At this point I’m somewhat interested to see how long I can keep the chain going)
We got a fair amount of snow over the last week, and I had to drive to and from work in it a couple of times. On the radio and TV , there was a great deal of ominous talk about the weather, and when people talked about it, it was to describe snow as an inconvenience at best, something dangerous at worst.
Driving in it, when it is really coming down and the roads haven’t been plowed yet, it’s hard not to agree. Snow is a problem. Snow might wreck your day. Snow is scary and stresses you out. In the worst case, snow might kill you.
At the same time, though, I also remember many many first snowfalls, when everyone is excited and runs out to see the flakes coming down. This went on at least as late as university, when my housemates and I were goofily delighted at the first snow of the year. Even for people that don’t react like that, many of us enjoy drawings and photographs of snow-covered landscapes, and stand and look out at the winter world and think it beautiful.
Snow is charming. Snow is beautiful. Snow is fun, and something to enjoy.
It’s the same thing.
Now, obviously context is a great deal of what is going on here – if it’s snowing, and you can go toboggan in it, you’ll feel very differently than if you have to shovel it and then try to drive someplace without sliding into a wreck. Even so, I think it’s interesting how we can, when we want, completely change our interpretation of something based on what is associated with it, how it is talked about to us and around us, and the words linked to it. A huge snowstorm can be like winning the lottery (snow day!) or a punch in the gut.
Again, a lot of this is psychology, but it also reminds me that this is part of the power and responsibility of writers, and probably art in general. People can feel completely, utterly differently about something depending how it is framed and described to them. That’s a very powerful tool in storytelling – if you do it right, you can make your readers react almost however you’d like to your setting and your characters, and change it later if you need to. It does mean you need to really think about how things are being described because depending how you set things up for your reader, their reaction may be very different than you anticipated. As ever, words matter.
This is also something I think we need to recognize and use very carefully. A good writer can make you love something or hate it, to support something or reject it, to stand up for something or turn your back on it. That means that the written word can and does do amazing things, but I think we probably need to think very thoroughly about what we use it for and, perhaps, the causes we harness our writing to. You never know exactly how big your audience is. I think you want to be sure that the reaction your writing could create is one you’re proud to stand behind.
This is now getting dangerous close to Advice, so I’ll leave it there.
Thanks for reading.
They’ve released a trailer for the new Blade Runner movie. You can’t really tell too too much about the movie from it, but what is there looks like it might be promising. +1 for hearing bits and pieces of the Vangelis soundtrack, any road. I still feel deeply sceptical about the whole thing, though.
Blade Runner is one of my very favourite movies of all time and I think it holds up well as a classic of SF film. I also think it has a nicely self-contained story that doesn’t really call out for a continuation or a sequel. Obviously making a new movie doesn’t affect the quality of the original, but I wish sometimes we were a little more content to let a good story be over and not try to tack on sequels just because we like it a lot, or because
Maybe the people behind the new film have a genuinely awesome story to tell. I hope they do, because I would love more Blade Runner, but it also has the potential to really, really, let me down.
(I guess, if nothing else, the appearance of Old Deckard seems to resolve that ‘is Deckard a replicant?’ question, although, again, I thought it was fun that that question was out there without a really definitive answer.)
(I prefer the interpretation that he’s not, because it makes Roy’s decision to save his life at the end more profound – at that point, all life is precious to him, even that of a human sent to execute him – although I realize there’s solid evidence the other way)
(Stop writing about Blade Runner, Evan)
In case you missed it, author Brandon Crilly posted a marvellous review of The King in Darkness over on the Black Gate fantasy site. Black Gate publishes a lot of awesome content relating to fantasy fiction, so you should probably check them out anyway, and if you would like to read Brandon’s review it is here.