Stories · writing

Methinks the Stories I Want Are Risky Territory

Reading this post by E. Darwin Hartshorn I got to musing about my own conflict with storytelling/art vs. money and how that all goes.

On the face of it, I tend to feel my most Presentable or debut-able stories that would likely be good options to draw readers are also the ones I have the least interest in. Certainly, there are times I enjoy them, but they don’t constantly draw me in. They are light, comedic, and fun, and one or two have room to be a series. All good things for drawing loyal readers to you to have the potential of making a living.

But they simply don’t intrigue me.

The stories that do draw me back again and again, that cling to my soul and wish to be told, instead feel like they will only ever be for a very tiny, niche audience. And unless that audience contains millionaires I won’t be making a living off of that.

But of course, I do not know how my stories will be received. I just think it’s a rather logical deduction to make. The stories that matter most to me involve the darkest of topics, from the personal to the societal scale. Suicidal despair in the face of a world (or galactic) system bent towards evil, destruction, and even genocide. Well, that is how a lot of us feel about the world today, but you know, it’s still pretty heavy to dive into as a story. But then, it’s the only thing I see as valuable enough to work on.

A lot of people view stories as simply entertainment. Often meant for mindless enjoyment. And while that’s probably just as well a lot of the time, I think stories are really meant to be a way to communicate the full human experience. Some stories need to be sad, heavy, tragic, and not particularly entertaining in that light, fun way, because stories are often the first time someone going through something realizes they aren’t alone, or gives them a way to open up about something hard. While it will undoubtedly have a level of entertainment from an intrigue and drama aspect, I think these sorts of stories are meant to be a tragic sort of comfort. As though sitting with someone in a desolate, ashen wasteland. It’s not pleasant, but there’s an undeniable sense of meaning within it.

Such stories are meant to be a gateway towards somber reflection and deep contemplation. That’s not to say they should be so tragic and harsh that they are utter misery to read through. They shouldn’t be tiresome, and it may only take the right balance of pacing to manage that.

Some stories are meant to entertain. Others are there to help you cry.

Some stories are meant to be a total escape. Others help you reckon with the world.

Some stories are all fun. Others let you say that God feels very far away in this messed up world.

That last one, I’ve lately realized, may in fact be the thematic thread through all of Spectra.

It is certainly Dale’s theme through the story.

Which is why I’m starting with him as I develop my art skill in preparation for Spectra.

I guess there’s only one way to find out the answer to the money question, draw this story and find out just how many people care about it.