Yes, I have other posts burning a hole in my head, so this week might be post-rich.
I also figured out what’s delaying the writing. Until I recover my IP from Baen I’m not continuing my mainline novels in those universes (there might be others, but it seems kind of pointless, since it would be new characters anyway, and so, in a way, starting anew, while in the same universe, which has fans who would be upset at starting anew. Though there might be a sub-series called USAians, starting in the 22nd century. Haven’t decided yet.) I have two other worlds, one fantasy-sf (don’t ask) and another a vast overhanging universe that will probably consume all my other future space operas, even if they seem unrelated.
Having started a novel in each, I came to a grinding halt. Why? Well, that took me time to figure out. It boils down to this (beyond weird medicine interactions that made both my ADHD and depression unmanageable, and wedding and other life stuff that I haven’t talked about here): for the last fifteen years, I’ve written in long-established worlds that I knew like the back of my hand (whether my own or others) or historic stuff which has its own worldbuilding. So, the stutters I’ve been experiencing are when I run up against …. something. Like “She comes from an expensive, ultra-developed world, named…. named…” And then the ADHD takes over and I go off to clean toilets.
So today, the writing will happen with a Rocket book notebook (you type in it, then take a picture and it does handwriting recognition, even for my horrible handwriting) at my elbow, for notes when I hit an unknown unknown. It’s a self-generating world bible. Since I’ll probably spend the rest of my life in this world (with expeditions to DST, should that ever come back to me) at least for space-opera, I might as well build the foundations right. Yes, it’s a lot like work and I’m lazy (duh, I’m a writer.) But it has to happen.
Anyway, so that’s been the hold up (on top of everything else.)
Now to the topic on hand: how much being born and raised in Portugal influenced my writing.
My fan eventually came back with the “But I want to know what great Portuguese literary works influenced your writing.”
So let’s talk about that. You see, the problem is not that Americans are ignorant of other countries. Every country is ignorant of other countries. It is that Americans, born and bred, tend to not realize every country is not the US. The concept of how foreign and bizarre things can get is not even in the compass.
As I tried to think of one, just one, Portuguese literary work that influenced my work, I came up dry. Sure, there were some children’s books and fairy tales that influenced me, but they are few and far between compared to foreign ones even there. I’d say when I discovered fairy tales my favorite were grandma’s editions of the Countess de Segur. (And I only discovered fairy tales at 16 or so, realizing I had a hole in my upbringing.) If you’re into fairy tales, google her. Her stuff is in Guttenberg, and frankly deserves better editions.
It’s not that I didn’t read Portuguese books. I did. If they came near me, I read them. It’s more that I don’t remember them/didn’t read them preferentially.
I have a theory for that.
Mostly I read Enid Blyton (all of them, even the boarding school books my brother disapproved of) then graduated to Rex Stout and Agatha Christie, and eventually fell headlong into SF/F. Other things fell in along the way, including but not limited to Sir Walter Scott and Dumas. But in general those were my influences.
Portuguese prose writing (more on that later) tends to have a really slow tempo and a weird, kind of flat reminiscent voice. This is not just 19th century (most of the works kicking around) it’s what allowed me to detect Portuguese writers using English names in US or UK anthologies.
The more recent Portuguese work is all message fic, and the message is very po-mo, very left, and I already got a surfeit of that at school, so literature classes became “How little can I read of this while passing the test.” For novels, at least. Most short stories are short-shorts, and usually also message fic, or “done for the shock or twist ending.” Those often have a decent voice, but the genre is limiting.
The reason for the state of Portuguese literature is this: there is no money in it.
It’s not just that Portugal is TINY (Brazil is bigger, but the language can grate.) It’s that most Portuguese aspire to write SOMETHING. So Portuguese publishers are determined not to shell out a cent for the work.
Under such conditions, popular literature doesn’t exist. Amusing the public is a DISTANT and remote thing. The publishers are going to make some money off these free books, anyway, and why bother? They try rather to publish things that schools will put on their reading program. The results are predictable. These aren’t things (by and large, short-shorts excepted) you read for fun. They are more for display than for reading for adventure or fun or… anything.
In this day and age, I’ll be a dog if I understand why a bunch of Portuguese would-be writers don’t band together, arrange for having their work translated into English, and start putting out dual-language anthologies. If I had more time, I’d suggest it/run it myself.
And maybe that would change things. But maybe like news/opinion blogs it is too weird for the European mind?
Anyway that’s Portuguese prose. Its fate is what always comes to things that are not monetized: they become display items to the elite and ossify.
I used to be really sad — and my dad is heartbroken, particularly on the mysteries — that none of my books were translated into Portuguese. Until I found out how few they have of Pratchett (and those only in Brazilian English) and none that I can find of Correia.
Portuguese poetry was always an exception, because the language is suited to it, and Portuguese write poetry like they breathe. So there’s always a ton of Portuguese Poetry that I like, and I own several books. And it has influenced me to the extent I use rhetorical tricks first learned from memorized poems. I not only think well of Fernando Pessoa: if I ever have the opportunity I’m going to make him four versions of a time traveler that got lost (those who know his poetry will appreciate that.)
Anyway, this concludes this dive into the origins of my writing. And now I need to go do some of it. (GROAN.) I hate the work, but it’s the price I pay to get the stories out of my head and make money to keep a roof over my head. See you tomorrow.
……. First, coffee.