Before we get off the ground on this post, let’s establish that no, no one creates anything ex nihilo. Or as one of the prime examples of the people we’ll be talking about said “you didn’t build that.” (Turns out he’d stolen that phrase from one of our current afflictions as is, and she’d probably stolen it from someone else. Which is rather a telling point.) That phrase is in fact at the crux of the divide in America and probably a bigger problem than any other, because I think the others flow out of it.
None of us creates anything out of clear nothing. For instance, in my work I use words, and that’s before getting to the computers and networks that allow me to distribute it. Maybe there was a pre-human somewhere at the dawn of time, who made up the words so he could tell a story. Maybe. I find that somewhat hard to believe. Language tends to come by accretion and use. Not “Hey, look, I created a whole new language and you’re supposed to learn it.” (In fact, I’m fairly sure that’s a mental illness. Or a sign of being a very gifted young kid. My sons tried this trick a number of times.) Particularly if there is no concept of language.
But all that is to our purpose nothing. Given that we start out as humans with language, and that there is a fund of stories we were told and on which we can draw for inspiration and structure, there is a vast amount of creativity you can employ in writing a story.
It can be — and sometimes even is — something completely new (if written with no known structure, these are also usually very bad. Not always, but usually.); it can be something that is new of its kind; or it can be a rehashing of a story that’s been told a million times, this time with a big difference; or a small difference; or no difference at all, just told anew.
All of these involve different levels of creativity. There is another level of creativity that is sort of down or sideways from there which is “Assembly story” or “paint by numbers” (though paint by numbers normally refers to following without much inspiration and can result in weirdly compelling stories, so we’ll call it “assembly story.”) This is more like creating a toy from a kit, or embroidering on a fabric that’s marked. There is work but no real creativity involved.
If you are saying “Ahah, Hollywood” ont he last three (from rehashing a story on) you’re not wrong. It’s also the vast majority of traditional publishing.
There might be a reason for that. And I mean a neurological level reason.
I know I have said that the left are the “Good Boys and Girls.” Understand I say this with derision and not derision at morality. They don’t really have morality. Or if they do it’s not traditional morality. They are guided mostly by “want to fit in” and “want to look good for Sempai.” So, they’re those annoying kids in school who were always “behaving exactly the way teacher said to” even when it made no sense or was annoying. Also, they were the ones who would turn on us when we expressed doubts or asked questions.
I never really thought about it, except for the (understandable for someone of my stamp) desire to give them a good thumping behind the bike shed. Not that I did, unless they really upped their game to tattle telling or physically messing with me or those under my protection. I’ve said it before, what keeps me from being a terror is that I’m too lazy. And besides, the schools never even had a bike shed. But I did sneer at them a lot, with curled lip, and took the opportunity — real, imaginary or created — to slipt he verbal knife in. Not that they cared. They were in it for Sempai. Or virtue signaling. Or self admiration.
What had never occurred to me before is: What if they’re that way because they can’t imagine another way of being? “Can’t imagine” being the operative words in that sentence.
You see, recently — take that as the last three years — I’ve been getting weirded out by one, very particular form of trolling. I see it on this blog, and most recently I saw it at another blog, whose owner, once wrote a novel (though that’s neither his profession nor his main thing in life.)
The attack goes something like this “Why would I believe your analysis. You’re a NOVELIST.”
In my case, they have been known to take that further to “you write fantasy.”
A friend says — and he’s not wrong — that they will use anything to dismiss a POV they don’t like. Yah. Sure, they do. And they have.
But that one is a particularly bizarre one.
Why would the fact that one writes fantasy for a living — or that one ONCE wrote a mainstream novel — mean that one cannot trust any analysis from that person, including number or sociological analysis?
If you dig down, what they’re accusing us of is this: You live in a fantasy world, so you don’t speak from reality.
This is bizarre, because of course we don’t live in a fantasy world.
Look, as most of my fans know, I prefer science fiction, even when it’s mostly so far in the future there is little “real science” because “it’s maybe possible in the future.” BUT that’s neither here nor there. I can write about people who change into animals. That doesn’t mean I THINK I CAN CHANGE INTO AN ANIMAL. I mean, sure we joke about it or play-tend about it in comments all the time, but we are not that. We do understand the rules of the physical world we live in.
Or take darkships. I am quite, QUITE aware we have neither flying cars nor some kind of energy weapon that performs outside known physics, nor anti-grav nor genetic engineering. I mean, dude, seriously. WHY wouldn’t I be.
Sure, I can sit down and spin out a world quite different from our own. And? That doesn’t mean I don’t know what our world is. One could argue I really need to know what our world is, and understand cause and effect really well before I know how to make a world that reads plausible to ANYONE.
And once I started thinking about it, I started remembering other instances of the left not seeming able to figure out what “creating something” means.
Like, you know, the idiot on the left who did a dive into my books and psychoanalyzed it as though my female characters were all me. (And for those who read me, yes, he thought both Athena and Dyce were me. Not to mention Kyrie, who is rock bottom practical.) He then proceeded to deduce what I wanted in a man from it. Like, because Kit and Thena have a telepathic bond, that is REALLY what I want. (Yes, it was useful for plot at that time and in that place. And I usually feel guilty when I use the convenient. OTOH, well. It’s part of the world building and is used later.) Or the fact that Dyce gets involved with a police officer means I really want an authority figure. (Seriously, dude, read some of the genre. It’s a trope.) And I don’t remember what his major dysfunction was about Kyrie, but you know, it was again stupidly based on the idea all my main characters — particularly the ones written first person — are me.
It never seemed to occur to him “why should they be?” or even that these three women are all completely different. (And apparently he couldn’t fit Luce into the picture, so he ignored A Few Good Men. Possibly because my being a six foot six scarred blond male was too much to understand, but it had to be me, right? because no one can make anything up, right?)
Then there was the leftist writer with whom I tried to collaborate some years back who had a collapsofit and became unable to work with me, when I couldn’t tell him about the real people I based my characters on (on account of they don’t exist.) I think he stopped believing me after that, so you know, all understanding was at an end.
Or take the “serious” analysis (Spoiler: it isn’t. It’s part a belief they’re psychic, and part relying on stupid tropes) they do on the Greats books that all assume it’s either “dog whistles” or hiding some deep desire for something or other, or reflecting the author’s life.
At the heart of it there seems to be the certainty no one can MAKE UP anything. That all we can do is spin and recycle, either the work of other people, or things we SEE AND THINK ARE REAL.
This is part of the reason they’re so scared of us, and so convinced we are insane. Because even our casual jokes about lizard people, they think we think are real. Must be, otherwise, how would we make jokes about them so off the cuff.
I want to point out here this has NOTHING to do with intelligence. I was in gifted classes most of my school life (for my sins) some truly aimed at the gifted and not the “notice me Sempai” smart enough to fake it to perfection. And yet, when there was a creative writing or art exercise, I found half of what my classmates turned in was rehashed what we read last week and/or at most a mash up of two things.
Now, I’m not a stunningly creative person. At least I don’t think so. Or at least, I trained myself to work within a certain framework. Part of everything I read is part of me, so it’s part of my work, in a way. But, oh, dear, miles and miles away, sideways and upside down of most people in those classes.
And of course, I get characters for free, and they tend to be their own persons. (Though I mined my kids for Dyce’s son, but that’s partly because I’ve actually not been around a ton of kids, so I lack range, but also because eh my kids were stunningly entertaining.) Not me. They want their own stuff and do their own stuff. I use friends and family for walk ons and sometimes very minor characters because it amuses me and pleases them, but the main story drivers I get for free.
But even this level of creativity renders me suspicious and scary to the left, who think I apparently walk through life having illusions about flying cars and dragons.
Suddenly the run of warmed-up reboots and sequels (“Stunningly different. Now with more victimhood”) from Hollywood make sense, as does the bizarre point-counting of traditional publishing. (One oppressed minority, ten points, one trans trendy character, twenty points, one rape, ten points, three pages of Marxist theory fifty points — I believe this one will get push and win awards!)
It also explains how they come up with their theories of society. You know “we pass a law and bad thing goes away/stops being done.” Or “police cause crime, because neighborhoods where police don’t visit as often have less crime.” Or ‘if we give kids tastless lunches we consider healthy, they’ll eat them and be healthy” or “if we give people mortgages, they’ll become worthy of mortgages.”
I’ll be honest people: these are people not only not capable of rebellion, but only understanding rebellion in terms of cosplay. They think we’re stupid, because we’re not doing exactly what the teacher wants, and there is no possibility that we think the teacher is wrong, because reality is consensus and the teacher dictates it. People who believe/create other things must be crazy and see things that don’t exist.
I don’t know what this means, or how to reach them. Or how they became that way. Perhaps they are the default human, and we’re in fact weird? Or perhaps they were made that way by something?
And in either case, how do we get them to believe we exist: as in we’re a different type of thing, and not whatever they come up with to explain us?