A silly question perhaps when the answer is myself, but it’s one I’ve been thinking about recently as I work on The Word.
When I first got on the path of seriously writing – that eventually led to Oranje and what I’m working on now – I spent a lot of time online researching serious sci-fi. I visited sites like Atomic Rockets, Rocketpunk Manifesto and read a lot of critiques of literary sci-fi that were going on at the time. Jonathan McCalmont’s Cowardice, Laziness and Irony: How Science Fiction Lost the Future being by far the best example of that.
They’re all excellent website, but I think I approached them wrong, especially the first two. I went to them convinced I had to write serious and realistic sci-fi because…well, I’m not sure why. But I’d convinced myself I needed to and that shaped a lot of the world building I did for Oranje. I realise the end product wasn’t the most accurate, but those sites definitely influenced how I approached it a lot.
And I really don’t know how I got into the position of believing there was one correct way to write sci-fi, or at least the one right way for me to do. Perhaps it was a desire, a need maybe, to be taken seriously, and really that’s the wrong approach.
The only person I’m really writing my books for is myself, and I should write them in a way that makes me happy and that I enjoy.
Those websites I linked are all fantastic resources, Jonathan McCalmont’s essay in particular is incredibly thought provoking, and great tools to use in world buildings. But I should’ve used them to shape a setting that came from what I like in sci-fi.
What is that? What constantly draws me to this genre?
The simple answer I think is that the genre contains so many interesting stories about people which are set in universes and worlds that allow the story to tell us about what it means to be human. Whether that be what it is to love, to hope, or to suffer lose and grief.
Those are the kind of stories I want to write, in a setting that allows me to tell those stories as best as I can.
That is what the United novels are meant to be. Even if The Word is going to cover a lot of the same story I had planned for the September series, it will do it differently and in a way that better reflects who I am as a writer.
Who am I writing for? Myself, and that’s all that any writer can really do.