Last week I had a doctor’s appointment. I was in the waiting room — waiting, as you do — and spied a copy of Seattle Met magazine. The cover touted “52 amazing weekend getaways!”, or some such numbered list that always sucks me in. So I picked it up and started flipping.
Halfway through, I stumbled upon an interview with none other than Neal Stephenson — local speculative-fiction writer who’s penned approximately one zillion books. Byron loves his writing, and I very much enjoyed Snow Crash, so I stopped my page flipping to read the interview.
It was then that I noticed that this particular issue of Seattle Met was from January 2011.
January 2011. Can we just take a moment to appreciate that? Doctor’s office, you have officially outdone yourself when the magazine in your waiting room is 3 1/2 years old.
But at the end of the day, the past-due expiration date didn’t particularly matter — I still very much enjoyed Stephenson’s responses, and found them relevant to where I am as a writer.
“Fiction is a pop culture medium.” I love this quote so hard — it describes how I currently approach my writing. Yes, fiction CAN be artful and poetic (and so much of it is) — but it doesn’t HAVE to be. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking pleasure in a page-turner.
Writing my first draft, some of the minor characters surprised me — they had relationships I didn’t expect, back stories that were news to me. Now that I’m working on revisions, they’re being given their due — getting fleshed out where appropriate, rearranged so they have more importance to the story. I did have an outline, and it saved me from drowning in first-draft despair — but deviating from it to follow these minor characters makes the story richer.
“I like to write” — and at the end of the day, shouldn’t that be what it’s about?
If you’d like to read the full interview, you can check it out over yonder. And next time you’re at the doctor’s office, give the old, old magazines a spin. You never know what you might find.