Thursday, January 31, 2013

Seven Weeks Of M.Christian: Week 7 - The Future

Here it is: the last installment of my seven (possibly terrifying) weeks of M.Christian... reasoning behind this is that I haven't really talked a lot about myself for a while so I thought it would be a fun little experiment to post a series of essays about little ol' me: where I came from, my professional journey, being an editor, being a publisher ... and even my hopes and dreams for the future.

Hope you like!

"From the age of 6 I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was 50 I had published a universe of designs. But all I have done before the the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75 I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign myself The Old Man Mad About Drawing."
- Hokusai Katsushika

You may not think you know Hokusai Katsushika but you do, he's the Edo-period artists and woodblock painter most famous for his The Great Wave off Kanagawa – which, no doubt, you've seen a million times.

I don’t really have a bulletin board – at least not a physical one – but Hokusai's statement is always right in front of me ...along with Kipling's rejection letter from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hokusai's sentiment is, to me, what I want in my life – how I want the rest of my life to go: a long life, sure, but more than anything I want to keep getting better and better ... both as a writer but also as a person.  I've already mentioned that scene from The Paper Chase – and with it the desire to create something truly wonderful – but there are naturally more than a few things I want to happen in the future.

But before I say anything more I have be honest: writers do not have careers.  We have determination and, most of all, luck.  We really can't plot or plan our professional lives – far too often things just happen.  I didn’t plan on being a pornographer, an editor, or a publisher, though I am very grateful for the opportunities and the lessons they, and my writing life, have taught me. 

With that in mind, when I look at the future I always keep more doors open than closed: yes, I would like to have fun with a lot of literary projects but I will always never let these fantasies get in the way of stumbling across anything that could take me in a totally new, and possibly wonderful, direction.

I'm a firm believer in stretching yourself creatively.  Not to repeat, but I never planned on being a pornographer (let alone a queer one), editor, publisher and so forth but when the opportunities came I gave them a 100% shot.  As I tell my students in my classes: you never, ever, know what you might be good at until you try.

With that in mind there are more than a few things I want to do that I simply have never tried before.  A great pal of mine, for instance, has written a lot of one-act plays – so I'd love to try my hand at that.  The same goes for screenplays: I haven’t written one – and I love the movies – so I’d trying something like that could be a lot of fun. 

The same goes for comic books.  I know I've missed the boat on that one – the good old days of freedom and a sense of play -- but it still could be a delightful, and revealing, experiment.  I actually have done a short one (called Masquerade, with my pal Wynn Ryder) but I'd like to give a longer work a shot.

Even though I've written quite a few novels I have many more sitting in the back of my mind that I'd really like to get out – and, not to bite the hand that's fed me – I'd like to get away from queer fiction ... not because I haven't had fun but because I'd like to stretch myself by trying not just new sexual orientations but whole new genres.

I would also really like to play with the entire concept of what fiction, storytelling, can be.  Not to give away any secrets but I've always been fascinated by augmented reality games – if you don't know what they are it's where a story, often with multiple endings, is told through a wide variety of modern media (Twitter feeds, blog posts, traditional novels, and even text messages).  I'd also like to experiment with even more ... unusual forms of story-structure.  Again, not to give too much away, but I do think the entertainment of the future will be much more interactive: giving the reader/player all kinds of options and choices. 

Writing novels like Me2 and Finger's Breadth have been incredibly challenging and rewarding – so even though I would like to do a lot of very different books – I still think there is a lot more there to play with.  The book I'm working on right now is another spiritual sister to these books: crowd dynamics, social interaction, the subconscious need to conform, the manufacturing of lives and lifestyles ... a very fun toy box to play with.

One of my more well-know books is a collection of science fiction erotica called The Bachelor Machine (originally put out by Greenery Press it was reprinted by Circlet Press and a new edition is coming soon from Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions).  But the thing with The Bachelor Machine is that it's ... a tad dark: very much reflecting the noir-ish cyberpunk feeling of the time when most of the stories were written.

It bothers me – quite a lot – that the world seems to have become terrified of the future become scared of the future: it feels like every book, every movie, TV show, etc, that comes how shows the next few years are either totalitarian and oppressive or post-apocalyptic.  Of course a lot of it is that it's just cheaper, easier to make the world an antagonist for the protagonist to combat and overthrow but I'm concerned that all this negativity is beginning to leach into our souls – that we can't think of the next few years with anything but dread. 

But the fact is we are living in the future: I can watch pretty much every movie or TV show ever made, I can listen to just about every song ever written, I can read ... you get the point.  More importantly, though, is that we are now living in a world where just about anyone can create anything: from films indistinguishable from Hollywood blockbusters; songs that normally would have had to have been distributed by corporations to be heard; books – of course – that can be written and read that never could before; and even physical objects (through 3D printing technology) can be designed and manufactured by anyone, anywhere.

Socially, as well, we are seeing tremendous changes in how we live our lives: gay marriage is becoming more and more acceptable; marijuana reform is spreading; and even the basic concepts of work, play, marriage, love, affection, and life transforming right before our eyes.

So I'm working on a kind-of sequel to The Bachelor Machine – but this time my mission is to write erotic science fiction stories that take the usual nightmare cliché's (genetic engineering, mind and memory alteration, artificial intelligences, total information awareness, and a lot more) but instead of sowing fear I'm working to describe a world where, sure, things may be radically different – even almost unrecognizable – but where people are happy and the world is not just safe but also amazing. 

Writers can't really know their futures, and I certainly can't see what’s over the horizon, but like with these stories I'm working on, I'm working very hard to see over the horizon at possibly-challenging, maybe-even incredibly difficult challenges that will, hopefully, in the end lead not just to beautiful stories but a more enlightened life.

That you all for reading these installments: its been a joy to write and, hopefully, a pleasure for you to read.  If I could leave you with anything it would be to paraphrase the painter of The Great Wave off Kanagawa: "To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Chris, but today I sign myself The Old Man Mad About Writing."

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