Sunday, March 31, 2013
The Temporal Element anthology now available!
The Temporal Element, the first anthology from Martinus Publishing, is now available!
As you can imagine, I'm excited about it mainly for blatantly selfish reasons. If you haven't guessed already (or skipped over previous discussions about it), I've got a story included, "A Home More Welcoming," which like everything else in the collection and as the title implies is a time travel story, a sort of Looper without blunderbusses (or, alas, Emily Blunt). It's a rare story I completely rewrote, at editor Martin T. Ingham's request (although I'm told he still did a tense edit).
Temporal Element is also the result of Ingham's Shootout from last summer, one of several writing exercises that I complained a lot about in this particular blog's formative days. Frankly, I'm still surprised I didn't manage to completely alienate everyone from those exercises, much less the ever-patient Ingham, also author of numerous books like Curse of Selwood, which includes an undead Jesse James.
As a writer and reader I can be pretty particular, and have consistently demonstrated an inability to appropriately react to material that doesn't conform to my standards for professional-level writing, and those who think this is only something that manifests online will take terrible solace in the fact that I did this in writing classes as well. I come from the Simon Cowell school of criticism. I don't see the point in sugarcoating my reactions. I think too many writers are surrounded by people who only feel the need to encourage the activity rather than improve it, because improvement is not only possible for any writer but necessary. If we just assume that our hobby (a term that may still need explaining so that it doesn't sound insulting) is good enough to sustain our ambitions, we end up with material that will not live up to any objective or enduring standards, and therefore only satisfy our own ego. Writing of that quality infests more than just books, although most people assume it only exists in stuff like the TV or film or pop songs they don't like. I understand that we all have different goals and expectations, but the writing itself rather than simply the story always needs to be addressed. Sometimes I think we allow ourselves to assume the story alone will justify the work. Sometimes that's the case. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't ensure the writing is as good as possible. I think some writers let go the need to refine their craft in their rush to tell stories they believe only they can tell. Maybe they are the only writer capable of telling that story, but they should still tell it in a manner that's worth reading.
Although there's always the argument that once written, however well, that story enters the collective consciousness, and there will always be the possibility and indeed inevitability that someone else will tell that story again, perhaps better. This is the real strength of any story, and any storytelling, and far too often we as readers lose sight of that. And perhaps that's something that I can sometimes forget, too.
The Temporal Element is an entire exercise in this mindset. Everyone's read or seen dozens of time travel stories. There are certain tropes and versions of the basic narrative that you might need to understand. One is that time travel affects the timeline. One is that time travel can't affect the timeline. Another is that time travel leads to parallel realities. There's an ever-present debate as to whether time travel is even or will ever be possible. Although in an expansive sense, it either already exists or won't ever, because time itself isn't relegated to the limited human perspective.
Do you have to care about anything that I've just written to enjoy the stories in The Temporal Element? Absolutely not. But this is my writing blog, and so I get to dictate exactly what you read about it as long as you're here. Depending on your personal philosophy, time travel could help you resolve any lingering misgivings on reading all or any of it...
In the meantime, you can purchase the anthology in its Kindle edition here!