Hello everyone! Happy Thursday. I hope you all had wonderful holidays. I certainly did. Today I thought I’d share a few interesting articles that don’t have a clear place in my social media rotation. (I share articles based on a set theme for that day each week.)
Here is a New York Times article on the invisible forces that make writing work. It’s always important to consider things like this whether you are the reader, editor, or fellow writer. It’s also just fun to look at writing as a big picture thing, as an art form that is just as inspired as other kinds.
Here’s one from The Guardian. Some cultures don’t distinguish between fiction and nonfiction work, and I think it’s a fascinating philosophical issue. By calling everything a “story,” regardless of whether it’s based on events that have actually happened, you’re making a sort of argument against objective truth (my favourite kind of argument). As for me, I always like to think that fictional characters are certainly real, and they exist inside the world they were created for, whether it be the same one I’m in or not. So Harry Potter is real, in the world where Hogwarts exists, and Frodo and Bilbo are real in Middle Earth. I like being open to all possibilities. They don’t just have to be real in my mind or in the author’s mind. Allow me to loosely quote Dumbledore: “Of course it’s happening inside your head, but why should that mean it isn’t real?” I think that applies to so much. How about you? What’s your take on the realness of books, whatever genre?
This article on a fellow editor’s blog discusses whether editors will be needed in the future. Like him, I think that if we get replaced by machines, it will be a long long time in the future, because of the understanding of nuance that editing requires. I think it’s also important to remember who the audience is. If the audience is machines, then (in certain industries) it would be fine if the machine could glean just the important information from the text and forget the nuance. But because most writing nowadays is still for humans, it needs to be edited by humans because we understand best what we prefer to read. It is true that it is a very subjective business, however. I prefer to read things a different way than my friend does. Therefore, when editing, I might use the Oxford comma and add thats to my heart’s content while he strikes all instances of such. But I believe that the divide between machine reading and human reading is much greater than the divide between my reading and his reading. And this will be such until we can learn to (almost) perfectly replicate the human brain using machines. We’re working on it, but we’re not quite there yet.
Here’s a brief discussion on literary fiction vs. commercial (or genre) fiction. The difference has less to do with what the books contain and more to do with how the material is presented. I’m not sure, though. I dislike hard-and-fast categories. I don’t think you can list the rules for each that easily. Too many books contain a lot of different elements from several genres. I also feel like the labels “commercial” and “literary” carry too much stigma to be truly helpful to the marketing and selling of books. Certain people will flock to each category because they are stereotypically so different. But there is a lot of overlap and therefore these people might be missing some books they would really enjoy. Why can’t we just call a book a book, and maybe stick a “fiction” or “nonfiction” label on it to let people choose what they’re in the mood for?
Lastly, here’s a brief but amusing article about the Americanisation of English that doesn’t really answer the title question, in my opinion. Of course it’s from The Guardian as well; they’ve been known to publish such stuff. The article is more of a comment on the British nature than the British language. But it’s good to consider both sides of the issue, at any rate. And I’m always fascinated by British culture.
Have a fantastic New Year’s Eve! I’ll be back on New Year’s Day with a new post to kick off the new year.