Here’s a question directed at my fellow writers:
Have you ever written a book to prove a point?
Because I have. I didn’t really know that was what I was doing. Like most writing a lot of the work is done in the subconscious. Patterns are not evident until a draft is completed. Sometimes they aren’t clear until after the book is published.
Many years ago when I was in my twenties I would go to a lot of Science Fiction conventions in the Lower Mainland of BC and the Pacific Northwest of the US. At one of these conventions a panel discussion was taking place and someone brought up the topic of paradigms.
While I was listening I was struck by an idea about paradigms and how society moves from one paradigm to another. How a paradigm shift can leave some people behind because they don’t recognize the new paradigm supplanting the old one. I remember trying to make my point from the audience and not being very successful at getting my thoughts across. The panel members did not follow what I was trying to say and at the time I did not have the ability to make my ideas any clearer.
I did not make my point because I didn’t really fully understand it and even if I did I did not know how.
Flash forward to a few years later. I had the opportunity to write for a fanzine that published Star Trek fan fiction. I wrote a Next Generation story about a planetary transporter and fractal geometry. The whole thing didn’t gel. None of my ideas seemed to come together. I told an interesting enough story but it didn’t have that extra dimension that I was hoping it would.
Eventually I took the story and transformed it into something else for a unique new market which was looking for shorter, exciting, fast-paced stories. I got rid of all the Star Trek elements and the story began to evolve. Unfortunately the market folded before I could submit.
Undaunted I pressed on. I began to write a novel. I was doing a lot of world building and, without realizing it, I was coming up with a very good point about paradigms and how some societies can embrace the new paradigm and others get left behind because they don’t recognize that the paradigm shift is happening.
It wasn’t until I was into my second draft that I realized what I was doing, after so many years, was making the point that I had unsuccessfully tried to make before.
I called the book THE PARADIGM TRAP and I was pretty pleased with it right up until 1991 when Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was released into theaters. That film had made exactly the same points and had several of the same plot points.
I was pretty crushed. Everybody had seen it and nobody who would ever read my book (if anybody) would not believe that I had simply ripped off the last Star Trek movie.
So… what’s my point?
My point is that I wrote an entire novel just to prove a point. Even if it was just to myself. I wrote THE PARADIGM TRAP to solidify my idea that when paradigms change, as they are wont to do, those who do not see that change will still keep fighting trying to make headway using the old ways that worked under the old paradigm. But it doesn’t matter how proficient you were at making things happen under the old paradigm, once it has been supplanted by a new one, your best efforts are impotent.
Of course, none of this is relevant to any situation that is going on at this moment… is it?