In The Barbwire Embrace Of A Wanton Muse

I want to write hard science fiction.

Seriously.  When I was a kid my heroes were Robert Heinlein and Larry Niven and Arthur Clark and Issac Asimov.  I mean, okay, I’d read Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison and even Tanith Lee, but they weren’t serious science fiction.  I believed in physics and chemistry and Science with a capital S and technology most of all.  Technology was going to save the world.

And, you know, I still believe.  I am, at heart, a die hard Objectivist.  A is A, damnit.  Reality is real, we may never understand it, but it’s real.  The laws of physics don’t take a break when I close my eyes.   I believe in science, and I put my life in its hands every time I trust that electricity will take the path of least resistance and not decide arbitrarily to fry me when I’m wiring a circuit.

And yet.

I’ve got a muse with a mean streak.

Maybe it’s just the universe’s way of telling me that just because I understand it, that doesn’t mean I can control it.  What I want to be good at writing isn’t what I am actually good at writing.

The Knight And The Princess isn’t what I want to be good at writing.  It’s some kind of moody and poetic medieval fantasy romance kind of thing that I can’t even exactly define and wouldn’t be caught dead reading if I hadn’t written it.

But it’s good.  It’s the best thing I’ve ever written.  I don’t want to admit that, but it’s true.  I mean, I honestly believe that Catskinner’s Book is good, and I intend to finish Cannibal Hearts, but…

The Knight And The Princess is what I’m good at.  That world, those characters, grab people and draw them in.  The language comes naturally to me, I don’t have to reach for those voices, they just come bubbling out of me.


Honestly, I need to stop fighting it, to stop pretending that it’s some kind of fluff piece I do between bits of real writing, and just embrace it, expand it to novel length, get it out there, and see what happens.

Guess I can kiss that Nebula Award goodbye…

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle.
This entry was posted in On Writing, The Knight And The Princess and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to In The Barbwire Embrace Of A Wanton Muse

  1. David Emeron says:

    One doesn’t expect to find a kindred spirit in a place such as this–or a kindred mind, or even a kindred body….

    Hmmm. Does that not sound like a good first sentence to an intriguing story? The fact is I can’t help it. Nor can you.

    AR, with whom, wonder of wonders, I now know you to be familiar, wrote an intriguing story once. Very short. I believe it was called “The simplest thing in the world,” however I’m not positive, because, once again, I’m not relying on Google, but simply on good old fashioned grey matter. You might dig it up. It … pertains.

    In any case, I do feel a pathos for you, as a man and as a writer. I have come to terms with writing, at this late date. I have spent so much time NOT doing it. Decidedly not. Doggedly, deterministically not.

    But enough about me. I will say, that the fact that A is A, is significant in this instance. Because writing science fiction, or fantasy, or whatever genre you may pick, is simply a learnable skill. I have read all of the authors you have mentioned–at least the ones in the Hard SF category–though not so much the others. As a result, my head is so stuffed full of it, that SF literally flies off my fingers, Although I also have a background in the sciences which also adds to the brain stuffing effect. My point is, there is no such thing as being “meant” to write a certain thing.

    And when someone who subscribes to objective reality and even Romantic Realism, as do I, one must eventually come to terms with that fact: That there is nothing possible that one cannot do, only that thing, the doing of which has not yet been mastered. It is as simple as that. Write what you love, and love what you write.

    I’m, going to go way out on a limb here, one guy to another: So far out, that you might not ever speak to me again. Really.. I’ll end up crying by the phone like a 13 year old girl, and everything. But here goes:

    Sometimes what you need, is, in fact a dose of science. Quite literally. Perhaps 100mg Welbutrin SR, to start with. Believe me, I have done so when necessary, and its funny how, all the problems I thought I had, suddenly reveal themselves as being made of nothing. Entirely without substance. And then, I can simply go back to doing what I love, or what I want, or what, perhaps, I need to do to pay the bills. Take your pick. I have a sense that depression might be at the heart of your problem. It is nothing to be ashamed of. All the best writers have it!!

    But there are legitimate reasons to feel bad, like when something bad happens, but only for a little while. When you feel bad all the time, or a lot of the time, or you think that things are generally hopeless, that’s your clue that you are not being realistic.

    Plus, while it may be true that “people” like one thing you write and not another, it is also true that those same people are very likely to not like both soft fantasy and hard SF. I can only tolerate a modicum of Soft fiction. I like my SF hard, and well turned out, (like my men–I couldn’t help writing that, sorry, shades of “Airplane,” the movie) Seriously though, soft SF, ala Ellison, and even softer fantasy, makes me go–well,,, dare I say, soft?

    True, a good story is a good story, and I agree with that because, after all, A is, in fact, A. However all genre writing, particularity to a good writer, WHICH YOU ARE IN SPADES! is a simple matter of mastering the “chops.” Mystery, Romance, Spy. Revenge. Technothriller, whatever.

    So master them. If it is really true that your Kings and Queens are better than your Hyperdrive pilots, just master the chops. And, I’m not sure I’d agree with your assertion, having read Catskinner. In fact, if there were some kind of “Breath of Fresh Air” award, or “Not the Same Tired Old Crap” award, I’d nominate you for both (my wife is a literature nerd and even she agrees, and believe me, she can be very, very picky) if it were within my power to do so. As a big “O” myself, I have no interest in awards personally. Just like, you know who.

    Master the chops you want. Take a happy pill if you genuinely need one. Believe me, I have. I also take a tiny pill for ADD, which, if I don’t, four hours turn into less than one hour, and of course, the amazing reverse of that, when I do take it. Which, since I’m not out of my ^&$%# mind with stupidity, I do.

    Not everyone’s brain is normal or neurotypical, particularly, not that of a writer. Probably has to do with the peculiar brand of feedback loops in our brains. I’m not sure. I just know many writers, read about many many more. and that fact seems self evident.

    Very well. I shall now turn the testosterone back down to its normal level….

    And all this just because I would like to make sure I will be able to read those 6 or 8 sequel, to which I refereed some time ago. I think also, I know the perfect person to give your first book–in hardcover–to for Christmas.

    Oh my is my list so very long this year.

    In any event, becoming proficient at anything is simply a matter of work. I have written sonnets, here and there, for most of my life, however, writing one or more every day, has changed my understanding of them forever. I can’t imagine, what will happen to that understanding after I have done so for a year or two, or three. I don’t claim they are masterpieces, but I do claim I enjoy writing them every more. And that I attack them with greater and greater enthusiasm–even when I don’t feel like writing one–sometimes I think those turn out the for the better, although I don’t have an explanation for that phenomenon. Also, doing so has, to use a common, though rather sloppy, turn of phrase, “Informed” my other, writing. Of which, also inexplicably, I am able to do more, ever since I have so yoked myself.

    I also believe that it is very necessary, my good man, for those of us who do, in fact, subscribe to objective reality, to make an “End Run” around those who don’t. If we don’t. I fear our world is doomed.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      Thank you. I was really talking more about my feelings about discovering my own voice than anyone else’s opinions.

      • David Emeron says:

        I see, A well. I suppose I worry about people with whom I correspond. I do see quite a bit of sadness and angst, perhaps in your posts. Not so unusual for a writer, I know, but still, I worry.

        Plus, my Rational Self Interest ™ is in being able to read future adventures of Catskinner and co!

  2. Pingback: In The Barbwire Embrace Of A Wanton Muse | mishaburnett | David Emeron: Reflections upon Reflections

  3. The Hook says:

    Who needs a Nebula Award? You’ve got friends!

    • mynewtruth3 says:

      Hi Misha!

      I love your writings and your blog! I can see that you are a talented author. There is no reason why you shouldn’t receive the Nebula Award. I was thinking you should try writing something that gets you excited and inspires people. These days people like to read books that make them feel good about themselves. You started writing “The Knight and the Princess.” Romance stories are always a hit if you capture the true meaning of love and express how you feel using your creative imagination. I believe It is what people really want to read. I don’t know too many people who buy books about pain and suffering . . . you don’t want those kinds of fans anyhow. I like to keep a distance from those dark influences. I like to write on subjects that invoke people’s passion. I can tell only tell you that expressing your true-self in writing is uplifting.

      I would happy to give you some ideas.

      My best,


  4. Pingback: In The Barbwire Embrace Of A Wanton Muse | mishaburnett | David Emeron: Sonnet Blog

  5. Pingback: In The Barbwire Embrace Of A Wanton Muse | mishaburnett | David Emeron: Sonnets

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