Artificial Writing

Anthony Lee Collins briefly mentioned this article in one of his blog posts, and I was intrigued. Now computers can help you write your fiction using artificial intelligence. The very notion of this gets me really pissed off because I’m already annoyed by Gmail’s new feature that tries to write your emails for you.

Supposedly, the software mentioned in the article won’t write the entire story for you. You have to give it some kind of jumping-off point, and it will suggest phrases. Still… seems like cheating to me. Or a weird kind of “found poetry,” where you didn’t write the words but really just reorganized them into something that makes sense.

This was the scariest line in the article: “Megasellers like John Grisham and Stephen King could relatively easily market programs that used their many published works to assist fans in producing authorized imitations.”

I suppose “authorized” is the key word, but even so, the whole thing sounds like fanfiction at best and plagiarism at worst. If I was a well-known author, I would not allow my work to be copied like that, even though imitation is the highest form of flattery.

What do you think of AI helping with writing?

Writing: What Your Subconscious Needs

I lied. I’m actually doing NaNoWriMo this year, mostly because I figure that because this is going to be my last “child-free” (I normally hate that term) NaNoWriMo, so I might as well get something out of it.

And what have I got out of it? Nothing… except the realization that I have no fiction ideas whatsoever. I started writing in hopes that the very act of writing would trigger some kind of idea, but nothing has come to me yet. So I’ve been doing what is more or less a brain dump.

Maybe I shouldn’t say I haven’t gotten anything out of NaNoWriMo so far, because the brain dump has been useful in organizing my thoughts or at least getting them out of my head.

Perhaps my subconscious has no need to entertain itself with a fictional story this time. I realized that every time I have written something in the past, it is something that I needed to write because the underlying theme was something lurking in the back of my brain that I couldn’t articulate in normal words like a normal person.

Instead of saying outright, “I’m struggling with <insert problem here>,” I subconsciously changed it into a story and characters and dealt with it that way. Now, I don’t know if transforming everything into fiction helped to solve the problem, but it did put another spin on it and helped me process it.

So I’m thinking that not only does my subconscious not need to entertain itself, the “problems” it has are not the kind that can be solved or processed with fiction. So my new theory is that writing is a product of the author’s subconscious mind and the theme of said writing is whatever puzzle the author happens to be struggling with at the moment, kind of like when you’re having a problem and you wake up from a deep sleep with the sudden realization of what you need to do.

The subconscious mind is a powerful thing. Don’t underestimate it.

Upon Re-Reading the Harry Potter Series

Not too long ago, my husband was going through the remainder of his possessions that were left in his parents’ attic and found the entire Harry Potter series, so he brought them home and I started reading them.

I absolutely loved the series when it first came out and obsessively read the first four books over and over (I didn’t own the last three) until I practically had them memorized. But when I went to college, I was finished with the series and didn’t pay any more attention to it beyond watching the movies (and I hardly remember the movies).

So these are my main impressions after not having read the Harry Potter books for a number of years:

(1) It’s a great story. The plot is well done, and I have always liked how things that don’t seem to have much significance suddenly become significant later on. J.K. Rowling is a master at “planting” items or people in the plot.

(2) It’s still impossible to put down. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I plowed through the books as though I had never read them before. In a way, this is almost annoying because you want to keep reading so badly that it’s hard to take a step back and savor the books. I suppose that’s why they get read multiple times.

(3) I don’t know why the haters say the series is poorly written or bad. Yes, J.K. Rowling does have some annoying quirks to her writing (using em dashes and ellipses too much is one that comes to mind), but what author doesn’t? I stand by my statement of some years ago that Harry Potter is not “literature” per se, but it is a good, classic story. Just because something’s not “literature” doesn’t mean it’s trash. Everything has a purpose.

Maybe after this, I should re-read the Chronicles of Narnia series (another that I dearly loved) and see if it’s held up well over the years. I already tried getting back into the Dragonriders of Pern series a while back and found that it had no appeal to me whatsoever (and I was absolutely obsessed with those books in middle and high school).