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Responding to someone with no email address

October 2, 2015
Posted at 11:43 pm

My editor sent me a link to a piece called "A Primer On Incest" by Lance Sterling, another author at SOL. I read it, and would love to have initiated a dialogue with Mr. Sterling, except he doesn't post an email address that one can write to him at.

And yes, I know I just stranded a preposition. Sue me. It's how people talk.

I won't rehash what Sterling said in his primer. You can go read it for yourself. I will simply point out that, in his profile, he says he's a doctor and that everything he writes is the truth.

And that's the point. He is a man of science. He probably knows what he's talking about. Except that my son is a doctor too, and I am only too aware of how much art goes along with all that science when a doctor makes a diagnosis.

But I'm not arguing with Sterling about whether what he put in his primer is true or not. What I would have liked to remind him is that most of the authors here, unlike him, write fiction.

And fiction almost always involves hyperbole.

This is why a single gunshot almost always kills the bad guy in the movie we enjoy watching. And it kills him almost instantly, too. Unless, of course it's one of those movies like Terminator. Or Bruce Willis is involved. I swear, ammunition companies put up the money for the whole Die Hard franchise.

Sorry. Got distracted.

Back to the rant.

Mr. Sterling's truth would inform you that a single bullet rarely kills instantly, unless it hits the brain. Even one in the heart may leave you alive for several minutes. And I've seen more than one person get shot four or five times and live for hours. One cop I know shot a guy five times and the guy kept coming and had to be pulled off the cop who shot him by other cops. He did die later, but only on the operating table.

But that's not what we want in our fiction. We want things to be un-like reality.

We want to be larger than life, and that's what fiction is all about. I freely admit that it's impossible for the penis to penetrate the cervix, but I still write it into some of my stories because it's just a hot idea. Except to those who can't stand fiction, like Dr. Sterling.

Mind you, I'm not slamming him. He has the right to like whatever he wants to like, and dislike whatever he wants to, as well. But what he's doing is instructing others what to like and dislike too. And that's where I think he became less than helpful. Because he can't stand hyperbole in a sexual story, he doesn't want any of us to write that kind of story. And because he knows nobody cums more than an ounce of semen in any given orgasm, he wants us to be happy with dribbles.

He wants the gun to run out of bullets. He wants the car to crash, instead of make it around the corner at impossible speeds. He wants the movie stars to look like you and me, instead of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (or whoever you think is hot). He wants the good guy to win as often as happens in real life, which is fairly rare.

I'm sure his heart is in the right place. He's a doctor, after all. His primary concern is, Primum non nocere, the Latin for "First, do no harm". But that concept springs from the philosophy that, when medical intervention is being contemplated, and that intervention may cause harm, it may be better to do nothing. They don't say this, but it is presumed that the rest of that is, "and hope things get better on their own."

And what that means is that the first time some medical type contemplated open heart surgery to get a stopped heart beating again, some other medical type said, "Are you fucking crazy? That could kill him!"

If you don't see the irony in that, please read it again. If you still don't get it, send me an email and I'll explain it.

Now, the last thing I want to do is hurt Sterling's scores or anything childish like that. If you like his stuff, then read it happily and vote him tens. I'm not on an anti-Sterling crusade. Far from it.

I would just have liked to explain it to him ... about why we sometimes lie in books, in an effort to push buttons and trip triggers and give people the kind of excitement real life sometimes doesn't provide much of.

It's called fiction.

And it's just for fun.