or ‘Just Desserts’
I always thought it should be spelled ‘desserts’ – After all, it came after, and wasn’t always sandy. ‘Just desserts’ and skipping the rest would have been my idea of heaven when I was about six. Especially if it meant not having to finish my parents idea of vegetables (boiled. To death, and far beyond). Trust me on this, I lived through the worst (and best, but the worst was veg) of English North Country (made worse by the Scots grandmother) and Afrikaans vegetables. Boiled meant greens boiled gray. And sometimes with added sugar.
You see, I grew up in a ‘no pudding (dessert) until you finish what’s put in front of you’ household. Pudding was not frequent. I learned to eat the veg first. And to love my Labrador even more, because she loved me enough to eat my Brussel Sprouts, so I could finally leave the table. She was worth even the flatulent effects of the horror vegetable on the canine digestive system, when –as usual — I smuggled her onto my bed that night. (sigh) A piece of my heart died with her, I reckon.
Anyway, we live in a world which just isn’t fair, and just desserts/deserts (in any sense of the word) are few and far between. That’s reality, not fiction (my trade) or idealism (my weakness, I suppose).
Look, in a fair world Crackhead McStripperbang would – no matter who his daddy was, have got ‘just deserts’ long ago, if that was the case. The same is true for a lot of evil, nasty folk who don’t get their just deserts in this world. It’s one of the comforts of religion – the presumption that eventually this will catch up on them.
Likewise, in a fair world, talent, hard work and enterprise would get the rewards… not dependent on who you knew, or who your daddy or mummy was, or what your sexual orientation, genitalia or skin color or even politics were. As we all know, this is not the case – not in life, and certainly not in trad publishing!
Do not try this in fiction. Art in this case does NOT imitate life. Unless you want your book to be as popular as gray-boiled watery cabbage… some measure of just desert is called for. Part of what we’re providing is wish-fulfilment, at least while the reader has suspended their disbelief and is, as it were, living in your book. Of course, what that wish is… depends a lot who the reader is. At the moment trad publishing is producing lots of straw version of the current US President and those who support him (or don’t support his antithesis) and showing how nasty they believe they are and having them die in fashions which they believe are just deserts, and having the antithesis (who are altogether wholesome, wonderful and whatever the current fashionable victim-bingo winner is) triumph and live happily in their idea of utopia (which doesn’t have to work, or be utopia for those nasty straw-people). For a segment of the readership I am sure that’s very appealing. It’s going to need an exceptional and brilliant writer to make that appealing to those who don’t share NYC trad publishing’s point of view.
There’s a chunk of indy writers doing pretty much the same, just inverted. (shrug) They too have readers, and certainly had less competition for them.
For myself, well, I try to focus on what I do know, which are characters you might actually meet and know and identify with. That too tends to reflect my ideological stance: which is that demographics are real, and many of our traditions (like having a mum and a dad to raise you, and even having to eat your veg) got selected for… for a reason – principally because they’ve worked reasonably well and reasonably often, for a long time. Other non-traditional things work too, but the laws of probability say: we’ve tried them (humans have tried every system) and they may work, but the chances are less good. Times change, but the wet-ware is not a quick changer.
My heroes are usually ordinary Joes and Jills, within the probability of their demographics (so if I write a story set in WWI trench warfare in France, my characters will, largely be the people who would have been there – not an entire cast of trans and/or gay females of politically correct color and education and social background. There’s a market for that, and plenty of writers providing for it. That after all is their choice, and I would support them being able to make that choice). Over the years with rescue and Ambulance work, I’ve seen very ordinary people are actually mostly remarkably good folk (certainly not ‘deplorable’), and you really don’t know who the tough and the heroes are, until the devil drives. So my book wish-fulfilment and them getting (as really doesn’t happen enough) the just deserts (Sam Gamgee) they deserve.
It probably won’t give me any dessert, but it is what I am and believe in.
On another tangent, given Twitter and Facebook’s decision to act as censors with the latest revelation about Crackhead McStripperbang corruption and shenanigans.
Limiting the freedom of news ‘just a little bit’ is in the same category as the classic example ‘A little bit pregnant’. We are not yet free, nor will we be as long as anyone — even our ally Mike – controls our news. Robert A. Heinlein The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
No wonder the latest generation of Trad pubbed award winners hate Robert Heinlein so. He was what they so fail to be. Most sf is reflective of the time and, contrary to their belief and follows the social mores and desires of the buyers (New York City editors for Trad pub – an insular group if ever there was one.) and is pulled by that. He, on the other hand, pushed the world. And he was remarkably predictive. In this case, more than usually so: even if it is your ally Mark or Jack. No matter where you sit on the political spectrum: this way lies authoritarianism. And that never ends well.