“Wow! That sounds just like something from Black Mirror,” they’d say when I would tell people about the idea for the novel 418 I am a teapot. They wouldn’t understand why I cringed and why the conversation stopped.
Exploring Speculative Fiction
You would think, as a writer of speculative fiction, that I would be a huge fan of shows that also explore speculative worlds. I want to clear the air here. I am a huge fan of Black Mirror. I think that what they are doing in creating stories, is absolutely fantastic.
I totally encourage anyone who has a vision of how the world could be, good or bad, to get it down, put in on paper, and press save. From exploring what could be, we can gain gratitude for what we have and what we don’t have. I think this kind of social introspection is not only healthy but essential. And that’s why I have not watched a single episode.
I do remember racing home after school to be able to watch Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl, for a brief half-hour. The program really ran maybe only twenty-three minutes with the painfully placed commercials. But my young elementary school eyes would get a glimpse into a world of which I had never dreamed.
I can’t really tell you any of the plots of the stories now; most of them were psychological pieces because they lacked the special effects that we wallop the viewer with today. But sometimes there were things fantastic, leaving me staring blankly at whatever came on afterward as I resolved the plot twist I hadn’t seen coming.
But those were produced using ancient television technology of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Today we have eye-popping computer-generated graphics, which make the visual candy even more appealing and tasty. I have no doubt that Black Mirror is a polished and thoroughly well-written production. So, why would I not want to watch Black Mirror today?
Try Writing a Book
Well, let me start with this, it appears to be surprisingly simple to write a book. I mean, you simply sit down and do it. Right?
Here’s the thing, it’s not that easy. Most writers spend a surprisingly long time making their writing look smooth and polished, conjuring magic to make it appear that the act took no effort. I think most of us would understand that this is not the case. It’s a lot of work.
First, you need an idea. Then build a vision around the idea. Reach into the quicksilver of your mind, find something firm to grab onto, and try to make it as real and concrete as you can.
You could spend a lot of time writing your story, your nose buried in the words. Literally, you can’t see the trees in the forest. You simply do, transcribe thoughts, images, and ideas into a string of words.
“That sounds just like something from Black Mirror”
I can’t think of anything more gutting than to write a novel just to find out that I have re-written the plot of a Black Mirror episode, which has been rattling around in my subconscious for days or weeks. That would be truly awful!
Please understand if I don’t start to grin and beam when someone says, “Wow, that sounds just like something from Black Mirror.” Trust me, I’ve heard this several times, and I know that it’s intended as a compliment, but I thought of a story. I wrote it down, fleshed out the idea, polished the story, and spent days thinking of how the plot should go, what points it would make. Ultimately, I had to make sure it was readable, and the choice of words themselves created a delightful rhythm.
I’d like my story to stand on its own. The idea that it was influenced or suggested by those fantastic writers who work on Black Mirror actually serves to tarnish the work I’ve done even though I understand the statement was made as a compliment.
With that, I am looking forward to the day when I can sit down and watch my first and then my second and maybe even a third episode of Black Mirror. There is no doubt it is a wonderful production, but until the time that I feel I have nothing more to write and nothing more to create, I have to let the creations of Black Mirror be little more than a fanciful dream that I know, someday I too will be able to enjoy.