When I was younger, I had a bunch of people tell me that I had an old soul, meaning that I had a maturity of self and understanding of things beyond my years. I was around two years old telling one of my aunts that she could not piece my ears because she wasn't a professional, childish lisp and all. Starting from age seven, I became interested in history, particularly fond of the Dear America historical fiction series. At age thirteen, I had a solid sense of my future goals and lifestyle. See my previous post, Work Revisited: "I Am" Poem, for a great example. Much of my personal taste in clothes, music, and books are usually found in times much older than me. I often joke that I was born in the wrong decade.
Speaking of old books, I spent most of this year finishing (again) The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dune by Frank Herbert. I love the critical thinking powers of Sherlock Holmes and his friendship with Dr. Watson. The wide variety of situations and cases of Holmes and Watson make for fantastic adventures. In Dune, Herbert creates a vivid world, not hesitating to throw the reader right in the middle of it. Yet, we are still carefully introduced to these new concepts just as the main character Paul is as well.
While reading these classic tales, I couldn't help but compare them to the more modern works I had also read throughout the year. Mask Of The Nobleman by Laura Diaz de Arce was gifted to me by the author herself. She asked for reviews in exchange for the free book. It sounded interesting, especially given the retelling of a fairytale I had never heard of before. I enjoyed the character development in the beginning, but I felt the middle rushed the two main characters into a romance, claiming that their love was true and lasting. I highly doubt that after only a few months of knowing each other. The end continued the rushed feeling, ending the book on an unsatisfying cliff-hanger. Rouge Princess by B.R. Myers was another fairytale retelling (Cinderella), though it switched things up a bit with a gender-swap of the main characters and a space setting. I enjoyed the space setting but would have liked more world building, such as detailing more of the worlds of the suitors for Princess' Delia. The placement in space could have been utilized more effective in my opinion. One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence I got free as part of Amazon Prime. It has a time-traveling plot and a fun set of characters, but I just couldn't get into it. I stopped at 57% according to the Kindle app.
When searching for my next read, I do try to support my fellow indie authors. However, I'm not drawn to many of their stories due to an inclusion of graphic sex, paranormal themes, or an overall preachy tone to "fight the system." The few books I do find and read rarely capture my imagination as raptly as older works such as Dune or Sherlock Holmes.
It's similar with most of the new shows and movies. I've currently been rewatching old anime like Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I rewatched Avatar: The Last Airbender last year. I also had bit of a Chopped marathon, starting with season 1. The only show I have watched that was released in the last year or so was The Mandalorian. Most shows now seem to have more of an agenda, creating characters that fill a certain checkbox rather than a place in the plot. I read, listen, and watch things to escape from reality. If I want to be informed (and probably angry), I'll just watch the news or read Twitter.
My own literary work may have an underlining message, just as Herbert had with the Dune series. However, the message does not supersede the plot and characters. To be honest, I really didn't notice a theme in Element Unknown until I tried naming its very first draft. Both Rex and Meenal attempt to discover their places in society; hence I called it Discovering Ourselves. Rather generic. I much prefer its current title. But the plot came before the message and sometimes, I think other creators forget that.
I miss the days where characters were defined by their personality traits and habits rather than their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. I miss having conflicts based on choices and consequences rather than ignorance and prejudice. I know the importance of these message-filled stories. They should told and shared readily. "There is an appointed time for everything...A time to weep and a time to laugh...A time to love and a time to hate." (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4) There has been much weeping and hatred, which some of these stories have caused. I think there should be a bit more laughter and love too.
Maybe I'm a bit optimistic (which is quite ironic). Maybe it's just my old soul, longing for things of the past.