While in London for a screening of ALGORITHM, I read Kameron Hurley’s “We Have Always Fought”. It’s good. I mean, it’s probably the most valuable book I’ve come across since reading “Tao Te Ching” or “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.
Hurley broadened my perspective with her often antagonistic approach. She also gives practical advice on both writing and marketing, and practical advice in this area is so rare that anytime it happens, and it’s good, I spread it. So, that’s why I’m violating my normal ban on reviews.
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I’m an existentialist, among other things. Existentialism is about asking the fundamental questions. But, it also acknowledges that the primary, the only point of view from which any of those fundamental questions can be asked is from the point of view of the individual. Everything, EVERYTHING else is an extrapolation of that single point of view.
While much of her advice is written from the perspective of a novelist, because it’s so personal, it taps into that universal Truth that can only be found in the personal point of view that is the key to existentialism. In other words, just swap out “writer” or “novel” or “short story” with whatever art you’re pursing and you’ll see Hurley’s real genius. With “We Have Always Fought” she has written what is essentially the artist’s bible.
“We Have Always Fought” is a series of first-person essays chronicling Hurley’s experience, though often out of chronological order. Rather, they are organized thematically. She goes from generalized essays on the craft of novel writing (her particular specialty) to marketing, to why she writes the way she does.
The later essays are strong opinion pieces about how we’re doing society wrong and how we might do better. They’re well-worded, clearly articulated and thought provoking.
You may be tempted to dismiss her. Don’t. Let the truth of it seep in and think about it. Feel free to disagree, but not without listening and processing. She may be wrong, but she may also be right.
If her point of view doesn’t piss you off, then you’re not paying attention. Either you’ll agree with her and take up the cause with her because you’ll be incensed by the obvious unbalance in life. Or, you’ll think she’s an extremist and her writing will be so far beyond what you find acceptable that you’ll want to throw your kindle across the room (which you shouldn’t do because it’s not paper).
What you won’t be able to do is ignore what she says. It’s too potent. It’s too powerful. It’s too well-written. It’s too personal. It’s too real. And it’s that realness that lends “We Have Always Fought” it’s strength. She exposes herself, making herself vulnerable and showing us her weaknesses. And in doing so, Hurley offers us the chance to grow from her bravery and strength.
So, stop reading this post. You can come back later. And go and buy “We Have Always Fought.”
P.S. Kameron Hurley, if you ever want to work with me, let me know. My door is always open to you!