Monday, November 12, 2012

The Writer's Journey

Every once and a while I see people take up the mantle of writer.  They proudly proclaim their intent to write a novel or blog or something along these lines and my first reaction is always the same.  Smugly I think, “what can they possibly write about that anyone would care for and how will they do this feat?” They can hardly speak without tripping on their own tongue, won’t presenting their words indelibly presented for all time simply shatter them when people inevitably speak ill of their choice.”  Then I tell myself not to be such an asshole.

I have this initial moment of schadenfreaude because I know what happens I know the path they’re taking before they do.  I’ve been writing off and on for fifteen years.  I have enough experience to know the stupid mistakes they’ll make.  Then I force myself to remember I know these mistakes because, well, I made them.  I remember writing without a plan, without an outline, naively thinking it’ll come together in the end.  It’ll be more fresh and exciting this way I would rationalize.  I’ll get bored if I know what happens.  Then I look back over the older work and wonder what was I thinking.  Where was the rhythm of the text?  Where was the pacing?  The tension, the depth, the mood?  But fucking up is part of the process.  You make mistakes and then eventually you stop making them.  It’s the same for anything else.  You can’t teach experience.

Writing is a bit more special than other hobbies, at least I think so.  It’s so private and insular you can hide behind certain veneers.  You can say, “It’s only for me. My writing doesn’t need to be judged.  I only write for myself.”  Yet you truly crave the acceptance and adulation of your peers.  Or you can hold onto something and never let eyes touch it.  It’s so fragile that it will crumble under the scrutiny.  You see this spark of an idea and you carefully bring it to full roar, taking time to feed it properly and nurture it along.  It is difficult to allow another person to see your work.  You know how it should be seen and interpreted and you know it’s good.  You feel it resonate deep within you.  But it isn’t ready yet, just a few more revisions.  It jars the ego to allow something that reflects some much of yourself to be inspected, to be  held up to others without your involvement.  Then there is the fervent need to express.  Bundled up ideas all swimming in your mind just waiting to be put to paper.  You know they are magical and wondrous.  They defy convention and surpass the stale media we navigate through.  Your writing is art, all the other nonsense we surround ourselves with is drek, unfit for consumption.  Only your words will save the literate from such mediocrity.  Then you land back to equilibrium.  Maybe if I simply stop taking myself so seriously and find that part of me that simply loves doing this and invest in that things will be good.

So for now I struggle like I always have but I’m older and smarter and I think things through a bit more.  Probably far too much.  I analyze too far.  I let ideas play out in my mind countless times, I cajole a slightly different energy or felling  from this piece.  I write, then  rewrite.  I stare at the cursor, ever blinking, taunting me to fill the blank space.

So I think back to those who wish to write I smile and say I hope they do well but I hope they don’t expect success overnight.  I hope they stick with it and they shrug off my initial lack of faith.  Sometimes I prefer being proven wrong.  But enough about them let’s talk about my journey and where I’m going.  This is my blog anyway, it’s only right.  Fuck them for stealing my spotlight.  I need some god damn ego stroking…  Anyway, I find it inappropriate to judge others without placing some of yourself out there as well.  It seems too easy and disingenuous.  If I need that nonsense I’ll turn on some politically charged television and see the talking heads try to outshout each other as if volume alone can convince another person their chosen stance is incorrect.

I write this blog because I like to do it.  There isn’t much more ulterior motive.  I had, at one point, envisioned creating much more content and trying to maintain a website with this and other items but I decided that my free time, the little of it I had, was more important.  I needed to be happy more than pursue this to the full extent.  Oftentimes I feel conflicted in this regard.  I have the itch come and go.  I feel the need to throw myself into a fit of writing, hunching over the keyboard, my fingers aching as they felt the resistance of the keys.  Fortunately my posture at least has improved.  My love of writing has not diminished but my need to create has waned slightly.  I will always write because it me brings me joy but I don’t feel I need this one great work in order to validate myself or my many hours writing.

Not long ago I had several small projects taking up room in my head.  This is not unusual for me as my mind tends to go divergent paths and takes turns and wind up at unexpected places.  Somewhere in my development this was nurtured.  Recently I had a screenplay I was flushing out, this blog, a web comic I wanted to start, and several other stories running through my mind.  I would navigate between them writing on the piece I felt I had the motivation or idea to pursue.  It was silly dividing my focus in so many directions.  And yet I still managed to focus more on coming up with premises and ideas than actually writing.  It’s so much easier to come up with the concept than to actually sit down and tough it out.  Also once the words are placed and story is done it’s out there ready for scrutiny.  It’s also over.  That intensity.  That frenetic energy that comes with the process fades.  Yes there is a level of satisfaction with the work being completed but then comes that feeling.  What’s next my mind asks daring me, tempting me.

For now I’ve settled on a simple path.  Continue writing my blog when I have something worth saying.  Not forcing myself to write twice a week or even once a week.  Simply write because that’s what I enjoy.  Then to focus on one piece besides this and pursue it.  Flush out the outline.  Then begin filling it in.  Find the rhythm and the pacing and improve the little bits that start to stick out.  Ask myself what is the core element and what are the themes that should continue to run through the work.  Then dive into the characters really feel like they are living breathing creatures who take action not simply because it will move plot along but because that’s what this person would do.  If you know the person you know what would happen when placed in the circumstance.

The story I’ve chosen and the one I plan on documenting is reasonably simple.  Most pieces that involve fantasy or science fiction or any otherworldly not immediately relatable setting have a window into the world.  This window is a character as out of place as we are.  We are meant to experience this world through them.  They are our substitute.  Look at Hellboy.  They had that boring federal agent character the introduce us to the universe those characters inhabited.  They dropped him in the second incarnation as he was no longer necessary, or interesting.  It’s always the new guy who gets shown around.  News flash, they are showing us around.

My take isn’t so far off.  I plan on displacing some people from our reality and placing them in another.  But they have no guides not person to walk them through.  They are as clueless as we would be.  They are reasonably normal people in a very abnormal circumstance. On top of this I want to play the four, there are four displaced people, against each other as they have very different experiences and reactions to this displacement.  Some enjoy their new home and some don’t.  But the thing that got me excited about the idea is the thought of getting back home and trying to explain their experiences.  How does a rational person who was thrown into another reality and then returned, how do they tell people what happened?  Do they simply tell them truth knowing they’ll be thought mentally ill.  I don’t really know the answer to this and it excites me as a writer.  And hey, I’m only writing for myself anyway, right?


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Thanks for posting. You are awesome!