Friday, March 12, 2010

Running Successful Failures

I like the work I just did.

I seem to be saying that more often than usual lately, which I guess might be a good sight. However, more often than not on subsequent readings of my work once some time has passed I come to regret my decision to accept what I had originally written. It is entirely possible that I will come to the same conclusion in the future when I reread this particular bit I just finished. However for the moment, I am actually pleased with it.

I managed, at least I hope, to turn the action-oriented writing I am good at into the character-based development I am striving to improve. What could have been a simple moment turned into a significant one with the addition of a little failure on the part of the main character. I had already decided some time ago that this story would involve a lot of failure, and only now when I get around to introducing it am I suddenly pleased with what I wrote. I will not pass by such a connection without analyzing it.

It could be, I suppose, that I was annoyed with myself for not introducing any failure into a story that I had decided would be primarily about failure. If that was the case, then what I am feeling now might not necessarily be pleasure with the quality of what I just wrote, but satisfaction at having finally started taking the story where I intend it to go (or at least in the same vague direction).

Then again, it could be that writing good stuff might involve the application of failure. Part of the reason I decided to include large amounts of failure in this piece is because I believe most of life is a series of mistakes and failures interspersed with moments of levity and brief success. Bitter, I suppose, but apparently the conclusion I have reached, and so I tend to revel in those moments of levity and success. Yet perhaps because of this idea, writing stories about characters who succeed too often feels wrong to me. Perhaps my previous work was not so much bad as it was about the wrong subject matter. Maybe if I had been writing about failure all along I would not...well, feel like a failure of a writer.

To think I was supposed to be sleeping right now. I attempted to, I really gave it a valiant effort. Yet as always, my mind would not let me sleep. Thinking about a good conversation I had earlier, running bits of this story through my mind, and of course the inevitable wanderings that my mind takes at all times of day all kept me awake. Again, as usual, just as soon as I started to drift off I inexplicably woke back up and could not drift again at all. So instead of laying there wasting time, I powered my computer back up and started pounding away at the keyboard. I ended up producing something with which I am actually pleased. Strange.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tom Faith; Peeping no More

I might be in love with Mike Patton.

At least, it feels that way whenever I listen to his music. Some of what he does seems very pretentious and self-involved, but then I can be very pretentious and self-involved. More importantly, most of what he does simply feels right, even without getting into lyrics or composition (of which I am by no means an expert, on either count). His voice generally just sends me to all the right places. Not to mention he's gorgeous.

The same goes for Dero, actually. Either of them could have me on a plate at a moment's notice.

Anyway, with that particular bit of pointless (and likely future embarrassment) out of the way, I must admit that I had every perfectly available opportunity to write blog entries the last few days but I did not. The first of those days, I was still moping from the previous day. Pointlessly moping, but I have ever been secretly eager to give in to depression. I regret that on this particular occasion, I was weak.

However, yesterday was slightly different. I was in a much better mood, and I didn't get a blog written because I was busy writing and then passing out. Again, not a terribly large amount of writing, but the quality was good. I even improved the quality of what I had written previously, and that pleases me greatly. It felt like I was pushing the two characters together too fast, so I backed them off a bit and it now feels much better.

In general, I've often come to the conclusion that holding back is the key to a lot of things. Too much of anything is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you have too much then you cannot want more. It is the wanting of something that I feel leads people to truly like something, or think they like it, more than they actually do. No child is as happy with a toy, once they get it, as they thought they would be before they got it. So from one perspective, you could say the child loves that toy more before they get it than after. I think this applies to all things, character relationships in particular.

I have been on a Spaced kick lately, and I rewatched both series over the course of the last couple days, in between writing, yammering, and passing out. As with many stories, part of the draw of that show was the unspoken romance between Daisy and Tim. It was obvious, it was sweet, and it went completely unrealized in any meaningful way. The reasons for this are unimportant, but the effect is what I think holds some of the great value for the show as it does for many stories in which characters have unspoken feelings. We, as viewers or readers, can see the underlying affection, and we want the characters to speak their thoughts. It feels, at so many points, when emotions will suddenly spill over and one or both of the characters will be unable to contain their affection any longer. Yet every time they hold back, we lean forward. We want, even more than before, for the words to be spoken and their romance to take hold.

Eventually, of course, there must be a breaking point. Either the characters finally do confess their love, or we as the audience reach our limit of tension and our interest naturally wanes. Nothing lasts forever, and that applies to romantic tension as much as anything. So finally one day, whether the characters get together or the audience loses interest because the tension went on for a bit too long, that feeling of wanting and waiting and hoping is gone. The emotions for the audience break as well, and nothing in that story will ever be good enough, I think. Or at least, it will take some doing for the storyteller to make it as good as it was. Because the audience's emotions, at least a portion of them, were so invested in the anticipation of that unspoken romance, that the achievement of its potential or the loss of interest result in an absence of content when they think about those characters from that point on. Something just is not there anymore, for good or ill.

Hmmm....this has primarily been a bit of a brainstorm, putting down words as I thought through the idea. Not exactly a new idea, for me or anyone else, but I have never deliberately put it down before. Hopefully it will help to read through later.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oh, how fortune likes to bend us over

Here I go from a great night like I had yesterday, in which I accomplished some good writing and had a fantastic conversation with an interesting girl, to the waste that was today.

On the one hand, I had recently submitted a story to Fantasy magazine. I got the rejection email less than ten minutes ago. So there goes a fucking great wash of feelings. To be honest I'm not upset with them for rejecting the story. I think it's a great story, but if they don't think it fits their magazine that's perfectly fine. What truly upsets me is that I don't know precisely why they rejected it. Again, I can't blame them, they claim to get over five hundred submissions a month, and if that's the case I can see why they'd rather work with form letters instead of telling each and every hopeful exactly why they were turned down. Yet, understand their reasoning as I may, I'd still like to know why. What about future submissions could I do differently? Is it my wording? The content of my story? Was my cover letter so fucked they didn't even bother?

[[Two paragraphs deleted, to spare my own sense of worth upon rereading these entries at a later date. Not like it matters, I simply bitched about not getting an email. Yes, it was a non-issue, the importance of which I magnified by comparing my own lack of self worth.]]

Tomorrow night I'll try something different to get more writing done. I dunno, think of something.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

First Victory!

So it would appear this blog is actually having an effect. I wasn't getting much (read: anything) done throughout the course of the night in terms of writing, but the more I thought about writing this entry before going to bed the more I hated the idea of saying for a third time that I'd gotten no writing done. This would be, it seems, the first victory of my blog to help me continue my writing.

I didn't get a tremendous amount of writing done, of course. However what little I did get done is I believe fairly good, something I'm not often eager to say about my own work. Most of my work to date has been fairly action-oriented, and I've gotten to the point where describing activities and events in the physical form is rather easy. Describing conversations however, coming up with what characters say and do when there's no major action going on...that's something I have woefully neglected and I hate myself for it. So I am forcing myself to do exactly that. Conversations in which nothing actually happens. Even emotional moments in which characters exchange or express feelings without any real (or very many) words. This shit is hard.

I did it, though, I got a good moment down between two characters. It involves few words, a much more established exchange of emotion than I've worked with in the past, and I am actually moderately pleased with it.

Although my writing certainly hasn't been hurt by the fact that I've been bruising my eardrums with Oomph! songs all night long. Fuck I love this band.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Here I sit in my room, half-empty bottle of Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon to keep me company, and I realize that the sun is coming up (that wretched, piercing, incessantly predictable source of headaches, retina damage, and skin cancer). I've got no work done on my stories, no work done on my, there's a joke. I'm attempting (key word) to build a campaign setting for a game system published by a company that quite rightfully couldn't be bothered to send copyright lawyers if I outright published my current work and tried to charge money for it (it's like pining for the girl in high school even though she's the only one who knows you're gay, you figure it out)...and my other "game" is a non-system set in a non-setting with no end point in mind.

I spitefully digress.

Having sat here all night, watching a movie that turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable, I find myself having spent no more effort to write than if I'd simply bashed two forks on my space bar repeatedly until the computer rejected the input. Because it's just not there. At least, I don't think it is. It used to be, my brain tells me. My memories tell me of a time when I would be able to sit at a computer and just start typing and things would flow from my fingers to the keyboard and everything would be perfect. Yet the evidence before my eyes is that the older the "created on" date for a particular file of my work gets, the more I hate the file's contents. So which is the truth? Am I running out of inspiration, or is my memory rose-colored?

Maybe inspiration isn't the right word. I have plenty of inspiration; I get ideas all the time, they come from everything around me and I'm never generally short for them. I just can't seem to get myself to actually write anything. Even when I do get a good idea, I don't end up doing anything with them. It's as if once I have a thought, my mind is content with having thought it up and any desire to see it through simply washes away with the excitement of the initial discovery. Maybe I'm just a lazy white American who's never had to really struggle for any reason that I didn't set up myself. I highly doubt my self-imposed difficulties, any of them, can compare to something over which I had no control.

Fuck, now I'm just bashing myself and wallowing in self pity. Fucking wine and sappy movies.

Bottom line; I've got no work done, the stupid sun is up, I've got a D&D session in eleven hours and I just wish I was in Japan.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Story as character development?

So I'm making an attempt to develop a character more specifically, more carefully, and more deliberately than I have ever attempted before. In the past, all my characters have either formed whole in my mind at conception, or I've developed them through the process of telling their story. I decided that for once, just to see if I could and to see how it would turn out if I did, I would fully flesh out a character before ever telling their story.

I decided to make the character a young woman of Indian descent, set in the unspecified future I've been developing for shoots & googles. As I began to write, I unfortunately decided to gloss over important elements of her childhood and move on to her life as an adult. When I realized that I had done this, I became annoyed and came close to scrapping the entire project. Instead I calmed down, had a few drinks, and decided that rather than deleting what I'd written I would deliberately insert my cursor into the velvety folds of my existing creativity. I would alter that which I had already written; something with which I am not unfamiliar and never wholly pleased.

To placate my own overdeveloped sense of self loathing, I justified this alteration of work I'd already completed by adding even more detail than I had intended. The more I wrote, the more detail seemed to develop in this woman's childhood, and the more interested I became. So I have gradually come to the conclusion that I will complete this woman's entire childhood, teen years, and young adulthood as an entire story unto itself. I will make an honest effort to actually complete this project, which is something I've had a problem with in the past (more due to trouble getting my hands to write something fast enough to finish it before my brain completes the idea and moves on than anything else). Thus, I will attempt to use this blog as a means to force myself to focus on this project deliberately and purposefully until it is completed. Perhaps if I've got this, a place where I force myself to post updates, I'll end up completing a project.

Maybe one empty post after another will shame me into finishing the fucker.