who the heck knows anything, anyway

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kill Your Darlings

Preface: This does not, as I believe some authors* have misinterpreted, mean "kill your/everyone's favorite character." It means that a writer will sometimes concoct a sentence (or paragraph, page, etc) that reads like pure gold, but just doesn't fit the story, no matter how many times/ways you try to make it work. (i.e. it's depressing as all get-out.)

This is the most difficult thing about being a writer. Any kind of writer. Yes, there are days where you may think woe-is-me, it's so hard to get going or woe-is-me, this chapter is not my finest work, but when you write something you think is positively brilliant (I'm talking it-practically-knocks-you-out, Wow-I-can't-believe-that-came-out-of-me brilliant), you will fight yourself near to death when faced with cutting it. If you've never felt this way--if you've never had to almost literally^ beat yourself into submission over this problem--there are two possibilities: 1. There was a time when you didn't cut something you should have or 2. You've never written anything.

I'm encountering this problem now. I have this short story I wrote, but in looking it over to consider a re-write, I'm faltering. Originally, I was going to start it over from as close to the end as I could get it (per advice from the genius-and-deceased Kurt Vonnegut Jr.) because the current story spans about twenty years in about twelve pages (though, arguably, it was pretty seamless, considering). I would still like to start from the end of the action and try to contain it all in a short timespan, but the beginning of the story is so good. All of the back story is friggin' awesome--it tastes like something I wrote. So goshfreakingdarnit, I don't want to scrap it. But I haaaaaaave** to. And yes, it will still live on a word doc full of other little darlings that I half-hope will eventually have new stories to house them--but that's pretty much wishful thinking. Rarely do you look back at the amazing sentences you wrote for other things and say "Hey there! You'd fit perfectly in this other story!" (especially without further prodding, trimming, and general squishing like the proverbial square peg in a round hole).

On a positive note, this whole dilemma signifies that I am fully capable of creating darlings that necessitate killing, and that gives me some nice warm fuzzies. WRITING IS TOTALLY AWESOME I FEEL SO GOOD ABOUT IT ALL OF THE TIME SO THERE. ...Sigh. Even work you love is hard.

I mean literally. As in actually punching yourself in the face, hitting yourself with a bat, what have you.  

* cough*JKRowling*cough
** this is me whining

Monday, March 28, 2011

Suck It, Lame Weather

I'm feeling crazy bouncy today. Maybe the SAD lamp I used really works! I didn't even want to take a nap when 3:30 rolled around*--which is AMAZING. Worked on a few things today, too. Heck, I'll probably get back to work in just a few! Remarkable. Maybe it's just a fluke (we'll see. Thirty minutes with the negative ions and light-therapy will be a morning regularity until summer time). Either way, I'm not going to complain. Feeling lively is awesome.**

Not as awesome is the feeling I tend to get along with bonus energy: extra antsiness! It's not quite the same as restlessness--more fidgeting, less frustration--but it feels similarly difficult to rectify. But, hey, at least I don't feel like a bump on a log!

not me!

In other news, The Satanic Verses continues to be awesome, and I've decided to work on that old short story during the times I am not working on the mystery serial. Also, I miss all of my Portland bros like woah and think they should just move up to Seattle to be with me.

*used to be that 2:30 was nap/angry time, but it appropriately adjusted, without my asking, to account for the daylight savings switch a few weeks back. How considerate of my circadian rhythms to be so consistent! 
**I know this cannot be attributed to a "good night's sleep" because I slept horribly last night. Nothing but nightmares. I had one that involved Portland being blitzed. I'm talking London circa 1940 x10000. It was terrifying. Not going to get into any more detail than that, but it should give a pretty solid idea about why I should, by all accounts, be pooped.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hellboy, The Satanic Verses, and some additional musings, to boot

I need to get this off my chest: I love Hellboy. Never have I read a comic and fallen so immediately in love. Mike Mignola's writing, artwork, and paneling--not to mention knowledge of folklore--puts pretty much everyone to shame. That man knows how to balance. I can't wait until he starts doing the art again. (Soon? Please?)

In what seems to be coincidentally related in title*, I've started reading Salman Rushdie's epically brilliant and oddly beautiful The Satanic Verses. Oddly beautiful, because the narration is, well, unique, but Rushdie has such a way with words that, even at his most playful, he makes you doubt your own ability to speak, let alone write. It's awesome, in the most literal sense, and I'm gobbling it up in a way that I haven't done since Roberto Bolaño's 2666. I am hereby diagnosing myself with Particular Reader Syndrome, an ailment known for preventing a reader from properly enjoying any literature that is not absolutely Top Tier. Seriously. I can't make myself finish books that aren't damn near perfect. Life is too short to spend hours of it reading less-than-fantastic books. And I am not a classics snob--I love contemporary writers, too. Language seems to be the crux of it. The writing I love to read is essentially linguistic. Story is important, of course (I'm a bit particular about that, as well), but you can tell a story in virtually any medium. 'Tis writers who get to use words. Written words. Words that, on their own, are beautiful and robust! Positively delectable. 

Unsurprisingly, reading nothing but Nobel-darlings and the Critically Acclaimed has had an effect on my ability to produce--though not in the way one might guess. No, I have not been spurred into action; no, I have not been suffering from writer's block. What has been plaguing me is a short story that I've left alone for a couple of months now. It wasn't a great short story, because I am not so skilled in writing succinctly**, but the heart and bones of it were perfect. It needs to be fleshed out into something longer. And that sounds like just the project I need right now (I have not been feeling very creatively fulfilled of late)--the only problem is that I'm a little terrified of it. I could not tell you why, but I have been avoiding opening up that Word file for days now. All this brilliant writing begs me to open it, begs me to give it proper legs and veins, begs me to turn it into whatever creature it's trying to grow up to be. 

Maybe I am afraid of creating a monster. 
(I know you were waiting for that. haha. Sorry--I just couldn't resist!)

Honestly, I think I'd be ok with a little monster on my hands; I think I'm more deterred by the thought of creating something that isn't alive at all. Because, you see, one can still write a story about a monster.

Sounds like Pandora's dilemma:

Do I open it?

*and a lore/myth axis, actually. I am a predictable creature.
**witness: any of my blog posts

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Guys, don't panic--I have internet again

It feels good to return to the 21st century! Ahhh, sweet high-speed internet: how I've missed you.

It seems a little silly to re-cap the last few weeks, but I'll try my best to summarize (keep in mind, summarization has never been my strong suit):

The apartment looks amazing; we have a hole in our wall where they are fixing (leisurely) a water-leakage problem; I've been writing like a champ; I've been editing like a champ; I've been painting like a champ; a lot of Hellboy comics have been read.

Alright, now it's down to business. Not that I have much business. I suppose the best I can offer is that I recently discovered there is such a thing as urban beekeeping, and now I am a little resentful of apartment-living--because I'd really like an apiary.