His Side

He rebelled. “I am not your son. Just look at me. I’m 2 feet shorter than you.”

“I have the records to prove it.”

“Hand them to me.”

Swipe. “There’s your records. Insolent boy.”

“No! My records!”

Blood sizzled at his wrist where I excised his presumption.

Wind from the chasm below, and shock, shook him, and he grabbed the railing with his remaining hand. “Maybe your passion as indicated by your violence proves how much you love me.”

“Indeed.”

And he slipped, as if on his own whiny tears, into the garbage chute below, screaming as he fell. “I totally thought it’d be Obi-Wan.”

9/30/2016: When To Edit My First Draft

Stephen King recommends stepping away from your first draft for at least six weeks. And in the meantime, go write something else. At least until you forget about the first thing. So that when you come back to it, it is an alien thing, and something to whose parts you have little emotional attachment, should you need to alter or remove them.

Would this be the best route for me?

I worry that if I step away, I may forget what it has become in my mind. I have spent all this time developing these characters, these metaphors, these plots, and they are fresh in my mind. What if time-away drops them from my head, and I am not able to pick them back up from a read-through later on? One might suggest that such would indicate that my first draft didn’t communicate what I thought it would. But one could also say that I simply suck at reading.

Also, this is the first of several books in a series. What if starting over causes me to lose my place (see the first point), and I’m not able to progress? At the same time, what if going on without a break leads to a dead end, when I go back and find something that absolutely needs to be removed from book one but upon which a second-book part (or the whole thing) is based. It seems like I’d either need to write all parts and then go back and edit them all or else write them as individual units—finish one before starting the other.

What do I know from experience? A good night’s sleep does wonders for an edit session. There’s something about coming back to it the next day that allows you escape whatever blinders had been developed during its writing—or at least that particular writing session—that you otherwise couldn’t possibly notice. And I have written things and come back to them after quite a while, and it didn’t seem so foreign that my ideas were hard to grasp.

But at the same time, all of those things had been polished before I set them down. I may have made mistakes by not stepping away, but the works benefitted from me being fresh on everything when editing, to be sure.

And maybe that’s the key. Read through it right away, edit it until you’re happy with it, put it away for a while, then read through it again and edit it again. It seems like I’d get the best of both worlds.

I definitely don’t feel ready to let go of the writing process yet—I know, at the very least, my ideas have progressed since my earlier sections, and those sections will need reworking. I know that it’s not unified yet, and I don’t want to lose what I have now before making it unified. Else, I might read it, get the idea I had in the beginning, and then change the ending rather than vise-versa. I would otherwise have to read the end first, almost…

I think I am decided. I’ll go back through it as soon as I have the energy and time to, and I’ll edit it until it’s got a decent polish. Then I’ll set it down and come back to it after six weeks or so.

The Process of Writing Mediocre Modifiers

“Brain. I need a word to describe darkness.”

“What quality would you like to modify?”

“It’s night, and there are no stars, so how about just ‘really dark?’ So, intensity.”

“Would you like a modifier of the same category of contextually-determined primary-quality as ‘darkness?’ Or would you rather something of a different primary quality?”

“Sure. The first one.”

“We have numerous matches whose primary qualities would modify ‘darkness’ to lie within the semantic range of ‘really dark—’”

“And make sure it’s one that’s not used often.”

“How about ‘darkness like coal?’”

“Overused.”

“How about ‘ashen darkness?’”

“That’s just an adjective. And somewhat common. How about we stick to nouns? That’ll make it less common.”

“How about ‘inky darkness?’”

“That’s still an adjective, but I like that it’s really, really dark.

“How about ‘ink darkness?’”

“That doesn’t sound right—not nearly as good as ‘inky.’ It’s something about that appended syllable. What’s a word that’s associated with ink?”

“Blot.”

“How about ink-blot darkness?”

“I do not have an entry for ink-blot darkness.”

“Great. Then it’s novel. We’ll go with ink-blot darkness.”

9/23/2017: On Finishing A Piece

I find myself wanting to know where I’m going before I write. But, “You do know. Your right side is doing its thing. You just can’t tell what it’s doing until you write it.”

Just keep writing. Trust whatever comes to mind at the time (MAKE SURE MY RIGHT SIDE HAS BEEN ENLIVENED?). Distrust looking too far ahead—coming up with specifics or links (?) before actually getting to those points (contra intuits/feelings that encompass potential links without involving specifics). That’s utilizing the left too early, I imagine. And usually it’s a result of “wouldn’t it be cool if X happened?” which doesn’t seem like the process for natural creation. Rather than having some connection within the current content, it seems like a connection between the current content and some outside content. But isn’t that right side connection? I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel right for some reason. It doesn’t feel like a part of the cluster. It feels like a separate cluster altogether—like connecting it would be moving toward that other cluster and abandoning the one I am already on.

Intuition—that little voice over which it seems you have so little control but that you can easily stifle. It seems I only have indirect control over it. Intend something else that requires it, and it fires up. Intend it, and only the things required to intend it fire up, whatever those are.

Another thought—if I engage my editing too soon, I may not see the connections from my right side. I may need to write more to see the connections. So if I come up with something that I question—something that just makes me go “Enh,” don’t just throw it out yet. Keep writing and see if it’s got roots. Of course, there are times when my intuition tells me “this doesn’t fit.” But I don’t know how to tell the difference yet. Right now, it’s something I’m thinking of that reminds me too much of The Neverending Story. So it seems like it’s my editing side that wants to get rid of it right away.

1/19/2017 I actually read something that Leonard Cohen said about this. I’m not sure if I wrote about it (I’ll find out), so I’ll write about it here. He said you can’t tell if a gem is good until it’s been cut. He said to finish everything before throwing it out. It’s the process that makes it good.

It’s always nice to figure things out and then find out that some more intelligent person figured the same thing out.

9/21/2016

I am super eager to wrap up the first draft, to conclude all things, and it dawned on me that perhaps things aren’t ready to conclude. And perhaps me trying to do so is premature. Is there some merit to “letting the story dictate when it ends?” I know that sometime boundaries benefit creation. But at the same time, I went over the page limit a whole bunch when I wrote for class. I cut it back during editing. But it was fairly common to write over until I got to that point where it just felt finished.

I have gotten ready to wrap it up. Not sure why. Maybe I’m just excited to move on. Maybe writing’s a bad fit for me. Maybe I just like closure. Not sure. But I shouldn’t let my eagerness rush the process. I have clearly begun the wrap up, but I should keep the same free mentality—let the story come as it wills, even within the wrap-up intent. I have a feeling it’s another both-and—I give it the boundary to end, but I give it the freedom to take as long as it needs to and to involve whatever it needs to in order to do so.

You still have to keep the creating hat on. Not the cutting/editing hat. That’s so weird. Creating toward an end. And maybe that’s why closing the circle is so important—because it makes it not really an end.

9/6/2016: Loose Thinking on Writing

Schol! Whatever that means.

Is it a joy to write?

Joy joy joy joy.

Yoj.

Yooooj. Yojoy. Joyoj. Joyoi. Oi oi oi!

It’s a way of thinking. Of expressing thought. Of communicating.

Is it a joy to think, to express thought, to communicate?

It’s just life. For me, anyways.

Is it a cell to suppress thought, to hide it away, to remain silent?

Never done it. Not completely. It’d be annoying.

What is writing? Just a tool for creating. A craft. A skill. A practice. Keys on a laptop. Pixels on a screen (though very small pixels). Black on white. The canvas. A wooden post against my back.

A round-glassesed teacher in a white button-up and skirt, you in her 10th grade English class. Early twenties. Kind of cute. Kind of strict. Kind of tough. Kind of interesting. Annoys you one day. Coos to you another. Makes you jittery another. Not always in her classroom. And you seem to stalk her a bit—pretty sure she avoids you sometimes. Until you stop stalking. Then she comes back and teaches some more. Writing, the cute teacher. “Hey, you,” she says.

Writing is the dog that dug under the fence. Dang dog. Comere, boy! I have food! I have your ball! Is that a deer? Don’t run across the road! Come back! Come back! Where has he gone? Maybe the neighbors. Nope. Maybe the woods. Nope. Maybe my grandparents. Nope. Maybe the pound. Nope. I’m tired. I’m going home for a sandwich and a glass of ice water. He’s at the door? In the gate? Stop scratching on the glass! Hey boy. Good boy. Covered in sweat and thorn-scratches for nothing.

Coffee. More, more more moremoremoremormor. Gah. Less. Less. Less. Chill.

Is that perilous point—that magical, mysterious, mythical end—a place in which I write without loving my skill? Without caring so much about my craft’s perfection (or at least not for the same reasons)? If I am there, no doubt I will not care that I am there, as long as I can write and think and love. Sounds familiar. Perilous? Really?

The joy of writing vs. the joy of being good at writing. The latter doesn’t materialize for me when it’s my love and goal. Thanks to God, I assume.

9/3/2016: The Joy of Writing

I have forgotten the reason, or reasons, to write. I have forgotten them, or they have been displaced.

I now seek to win the tournament. Snap kick him in the neck. Go for the cut eyelid. Drive yourself until you bleed sweat.

The scoreboard drives you: How are you doing now? What about now? Not good enough… Still not good enough… What about now? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with this game?

Because I love to whistle new tunes, I whistle new tunes. I daydream tunes. And they’re often good (I like them, anyways). When I love being good at whistling tunes… It all stops.

Because I love to play games, I play games. I daydream playing. And I’m often good. When I love being good at games… It all stops.

Because I love to create new worlds and to make new ideas and to do it in a way the impacts readers, I write. I sometimes daydream writing. When I love being good at writing…

My love is a fickle thing.

How do you forget love for one thing and remember love of another without merely attempting to win the love of the first by manipulating yourself to love the other (as if that could happen)? When I played Battlefield, the easiest way was to find the fun things to do that didn’t have anything to do with doing well, and then go do those. My brother and I would drive jeeps around the outskirts of the map looking for perched snipers to run over. Or we’d drive through super intense areas just trying to avoid being hit. Or we’d find jumps. Or we’d get into a chopper and do back flips and barrel rolls. Or whatever. It didn’t matter as long as it was fun and pointless. At some point while having fun, I remembered that fun was the point of the game, and the desire to do well, or at least the love of it, left, replaced by the love of having fun. I tended to do well after that, but I sought the fun more than doing well.

So perhaps I can find the fun parts of writing that have nothing to do with whatever my standard of “doing well” is in hopes of remembering the good bit about writing and displacing the love of doing well.

I really love to do well. It distracts me like nothing else. Always has. I suppose it’s a central idol. Fettered Fett and Frackalurch were fun. So was Fatherhood (though perhaps fun is not so much the word). Indeed, it isn’t always the fun of writing that’s the thing. It’s the rawness of the writing that’s the thing. When I tap into some idea that moves me. When it clicks and an idea closes its circle.

(3/29/2017 Sounds suspiciously like fun replaced vanity as my idol of choice here. But there’s something to be said about writing only in the vein of personal aggrandizement vs. writing for other reasons. There’s also something to be said about feeling free to write [fun] and feeling constrained to [fear of failure]. More development on this later…)