I went back to the Music Box Theater last Friday. I did not expect that I would be doing it so quickly after having met Neil Gaiman there at the beginning of June. But it was in order to see a double bill of my favorite(st) movies: Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz.
The tickets were free, and the event included a Q&A session with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. It was an extremely good time. It’s been ages since I’d seen Shaun with an audience that loved the movie, and it was like watching it new. The Q&A session was loads of fun. The three were very kind, and answered lots of questions from the audience before saying goodbye, and introducing Hot Fuzz. Hot Fuzz is pretty much my favorite movie, full stop. Again, watching it with an enthusiastic crowd was wonderful, and the sound in the theater was great — I heard things in the background that I’ve never heard before.
The only downside to the trip was that, despite leaving the theater earlier than the Gaiman event, we got home right around the same time.
Still, entirely worth it.
From Tobias Buckell’s blog, a reminder for those of us who try too damn hard, and occasionally overlook the simple stuff:
‘This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.’
- Gary Provost
And here I am, sitting at my desk, posting this instead of going downstairs to write on my lunch break. *furtive eyes* *dashes downstairs, notebook in hand*
The bit that stood out for me, was this:
DAVID FOSTER WALLACE WAS ONCE ASKED “WHAT IS THE GREATEST OBSTACLE FACING YOUNG WRITERS TODAY?” AND HIS ANSWER SURPRISED PEOPLE. PERHAPS THEY WERE EXPECTING SOME DIEGESIS ON THE STATE OF THE BOOK INDUSTRY OR SOMETHING, BUT INSTEAD HE ARGUED THAT THE GREATEST OBSTACLE FOR TALENTED YOUNG WRITERS WAS “THE FEAR;” THE FEAR THAT SOMEHOW SOMEONE WOULD READ WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY AND THEY WOULD NOT FIND IT INTELLIGENT. THE FEAR THAT IT WOULD NOT INSTANTLY RADIATE CHARM AND / OR THE DESIRED EMOTIONAL RESPONSE. THE FEAR THAT THEIR VOICE WOULD NOT BE HEARD OR MADE DISTINCT. THE FEAR THAT THEY WOULD TUNE OUT. THE FEAR THAT THEY WOULD SIMPLY BE REGARDED AS ORDINARY.
This is precisely what I was scared of during my twenties. It’s precisely why I stopped writing at all for a few years: I kept trying to make things more complicated. I kept trying to make my reader be invested, instead of using the tried and true tools that would get them into my stories — and it didn’t work. It got to be tremendously frustrating, so I quit.
Reading the article makes me fear what J. J. Abrams might do with Star Wars. It would be a shame for the next movies to be as convoluted as the rest of his body of work.
Reading the article also makes me want to read more David Foster Wallace.
So, hey. Last Sunday was my 34th birthday. I’m pretty sure that, no matter your particular formula, this means I am no longer a young ‘un. I’ve got a mortgage, a wife, and a kid. (I do my best to fight the power: I read comic books, science fiction and fantasy, play video games, and eat cupcakes ALL DAY EVERYDAY), but the outer shell is starting to harden. I look like I’m approaching middle age.
I’m not really old. All I have to do is mention how old I feel around someone who is properly old, and they straighten me out quickly. But boy, I can remember when I would have thought 34 was ancient.
This Tumblr is one of the founding reasons the Internet was invented. Read it, bookmark it, and enjoy.
I’ve written 40k words on this novel, and thrown out 20k. It’s time for me to outline this bad boy.
I can be particularly hard-headed about digging into a story. For short stories, this doesn’t tend to be a negative. I can get through the first draft of a short story in three or four days, and usually end up somewhere. Whether or not that somewhere is a good place to be is often up to the second draft to figure out.
But this novel. I don’t feel like I’m getting any traction. When I try to push forward, I feel like I’m skipping vital information. So I pause, and I go back. And all the while, the main character refuses to introduce himself to me.
So: back to square one. I need to write a solid, for-real outline. I need to spend some time working on the characters until they start to take shape. Doing it “my way” is not getting me anywhere. I’m not a special flower that only needs caffiene and sunshine to grow — I’m a guy who wants to write a novel, and has never done it before.
Time to put on the humblehat, and actually do the work that needs to be done.