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Early this past September, my wife wanted to make a run to her friend’s yarn shop to pick up some new materials for a project she was working on. She asked if I wanted to come along. So I did. “Just to warn you,” she said, “Rabecca’s going to try and sell you a Tom […]
I generally don’t go for New Year’s resolutions. They feel like putting off a thing that I should be doing now. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve given up on NaNoWriMo as a useful tool; if I promise myself I’ll write a novel in November, I’m more likely to not write anything until November. All the excitement drains out of it in the meantime, and when the time comes all that’s left is the bones. I might gnaw on them for a bit, but in the end the Thing doesn’t get done.
In the last year, I’ve written 100k words of a novel, and promised to do things that will make my life better. I think they’re good things, and I’m going to keep doing them this year. And while I still view resolutions as a bit of a trap, the act of reminding myself, loudly, exactly what it is I’m up to is helpful.
So, in 2014:
- I’m going to finish this damn novel. And finish another.
- I’m going to read more, and more widely.
- I’m going to spend as much of my time with my friends and family as I possibly can. Those people are awesome.
- I’m going to blog a bit more often.
- I’m going to spend my money supporting the above goals, and not on shit I don’t need.
Because life is a performance art, and I need to art harder.
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.