Coming back to the laptop and continuing where I left off the previous day, I have noticed that each section is written by a different person. Some days I have written two or three thousand words just based upon the movements that the characters are making in between conversations. Some days the whole thing is plain dialogue. It occurs to me that at some point I may have to go back and normalize what I have written so that it comes out even and just so. But is that an attempt to squash the life out of it?
Nearing the thirty thousand word mark on my novel for NaNoWriMo I have learned a few things about myself. I’m not used to writing this much, this fast and so it’s quite peculiar to find that I’m actually really loving it. I’m getting so much done that I feel like an idiot for not doing it this way sooner. My entire life these last two weeks has consisted of me sitting at my laptop at the table in the dining room and just writing. Occasionally reading or listening to lectures too, but mostly writing. It’s like a micro version of what i feel like my life should be. Eight to twelve hours per day writing sounds like a pain in the arse…I thought It would be. But I’ve honestly never felt better about my work, myself. Hell, i’m even starting to have opinions about things and care about issues. I’m quite scared to be honest.
I am a much better writer than I ever thought I was. I knew I could churn out nice little monologues and occasional witty one liners, but I’ve never been greatly impressed by the majority of my output. There are a few bits and pieces that I’m immensely proud of, but I’ve always felt sub par. This dedicated period of writing (short though it is) has made me feel good about what i’m doing. I know that i’m still far from being as good as I will be in the future, but I feel that I am continually learning and improving, as opposed to how I felt before where I just assumed that sparks of creativity were leaping into my head and that was all that I was good for.
Writing is what I love. It is hard work getting things down onto paper (or screen) but I always come away from the keyboard with a sense of excitement and an eagerness to get started again. I feel a real joy when I check back over what I have just come up with and see how it ties in with what has gone before and what will come next.
I should Like what I write. I’ve always been far too eager to dismiss anything I create as “yeah…it was alright. It just came out.” rather than admit to myself or anyone else that I have put time and effort into it’s creation. Music, scripts, artwork have all been previously dismissed because I thought that was the right way to be about your creations. I always feel proud when stuff is finished, but I never really admit that it is an accomplishment. I feel as though I should probably stop that now.
My imagination is fucked up. I have written some of the most disturbing scenes that I have ever written or even thought of in this novel. I didn’t realise just how creative I could be in terms of nightmarish imagery and unrelenting bleakness. But I feel the most proud of these parts out of everything I have come up with. These feel like my best work ever. They feel like rites of passage. Solemn exercises in pursuit of some higher understanding. Like the old Buddhist tradition of visualising yourself being torn apart by demons, it is a stage that you have to go through in order to see that these memories and recollections of past events are just memories. And now they are just words on a page. And any power they have is power that you have put into them.
I now know what I want to be when I grow up.
When i first started out on this wild and wacky super fun happy slide I began to figure things out for myself. I learned what worked for me and what didn’t. I understood things about myself and other people. I felt sure of what worked and what didn’t. I’m not saying I was perfect or anything, but I had some ideas and they held up under as much scrutiny as a 20 year old can muster. Shit made sense. I knew that sleep deprivation woke my mind up and gave me powerful and weird inspiration that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I understood why Anarchism was the best and only logical form of political thought (however unlikely and flawed it might be on a grand scale). I knew…KNEW…that there was something going on behind what I could see and was being told. I felt good on a fairly regular basis.
Then, as happens with so many of our best and brightest, I had it all kicked out of me. Literally and figuratively and metaphorically…and metaphysically too. This me that I had begun to quite like, this me that I thought was a fairly decent guy. The me that I wanted to be… To people I wanted to be friends with it was stupid, to girls that I liked it was scary, to bigger and harder and more violent men and women it was the enemy. So i stopped. I turned it all off and stopped. I stopped writing, thinking, dreaming, playing. I would instead spend my days as drunk or as otherwise intoxicated as I could get. I spent literally months of my life being as quiet and inconspicuous as I could. I would find the quietest corner and play with these ideas in my head. Building them up and watching them be destroyed by self doubt and self loathing. If the cool kids and the popular people, the perfect icons with the bouncy and manageable hair thought it was crap then who was I, little old I, who was i to argue?
Over the last few weeks I have been slowly coming to the realisation that ” i” was never wrong. i had it right. But only for me. That’s the important piece in the piss-off puzzle. Whatever you are is who you are and whatever you believe is what you believe. It’s no good looking for closure or acceptance on any of it. If you need outside input to verify what you have proved to yourself, then maybe you haven’t proved it enough just yet. But that’s ok. There’s plenty of time. You don’t have to stick with your first theory and you definitely shouldn’t go along with someone else’s without testing it for yourself because who knows? Maybe 20 million viewers can be wrong. Maybe 8 of 10 cats couldn’t tell their arse from their elbow with flash cards and a copy of Grey’s Anatomy. Today I realised that I had been tricked, and from that first instant of trickery, I carried it on myself. Completely unaware that I was shooting myself in the balls by doing so. No-one ever knew what was the best idea or the best course of action for me at all. They were guessing just as much as I was. It’s all a fucking guessing game. The only one who knows the answer is you and anyone who tells you that they know your correct answer is lying to you and probably wants money.
This all obviously comes with the usual addendum of “you can do whatever you want to do as long as you don’t infringe someone else’s right’s to do what they want to do.” But we all know that bit by now, right? Good. Now…let’s try that again from the beginning.
Onwards and Upwards.
An idea sits behind a sheet of glass at the back of my head. I can see it and I can feel exactly what it means and what the implications of understanding this idea completely will be. I can almost see what it will mean tot be able to explain this to other people. There’s a sense of excitement and a surge of energy. It’s quite physically close to ecstacy, not the drug…at least not the sythentic one. The one in your brain whenever you have that perfect idea that will not wait to come out.
As soon as i reach for it, my angle of perception changes and I lose sight of it completely. I understand less than I did before now. It feels like a massive loss, like forgetting the exact word you’re trying to think of. Or what ever that guy is called out of that film. It’s on the tip of the tip of my tongue and…nope. Lost it.
It’s been happening a lot recently. I feel as thought i’m on the verge of understanding something amazing and having a mental and spiritual and artistic breakthrough. But then because I tried to chase it, I end up with nothing.
Then it occurs to me. The idea will come to you. The fly will land on your palm if you wait and relax and learn for long enough. Then, and only then should you close your hand and try to understand it. Chasing the fly will tire you out and piss you off. Sit and wait and carry on with whatever you were writing. The idea will come back. And it will be bigger and shinier next time because it wants to be chased. Don’t let it trick you. Just wait it out. Be patient.
I have a plan, but I need your help with it.
First, some background…
I don’t know where I position myself as an artist. I consider myself to be a writer, first and foremost, and an artist second or third. Words are what excite me and the consideration of the use (or misuse) of those words is what pushes me to create are and makes me an artist. That’s my theory anyway, and I am sticking to it.
In my consideration of words I find that I am bored with how people use them. I adhere to grammatical structures and the pre-defined and commonly taught rules because it’s much easier for people to understand what the hell i’m talking about when I do so. I would much rather be able to put across exactly what I mean, by writing exactly what I want to write. This is difficult. For my work to be understood in this manner, other people would have to understand the rules I am using and be able to decode the written piece using those rules. Text speak, for example, has become incredibly common place and because of how frequently it is used, people have had to learn the rules, or risk missing out on what is being said (although in most cases, there really isn’t that much that we’re missing out on.)
Here is where y’all enter the picture. I would like you to send me words. Groups of words. They can be sentences, speeches, lyrics, quotations, questions, answers, arguments, threats, poems, scripts, thoughts, feelings. Whatever you feel like writing down. Ideally, these would be your own words or a paraphrasing of someone else’s. As long as they are words that you have understood and filtered through your own consciousness, they are fair game. I don’t just want a line from a scene written by Shakespeare, but if you want to take a line and translate that into your own words, that is fine.
Each of these words will be translatedn into a pictographical representation and the each set will be collected into one group. The style will be similar to, but much simpler than my 99 words series. The final outcome will be…a collection of work. It will be presented somewhere on the internet in full view of the world with your name attached, but without the original texts. I am not sure what any of us will learn from this process, or gain by doing it, but I hope that as we go on we will discover something about the words themselves and our relationships to them. The intention and the hope is that we will somehow restore some real sense of value to the words we use each day. Ideally we will together rediscover the power in our own words and give them back some of the value that they have lost.
And if not, at least there’ll be some pretty pictures at the end of it.
I give it a bash every year. It usually don’t manage to get past 10 000 words, let alone 50 000. I don’t have any really good explanation why other than I lose interest in where the story is going. I tend to write stories about ordinary people who happen to get involved with vaguely supernatural things, special powers, visiting entities etc. Once i’ve introduced that stuff, I find that I have nowhere to really go with it. I don’t want it to just be ordinary boring stuff, but I also want it to feel realistic and believable and I’ve just never been able to find the right balance.
This year I set myself the really fucking stupid task of writing a story about my dad dying of cancer (it’s not actually about him, but parts of the story and some of the places and people are very similar.). But…I managed to make it also about an imaginary fantasy world too. The fantasy stuff is stupid over the top stock dialogue and tropes galore, and the family stuff feels quite personal and sincere. I’ve got the fantasy story all drawn out and plotted and i’m slotting in scenes that mirror each other in hopefully amusing ways. (i’m trying really hard to not put anything spoiler-y or give too much away.)
Just wanted to let you know.
(I’m also writing a separate novel about a magician who splits himself into two people to get rid of his negative side and ends up killing him. But that’s coming out a lot more fight club than I imagined it would.)