Saturday, March 19, 2016

And Then I Returned to the Age of Immodest Table Legs


I didn’t get lost tablecloth shopping or anything like that, though I do have a singular naked table in a vast, echoing room of nothing, so maybe I should’ve. I moved these last few weeks and returned to Victorian era were sex was so forbidden that even the shapely slab of wood might cause arousal, i.e. no internet, no car, no toilet paper, and a whole slew of other things that I’ve must have blocked out for the sheer horror.

In a not-so ironic twist of fate, my offline existence became more than a choice, and I have to ask myself if there was something nice about it. I don’t know. It’s too hard to think about. Come back to me in a few years and we’ll see if the therapy is working.

But after having several days of downsizing, packing, getting the utilities on, unpacking, cleaning, throwing things out, putting things away, organizing everything, reorganizing everything, and even just lying in bed completely exhausted, I do finally now have my own space to work. At first, I didn’t use it, avoided it even, spent a good portion of time trying to see if I could perfectly keep all streaks off my new glass shower—no, by the way—until a couple of things happened.

My work in progress, what I am referring to as The Plane, is in a tight spot. Stephen King once said if you put a manuscript down you’ll never pick it up again, and there’s reason for that. A lie, even by his own accounts (In fact I could entirely be wrong he was the one who said it in the first place. Will I look it up? No. Journalism is a dying art. Get used to it.) being that Under the Dome was one such script, though completely rewritten saved for the dead chiseler. It’s hard to remember what I was doing, but more importantly, there’s usually a reason you put it down in the first place.

I always struggle the moment right after the “inciting incident.” This, according to everyone else, is the moment the character is first propelled into action. It, according to me, is the moment the audience finds out the conflict. I could say why, but I won’t. I have shit to do today.

My first few novels attempted to be motivated by the antagonists’ wishes, and it’s very tricky business. Try, at some point, writing from an ignorant character’s point of view and yet progressing the plot for the audience at the same time. Not impossible, but a handicap to be sure. I’ve realized some foolishness insistence on my subconscious’s part that the protagonist wants for nothing, or very little, and then I try to drag him into things and am surprised when he won’t work with me, especially when he has no idea what the hell is going on. After some time, I have had the epiphany that people read to find out more, and I should probably answer things along the way rather than spending so much energy keeping them in the dark to just vomit it out at the end. It works better for everyone involved.

The Plane is one of these scripts in which the pilot Soel into action, but Soel is not a pious person and can be easily manipulated even after being fully aware of the villain’s intentions. It’s just that I am not really clear on what those intentions are.

It does not strike me as strange I have been struggling to write these last few scenes because it follows my pattern. Right around the 20,000-30,000 word mark the idea loses its shinny packaging. I also tend to come up with the premise, the characters, and basic images of the world fairly quickly, but as for actual plotting or thorough decisions in world building… well, that’s man’s work. After describing the character’s current existence and giving varying degrees of backstory, I can write a big finish to the introduction, get the plot rolling, and then…

Nope.

Now I need to start actually knowing things.

And even though with The Plane I have developed good portions of the following details, I really don’t know enough to do whatever it is to make this next scene interesting. I’m bored. My characters are bored. Can’t imagine it’s much better for the readers, but I guess it’s at least quicker to skim.

It wasn’t just the scene though. I was lacking inspiration to write in general. One of the reasons I write every day is because it constantly keeps the story in my mind, fresh and exciting. Otherwise, it’s like that friendship with someone you haven’t seen in months. Even if you’re the same people, it’s awkward as hell at first and you have to get comfortable with each other again before getting excited.

A couple of things happened. One, I lacked internet, so I couldn’t keep giving myself migraines by reading Reddit all day. (Seriously, I don’t know what that was all about, but I have a problem.) Two, I finally had space and could feed my compulsive control over my environment. And then, last but not least, I had a friend.

A lady I will call “Hitchcock,” unless otherwise ordered, grew up with me and my writing. She had always been supportive, argumentative, and somewhat of an energy feeder; after I was with her, I always became rejuvenated. She moved to Seattle after we graduated high school, I went to L.A., and while we kept in touch, obviously our relationship dwindled, especially when the bitch thought she was too good for Facebook. Luckily, she came to her senses in the last few months.

I visited my boyfriend’s mother’s house, or rather visited her dogs and stole her food while she was at work, and had a good amount of time online. Hitchcock messaged me, and at first the conversation was as I said, awkward and slow going, but we got onto the subject of “art,” the pistol fired, and off our rants went.

Let’s face it, diplomacy is exhausting. Sometimes you need to just be pissy, butt-hurt, and truly honest for the sake of catharsis.

Then, she complimented me.

I’ve been getting support often in the last month or so. Do so, if you will. Not just to me—although if you have five minutes—If you know someone who is close to you, tell them something you admire about them because you never know when it’s just the time they need it.

People don’t always take it as we should. A compliment to me six months ago would hurt. I mean, I would actually experience physical pain. Embarrassment maybe? Fear of getting my hopes up? Six months before that, it would do little good. I mean, I know, of course. A few years before that I would have liked to believe it, but always would have thought they were just being polite.

So, why bother? Right then, it meant something to me.

It’s not as though I don’t have opinions on my own work. It’s not as though her opinion affected mine, not really. I suppose writing had seemed so circular, the pain so endless, I was struggling to see the point anymore.

Friendship, socialization, and a good ol’ bitch session can do wonders for the complexion.

She told me, in no uncertain terms, that she had always loved everything I’ve done and knew I could do great things.

It’s not something I’m going to be putting in my query letters any time soon. Hell, I hesitate to comment on it now. But let’s face it, for whatever reason, it did the trick.

On the way home, inspiration tingling in my fingers, I remembered a scene from one of my manuscripts. It was from one worked on long, long ago, started right before I began my great beast of a book I am still in the process of cutting down on, but an experiment in “outlining.”

And by outlining, I just mean writing really poorly. Deliberately.

I was probably eight months out of college, not writing much for anything. I was working long hours at the theatres in my hometown, so I had some reason, but I felt as bad as I do today and tried to get back into the swing of things. I turned on capslock and summarized until I reached about a hundred and fifty pages. Not too far from the end, National Novel Writing Month began and instead, wrote the first 60,000 words in the 180,000 word pain in the ass.

I was side-tracked, to say the least.

I knew very well why I left the project, and it had nothing to do with the writing. I was excited, remotivated, and it was easy. Writing a thoroughly outlined novel is a very much different process, and while the actual manuscript is still young, in just the last few days, I’ve done more writing than I’ve done in the last two months. After a long break of stress, distraction and dissatisfaction I began to feel not only inspired, but capable. I began to want it again.


Is the moral of the story about the evil of the internet and what we can accomplish if we just disconnect? Certainly not. Facebook saved my life. Now close the damn browser and get back to work.


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