Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In Which I Write About Writing, and Not Writing

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Every writer gets this.  Hell, I even get it; lots of folks want to know from whence some bizarre nonsense I deigned to put on video spawned.  Although to be fair, you can't just dance in a rubber gimp suit on the internet and not have somebody want to know what the hell it's all about.

Actually, strike that; yeah, you probably could.

Depravities of the externalized human memory aside, there's never any good answer to that question.  There's all sorts of okay answers: life, pain, joy, observation, introspection . . . you name it, somebody's claimed it.  But in my experience, ideas come from wanting to have them.

It's that simple.  It's an urge to say something, express something.  It's trying to communicate, but doing it in a way that words can't encapsulate.  Think about it: you can tell someone the entire plot of Casablanca, but it won't be the same expression of the concept as sitting through the film.  The nuance, the flavor, the zen of the thing is lost.  Someone wanted to say that specific thing in a way words just wouldn't contain.

Ghostbusters isn't about catching ghosts and feeding Rick Moranis to a helldog; it's just the form that the need to speak took.  The Big Lebowski isn't about a layabout freeloader who ends up in a lopsided noir adventure; that's just the way that concept had to come out.  Transformers isn't about dogs humping and robots peeing on -- wait, no. That's exactly what it was about, sorry.

My point is, the thing communicated is more than the setting, the characters, the interesting twist that's put on it all.  They're just a different kind of talking.

So what do I need to say so badly?  A few things.  Things I've learned, things I took away from experiences, and that overall epiphany that ties it together.  In short, I'm trying to explain the sound of one hand clapping.

Knock that off, you double-jointed bastard.

I think . . . I'm afraid, however.  The trappings of the story leave you a lot of room to feel foolish.  I'm afraid it won't be any good.  I'm afraid it will be silly.  I'm afraid that once it's done, I'll feel like it wasn't worth it.  Mostly I'm just afraid that what I have to say isn't going to be considered worth saying.

Writing is solitary in creation, but once it's out of your hands you either reap the acclaim or suffer the consequences from everyone who deigns to read it.  It's one thing with the videos and reviews; not that those are inconsequential, but I'm trying to express a lark and a laugh there.  Nothing more, nothing greater.  But when you set out to tell the big story . . .

It's funny how scary a blank white screen can be.


  1. I'm unsure of whether you'll ever read this or if what I type here would ever have an effect or meaning to you, but...

    As scary as it is, it well and truly is worth it. And whatever you put down on that blank white screen, I am absolutely sure it will be something fantastic and worthwhile. And if anyone says otherwise, then to hell with them. It's not their idea to express. It's yours.

    I apologize if this little message doesn't flow very well. Like you, my writing is a tad bit rusty. And I normally don't respond to such things anyway, so I'm not very well practiced in leaving comments on blogs that are more complicated than one word statements such as "Cool" or "Awesome"

    Anyway, I say all this because, if it's any consolation at all, you're not the only one out there who's afraid. Only recently I decided to try my hand at my own web series because, as you've said, I've got something to say. And you were one of the many who inspired me to say it.

    All I can say at this point is keep at it, Nash. Who knows? Maybe in a year or two, I'll be able to shake your hand and tell you all this in person.
    ......In a completely non-stalkerish way, I swear!

  2. If you don't mind I'll throw my two pence into the ring.

    About 14 years ago now I wrote a piece of creative writing and loved it. Now long since constrained to the gaping pit of history it still started me writing. The first thing I decided to do was write a fantasy novel, only mine would be original. I wouldn't fall for the usual traps, I'd restructure the whole landscape...

    Yes I'm a egotistical git, or at least I was.

    The point to this is here:- I've still not written the damn thing! I've doodled maps, written and rewritten character breakdowns, built models, written chapter outlines, philosophies, the meta-physics of the world, hell I've even chosen the best actors for the roles (should it go to film) and what even they would get wrong. All so I could get it right. But still no story.

    During this I've come up with two more Novels, one sci-fi and the other involving pirates, steam punk, black magic and mystically mutated giant attack spiders (sort of like a throw everything into one pot, and tie them all together approach that does follow the mono-myth) and done the same.

    You see I've procrastinated; either I don't have the time, or I don't think my writing's up to the challenge, or that there's no market for it. Who am I to have these ideas? Sure as hell not the next David Eddings, or Anne Mccaffey. Hacking out my repetitive and cliché metaphors and imaging them to be somehow cleaver or even witty.

    I do this all the time, put so much effort and pointless ramblings when really the moral of the story is simple. You can dodge and dance all you want but until you take the bull by the horns and do something you'll always be a poser.

    Don't make my mistake and slink around the doldrums of Fan-fiction, trying to build up confidence for years. Write. Write, write and keep at it. If someone rejects or rebuffs you out of hand ignore them. Take constructive criticism in your stride, write what you want to write and do it because you love it. Most importantly really do it, don't waste it.


    yeah, I know this sucks but here's one of my problems. The only time I actually got some of my work out was for a competition and I got nothing for it, not even constructive criticism. If you've got the time or can be inclined pop by:- . Don't worry, it is a short, but the point of this is the lack of feedback has kept me treading water for YEARS. sooner or later I'm going to have to push on but until then I'll plead with strangers I respect for feedback