Baby steps

The idea of writing a novel seems way too big when you think about it as a whole. But take baby steps, and you’ll get there, one tiny shuffle forward at a time. Try not to think of it as a huge project. If you keep thinking you better watch that sword that’s hanging over you, it will be a long hard road.

I remember as I was writing my current project early on, I kept telling myself it was just a short project, just a few thousand words more to go. As it grew and grew I was only focusing on the next thing to do, the next few thousand words, the next couple scenes, without considering all the massive amounts of work ahead. That way, I didn’t drown.

As I get used to longer things instead of short stories, I’m sure this state of mind won’t be necessary. But as I have not much experience writing huge things, I have to keep myself focused on the little picture.

With baby steps, you can do anything!

Stop avoiding confrontation

If someone is saying something you disagree with, speak up. Silence, or polite smiling and nodding, is equal to agreeing with them in their minds. Imagine you are going on about how awesome Nickleback is and everyone around you is either silent or nodding absently. You are going to assume your opinion is perfectly normal, and even agreed with by most people around you.

This is how abhorrent ideas and harmful beliefs have spread around us. Because we don’t contradict them. We are too worried about shaking the boat, or don’t want to make someone feel bad, or we want to be polite, or think we don’t know enough about the subject–the same old fourteen reasons why not to speak up.

Well, it’s your job as a human to speak up. So stop holding back. Disagree!

Now

This moment, right now, is the only truth, the only reality. What I feel, think, and am experiencing in this instant is all that can be said to be real. Tomorrow, I won’t remember this, or if I do it will be tinted by other thoughts, feelings, biases, distractions, just as all my other experiences have been before this.

Memories can not be trusted. Perceptions can not be trusted. The past and future are both hazy fogs of uncertainty. The only solid is Now, and Now is still viewed through a lens created by past experiences–be those experiences real or imagined.

I am a bundle of sensory input tumbling through a world of my own description.

So, might as well enjoy it… *pours an expensive whiskey*

Multiple I’s

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is written in first person, from two viewpoints. I don’t see how the two stories are related just yet, but I expect it will become clear.

Writing two different characters from a first person point of view seems strange. I would be wondering, as a reader, if they were the same character. I only expect that they aren’t, really, because each has a different narrator.

I do notice, though, that neither of the characters is an arrogant prick, which breaks my streak of arrogant jerk first person POV characters. So that’s nice.

I feel like I have something against the first person POV in general, though I’m not entirely sure what. It seems harder for me to suspend my disbelief in a first person story. I think about why this person is telling their story, how they are telling it? Who are they telling it to, and why? How they can remember all these details? Why are they recounting all these details, specifically? And on and on. Somehow, when it’s first person I often find myself focusing more on the idea of ‘someone is telling me a story of something that happened to them’ rather than just enjoying the story.

This novel, though, I haven’t found myself having that trouble. For whatever reason, I haven’t thought much about it being first person. Maybe it’s the relaxed, conversational way the character tells his story. Or maybe it’s just a sign of good writing.

Either way, maybe this novel will make me change my distrust of first person POV…

Doctor Who Writes this stuff?

I’ve been catching up on Doctor Who. I hadn’t seen any of the Peter Capaldi episodes, and just finished season 8. I don’t know if I’m getting older, or the show is going downhill… but, way too many of the episodes in that season were kind of lame.

It seemed to be a recurring theme that things happening have zero consequence for anyone. And as I’ve said before, things with no consequences, are not interesting.

In one episode, we find out that Earth’s moon is a giant egg that is about to hatch. Should we kill the thing inside to stop it from hatching, or is that wrong? There is discussion about how losing the tides will cause massive damage to Earth, as well as how the falling pieces of the broken moon would kill millions. At the last minute Clara decides to let the thing hatch and… the ‘shell’ magically disappears with no effect after the thing hatches, and it instantly ‘lays an egg’ in the same place, the same size of the moon. So it’s as if nothing happened. Great.

In another episode, giant forests sprout over night all over the Earth. After some confusion we learn that the trees are growing as a shield for a solar storm that is about to hit earth. When the solar storm hits Earth is safe because of all the trees everywhere, yay! But, then, all the trees just… disintegrate into nothing? But not all the other trees that were already there, just the new ones. It’s just like nothing ever happened. Great.

In another dramatic scene, Clara has found all the keys to the TARDIS and is threatening to throw them in lava if she doesn’t get what she wants from the Doctor. Interesting, seeing the Doctor about to actually lose something is powerful. She throws the keys into the lava and its shocking! What will happen? How will he get back into the TARDIS? He’ll get in fine cause it was all a dream, and it’s as if nothing happened. Great.

All these episodes just made me sigh and groan and feel like my time was wasted. It reminded me of watching cartoons as a kid, where a character will be exploded by a bomb or have a limb broken or take any other kind of damage to be just fine in the next scene. It always bothered me. I found myself wondering ‘What would this show be like if the things that happened, actually happened? What if Tom the cat had to go through six months of episodes with a broken limb? What would that do to the story? How would Jerry the mouse react?

Real, adult stories for fully developed humans need there to be consequences to things that happen. Especially when the things are huge and effect everyone. Or else, you might as well just be telling me about a dream you had. It is really hard to care about things with no effect on anyone.

 

Intentional annoyance?

I’m on to my next audiobook, and this time it’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami, who I’ve heard many good things about but have never read.

The opening of this book takes place in an elevator. An extended elevator ride that is described repeatedly, in an overly-long and quite annoying way that made me say ‘come on!’ out loud. This was not a good first impression of the book.

But I wonder, was this a purposeful way to evoke the irritation of riding in such an elevator? The rest of the book so far, outside the elevator, has not been annoying at all, so I have to assume it must have been a desired outcome of the author.

This seems to me a very risky way to start your novel. Intentionally annoying the reader in the first pages? This guy must have supreme confidence in his ability to entertain.

I hope he’s right…

 

Every writer

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” – Joseph Heller

I love seeing quotes like these. Writers tend to be a solitary species, in my experience, so I think can sometimes talk themselves into believing they are terrible, just because they are having a hard time.

Well, every writer has a hard time, even the best ones. Being good at something doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, I’d say the better you are at something the more you realize you have to learn, and the more you push yourself.

So revel in the difficulty, and congratulate yourself for still doing it!