Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sleep = Necessary Evil

Over the weekend, I was struck with a rather potent disease that has no name, and only one cure....

The disease is known as "Writer's Block." The cure is to run, not walk, away from your writing for a period of about a day and a half and play video games, read a book, and sleep. Emphasis is important here; please notice the word sleep is italicized. You will understand better in the next paragraph. Promise.

I like to see myself as a dedicated person. You may not always see me on the honor roll (hell, I never was) but I was always dedicated to something. I throw my whole being into something and do it as hard as I can. In my early days and into high school, it was baseball. In some weird interim between high school and some college existence, it was video games and its industry. Since then, it's been concerned primarily with telling stories through any medium, be it novels (my first and foremost love), short stories, screenplays, or even video games; I just love telling a good story. Sounds great, eh? Well, it is... until I get caught up and realize the sun is coming out because I have forgotten to sleep. (See?) I tend to neglect important things like food or sleep when I get going on something I'm passionate about, and that led to some problems over the past couple months, and honestly, led to a little bit of a burn-out for me. But do not fear! For it -- like a particularly awful kidney stone -- has passed... although not in the same manner.

It isn't a problem that I think is very common -- I think most people are not going to forego sleep to find out what is happening in their story, particularly because it is theirs, so how could they not, am I right? Well, I realized that my lack of sleep led to some truly spectacular output (end of the first draft is just over the horizon, people! get champaigne and streamers ready!) but it also wore on me. I learned that the simple things -- keeping your workspace clean, eating healthy, and sleeping are all terrific ways to keep yourself from burning out, and if you have already burned out, or just suffering from writer's block, it is a great way to resituate yourself in your environment, and get back to your story.

I think that was one of my friendliest blog-posts in a while...


Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Is This? (Or, Ken Flies off the Deep End)

To begin: This is SPARTA!!!!

Now, to the real post...

Recently, I've become a little fed up with a lot of blogs out there, claiming to purport the continuance and elevation of art, specifically within the realm of literature and writing. I have come to the conclusion that the majority of these blogs couldn't care less about that. All they really care about is growing some festering, gelatinous group of RSS followers to mindlessly accept whatever they eschew as canon. I'm not going to name names -- it doesn't really fix anything, it just turns into flame wars (which I would undoubtedly lose) -- but I would like to point out some of the irksome habits that the blogs, and its followers adhere to.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Progress

Oy, lads 'n lasses!
No, no that was dumb... let me try that again...
Arrrr me hearties!
Shit, I don't like that one either....
Well, hi there Mr. and Mrs. Internet trolls!
Eh, too "Leave it to Beaver"...
Suuuuuup boiiiiiii?!?
Shit... no....
Hey guys, got a quick update on everything for y'all!
Perfect... perhaps without the y'all, but we'll roll with it.

Today is Friday (sweet, sweet, glorious Friday!) and I am psyched! I'm psyched because my girlfriend got into town last night (love you!) but I'm also psyched because writing is just becoming something that is part of me. After these last three months or so of writing damn near every day, I have become so accustomed to getting my one thousand words a day in that it becomes almost a second nature... let me explain with a little story.

On Tuesday, I put down my pen and texted E___. It said, essentially, that maybe I'm burned out on this, y'know? I write so much that maybe I should just give it a rest. Refresh my writerly well of creativity, and get a grip on my life beyond the strict confines of one-inch margins. I asked her what she thought of the idea...

I don't think she really cared, honestly. She said something about 'well, do what you want.' I can't blame her... I talk about it with her more than I should, I'm sure it's rather aggravating, but I know that she just wants me to be happy, and if taking time off would help -- then she would be all for it. So, I picked up a book I've been aching to read: Dan Chaon's you remind me of me (ostensibly all in lower-case as to make sure everyone knows that the book is a serious work of literary fiction... which it is), and read the whole thing in a period of two nights.

"Wow!" thought I, "what a tremendous book. I would like my book to be that beautiful!" So then, on Wednesday night (so I guess it was only 1.5 days of not writing) I spat out like, three thousand words without feeling the bottom of the well. It was like the whole thing was somehow magically refilled to the brim with silvery miasma that is... whatever it is you need to write. Is that drive, creativity, or something else? I don't know. I just call it like I see it.

Then, still drawing from that well last night, I wrote a ~3,000 word short story about a man who suffers from batophobia, or, the fear of standing next to something really tall; which I just found absolutely fascinating. I stuck him out in the middle of the grasslands and put him in a small ranch house -- all alone and ornery.

And now it's Friday. I don't know if I'll write anything today, but I would imagine at one point, I'll pick up my pen and jot down notes that will get me really keyed up. Then by the time that work is over, I'll be so bursting with story that if I don't tell it, I'd be liable to burst at the seams. Now that I write that, it seems an awful lot like foreplay... odd.

Anyway! I'm signing off. I think I may start posting stories on this sight that I don't really think will make it to competitions or publications. I do a lot of character peices that are only to help me think of new characters that I might use later as a sort of toolbox. Anyway, if I do, you'll start seeing those on here. If I decide not to, you won't. Enjoy your Friday, and get ready for the fete that is the weekend!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Totally Didn't See This One Coming...

So, I'm sitting at home the other day, happily scribbling on my yellow legal pad, minding my own business, getting a lot done on the manuscript, feeling all happy with the way everything is going, and then, completely unprompted, one of my main female characters just comes out and says "I love a woman," and means it.

"But… I had no idea," I said to her, laying my pen down and wrapping my fingers against the legal pad. "When did this happen?"

"Oh, I'm not really sure. I’m quite as surprised as you are by this recent development."

"I see… Does she make you happy?"

"Well, yes, but as you can see from everything else that has happened…"

"Yes, that does make it all a little harder, doesn't it?"(*)

We were quiet for a moment, afraid to say anything stupid. What do you say to the character who has just come out of the closet to you? I hadn't really planned on what I would say. I didn't think this would come about especially in my first novel. Maybe my fourth or fifth, you know? I wasn't quite sure how I would go about it. I asked her.

"Just write me like anyone else, I think," she said, dolefully. "I mean, I'm still human, I just have this monster crush on that other chick you paired me with. Does that somehow make me intrinsically different from anyone else and their love-affairs?"

"No," I said. "It makes you just like them." I paused, taking a look out my window and sipping on my tea before I continued, "I think, more or less, I'm scared about writing you like this because of the ramifications of it."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, you know, being a guy, how would it look if I went around touting a lesbian character? Wouldn't it come off like I was just perv, getting off to some girl-on-girl action?"

"I don't think so," she said thoughtfully, "I mean, you haven't written anything like that this far into the novel. It would seem odd that all of a sudden, just because I was gay, that someone would rail on you just for putting down the truth about me. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you didn't portray me correctly, that it would eat at you for a long, long time. See?"

"Okay," I concluded. "You are totally now going to be a lesbian, and you are going to be awesome."

"Good," she said, smiling. "Now would you mind getting back to the story? I've been driving in this goddamned car for like, three paragraphs now. It's getting kind of boring."

"Sure," I said. I picked up my pen, and continued her story, one word at a time.

By the end of the conversation, I was very excited about the development. It is a part of her – the same way that other characters love members of the opposite sex. As it stands, it hardly takes up any place at all, but I think that in these times, one must be able to approach matters of sexual orientation with steadfast confidence that sexual orientation only makes up a small part of a character in the same way that it does with a hetero-normative character. She has already taught me a lot, and I think there is still much to tell. This is one of the perennial joys of story-telling: Letting characters that you thought you controlled doing something completely different, and ending up teaching you something. It makes me wonder if these aren't real people on some other plane, letting me borrow their own lives for some small moment, documenting their trials and tribulations, and asking only that I do it with the utmost conviction towards art and sincerity.


*What does this mean? Oh, wouldn't you like to know…