Archive | September, 2011

I’m On Crack!

20 Sep

Not really.

But let me tell you, I’ve just finished a ton of projects and have a ton of other irons in the fire, so if you could bottle my energy and sell it I’m pretty sure the DEA would be on your ass. Or mine.

Anyway, this is not a blog about the drug war. This is a blog about doing exactly what you want to do. Um, unless that’s crack, in which case maybe you should find a new hobby. Maybe not. What do I know?

Writing novels is the easiest thing I’ve ever had to do. What? You don’t believe me? Allow me to explain.

This week, I’ve had to write a couple essays for a scholarship to go to Turkey next semester (which will be made of awesome). They’re short little things, four pages each maybe. But writing them is like pulling teeth. Actually, no. Writing them is like getting teeth pulled. Which makes way more sense. Also, I have to design my senior capstone in history, and even though it’s on a subject that I’m really interested in, my heels are already dragging when I think about writing it.

I am not even going to address the fact that I have to write multiple essays in German every week.

In high school, I was foolish enough to write poetry, which was a slog to say the least. Lab reports were lucky to be in full sentences (and the math was never right). Ironically, I didn’t even like doing my Creative Writing projects. The closest I came then to the feeling of elation I get when I’m really in the swing of something was when I wrote my first full length story. It was an 80-pg graphic novel about a hard-boiled detective set in 1939. Talk about write what you know, eh?

So, while writing 25 pages of a history paper or 150 words in German should be a snap, it’s not. And this gets to the real point. When I write a novel, it is whatever I want it to be. And I don’t have to footnote. And the most beautiful thing about it is that no one is standing over me making me do it. In fact, I lied at the beginning of this blog. Not when just when I said I was on crack. Because I am definitely not, I promise. No, I lied when I said that writing novels is the easiest thing I have ever had to do (“Ha!” you say, “I knew it!”). See, the thing that makes it for me is that I don’t have to. I just want to.

Which is pretty fucking cool.

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Life, Interrupting

16 Sep

 

It’s that time of year. You know, when you spend too much wonga back-to-school shopping, pumpkin flavored lattes are selling like hot cakes, and idyllic rural towns in New England are preparing to be mobbed by leaf peepers. It would be such a good time to sit back, relax, and write. Except for one tiny problem.

Homework.

That’s right, I still have on year left of school, and approximately 50 pages of non-fiction to write by the end of the semester. Actually a lot more than that, since I am a chronic over-achiever. Which brings me to my subject for the day. In a really roundabout fashion. Inspiration. Where do ideas come from? Let’s have a little fun with metaphor, shall we?

Life is not a box of chocolates. It is a dirty, filthy counter top, riddled with salmonella, crumbs, and enough bread mold to make the next Jonas Salk really excited. The writer is a sponge. The writer’s job is to suck up all the nit and grit, leaving the formica nice and clean. For the purposes of this metaphor, this pretty much means you need to pay attention to everything, especially if it is weird or scary or funny. The writer/sponge then is wrung out, pouring all that mess into their work and rearranging it to suit their story.

Which is why I don’t complain about homework. (Much). Because even when I spend unhealthy amounts of time studying the Greek civil war or American interventions in Latin America in the inter-war period (for non history buffs, this is between WWI and WWII), that is all fodder for when I go about building a world or writing credibly about the one in which I live.

Even the annoying kid in German class who will not sit at a desk if there is gum on the underside of it and must write everyone’s first and last names in his little notebook (like the world’s most conspicuous CIA agent) is a useful inspiration. True, I will never have a character quite like him. Because really, there is no way to do that kind of weirdness justice, and frankly, I would shoot myself if I had to spend a whole book with someone like that in my head. But still. Be glad that life is annoying and bizarre.

Because the Gods do not bestow stories ready-made into our skulls. We have to steal them where we find them.

Which should be everywhere.