Saying Goodbye to Older, More Serious Dreams

More changes have been happening from The Artist’s Way.

This is supposed to be the week where I feel more connected to higher powers, to my creativity, to my personal dreams.  I’m supposed to feel like…the work just passes through me, rather than I’m “working” on it.

I am not there yet.  I cut loose on a 2K passage the other day and easily hit top speed…but I didn’t have a sense of surprise.  It was a great deal of fun, but I was left with a sense that I hadn’t written anything worth keeping.  I don’t know whether it’s because I have no idea what’s worth keeping or whether I’m looking for an experience rather than a good story.  I kept going, “But I didn’t discover anything” and “I didn’t feel like something outside me was writing this.”  Which has been pretty much par for every other scene I’ve written so far: I go, “Huh.  So that’s why the characters are like that; I feel like someone else is doing this, not me.”  I really didn’t get any insight into the characters in that scene.  Disappointing.

So.  I’m going to head back into the story in a few minutes, and see whether things have changed.  I’ll probably slow down, rather than just letting the words blorp out of me, because it’s the slowing down and making sure I have the five senses in that’s led to so many insights previously in this story.  I may just be tripping myself up.  I’ll have to see how it goes.

Anyway, instead of going through what I’m supposed to according to this chapter in The Artist’s Way, I’ve been feeling more powered.  Not powerful, not empowered, just powered.  Like, I have more of a reservoir of juice with which to go, “And I give a shit because…?”  and just do what I want instead.    “Hm.  I believe I shall take the day off to pack for an emergency evacuation,” I said yesterday.  And then I had to follow that statement with, “which is probably totally useless and unnecessary,”  because I didn’t have enough stored up in my power reserves to just say, “I wanted to, nyaa.”  Apparently, not giving a damn about what other people think is something you have to build up reserves in.  At least, for an introvert like me.  So when people say, “You shouldn’t care about what other people think,” well, they’re full of shit.  It’s a skill, and you don’t develop it by having people gawp at you and act like you’re just supposed to be able to do it naturally, you retard.

I have used this power…to eat when I feel hungry, rather than trying to sqeeze out one more little bit of work.

I have used this power…to dick around and blog.

I have used this power…to stay updated on the fire instead of knuckling down.

It seems like this power is currently in service of things other than writing.  But.  I promised myself I’d give an honest go at the ideas in this book, and they haven’t done me wrong so far, even the don’t-read-stuff week, so I’m trying to trust a little bit.

However, I feel like I’m not functioning properly.  How will I stay motivated to write if I don’t PUSH, if I don’t FORCE, if I just do what I enjoy? If I don’t work under a blind Midwestern work ethic?  If I have no discipline, how will things happen?  –Maybe there will be a discipline, but if there is, I have no idea what it will look like.  I have previously operated under the idea that in order to have value as a writer, I have to challenge myself.  Which sounds great.  But.  Challenging yourself, setting goals–these aren’t a sense of connection to to higher powers, to my creativity, to my personal dreams.  Goals are the opposite of daydreams, and I keep having to let myself daydream this week: one shiny, flighty little image after another.  Is it that I’ve just gone too far into the GOAL side of things, and too far away from DAYDREAM?  How do people even function when…there are no rules, which is essentially what a goal is?  When I see people without goals, I see slackers.  I see people who don’t do anything, who settle for stupid shit instead of what they really want.  Who go, “Where did the time go?” and “I’ll never be able to X, so it doesn’t matter what else I do, anyway.”

And yet I get these little flashes of insight that say that maybe this week isn’t a waste after all.  I’ve been trying to come up with an epic fantasy idea for a while.  I love reading epic fantasies, yet I don’t actually write them, which seems stupid.  But nothing seems to click.

One of the exercises this week was to write down five films that I love, then try to find the patterns in them.  I wrote down The Princess Bride, Goonies, Kung Pow, Kung Fu Hustle, and RED.  –These aren’t supposed to be OMG THE DEFINITIVE LIST or anything, just five movies you love and can jot down quickly (presumably to show what’s on your mind).  The patterns I pulled out (and you could see others) were: humor, meta, adventure, fantasy, wonder.   Different forms of love.

I’ve been trying to brainstorm…serious, non-meta, adventure fantasies with strong philosophical elements (but no actual meta).  And no friendship, no romance…

It may be that I’m just not cut out for that kind of thing.  I may have to concede that…if it doesn’t have humor in it, I may not be able to finish it, as a longer work.  Maybe what I need to do is write the fantasy version of Every Which Way But Loose* or Cannonball Run.  I grew up on Scooby Doo and The Dukes of Hazzard and Eighties crap like that. Come on. My brain is @#$%^.

Put a sword in that fist and we’re good to go.

But…I think about being a writer, and I want to write Epic Fantasy That Is EPIC, not Smartass.  Not that this isn’t the first time I’ve had to abandon ideas about writing.  I mean, I started out as a poet (and got pretty good at it, nicely controlled dissonance being perhaps my specialty).  And I’ve always wanted to write Serious Fiction.  Because that’s what defines a Real Writer, right?  Buh.  Now I’m trying to fight the good fight against writing nothing but farces for the rest of my life and trying to assert that I Really Can Write Horror, and that I Really Can Write Serious Fantasy.  Instead of writing what’s really inside me, which…may be Smartass Shocking Pulp and Smartass FairyTalesque and Smartass High Epic Farce?

Getting to this point chokes me up today.  I mean…what if it was okay to write what I really wanted to write?  What if it was okay that I’ve been writing other stuff all along, because I had no idea what I really wanted?  What if it’s okay if what I really want changes? What if I can go, “It was all meant to be”?  And, “Learning how to write this farcical romance that you’re working on that makes no sense to you whatsoever and makes you horribly uncomfortable to think about when you’re not writing might be the best thing you’ve ever done for youself”?

It hurts, because…part of me is saying goodbye to something I thought was a dream, but was really just a goal slapped over top of someone else’s idea of success.  I have to mourn, because it hurts.  But I also feel hopeful.  What if…  What could I write if… Wouldn’t it just be a crackup if I wrote…

So.  It’ll probably turn out to be a useful week, even if I’m not yet at the point where I can get out of it what was intended.  Either that, or I’ve been reading too much Terry Pratchett this week month.**

*RIGHT TURN CLYDE!
**I watched Going Postal last night.  Loved it.

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8 Comments

  1. Wow, something must be in the air, or there’s some kind of astrological things going on, because I have been going through the exact same thing. I’ve been trying for years to write what I thought I should write (and I’m not even talking literary stuff, just things like, as you said, epic fantasy and science fiction of that nature as well). When I found that, while I COULD write that stuff, it wasn’t what was inside me, I turned to historical romance, thinking, well, that can be deep and moving too. Heck, it can be practically intellectual at times. But again, it wasn’t what was in my heart. Then an idea for a story popped into my mind, and I was so excited about it. I decided to just run with it and not look back, and not look around to see who was looking–I would just write it. And the excitement didn’t go away (I tend to have project ADHD, if you know what I mean). I’m still excited about it, and other ideas that came from that one.

    We are SO lucky to live in these times where we have options. We don’t have to cater to what publishers want, what they think will and will not sell, etc. All we need to do is write a damn good story, and if the big guys don’t want it, we can either go to a smaller press or publish it ourselves.

    Stay true to who you are. There is no one like you, and no one else can write like you either. Take advantage of that and knock our socks off with the stories from your heart, not the stories that you think we might like more.

    • De

      I agree we’re lucky writing now. I’m sure some writers would disagree – but I’ve always liked being on the edge of things. Not the cutting edge, just some kind of transitional period or place. Thanks for reminding me 🙂

  2. I really grok this. But I’m not positive of your conclusion. I think ultimately the best thing to do is write and see what comes out – whether it’s humorous or Serious or whatever. If you find yourself holding back your natural instincts I think your work will be worse. But boy, do I understand this “why can’t I be the writer I kind of wanted to be instead of the writer I am? Am I failing my own destiny or can I just not come to terms with me?” construction.

    I also read once, and I wish I could remember what writer said this, that you should write the book you’re most afraid of writing. (Might have been Gaiman, now that I think about it.) Don’t think you can write a book about psychic stripper trolls? Write it anyway. I wouldn’t have written a book about Greenland, a place I’ve never been and a book I’m pretty proud of, if I didn’t believe this advice to be 100% valid.

    • De

      I didn’t mean that a) there wouldn’t be serious elements to my writing, or b) that I wouldn’t continue to change, so pardon if that’s how it came across. When I’m writing humor, it has all the things I would have planned to say, if I were to say them seriously. Does that statement even make sense? But the heavy things I write about come through either way. It’s the dream of being A SERIOUS WRITER that’s dying (or a SERIOUS FANTASY WRITER), not my ability to express a wide range of emotions. The eidolon must go.

      –I’ve been writing the book that I’ve been most afraid of writing. And it’s this damn romantic comedy with SEVEN @#$%^& POV CHARACTERS. AAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHH!!! This morning, I worked out that I was resisting going back in because one of the four main leads is being a dick, and I have to work on his POV, and I don’t WANT to be inside his POV at the moment. But, if I don’t make him a dick now, it’ll cheat everyone’s journey. NO WANNU.

  3. Stay true to your voice and you’ll be surprised where it takes you.

    Or in other words, just power through. 😉

    • De

      I’ll get there. BUT AAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGHHH it doesn’t feel like it today.

  4. I’ve been changing a lot lately, too (and I haven’t even picked this book up yet). For the longest time, I thought I had to pick a genre, so I made myself crazy trying to pick. I couldn’t decide, though. As soon as I stopped pushing myself into that corner, I realized what I want to write. It’s funny, how that works.

    It’s been really inspiring reading your thoughts as you progress through this book. If it counts for anything, I love your humorous stuff. There’s nothing wrong with writing something “serious” and adding an element of humor to it (the way Joss Whedon does, for example). I think part of being a good writer is being able to take advantage of your strengths, and yours is humor, girl!

  5. De

    Liz, I feel like as soon as I unlearn something, I have to unlearn something else. STOP PUSHING SO HARD, self! But I’ve had to learn to push…

    Thanks for the compliment 🙂 It makes a good day even better.

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