Next time

Stay true to your own voice, and don’t worry about needing to be liked or what anybody else thinks. Keep your eyes on your own paper Laura Dern

I decided quite a long time ago that when it came to creatively expressing myself, regardless of what medium it would be in, I had to do it for me. To do it for anybody else other than yourself is an invitation to disaster and disappointment. I’ve discussed this before.

And if you think I’m going to go into a fucking rant, you’re damn right I’m going to go into a rant. You can stop reading right now or watch the train wreck I’m about to create.

Now, with my first draft for the second novel slowly moving closer towards completion, I will have to deal with the concept of talking about it. I don’t have a problem with talking about it once the book becomes a tangible physical object. I’ll engage in a discourse with anyone who has read the book and is willing to have a thoughtful discussion about it. Key word being thoughtful. It doesn’t need any further clarification than that.

But what I was/wasn’t anticipating was reading an excerpt of what I had written so far to members of the writing group I belong to. This I should clarify. While I have no problem reading an excerpt, what I do have a problem with is people making assumptions about my characters without understanding or knowing what led up to the scene I was reading. I think there’s a term for this — psychoanalysis. And I’m referring to the making assumptions part.

Here. Let me try to explain without giving anything away about the storyline.

I read an excerpt/part of a scene that will be somewhere in the middle of the novel once it’s completed, to the group. After reading as far as I wanted to go, I got some reaction to it. It was all fine and dandy until one of them started psychoanalyzing one of my characters. I cannot tell you what scene I read because that would be considered a spoiler. I suppose you could consider the scene a bit incendiary. The problem with psychoanalyzing my character based on that one scene alone is that you don’t know everything that occurred before it. Not all the pieces are there.

And since I’m terrible at summarizing what the fuck is going on because I really don’t want to give everything away, this person came up with her own ideas about why this character behaved this way.

It really fucking frosts my lizard to hear her pull uninformed nonsense out of the air when she clearly doesn’t have all the details. Why not just listen to the excerpt and accept it for what it is — a moment in my character’s life and listen to how I strung a bunch of words together to make for (what I hope is) a compelling scene.

I did not ask anyone to psychoanalyze my characters. But if you’re going to do that, then please wait for the book to be published so you can read it before you tell expound your theories onto me.

Did I want to punch her? No, not really. But I did want to lose my shit. Instead, I tried to be nice about her uninformed and unwanted psychoanalysis of my character (one of my boys) and told her I would have to explain what happened before this particular scene.

Unfortunately, I did have to offer up one spoiler because I felt forced to protect my boy. She even misconstrued the end result from that. Yeah, I was this close to losing my shit.

So, the group now knows one of the major plot points in the story. It irritates me to reveal one of the cards I’m holding in my hand. But I do take solace in the fact that while they know one of my plot points, they don’t know the exact details.

I also know it is an issue that none of them are willing to tackle in fiction writing. The general reaction to this particular plot point was met with silence. Not because they thought it was a horrible idea. I think it was the nature of the subject. And probably because I am more than willing to go there. Give me a tough subject that interests me and I will go there. Guns blazing.

Anyway, what I’ve learning from this and the ranting is the next time I have to read something from my work and someone makes an incorrect psychoanalytical assumption about my characters, I will be informing them that I cannot answer the question because their remarks and observations are off-base and therefore irrelevant to the discussion about the story. Because once they read the story in its entirety, they will realize they had it wrong in the first place and I will have saved them from an answer that ultimately has no value to the discussion.

Next time, I will not hesitate to shut down the conversation and throw in a bit of dragon fire to boot.

Next time, I won’t be so nice.

More than borderline obsessed

You must be passionate, you must dedicate yourself, and you must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals. If you do, you will be successful — Steve Garvey

In recent weeks, I’ve become more and more focused — obsessed seems to be more appropriate — with finishing the first draft of my second book. I consider this my version of smelling blood and going in for the kill.

Right now, the obsession is, more precisely, about getting to an exact point in the story before other commitments rudely take me away from working with my boys and the other characters.

I wake up thinking about my boys. I go to sleep thinking about my boys. I couldn’t push them out of my mind if I tried. It’s not a case of me purposefully keeping them at the forefront of my thoughts. They were already there. In fact, they’ve made camp.

No, wait a second.

Actually, there is this crazy ass looking building they’ve built which is a definite sign that they have no intentions of leaving me alone. Not that I would ever want them to. Oh yeah, they’re also ready to fight anyone who gets in the way of what we’re doing together. Hell, I’ll even supply them with the weapons they need for the battles. Don’t ever say I never take care of my boys. In turn, they have a list of folks who are allowed to interact with me as things start to get a little intense. Believe you me, it’s going to get intense with my boys. I so badly need to continue playing and working with them even though life will get in the way.

Life can be such a douchebag. Or a sadistic bastard.

So yeah, this is a very healthy relationship I have with my boys. Some folks probably think I should be embarrassed by how I regard them. Well, here’s what I think about that thought: go fuck yourselves. If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, you have no reason to talk to me. It’s simple as that.

As I try to barrel through writing the first draft and pick up a little speed along the way, someone comes by with a bucket of ice water and figuratively dumps it on my head to remind me I have prior commitments to attend to.

Yeah, one of these days I’m just gonna lose my shit and go ballistic on the unfortunate bastard standing closest to me. And that sound you’re hearing is the sound of my boys grinding their teeth. Yeah, they don’t like sharing me. To be honest, I’m the same way with them. That list of folks who are allowed to interact with me, are the same folks who are allowed to meet my boys. Funny how that worked out.

Well, enough bitching. My boys are waiting for me.

Undeniable need

The greatest poverty is not to live in a physical world – to feel that one’s desire is too difficult to tell from despair — Wallace Stevens

One of these Mondays, I’m going to miss my self-inflicted deadline of posting a blog. It’s just a matter of time. Not that I have a ton of people waiting every week with baited breath for whatever kernel of silliness that comes spilling out of my mind.

But I like to be diligent and keep my commitments. Things are starting to ramp up over here and I need to implement my game strategy for the next three or four months. Short-tempered, short-fused or sleep-deprived might be adjectives you could use to describe me in the coming weeks.

Hmmm, I should balance that out with short intense moments of decompression, i.e. laughter with folks who know how to make me smile and anything else will make me let go and be in the moment. But doing a little field research will net the same results, as well. Oh, how I love field research.

This past week, I watched three films (in the theatre and on DVD) — Call Me By Your Name directed by Luca Guadagnino, God’s Own Country directed by Francis Lee and Leon: The Professional, a 1994 film directed by Luc Besson. All three films had me thinking a lot about story, setting, character, action/reaction. It also had me thinking about how each director’s values, sensibilities and aesthetics guided the way they told their stories.

I’m still unpacking what I saw. Actually, I’m unpacking a lot of things where the art of storytelling is concerned. In that regard, 2018 has been interesting and in different ways, intense.

I think in a future blog post, I’ll discuss Call Me By Your Name, God’s Own Country and perhaps, Moonlight, and why these films and its directors and actors have so deeply affected me, forged and reinforced the way I think about the art of storytelling and make me want to be a better storyteller.

It will probably be a long read. But if you’re willing to put in the time, you are welcome to read it once I lucidly form my thoughts and opinions about those films and what they mean to me in the bigger picture, creatively and artistically.

I used to gripe about being under-stimulated. Now, I’m just stimulated. But there’s always the threat of over-stimulation that can put anyone into a tailspin and result in a loss of focus.

The next couple of months threaten with unwanted opportunities that could easily lead to scattered thinking. I can’t let allow it to happen. The prize I’m eyeing is too tempting to lose sight of just because the swirling winds of semi-organized chaos created by others are trying to distract me.

God, I hate getting sucked in by the chaos of others.

The need and desire to learn, absorb and dream is strong and undeniable. Nothing must prevent that from happening. Ever.