Friday, March 1, 2013

An Old Road

As I am wont to do, I shall start with a tangentially related quote:

"Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."
-Gustave Flaubert

Relation to today's post: take a step left, turn 78 degrees. You will see: Live vicariously through your work when you have no options to do so in your life.

This week I did a radical thing. The current long work on which I am embarking, Orsolya (Unwise Ones), was undergoing some mutations last month. I had it all planned out on half-index cards: book one covering the beginning to Big Event 1, book two covering the tail end of Big Event 1 to Big Event 2, book three covering Big Event 2 to the end.

On Sunday I realized that the writing of the past three weeks was draining the life from me. My main character is a Doppelganger of mine (I still need to write that post) and she cannot stand idleness, and she cannot stand being around large quantities of people for extended periods of time. Just as I am banging my head against the cage bars (school), so was she. If my character and I are both deathly bored, will not the reader follow our path?

So I jumped straight to Big Event 1 and cut down the structure of the story so that the boring backstory/setup is all gone. I can get the story down to one book, probably. That's what I'm shooting for, because I want this book to move quickly. I want it to be one of those books that you read and you feel drained and bittersweet and somehow nobler at the end than you were at the beginning, a book that makes you want to go and do something brave afterward. Like the last Harry Potter book.

(Dream big. It's what all the arrogant introverts do.)

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One of the most comforting things I can do is to lock my door. You can't stop the noise coming from outside but no one can get in, even if they knock, and if you've got your earphones in and your music turned up you can pretend not to hear anything. Working steadily through something, with a full bottle of water/cup of tea and the window open ever so slightly to let in a breeze - and alone. What is more beautiful than solitude?

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I drift constantly from who I am, at the core of it all: a writer. A creator. A Reaper and Rejoicer. Lately, the middle third of second semester junior year has eaten me alive and I've been writing less, moving more slowly through books (including this one), practicing only perfunctorily. I don't remember the last time I drew anything. The last poem I wrote (2/22/13, untitled as yet and not ready for sharing) plays around with my usual motifs before throwing them all down one by one into a heap, as if they were a pack of playing cards. The result is not even as deep as that.

Poison begins to build up in your system when you don't create. You must expunge it constantly, or else (I should say "I", at sixteen I feel unqualified to advise anyone) "I" will become irritable and frustrated, lashing out and being rude and condescending and overdramatic and fantasizing about hurting people.

It's about time to explain the title of the post.

"An Old Road."

When you wander, sometimes you must come back. Not to the same things you've done before - I believe too strongly in progress to say any such thing - but to yourself. So maybe this title is a misnomer. Not an old road, but an old traveler on new roads.

Which is a really roundabout way of saying the following:

You're doing too much stuff. Listen to yourself and let that guide you in cutting down to what you really need.

Which is a longer version of what I really want to say:

Travel light.

(Which is a shade of meaning different from what I started out this section intending to convey, but I'll take it. Even I must write things that are generally applicable once in a while.

In my specific case, the concise explanation of the title would be: I am coming back to myself by writing action-adventure stories. A dark-haired angry girl rescues her brainwashed love interest from a fortress in the desert and she uses magic and a halberd and gets angry and tells herself lies about duty and gets even angrier and it is wonderful.)

Subtraction is therapeutic. Streamlining things, simplifying, ridding your corner of the universe of noise and waste. Entropy will win in the end but oh, how sweet these little victories.

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Bonus example of "coming back to myself":



I was crazy about Linkin Park from ages 9.5-11.5. Lost track of them for a while and realized that I like a lot of the songs on "Living Things".

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Housekeeping note:

Frequent readers may have noticed that the header image is suddenly dark. Something about the colors on the original version was bothering me, and so the unsaturated version is a stopgap until I can do a proper redesign (probably in early April). Think of it as representative of my usual mood this time of year.

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