Mechanical Animals

Monday, July 16, 2007

I dunno. A lot of the time, I just don't get the rest of the writing world. I realize this is my fault and not their's, but still...

I stumbled (I should say Stumbled, as in StumbleUpon, which is Lori's fault) across this web-site a little while ago and, since it was for writers, I usually pause a moment and give it a look.

I gave diagramming sentences about thirty seconds of my time, because I didn't enjoy it in school and now, years later, I still don't enjoy it. I like to think I'm a good writer, but I'm not a mechanically minded one. That is to say, I could use a gerund properly in my everyday writing...but I don't think I could define it properly for you. (Actually, I can: in English, a gerund is identical to a present participle. I just think of them as the -ing words.)

So then, I wandered deeper into the web-site. I looked at right brain writing prompts, and I looked at the six-traits program. All of it comes off as useful -- which is an improvement, normally Stumble gives me a hairbrained self-published author who is telling me How To Get Rich Quick And Be My Own Publisher!!! which is really the LAST thing I want to be.

But anyway, I don't know if I'm being closed-minded (I try not to be, I really do) or if I'm just built wrong, but I read stuff like this and wind up going why? Is it really necessary? It fascinates me more than anything. When I spent time on AbsoluteWrite, it always fascinated me that some people could ONLY write at certain times of the day, or ONLY write with a certain computer, or ONLY write with certain music going, or, or...

And yet, and still...

As I get older, as my life gets busier and more full, I find that limitations start imposing themselves on me, probably out of exhaustion more than anything else. Yesterday, I just couldn't write with rock music (so I put on the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack, because it's such a good one). For most of the past week, probably a little longer, I've mostly not been able to write. If I've gone on the computer, I just stare at it while my brain randomly bounces around like an epileptic hamster. Eventually, I turn it off and go to bed. I have two articles that I need to type up. I have short stories to send out.

So maybe I'm coming, the long way, to a medium-ground of writers where all sorts of prompts and games and tools, such as are found on that above site -- and countless other sites just like it -- are actually useful and necessary.

For the moment, it all still seems sort of alien to me and I'm cheerfully fascinated by it.

Happy News 1: Last night, I sat down and wrote five pages of notes, excited to the point of shaking. In the those five pages, I wrote down the scene I'm on right now in my Rome novel, and then mapped the story out, in detail, all the way through the very ending scene. I didn't change my ending like I thought I needed to, I just clarified it. I happily know my REAL ending scene now, and I like it. I could write it today, if I wanted.

Happy News 2: Myne wife...has NOT had the baby yet. Why is this happy news? Beats me. I was keeping with the motif. I wish the kid would just come OUT already. Honestly, what else has he got to do?

Okay. Rather than write (this is the most I've written in a few days) I'm going to gather up my wife and....go play Nintendo Wii. My baseball pro status awaits!

10 Angst(s):

Rllgthunder said...

Pete said: As I get older, as my life gets busier and more full, I find that limitations start imposing themselves on me, probably out of exhaustion more than anything else. Yesterday, I just couldn't write with rock music (so I put on the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack, because it's such a good one). For most of the past week, probably a little longer, I've mostly not been able to write. If I've gone on the computer, I just stare at it while my brain randomly bounces around like an epileptic hamster. Eventually, I turn it off and go to bed. I have two articles that I need to type up. I have short stories to send out.

So maybe I'm coming, the long way, to a medium-ground of writers where all sorts of prompts and games and tools, such as are found on that above site -- and countless other sites just like it -- are actually useful and necessary.


You’re not alone there, Pete. I spend a lot of my free time at AW for some of those very reasons. I do my best writing in the morning, but with my work schedule at present I haven’t been able to keep a daily regimen. I’m beat when I get home, got chores to do, bills to pay, schedules to rewrite…so, I get them out of the way and then go online.

But here’s the thing; I always review where I’m at on my current WIP beforehand. After I go online and visit my favorite threads (and some new ones) I discover some of the ‘play’ stimulates me enough to pull up MS Word and start writing. Sometimes I get very little done, sometimes nothing at all. Yet there are nights when a conversation seems to push the right side of my brain towards a new thought and I accomplish much. Of course, the more serious threads reveal new perspectives as well and I take advantage of those to improve on my mechanics of writing. But even reading a silly thread or a few game prompts can open a few doors to realization. I boil it down to:

1.) Time you enjoy wasting is never wasted time.
2.) The conscious mind at play delights the subconscious mind of imagination. (Alas, Children get this; adults forget this.)
3.) ‘A little foolishness, now and then, is cherished by the wisest men’.

Okay, that third one is from ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ but I’ve never forgotten the meaning behind it. If you don’t recharge your imagination with some silly time your conscious mind is going to get a bit peeved and not cooperate.

You'll understand this quite soon. Watch your child closely when he/she arrives. The world is an incredible wonder each and every minute they are awake. You have a new POV coming shortly that will open whole new worlds you might be taking for granted at present.

Pete said...

I still fairly understand the wonderment of being a child. I was very AWARE of it, as a child, that adults were dim toward a lot of things that I saw as a kid. So as I got older, I was paranoid of losing it.

I'm probably not AS capable as I was as a child, but there are plenty of times when I'm lost in space and thinking about nothing more deep than the cool way the ceiling fan spins in a circle and makes shadows... :)

One of the reasons that I finally got off AW altogether was that for the longest time, it did what you say it did: It spurred my brain, I got to relax and enjoy being with other writers, I got to have really intelligent conversations...Good lord, the stuff I learned on AW. Especially once I nagged enough and got my Science Fact sub-forum.

But eventually, the time spent there was consuming all the other time. I don't have middle gears. I have no capability for moderation. (God forbid I ever get interested in beer...!) So I had to just get off AW.

As for a daily regiment...hah. I wish I had one of those. Normally, I just write as time permits (usually, it's late at night, because no one's around and I can be left alone). These days, it's nowhere in particular... :)

And for the record, I just don't think you can beat Roald Dahl for basic wisdom about life (or REALLY SCARY horror stories)

Rllgthunder said...

Watching a ceiling fan spin? That explains a lot...

:D

Lori said...

Try this for a visual diagram: http://www.visuwords.com/

Pete said...

I've played with that before. (didn't I send that to you...?) I think it's fun, but I don't think I could use it seriously.

I use a dictionary rarely (if I've learned a neat word but want it to be precise when I use it), and I don't think I even know where a thesaurus IS anymore...

Lori said...

No, I got that from Barb. The two of you often find the same links. I never use it seriously, either. I'm not even certain it can really be used seriously, but it's fun to make the words bounce around the screen.

It makes me feel weird if my dictionary's not where it's supposed to be. A couple of years ago, I had some friends over and we got my dictionary out of my then-office to use while playing word games like Scrabble and Word Thief. After they left, it got left downstairs in the dining room. For the next few days, until I remembered to carry it back upstairs with me, I was discombobulated every time I reached to my left for it and it. was. not. there.

Pete said...

So you DO use the dictionary in an everyday manner? (Not necessarily the bobble-word-dictionary). What do you use it for?

Pete = Curious.

Carrie said...

I always have a dictionary close at hand, or if I'm writing outside with the laptop, I will use m-w.com a good bit. Why? To make sure I'm spelling a word correctly and/or to (duh) make sure I'm using a word properly. If I like a word and I really want to use it, but it's not a word I use daily, I'll double check the meaning.

And I can hear you now... Why would you use a word if you weren't 100% sure and it didn't just flow blah blah blah... and the answer is "Because that's what I do, because I can, and because I WANT to. So there." :oP

Lori said...

I use it to confirm spellings, to confirm that it's the word that I want -- when gather enough words and definitions together in your personal gray matter, the words and definitions you know but don't use that often sorta start intermingling in your brain sometimes -- to find a good word for scrabble using the tiles on my tray, or to look up a word that someone has used that I don't know yet.

Pete said...

Give me SOME credit, Carrie. Sheesh. :) I use words all the time for no other reason other than I heard it, I think it's neat, and I wanna use it. Mostly, I don't in my fiction less because I'm worried about flow and more because it doesn't occur to me. I don't consciously think about my fiction much when I write it.

For the record, Scrabble...sucks. I probably wouldn't say that if I had something such as skills at Scrabble, but Renee kicks my butt everysingletime...