Friday, February 27, 2009

This Was Going To Be A Comment and Then It Was Too Long

Go read this post.

This quote more or less sums up the part I object to:

"Speaking of blogs, in the past fifty-two days (since my blog relaunched on January 5th), I have had 1,822 unique visitors. That means more than three times as many people have read my blog in less than two months than read the average novel in its entire run. I don't make a dollar off this blog, but in almost four years of blogging, thousands of people have read my writings. People I have never met email me; I run into strangers who mention they saw my latest post. What more could I ask for?"

Money. You can ask for money. I understand that the industry is changing, but the starving artist thing is bull. The idea that you should labor over anything that other people then consume, eagerly, and simply be grateful for their attention is lame.

Take a long hard look at webcomics; they have already made the shift that the writing industry might. And there are people right this minute that live off of their work. Saying technology is changing the game so we should all just quit playing is stupid.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Don't Want to Inspire You

My friend Thom can be quite poetic when he talks about his music. He talks about touching lives, changing the world, inspiration. I don't get it. I mean, I kind of do- you write a love song and a boy plays it for a girl and they fall in love and it's their song. I understand the mechanics. It's just that inspiring people never occurs to me when I write.

I don't think about life lessons or self-improvement. I think about the puzzle. Who is going to do what, and why, and what will happen? What if someone else does this other thing? I make characters, wind them up and send them out to wander through an arena of my own design. I think about the people who will read it- but the people I picture want to escape the real world, not read a manual about it.

I don't want you to feel inspired when you read my stories. I want you to feel obsessed. I want to give you this other world with it's other people, this pretend world where there is such a thing a closure (sometimes) and the good guys win (sort of). This world where things happen for a reason, and with a little work on your part you can find out what it is (maybe). I want you lost and free. I want you banging down my door, demanding to know what happens next. I do not want you to have a warm glow in your heart-cockles; I want you fearing for the lives of your imaginary friends.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Want Everything

After I dropped out of law school, I promised myself I would not make a life or career-altering decision in the next year. I wanted to be able to really think something through, because it scared me that I could float along on maybe's and I-guess's all the way into something as expensive and consuming as law school. Here's what I'm not deciding about today:

As undergraduate degree holders are wont to do in times trouble, I am considering going back to school. I've considered many paths, but this post is focusing on my latest obsession: art school.

It bothers me that I want this. It isn't practical. It most certainly will make it hard to write, and it's not as if I've made any professional headway with that. Art school is for rich kids and poor kids who are too idealistic to realize how fucked they're going to be. It's expensive and I can't draw and anyway all I really want is to be able to illustrate my thoughts. /fears

I like to make things. Two thirds of the furniture I own, I've made myself. I loved doing set construction in high school. I do cross-stitch, I'm learning to knit, and I've lazy-altered many an outfit. I like doing maps of sites and features. I worked DAAP's machine and wood shop for a year and half, and it was awesome. It was also surreal, seeing as I was advising DAAP students on how to complete their projects... as an Anthropology major. I was good at it. I enjoy doodling and also more focused drawing- doing 'studies' I guess. I won a coloring contest when I was five. I lashed out with a cartoon when I was twenty. The very first thing I ever wanted to be was an artist, until I saw grown-up paintings on TV and thought that I would never be able to do that. My next ambition was ballerina, I think. I still asked for sketchbooks and markers at the store, though.

After my parents divorced, I caught on about reading. If you read hard enough, the words disappear. I started taking out fifteen, twenty books at a time from the library. Every week, in the summer.

I discovered writing in junior high. (In junior high they told me I was "too bright" to be taking art classes.) I started a novel; my friends passed around each chapter with flattering eagerness. For some reason, I put that one aside and started another; I finished it halfway through my first year of high school. Two hundred and seventy-five pages of identity. I was a writer with writer's notebooks full of stories but also full of maps and sketches. Just little doodles which weren't supposed to be good, I was just doing them to help me picture things. Personal illustrations which nobody had to see.

How did I get here? When did I get to be such a coward? (I was a child, and then I was a preteen. It happens.)

I want to go to art school to get the technical skill and background knowledge to be able to make pretty things. Which, by definition, means that I think I don't have them yet. I want to go to art school because I need something outside myself to make me learn, to force me to discipline. I'm afraid to apply because, well, they want me to demonstrate already having what I want to go there to learn.

I write, but I don't want to be a writer and nothing else. There are too many other ways to tell stories.

"It reflects no great honor on a painter to be able to execute only one thing well -- such as a head, an academy figure, or draperies, animals, landscapes, or the like -- in other words, confining himself to some particular object of study. This is so because there is scarcely a person so devoid of genius as to fail of success if he applies himself earnestly to one branch of study and practices it continually."

-Leonardo da Vinci

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bad Things Happen To Good People

Nobody has promised me a happy ending.

I can cross all my T's and dot all my I's. I can endlessly research every investment strategy. I can only buy a house if I follow the approved formula. I can work hard, be smart, play it safe (except of course when I should take risks), and tomorrow I might get struck by lightning and instead of dying be caught in some sort of lucid coma where I know my life span is directly limited by how far my family can be driven into poverty by medical bills.

I am at a point in my life where this is being made very clear to me. Again.

I'm beginning to accept that if things do not change soon, I will be in trouble. Not starving trouble, though. I have a place to sleep, and people who will feed me. But I'm in the kind of place where I need to remind myself that even if I lose my job and my car and my credit and my 10 gigs of music, not to mention a few friends, I can still live and probably write via the local library.

The internet is a wondeful place. Out there, somewhere- though not here, yet- out there are hundreds of people who could tell me exactly what I did wrong, exactly how I could have optimised for this future that is now the present. Except, if I had done so, there is no guarentee that I would have gotten this future. Bad things happen to good people, bad people, all people who have a biological desire to not die and then die.

"You make your own luck" is a sentiment akin to "If I do this dance it will rain," or, "If you tithe, God will bless your earnings." It's a great feeling- I have been rewarded because I have done well, not because I got lucky; and if I keep believing this, I don't have to confront the fact that another stroke of luck- or a plain old stroke- could take it all away. America likes to believe that it's a meritocracy- that the best and brightest are always rewarded, and thus, the average and dumb are rightfully punished. Which is sort of fucked up, if you think about it. It's the law of the jungle baby. Screw the old folks, the retarded ladies, and those pencil pushers who do what society told them to do so they can eat- it's a meritocracy! Prove you have a right to live!

Take your older-and-wiser and shove it, baby.

Ok, so perhaps I'm not as serene about the whole at-least-I-can-eat thing as I'd like to be.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Retardedly Personal Post

So, if you're not in the mood to listen to what will be a very mopey and probably too-revealing post, come back another day.

I am an asshole.

Last night I went to get an oil change during a snow storm. My dealership is in the area where one of my ex's lives. I miss this man every day, and I fought every day to keep from calling him. He is one of those People You Just Don't Date. Way older than me, and did one of those Things You Just Don't Do. Which is why I dumped his ass. We were together for about six months; four months post break up, and I still wake up tempted to call him.

Then there's my ex-fiance. The one who I tried to dump in college, twice. The one who I did one of those Things You Just Don't Do to (though not the same Thing as Ex). The one who always fought and fought to get me back, who wore me down with sheer dedication. It was sort of why I did my Thing; I was just tired of telling him no. And it didn't matter; he still came back around. And the last few months have been great- we're not dating, he's been my best friend, he sheltered me when I was going through a rough patch. He did everything but the one thing he couldn't do, which was make me stop missing the Ex.

These two men are mutually exclusive. I can't have the Ex and the Ex-Fiance in my life at the same time. Last night, sitting on the shitty roads in a goddamn snowstorm because I need my car to run so I can get to the jobs I don't have, I broke down and called the Ex. Well, also because I saw somebody who looked just like him on the highway. We had dinner and made a date for Friday.

And now the person I've been leaning on is gone, and I miss him. And I feel like an ass. Ex-F had one thing he wanted from me- do not see this guy again- and I couldn't do it. I can't.

But I woke up today and realized that I am going to be stuck again in the opposite direction- I am going to miss the Ex-F every goddamn day, even though he makes me crazy sometimes. No matter what happens, I lose.

And I'm so goddamn angry and it sucks because the only person I'm angry with is me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Super Stress!

I am unemployed.

Except, not really- if I were really unemployed, I would be able to collect unemployment. I am on the payroll, but I am most certainly not getting paid.

This is the suck.

I have a car loan and student loans and a bill from law school to repay. I am sleeping on my mother's couch. A draft of my novel is finished and I have the suspicion that it is complete crap. The suspicion stems from this: the plot is flimsy and the characters suck and the fantasy world that I built is utter bullshit and both unconvincing and uninteresting. (The hook still looks good, oddly enough.) Also the ending is weak. Also none of the side-plots are resolved.

I am not on a dig THIS VERY SECOND because some people at another company dropped the ball. I need that goddamn ball! GIVE ME THE BALL.

I thought I should take a break from the writing, to give myself more perspective, but I'm thinking that was a bad idea. Because the magic still works- while I'm working on a project, the world fades. I need that. I need escapism. In the Land of Escapism I am the Pretty Pretty Princess. But I also need a job and so I am taking today to apply for some summer positions for the government. Tomorrow I go back to slaying dragons.

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