Uncharacteristically, this will be relatively short. Maybe. Oh, look, a photo.
As I mentioned before, photos appearing on Sunday with my thoughts are gathered and presented in THIS SmugMug Gallery. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you can also click on the photos for a larger version.
So, what’s on my mind? Well, mostly writing. And food. I always think about food. But, mostly, writing. Specifically, come November 1, the daunting task of setting myself back on the writing track.
Here’s the thing . . . I have no problem writing. Heck, I can bang out opinion pieces like there’s no tomorrow. I mean, there is a tomorrow, but . . . oh, nevermind; I have no idea what that expression means. If there were no tomorrow, it’s unlikely I would be writing. How would I even know, anyway?
It’s fiction that’s throwing up a slight speed bump. No, it’s not writer’s block. Nope . . . it’s that I’ve become overly concerned with the quality of my writing. By that, I mean plot and characterization. The writing itself, the choice of words, the flow, the style, dare I say it, the voice, all that I’m happy with. In my fantasy world, all that is pure gold.
I have a problem with the thing I like about my writing. Simple plots, simple characters, fast paced action. I usually don’t worry about it much, hence why I can crank out stuff pretty quickly. Now, for whatever reason, and quite unwelcome, doubt crosses my mind.
Doubt about what I like to read and what I like to write. I mean, I still like what I write and I especially like reading what I write. Heck, on any given day I’m more likely to be reading my fiction than that of any other author.
But, I wonder . . . is it possible that people want to be challenged a bit more than I like to be challenged? Is it possible that I suddenly care about it? I mean, I’ve always maintained I write for myself and if that ultimately dooms me to obscurity, so be it. Was I lying to myself? I don’t think so, and yet, I sit here trying to shoot higher than my station. Trying to produce stuff a notch above . . . well, I don’t even know what I’m trying to improve.
I do know whence this comes from, where the blame sits . . . I’ve been reading other works, both long and short form. I mentioned before that’s often a bad thing for me, especially if I’m on the verge of something like NaNoWriMo.
Reading other people’s works is a bit like me listening to someone with an accent; I tend to absorb the basic speech patterns, often incorporating them in my speech without even being aware of it. In the case of reading other people’s writing, I start to drift into their cadence, pacing, characterization and even plot exposition and resolution.
And then, I don’t like what I write.
Mind you, there’s some freedom associated with assimilating the output of other writers, and I mean that in not a flattering way. Based on a lot of the stuff I’ve recently read, I should not concern myself so much with clarity, cohesiveness, well-defined characters, or even resolving things.
I’ve read a number of published stories that to me come across more like literary works than straight up genre offerings. There are differing meanings assigned to the terms, but a brief summary of each is that genre fiction has a plot geared toward entertaining the reader while perhaps also making them think about important topics. Literary fiction concerns itself less with plot and entertainment and purports instead to advance the understanding of the human condition, usually through the experiences of the characters. Also, language that oft obfuscates as much as it informs. Words for word’s sake, flowing on the pages as majestically as a herd of distant elephants traversing the savannah.
You know it’s a beautiful sight, but you can’t quite make out much beyond the fact they are elephants and they are walking and there is a savannah . . . the details escape you but dang, it’s a beautiful sight.
What has me confused is that this pseudo or full-on literary offerings are found in traditional genre publications. The same publications where I’m trying to sell my stuff.
My stuff, in case readers don’t know, is entertainment. I aim no higher, aspire to no more than leaving a reader (me) satisfied with the experience.
I will shake this, and do so before November 1st, but dang if it isn’t a nuisance to me now.
Also related to writing, I decided to read what was a huge favorite of mine when I was still in high school . . . Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels.
Holy crap on a cracker! That is some bad writing. I mean, I can see why I liked it back then; my brain was not fully formed. I mean the man no disrespect, but it really is bad writing. You are assuming I mean when viewed through today’s morals and attitudes.
No. Well, yes, that too, but it’s also bad writing. I’m reading it and I want to fix stuff, want to make it better. How presumptuous of me, right? Spillane sold million of books and I can’t even sell a short story.
And yet, as bad as it is, there are certain aspects of the writing that I must have absorbed. In particular, the good guy having no great moral dilemma when it comes to dealing with the bad guys. The thing is, that was with me even before I read those books, so maybe that just played to my already formed outlook when it came to bad guys.
People might not be familiar with the Evil Overlord Rules. Go ahead and click on the link. It’s a list of rules overlords should follow to increase their chances of living out their lives. Basically, don’t do all the stupid stuff that evil overlords do in movies and books.
Rule No. 6: I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicament before killing them.
Rule No. 27: I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.
There are many rules, and all of them valid. I had them in mind when I wrote a short flash piece for THIS post, just about 742 days ago, coincidentally, on another SWMT post.
The reason I mention it is because I plan to eventually write Good Guy Rules. Things like:
Rule No. 1: I will not spare the life of the person who swears they will someday kill me.
Rule No. 87: I will not throw down my gun to fight the bad guy on equal grounds. I will, instead, double-tap them and then stand over their body and put one into their brain for good measure.
Hmm . . . I should start work on that; it’s a badly needed list and a lot of innocent people would be spared if only the good guys weren’t so focused on being “good guys.”
That, frankly is what I see as huge failings in many movies and books. Mercy is not a good quality if the person you spare will then go on to hurt other and potentially those you love. Never mind swearing you will bring them to justice; it’s too late and you screwed up by letting them live in the first place.
I did mention this was going to be quick. I could sit here and write a bunch more stuff on writing and reading, but I get the feeling it’s not something weighing heavy in the minds of people at this particular junction of time.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.