Let's start at the end, and work our way back.

Sunday and Monday I got a bit sidetracked with things. No big.

Yesterday I spent a little more than three hours working on "Nerd Love." I'm having trouble feeling accomplished about that, for a bunch of reasons. The first, most obvious is that working on "Nerd Love" in any real way, and it being a project with so little done on it, feels cheap to me, when I have things almost finished, and possibly could have gotten done in three hours. I can never tell, in those instances, if I'm being cowardly, or just following my muse. I'll also add that I'm still a little shaken by the "Dia de la Vida" incident - I'm used to writing things, and thinking they suck, and then them turning out to actually suck all the time - I'm not used to writing something, thinking it's good, enjoying working on it, and then coming back to it and finding it a fumbling mess. It's just not happened to me very often. Very disconcerting, so I'll probably take a look at what I did on "Nerd Love" today or tomorrow, and hope that its as good as I remember it being.

There are other reasons, but those seem like the two big ones right now. If something more pressing comes up, I'll probably come back and write about it later.

"Nerd Love" is a weird project for me - one of those stories that the ending came first. I'm always worried that anytime I have an ending in mind right off the bat, one that seems so important to the entire story, that the story itself is in real danger of becoming a one-note joke - which I should preface, I don't mean in a funny way. And I think that's a realistic worry, because the good writer who starts at the end and works back is always going to be wondering if his ending has been earned. This isn't a bad thing to worry about, it's an important thing to worry about, because even if you're not starting with an ending and working towards it [though I guess we all, more or less, work towards the endings], making sure you earn everything you get by the last scene, chapter, panel, or whatever you prefer to call it is so damn important.

I also think - and I want to stress this is just me - that the ending of story is not as important as it's sometimes made out to be. Don't get me wrong, if you have the ability, the chance, to write an impressive ending to a story, then you should, and you should make sure it satisfies in every way humanly possible. But the old saying about the journey being the most important part isn't total bullshit, and often times a non-ending ending can say as much as an ending wrapped up in a nice, neat looking package. The Cohen Brothers, for instance, have a real knack for this - so much so that I'm starting to believe non-endings really are, themselves, proper endings when done well.

And I suffer from what I call a... moralistic leaning. I'm a big fan of cautionary tales, morality tales [you know, things where you find out the morals of the story], tales that sometimes impart a slightly heavy-handed message to make a point. I've been working on that, because I'm not sure it's a very worthwhile endeavor [I go back and forth on this - I don't think it's particularly artful or elegant, but I'm not sure if that invalidates what I have to say - I'd be interested in hearing what others think] but there is something about coming from a place where that is the major school of thought in your head that sort of predisposes you to actually having endings for things. I think anyway.

So, I'm outlining a lot, playing with dialogue, and digging up a lot of old memories which are a little raw, and makes me wish I had money for a good bottle of scotch to have sip from at the end of it all. Christmas is coming, folks. Though really, I need a new gray hoodie, and maybe a scarf, more.

"Nerd Love" is one of those projects I've had on my mind a long time. I think there's something from my high school, college years I really want to address, even though it's not entirely about me, it is tide to a world I was very entrenched in, and in many ways still am. My friend Savannah, she really deserves thanks for this project, because it was actually talks with her, talks she probably just thought were idle conversation, and I did too, which gave me my "in" into this story, and a way to look at some of these more complicated issues. A special thanks will be in order there.

My only reassurances that I'm not using this project to run from things I could actually get done is by how on my mind it has been lately. "I don't miss the green." was sort of a piece of this story, just bursting to get out, even though what I ended up with in that short won't likely resemble much of what "Nerd Love" will hopefully be in the end. There will be one or two important, and striking similarities, but still. I was exploring something - and I'm going to keep exploring.

I'm worried a bit about subconscious plagiarism on this one, if only because there are side aspects to the story which resemble other works I've read/seen, two of which I really love, one I will admit to enjoying, but not being crazy about. My sole reassurance there is that neither of those stories gave me what I wanted, not entirely, and I'm not even approaching the subject matter in the same way. I do worry about the shallow reader/viewer/etc. looking at this and seeing something derivative, but again, as I feel like with "Nerd Love" I'm trying to address something I haven't seen or read before, and in a way that I would like to see, that I kind of want to show to people. It's easy to let this kind of doubt creep in, though. I think I'll leave it for now.

Besides, if you end up with things inspired by enough things, an original idea is probably going to grow in such fertile soil. I hope.

It's a weird project, though. The kind that, at the end of the three hours working yesterday, it was hard not to call folks I hadn't heard from in forever. It makes me wonder how long I've been wanting to just sit down, and work out what's been in this.

Anyway, lots of thoughts. There are other things to look at while I give myself a day or so's distance.

I haven't been feeling well lately. It's nothing I've been advertising, but my sleep schedule is sort of righting itself, which my mind and body are both for in principle, but against in the transition. I've also had some sinus problems that I thought I could shrug off - bad call. I've also been having some soreness, sometimes straight-up pain - in my neck, then my back, and now my leg on the right side. I'm hoping it'll wear off quickly, because otherwise, something like that could seem serious. I've also had a mad upset stomach, and some acid-related problems which have left my mouth raw. I've been drinking a lot of tea. Hoping that will help.

Few things for some friends - this is older, but I just never got a proper chance to link it - lots of good, Ander Sarabia goodness on his blog, where he shows off the CD/album artwork he did for the rock band COBRA - it's amazing art, and definitely tune-age you should consider checking out. Ander hooked me up, and I enjoyed it mightily. The art for the inserts is exactly what you'd expect from Ander, too - top-notch stuff, with lots of great details and a little bit of a throwback to a style not seen as often anymore. Absolutely spectacular.

More recent, John Wiswell did this great 9/11 post called "Do Not Post Until 9/12." I did my best to stay away from 9/11 baiting, because it's always been my contention that grief is something no one handles in quite the same way, but societally, we've sort of only made a handful of reactions "okay." That John felt the need to wait a day, in hopes of not offending others who was mourning was incredibly thoughtful, but I also feel bad that John's method of coping is somehow one that he would have to put off talking about. You don't hear about these reactions enough - and you should, because they are perfectly valid, important, and normal.

Yet more recently [re: yesterday], is Eric Esquivel and crew [that'd be Godlewski, Cody, and Barajas] all popped up on Warren Ellis's website yesterday, with their entry into Ellis' "Three Panel Open" event. Go check out their excellent entry, along with all the other comics that have went up. It's absolutely worth your time, and their entry "Magic Words" is, well... more tip-top work from Eric.

Don't forget to keep checking what both Eric and Dave are up to these days on the ModMyth blog too, and some other websites you should definitely check out are Peter Wonsowski's blog, who has always been a supporter here, and does amazing work as well, but if you want to talk exciting every new entry from PW is more exciting than the last.

Finally, one of my favorite web comics from back in the day, Mitch Clem's punk rock three panel called "Nothing Nice to Say" has returned. If it's not your speed, it's not your speed, but it was one of those comics that hit me in just the right way, at just the right time, and seeing it back means the world to me. Been excited every since he announced he was back in the saddle.

More soon.

2 comments :: Let's start at the end, and work our way back.

  1. 1.) Don't worry about being "derivative"...it's perfectly okay to expound upon ideas presented by other writers...as long as you do it better. This is how most major philosophies evolve.

    2.) I'm sure you've read or heard about the Zeitgeist Question. If not, look into it - I am also a writer who has a tendency to worry about the moral implications of a story, especially when writing horror. I'm always worried I'm sending a message that I don't agree with. I think this is from taking so many analytical film courses. Most people are not going to analyze the crap out of your work and wonder what it all MEANS. But, you know, in the case of that...I would say don't make a moral statement with your story; ask a question. This is the Zeitgeist question...the question you want your audience to be asking themselves when all is said and done.

    So, yeah...question of morality, not statement. That's all I got.

  2. Oooo. Comment before I've even gotten up from the computer. Excellent way to get a speedy response. And as for "all you got" it's very good.

    To 1.) Yeah, I agree completely. To add, I don't think that's so much my worry in this case, more that I feel it's easier for people to disregard works that come across as derivative, and I want to give this piece a chance, without giving more people the opportunity to dismiss it out of hand than already will.

    To point 2.) Mixed feelings here. You're right that most people are not going to analyze the crap out of what I'm working on, but I don't want to write just for them - I want to give the analyzers something too.

    Up front, just about myself, inserting the moral in the story isn't something I ever consciously try to do - it just seem that I naturally lean towards these moral allegories that I'm not always crazy about putting in things I write. That's one kind of story, and I think it's a fairly well explored style, and I'm not entirely interested in adding to it [mostly]. As I'm trying to get away from that, I tend to do what you say, which is just offer questions, and try to leave stories, particularly endings, with something people can discuss, tear apart, argue about. I like that.

    I am uncomfortable never taking a stance, and only offering questions - I think I do have opinions, and I do have things I want to say, and I want to share with people, and in that case, I want the zeitgeist question they're asking themselves if they agree with me, or agree with the work - and that's a much steadier stance of where I am than just offering questions.

    But I'll admit, I think both are important, and neither should be my sole interest while writing. My only real push back here is because I feel it's become very vogue to never take a solid stance on something - to only pick things apart, to only give people the pieces, to always set yourself in a position to attack, but not defend.

    Either way, you make very good points, all very much on my mind right now. Your insight is particularly helpful, as I'm grappling with a couple of offensive tales, and maybe one or to I'm hesitant to dive into because I'm worried I will not be okay with the conclusions that could be drawn from them.