Trivial Writing

Home » All the Things » June 6, 2013, 4:39 PM

June 6, 2013, 4:39 PM

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The thing about an on-going project like this, with an absolute record, is that it will change. All projects do, but here, you will see the seams. I’ve marked them in bold and pasted them with care. There’s nothing to hide, so there’s nothing to redeem me. I approached this with all the objectivity I could muster under the circumstances, but I’ve realized that this project is me. That’s the thing about a blog; it’s alive. I could try, from day to day, to disguise that fact, but you will see what I’m thinking through it all. You’ll read my thoughts, and, for those of you that are sensitive to this sort of thing, you’ll see me. So, I might as well embrace that fact.

I was watching Doctor Who today. I’m not a huge fan of Series 7; it requires some suspension of disbelief to truly enjoy. It’s a little too predictable, a little too in love with itself. That’s fine, though, because so, so many people are. It follows the traditional Conan Doyle method of mystery writing. That is, it gives you tid-bits of information, while leaving out the important bits. However, if you know the tropes well enough, then you can read the story. “Spoilers”, as our dear River Song would say. Ironically, the better you are at telling stories, the more likely you are to not be able to predict the ending. When you write books or tell stories, you slowly learn to see the narrative possibilities split off from each other into infinitum. What can a single symbol mean? Look up “Ankh” on Google. Remember, also, that the Ankh is metonymy for entire cultures and many philosophies besides. Now, look at a pen, a bag or a monitor. There’s potential unbridled in everything we see, if we look hard enough.

Given that range of possibility, the hardest thing for you to do, as I said last entry, will be to temper that potential. In the process, though, you’ve got to think about what it means. You see, while I make jokes about the usefulness of my English degree and others may scoff at its practical value, there’s something you must realize. The word is powerful. It’s not just written. Video games, music, movies, ads and comments; textbooks, reviews, novels, short-stories and manuals: they all contain the gift of narrative. They’re all forms of communication. They are, in essence, what we do as writers. An English degree may be a precarious thing on its own, but combined with a little knowledge, it’s a powerful tool.

So, think, what are you going to do? Be very careful. Through narrative, we teach people how to love. How to laugh. How to deal with trauma. How to approach pain. When to end a life. How to take one. How to use toasters and on which side the butter goes. We also let them know how it lands. Yet, you’re thinking this is hyperbole. People experience life and learn from that. Of course they do! That’s where our experience comes from, too.

What if you don’t know? What if you have to Google it? What if you’re reading a review? How about if you’re unsure about something? Have you ever been on the fence about something and been influenced by a good story? Have you ever captured a heart, made a friend or fallen in love through a story? With a story? If you’re on my blog, then I presume you like writing and reading; so, I’m probably preaching to the choir. I sure hope so, because what we write matters. How we write about things, doubly so.

When I watch the News or read an opinion piece, I can feel how they want me to feel. I know when they’re being alarmist; I can tell when they’re placating me. Not everyone can, though. More frightening, I still feel, a little bit, the way they want me to. Yes, there is an irony here, but I don’t want to scare you or stop you from writing your thoughts. Quite the opposite, I want you to write as much as you can. I also want you to think about what it means and what it can do. I want you to be okay with that. Because, if it’s written and read well enough, then you will change someone’s world. Just a little bit.

That’s why I love Doctor Who. The world is a terrifying place. Looking outside, there are forces and technologies at work that I can’t begin to fully understand. There are political intrigues and personal connections holding the world together and tearing it apart. There are stories and dreams that are horrible and false, beautiful and tragic, that run and define people’s lives. We’re approaching a time unprecedented; we are barrelling toward a future that no one person fully understands. Put your hand on the canvas of the world and you can feel the vibrations of it all. Society… the universe is a moving, living, shaping, wriggling thing. It’s absolutely terrifying, and we are such small, powerless, absolutely insignificant things.

Yet, we can alter things, send shock-waves through existence. We don’t have to, and we should consider why we do, but we can. Oh God, can we. Terrible and benevolent, we are.

What is it that I love about Doctor Who? What is its message? When it’s being created, by a writer mind you, and being watched, by us, what is it trying to tell us? Be brave. Don’t be afraid. Yes, the world is an Eldritch thing: an unspeakably complex, infinitely confounding thing, but that’s okay. We’ve got science. We’ve got words. We’ve got stories. Even if you’re afraid, especially when you’re afraid, we’ve got courage.

It can be hard to find work as a writer. It’s more difficult still to find what you want to say. It is infinitely more difficult than even that to maintain your integrity, your standards, in the face of everything. Sometimes you won’t. Sometimes, you’ll be true. Sometimes, you’ll sell out. Sometimes, it’ll be to feed your kids; sometimes, it’ll be to feed your ego. You will fail. But, that’s okay. It really is. You can learn from that. You can change things. You can count on the fact that another writer, of equal skill, exists that will oppose your words. Not all stories have happy endings. Not all of them have to.

So, don’t be afraid: write.

Word Count: 3966

End Chapter 1


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