Friday, November 12, 2010

the staff watched the birds in their eerie meditation

In honor of NaNoWriMo 2010, I am working on a new fiction project. I'm not really trying to get to 50k words this time around, since I don't think this story can support it, but I am trying to finish within the month. This November is much more complicated than last year's - I'm working more (in fact, I began this month in tech for The Laramie Project) and have been dealing with some health problems. Nothing serious, just expensive. And unlike last year, I didn't outline or prepare in advance for NaNo this time around because I had/have a few story ideas swimming around the ol' brainquarium and didn't know which one to pursue. I've got some idea now, and so far it's extremely rocky, but I'm hoping my newfound appreciation for transgressive/bizarro literature will breathe some new life into this project. Actually, it's odd that I'm trying to explore that John Waters-esque celebration of weird now, since this project is the first thing I've ever written where I had any kind of social commentary planned out ahead of time. That's normally not my style, but I wanted to try it just this once because I've been thinking rather a lot about two things:

1) People have this weird idea that terrible, sensationalist media is a new thing. It's not. We've always been like this. The only reason it's worse now is because the news is literally a 24-hour medium. That's one thing I'd like to explore with this project - another is the jumble of progress, how innovation is never neat and orderly. It all comes crashing out at once and it takes years to properly make sense of it and apply any kind of discipline to its use.

2) With the rising importance of social media; people are being encouraged to "sell" themselves in an incredibly obvious way to others, and alter their identities based, in part, on similarly obvious public opinion. Not that people don't do this anyway in smaller, unconscious ways, but I think marketing oneself as a commodity just to engage in the public sphere is kinda dangerous for our culture longterm. Sadly, it's not a new concept by any means. It's just become more direct and focused with new technology.

Now, how I'm going to fit ANY of that into a western is beyond me, but by thunder, I'm going to try.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

i'll give you certain specifics at a certain time

Ah, MST3K. I'd almost forgotten how funny you were. Conversely, I'd completely forgotten how dorky and awkward all of your skits were.

Anyway, I have to possibly expose my own pretentious fuckwittery here by admitting that I hate it when people ask me to make my work easier to understand in workshop. One reason for this is because I really do try to keep the reader in mind when I write, so it suggests that I've failed in that mission. Given my unreasonable standards for my own work, that's kind of a downer. Even if a piece I'm working on is supposed to be irrational and incomprehensible at points, I want it to at least be interesting enough to keep the reader engaged until it ultimately makes sense.

The other reason why I don't like hearing people demand that my work be easier to read is that it never comes off as a genuine criticism. Especially if that's the only thing they have to say about it. Now, I will accept that suggestion if it comes along with other observations, because that means the reader at least made a go of it and just couldn't get a foothold. That's something I can fix with careful editing, and it says to me that the language or structure I've employed is getting in the way of potentially valuable content.

But more often than not, phrases like "this is too hard to read," or "this needs to be more understandable" stand alone. Which, in a workshop full of other writers, is weak sauce. To me, that sounds like "I'm lazy, do my work for me," and I refuse to enable that bullshit. In fact, my natural write-from-spite instincts usually tell me to make my work even more difficult, just to annoy people with shallow complaints. But that's not a good use of my time, or theirs.

Just had to vent for a second. I feel cleansed. Now, back to television.