Friday, May 13, 2011

Writer's Circle

The Problem
Alternate Title: "Snape Takes a Gap Year"
I was watching “Spirited Away” for the hundreth time when I suddenly realized I have no friends. (Dude, harsh!) Well, I mean I don’t have any Writer friends. (Did I just say ‘dude’?) And by ‘friends’ I mean I don’t have any friends close by with whom I could, for instance, go to the pub and invent complicated elven languages or discourse on the invented worlds of yesteryear, while drinking. (Oh.) My point is, in Real Life, I have no Writer’s Circle. (What can be done?)

A side order of problem is that, well, sometimes I like not having a bunch of people sneaking around trying to talk to me. (I hate the phone.) I especially don’t like making special plans in advance to meet people. (Hate! I say.) The best case scenario would be to have a bunch of interesting people who live close by who I can meet by chance on those days when I deign to make an appearance out-of-doors. (In short, I want the world to revolve around me.) That seems fair.

The Target
I’ll start with a a fair test:
“I give you: religious the same respect as I give those fans of a television program that I, personally, do not enjoy, while at the same time recognizing that my fanatical devotion to Firefly has no intrinsic moral value. There is no real point to religion except to propogate ancient stories that in many cases have been topped by more or less ridiculous remakes. Yet, I’m not concerned with what you personally believe, except in cases such as this where you: religious feel the need to declare the unfounded tenets of your religion applicable to me or, as tonight, to my lady, who is cheerfully ignoring you while I discourse. Another beer.”

This is an actual transcription of an accidental recording (my writing mic having been left on) of my actual conversation with friends in a restaurant. First, yes, that’s how I actually talk, with colons in my speech and everything. Second, note that these are my friends. I long ago recalibrated the Filter to have only two settings: “On” and “Off” (there is a third setting, called “Girlfriend”, but that need not concern us here and it’s only used on special occasions).

“On” means I can say anything to you, thus I can say everything without being worried about you getting offended. This carries with it a reciprocal agreement, of course. I’ll listen to whatever bull you’ve decided to peddle today and give it my full attention. Fair’s fair.

“Off” means I evaluate every single word I say or write to you. You are not yet trustworthy enough to handle my creati-babble. Likewise, I’ll take very little foolishness in your speech before I wander off on some pretext (such as, when I’m not creative: “I’m going...over there.”) Going from Off to On pretty much takes you not being foolish while also you withstanding a few conversational gambits from me until you’re immunized to my madness. Beer helps this process immensely.

Fine, then. Perhaps you’ve passed the first hurdle. So who do I want in my Writer’s Circle?

by which I mean ‘people who claim to write, but mostly complain about how they’re not writing and can never tell you what they’re working on’. They’re too depressing, and are prone to talking about their Real Job, which is even more depressing. Sometimes they have an MFA and one published story in a college journal five years ago. Sadly, the story is usually dense symbolist terrible or about a college master’s degree student who wants to have an affair with her professor (who turns out to be gay or a communist). Avaunt!

by which I mean ‘people who write as much or more as I do on a regular basis’...’and better’. That’s more like it! These people will throw ideas at you and see what bounces back. So long as everybody’s fair and follows either the ‘originator has first option’ or ‘idea story competition’ method of brainstorming, it works fine. Throwing accumulated piles of mental illnesses and defiltration together in the same room and seeing what happens when they mingle is fun.

by which I mean...oh, you know what I mean. Artists and Musicians and Actors and such. Scientists and Computer Engineers can drop by too. Intellectuals? Good times.

by which I mean ‘people who are more broadly read than myself (but are not Writers)’, not ‘people who know my own stories better than I do’. They’ll recommend books and let me know if I’m being horribly unoriginal without any mitigating factors. It’s basically TV Tropes without the weirdly off-topic missing-the-point examples.

The Solution
Here’s the plan, and it’s a good enough plan, I think, because it’s divided into ‘phases’, which is a good planning word fraught with pre-planned portent.

Phase I Writer
I suck up the isolation for a bit and just write until I’ve got a large bookshelf. My ongoing goal of 100 distinct titles (mostly short stories) should be sufficient, although some of those should be books at that point. You should be able to get a physical copy of those books near the endpoint. Once I can put “author of [TITLE]” on my covers and be fairly confident some reader will be familiar with [TITLE], I’ll be a:

Phase II Writer
I’ll be focusing on writing books while my bookshelf rolls with the Internet times. While that’s happening, I can start Active Networking & Self-Improvement (ANSI), meaning starting to go to these workshops and conferences on a regular basis and meeting and talking with Writers et al. And so forth, as I continue building up my bookshelf and generally exploring the whole Business of Writing deal. Then I’ll be ready to be a:

Phase III Writer
doing ???
and then a:

Phase IV Writer
who is BIGGER THAN JESUS, baby. (wait, what? Where’d he go?)

The Plug (Hey...)
One day a manic-depressive man woke up and realized he was going to be a professional writer...but how? That question evolved over the course of two-hundred days of daily blogging until he found an answer that worked for him. Along the way came daily musings, life lessons, genre discussions, brain-storms of epic proportions and batshit insane dreams. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll laugh again, then you'll think as you live The First 200 Days for yourself.

Available at Smashwords and on the Kindle for a consideration.

until next week: “Regarding Thrillers”

1 comment:

  1. Hey, yeah, I hear ya, man. I have no real-life writing friends either... I wonder what it feels like to have those, lol...great, I'm sure, to have that writing reciprocation in person... But we must make-do with what we DO have, I say!


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