Up front, I’m sorry.
This blog was supposed to be the meandering thoughts that run through my head on the nature of the universe, a true home for my philosophizing, a place where my friends and family had a chance to gaze at my psyche from afar without being forced to engage me in the long, meticulous, and ultimately exhausting conversation that my introverted nature would drag them into.
Well, I have readers beyond my friends and family, and I have friends and family who don’t even know (or don’t seem to know) that this thing exists. Thanks, followers. I hope my post-intellectual-age philosophy is amusing, thought-provoking, distracting…whatever you’re looking for. If you’re looking for more hipster cats, well, no promises.
I did not want this to be the blog of an aspiring writer, documenting each step of the journey. Most of that stuff is best kept on the inside.
But, here I am. Writing another post on writing. I can’t help it. My brain itches and this is the only way to scratch it.
Writing is an art form.
Yes, there are plenty of books that people scoff at and would not call art, but the truth is, writing is a form of art.
In jazz, the listener is told to listen to the notes that aren’t there as much as the notes that are. This isn’t just a load of crap. Music (no matter what kind) cannot be enjoyed unless people have a sense of expectation as to what is about to come next (Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music). The idea is that jazz musicians toy with listeners’ sense of expectation. When you believe one note will be played, it isn’t. Or, better yet, there is harmony and adjustment, giving the listener a different tone, pace, richness, exposing a new aspect of the piece merely by not living up to expectation.
There is a balance in this impromptu styling and the sense of expectation. Stevie Wonder’s Superstition features a steady but unpredictable hi hat in the drum line (again, Daniel Levitin, This is Your Brain on Music). This unpredictability makes you feel like you’re listening to a new song every time. Maybe not that far, but it still feels fresh, and, no better word, groovy, with every listen.
It’s the same with writing.
When reading, you need to read the words that aren’t there as much as the words that are. Writing isn’t a simple delivery system, from the page to your brain without that space between. It requires subtlety, subtext, and implication.
Every story has been told. From a young age, we are inundated with story. We absorb the master plots. We know what to expect in everything we read. Writers must learn to write the right words and leave some words unsaid. Embrace subtlety. Let it flow. You can surprise your reader by advancing a trope, then switching it up. You can calm your reader by sinking into something familiar and slow.
When you do it right, people will want to read your book over and over, steady put unpredictable; fresh and smooth; nuanced.
Get out there and write.
I’m moving to Los Angeles.
I’m moving to Los Angeles!
Oh, my God, I’m moving to Los Angeles.
Well, not until later in the year, but reality is setting in and it’s setting in hard. The other day, my dad told me we needed to talk about when we wanted to head out there. To look at apartments. Which I am perfectly capable of doing on my own, but, I mean, come on. What are fathers for if it’s not negotiating real estate? Also, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, I’m sure I can see the Hollywood sign from every window in my apartment no matter where I live.
In other news, sometimes I feel like I’m losing my grip on reality. You know when you watch those movies/read those books where there’s a pretty obvious ticking clock?
So, here’s my trouble.
How do I say good-bye?
I made a new friend (which is amazing, by the way) and she is going to school at MIT. In Boston! And, despite the distance, we have kept up our friendship through Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.
But what about the others?
I honestly can’t remember who I had this conversation with, so, if it was you, let me know.
“I’m leaving.” Me
“Okay. So?” You.
“I feel like I’m trying to cut off all my connections because it doesn’t hurt as much when I finally go.”
“That’s how it’s always been.”
“Yeah, but you have roots here. But, your parents are here.”
“I might be the one keeping them here. When I leave, they really have no reason to stay.”
So, here’s this.
This universe sucks. I don’t feel bad saying it. There aren’t any superheroes, no one can time travel, teleportation is looking more and more unlikely.
Curse you, physics. You are a harsh mistress.
Every one of Two-Face’s henchman is wearing some kind of suit that was cut in half, then sown together with the half of another suit. He has to outsource that, right? And, let’s say you can’t find the place that is manufacturing henchmen’s daily wear. Two-Face can’t possibly clean his own suits. Find the dry cleaner, stake out the place, follow the guy back to his lair. That can’t be so hard. I mean, really, “World’s Greatest Detective”. Buzz by the closed comedy clubs every evening, you catch Joker before he starts anything.
I’m joking, of course. The untraceability of Gotham City’s most wanted is built into the Batman universe and that is one hundred percent okay. I’m not ragging on it. I have accepted the incompetence of the Gotham police. They are lucky to have Batman. Things would be terrible without him. I have suspended disbelief.
In improv, one of the first things you learn is to never say, ‘no’. In order to make progress in a scene, you have to keep the scene moving. Saying ‘no’ stops all forward movement.
This is the same with the suspension of disbelief. I remember watching the preview for Star Trek, the teaser where the Enterprise is being built in the cornfields of Iowa.
“Really? That’s the problem you have with this movie? The no seatbelts thing didn’t get you?”
“They would be building it in outer space. It’d be too heavy to get off the planet.”
I blacked out after that.
I’m not a Trekkie. I have not seen Star Trek. The movie could have ended with the Enterprise attempting to achieve orbit and crashing back to Earth while Spock sits on the bridge and says, “We really should have built this in outer space.” I think it’s more likely that the universe of Star Trek allows for a ship that size to be built on Earth, then launched into space.
Dad’s statement was the equivalent of saying ‘no’ to an entire universe.
I don’t deny Dad’s right to have a point of no return. I have abandoned stories over things much sillier. When we try examine fiction through our lens of reality, things aren’t always going to hold up. The suspension of disbelief is the closest thing we have to magic.
So get lost. Let it go.
Like I said, our universe sucks.
But, that’s totally okay.
I’m a little bit in love with rampant fatalism. Why is the idea of the end of the world so attractive? It seems like everyone wants to see humanity come to its inevitable end at the hand of some violent, foreseeable (preventable?) catastrophe.
And, I’m not just talking about the whole 2012 Mayan thing.
I think humanity can only exist with the looming threat of complete disaster. I mean it. Check here. We are constantly expecting the other shoe to drop. I suppose that makes the first shoe our existence in general.
I don’t believe that 2012 will be the end of humanity, Earth, the way we do things, what have you. I do wonder what the next big prediction will be after 2012 (*cough* moon breaking orbit *cough).
Instead of focusing on major catastrophe, though, I’d like to focus on the small ones that are expected in our lifetime (not ending in 2012). This list is courtesy of my mother forwarding me emails. I hit unsubscribe, but it hasn’t caught on.
6 Things that will Disappear in Our Lifetime
1. The Post Office
Regardless, here’s your call to action:
Save the Mail
Every week, go over your Tweets. Compile them into one convenient document and send them to your top twenty followers. All @replies should also be compiled and mailed directly to the intended recipient. I purpose this stamp.
2. The Check
I agree. This is useless. Dump it.
3. The Newspaper
Two words: coffee shops. What else are people going to glance at while they wait for their coffee?
Oh, and there’s nothing better to start a camp fire/cozy house fire with. Papier mache! Birdcages! Lining the table before commencing art projects! You don’t know what you’re talking about. The newspaper’s not going anywhere.
4. The Book
I’m not even going to take this one seriously.
5. The Land Line Telephone
Refer to answer for #2-The Check
I could write a whole blog post on this alone. Disgruntled curmudgeons (read: old people) seem to get it in their heads that when the music they like is in decline, all of music is in decline. You are wrong. Music is a staple in human society. We have made music for thousands of years. We will always make music.
This is an example of putting business too close to art. It’s like saying, “If there aren’t any newspapers, there will be no news.”
That’s not how it works. Don’t equate an industry with the actual artistic expression.
You can argue all you want. Like I said, I love the fatalists, the doom-predictors, the naysayers. I also think you’re getting all worked up over nothing. And that’s exactly what our alien overlords intended.
Chill out, guys. We’re going to be fine.