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 haven’t blogged this week. I know. Bad writer. Back to your cave.
So, here’s the rundown. There comes a point in every person’s life when they make sweeping assumptions about the human race based on their personal experiences. And, this is one of those times.
I tend to look at my life as a game with specific objectives I’m attempting to achieve. I think this was a week of secondary objectives, which is sort of a terrible thing to say (you’ll see why in a moment).
I cultivated a social life this week.
My main objectives are…not going so well. This may have to do with the fact that I feel like I’ve been treading water. It’s terrible to consider a social life secondary, but hey, I never said I was perfect. I just insinuated…
This last weekend, I wrote a spec script for a television show. After sending it on its merry way (for your eyes only), I decided I wasn’t going to write anything until next Tuesday. Not one word. Except, quotes. And, this blog post, which is hardly coherent.
The demonic writer within me flipped me the bird and hunkered down in the back of my head. It’s been poking me more insistently as the time passes. Last night, it said, “Hey, you know that one scene? What if you do this? You better go jot it on a notecard or something because you’ll forget it by morning.”
Not gonna do it.
Characters are sort of bunching up in my head seeking escape. And that’s just fine.
What to do with all that time?
Reading. That’s a big one. Watching movies. I actually played a little bit of a video game. Played Solitaire for a long time on my iPad. You don’t really notice how long you’ve been playing Solitaire until it’s ten games later and you realize you haven’t blinked in an hour and a half.
But, here’s something cool. I saw friends. Like, real life actual people outside of the Internet box. We talked about stuff. Stuff that mattered. Stuff that didn’t. Stuff that might or might not ever be.
I complained a lot. I’m not making any headway on that main objective of moving out of parents’ house, you know, so I make a stink about it.
It was cool. Sort of nice to see what it’s like to not work all the time. Achievement unlocked.
I’ll be a bit more bloggy next week. Until then, I’m going to sit in the sun and finish reading The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez.
Summer’s here. You should take some time to…you know. Whatever.