Sunday, August 29, 2010

Whedon, writing, insecurities and other such stuff

Another weekend without uni productivity. Someone slap me. Actually, nevermind that now, I'm busy. Have I pointed out how I am not cut out for a 9-5 (or rather more aptly 8-5) full-time job? Because I am so not. Ooooooh so not. Mind stagnation rebels at.

Can't believe the weekend is over already. Not looking forward to work tomorrow and having to rustle up the remaining profiles and intros. Then we start the entire damnable process all over again, it's so repetitive that stabbing myself in the eye seems like a reasonable way to liven things up. But seriously, it's so annoying to be so busy all the time and definitely not good for my writing drive - I haven't done any writing since I've been working there and seeing as that is what I want to do with my miserable existence, that is not good people. Aaaah.

Speaking of writing, had an absolutely terrifying crisis of faith yesterday where, as I was reading over the first chapter of the novel I'd started workshopping last semester, I was entirely convinced that it was rubbish and entirely not what I was trying to say. I was at the hairdressers at the time which meant I had to suppress my horror, but it was not fun. I need to write Chapter 2 and 3 by Wednesday, so I can workshop it in class next week. That's going to be a fun Tuesday night. I was just feeling really miserable that this is the life I have damned myself to - and not entirely out of choice either, this is just what I do. I can't help it. Writing is the one thing I've been able to stick to through my long line of obsessions, it's the one thing I haven't given up on because I didn't want to have to work to be perfect. I think writing is particularly well suited to perfectionists, because no writer is ever happy, there is no real line that you can reach and say this is perfection, it just won't happen. So I don't give up on it. I just keep writing cause my mind keeps turning out these scenes and lines and I must do something with them.

Anyway, writers know the mood I'm talking about - the one where you are entirely convinced everything you do is utterly useless and you're wasting your life. We're all there at some point or another. I blame this sudden onset of self-doubt on my all my writing theory classes because it has made me question absolutely everything about my writing, resulting in agonising over themes that could be read into that I wasn't actually intending, or whether the point of view I've chosen is working, whether the setting is appropriate or should I rather go for speculative fiction, whether it wouldn't work better with two protagonists, flashbacks and the most worryingly, whether anyone would read a story in which the protagonist isn't a hero, isn't entirely likable, and wherein in fact there are no heroes and no one is really redeemed. It'd be like reading a novel in which The Master was your lead. I'd read it, but I don't know if anyone else would. From what I understand commercially you're better off having someone the audience can relate to, and just because I like relating to sociopaths, doesn't mean anyone else does. I don't like writing literary fiction, so genre fiction is all I have and I must cater to that audience, but at the same time I want to write the characters I want to write, tell the stories I believe in.

As I was moping through my files, trying to find something I'd written that was even halfway decent and profusely cursing my writing lecturer, I stumbled upon a NaNo pep talk from a few years ago that really made me feel a lot better. I'll post it after this because it should be shared. Another thing that cheered me up was attending the Joss Whedon talk at the Opera House this afternoon. R, M and I had a lovely giggly lunch before settling in for the ninety-minute talk that was part Joss discussing where he writes from and why, and part Q&A led by the always wonderfully funny Wil Anderson.

First off, let me just say what an absolutely nice guy Joss seems to be. He's entirely unassuming, gracious, as witty as you'd expect him to be, and he just respects his audience so much. It was so nice to be part of a fandom group that felt loved for a little while. A couple of things about this talk really resonated with me. I go to these talks more and more as an apprentice if you will, rather than a fan. It's comforting to hear people of such caliber speak about issues and experiences in writing that I can identify in myself even now, though I am not much. It's like being told 'Don't worry, you're on the right track.'

I found it rather interesting that Joss said fanfiction was the greatest compliment you could ever be paid by your fans, because it means you've created something they love enough to dedicate hours to. That's such a different thing you normally hear from people on this subject, and I thought it was rather lovely. The character death issue came up, of course, and Joss is entirely right in saying that death needs to happen - but that it should be meaningful, that people should feel something, and that it should have a point. He mentioned that he had no idea what a big deal Willow and Tara would be, and he mentioned that he developed a story arc to bring Tara back to life, but that Amber couldn't do it, which I think alludes to the notion that once he discovered what a big deal Tara actually was to his fans, he wanted to fix it. Another thing that stood out was his mention of Firefly, and how losing it was incredibly painful because it is like a child to him. He went on to say that he learnt so much about grief during that process, because it is something you absolutely never get over. You merely learn to deal with it and adapt to life without it - like losing an arm and learning to tie your shoes with one hand - but the grief never truly goes away.

Overall though, it was a very enlightening and amusing talk and I just left feeling inspired and energised about the whole thing. The overwhelming sense of the event to me was just the feeling of how much he respects his characters (he said he wants his characters to love him so much that he becomes them), his worlds, and his fans - ultimately I think it's because of this attitude that he gets away with being dark and destroying the things his fans love, his fans forgive him in the end because there's a greater purpose to it and there's a trust there that he doesn't take them for granted, and indeed, that he knows what he's doing.

So thanks to Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman, I'm feeling much better about this self-imposed torture known as writing again, even though I know I'll probably never be even a fraction as successful as they are. A girl can dream right? And let's face it, when you're stuck in this banal cycle of routine that is my life right now, dreams are all I have.

Oh and I finally bought my plane ticket to Melbourne - now I just need to get time off....yes, I know, I'm doing it all backwards, whatever. I'm going to Aussiecon and work can't stop me.

One last thing, I've recently rediscovered my Tumblr. If it seems like I'm neglecting things here, it's merely cause I don't have time and I'm wasting what little I have re-blogging nonsense over there.

Music: Data, Data, Data - Hans Zimmer
Mood: Could do with some tea actually

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