3 Things that are Going On: a Mid-Month Update

So far, my decision to keep this blog updated and refreshed with “content” has seemed to be a good one. I’ve more or less held to my schedule (despite having not posted at all last week) and I have made some decent progress on a few projects.

So what’s going on?

  1. I am frustratingly close to the end of my novel’s first draft. The last chapter, it seems, is the most difficult to write. I suppose that’s what happens when you get to the end of your outline and realize that the ending you had in mind is, well, lame. So it goes. I’ve got the thing figured out and am confident that the changes I’m making are to the benefit of the larger work. That said, once I’ve squeezed the conclusion of the first draft out of my brain, I’ll have to begin revising so that it will make sense to anyone but myself. I think it was Stephen King who said that first drafts are never to be read by anyone but the author. If it was, he was right on.
  2. I’m playing around with writing more nonfiction. Essays, reviews, that sort of thing. It’s not something I generally do a lot of (outside of school, that is) and a blog feels like the right platform for that sort of thing. Just an occasionally examination of whatever is on my mind at the time. It’s fun and, if nothing else, it will keep me in the habit of exercising my writing muscles.
  3. Lastly, and not really writing related, I’m trying to quitting smoking. barely 24 hours have elapsed since my last cigarette but I’m already noticing some changes. First of all, I don’t have cigarettes breaks to distract me away from writing. Just last night, instead of sitting on the back porch and chain-smoking until 1am, I wrote a solid 1300 words or so of my novel. It hadn’t occurred to me how much as I’d been leaning on cigarettes as a means of procrastination! Second, I got a decent night’s sleep and woke up before my wife. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I’ll take it. Third, and most noticeable, I didn’t start the day by hacking a huge blob of phlegm into the bathroom sink. Sure it’s gross, so is smoking though.

In conclusion, I’m writing stuff. Be safe out there kids and be nice.

Storytelling is Magic

The impulse to create, to manifest the imagination into reality, has been with humans for a long time. Back when our ancestors were kicking around in the tall grass – and a good day meant not being eaten by a dinosaur – we felt the urge. It bubbled up from some hidden place and compelled us to make charcoal drawings on stone walls; conjure up the spirits of man and beast. Crude stone and wood fetishes held the power of long-forgotten animist gods. As we created, as we told our stories, we practiced a sort of magic. Forward now by 100,000 years or so and we haven’t changed all that much.

Communal fires might have been replaced with the magic glow of handheld electric rectangles, but the principle is the same. We gather round the light and search for entertainment, understanding, and connection. But instead of the mysterious tales of our tribal ancestors, we have the entirety of humanity’s record.

Difference is, in days old every storyteller held a captive audience. Where were their listeners to go? Bored of a story they had heard before, there was no portable storytelling machine tucked into their loincloth. The only option they had was to leave the safety of the fire or club the storyteller to death. Likely, those recounting the ancient stories learned quick the magic of what to embellish and what to omit. As they* say, “adapt or die.”

So now, here, in the distant mysterious future world of the twenty-first century, we mash and slide our thumbs against little pieces of glass. Each of us a storyteller now, we shout over the roar of the worldwide firepit, hoping beyond that what we’ve got to say is worth hearing.

But maybe not.

Maybe that person, scraping a hunk of charred wood against the rock, was just doing it because they enjoyed it. Maybe they carved their figures and tucked them away, secret and apart from the judgement of the tribe. Perhaps the need to entertain came later. Or perhaps they hid their work away for fear of being accused of some dark art. Surely the first among humans to witness the creation of art thought they were witnessing something magical.

Maybe they were.

We continue, in the ancient tradition, and pour all that we are into the work of manifesting our imaginations. Poured out, what we create hits the world ocean of ideas like a lone drop of water. Trick is, for me at least, is to let that drop go. Let it dissipate into the vastness and not worry about whether or not anyone ever swims in it.

*the mysterious, elusive, universal “they”