…when we practice to deceive. I had a teacher once who used to exclaim that anytime someone in class tried to offload a bunch of bullshit. And while writing a story isn’t exactly the same thing, it’s very close. If you’re trying to do too much at the start of the thing – interweave too many plots, take on too much science, work a myth too hard – the outcome is much the same. And right now, gentle people, I’m fucking mired.
You see that velvet Frazetta rip-off to your left? Well, that’s what I feel like right now: a cheese-up of all the right elements with none of the original genius. In fact, I feel like those subhumans summiting the velvety peak are my plot lines and character bits coming back to get me. Now, I could wrap things up by going to the old bag of tricks and plastering them over holes like scraps of duct tape until it all holds together, but frankly I’d rather chew off my own bollocks. It must remain as organic as possible if the tone is going to work. If I have to overly contrive something, bonsai a plot or two to get my characters where they need to be, or invite some deity into the machine, it must have resonance and stand alone as an iconic piece of creative chicanery. If I have to do a little soft shoe to get out of any expository dialog holes it must at least dazzle a bit before I come into the crowd, puppy-eyed, hat in hand.
I’ve spent the better part of three months on this script, and three years before that slowly pulling it together. I will tell you right now that that is way too long to devote to any project that won’t fly to the moon or cure a disease. The reason being, it gives you plenty of time to add clay until you’ve gone from a finely sculpted concept to a big, clay thing with odd bits of ideas so jammed into it that it looks like one of those crappy cupcakes from one of those crappy birthday parties where the parents thought “more” meant “love”; it doesn’t suck exactly, but the effect is so numbing and ultimately unappetizing that you just don’t want to bite into it.
I haven’t given up, and I won’t. In fact, a lot of my frustration is probably due to the fact that I’m far too close to it. And perhaps trying to polish every beat until it gleams with brilliance is not only impossible, but highly unnecessary. Maybe I need to relax and let a moment of dialog take center stage in order to spice up what might be construed as one of your more well-worn, but more than serviceable twists. As a reader, there are plenty of times where we prefer some narrative momentum to show-stopping, mind-blowing creativity, especially towards the end of a story, which is where I sort of am right now. And as long as the ending satisfies the investment that has been asked of us, we tend to appreciate the work as a whole – maybe even go back and revisit those moments where it felt the most fresh and original.
Well, I feel anything but fresh and original at the moment. But somehow I’m getting through it and I can only hope that it makes a sort of easy sense that still requires one to do some work, although not too much work that it becomes too much like work, does that work for you?
My deadline is Friday.