31 January 2006

the great escapism

all writers live somewhat vicariously through their writing. it's an easy thing to fall into. after all, when you're writing, you can perfectly script each part of the lives you are constructing, each facet of their experience and you can give it meaning. most people i know are pretty far from achieving that in their everyday life. most people i know spend a lot of time obsessing over parts of their lives that they want to change, but can't figure out how to change. i struggle with road blocks in writing, too, but the difference is that i know i can figure them out. i'm never so sure when it comes to life off the page. however, even if you want to dedicate as much of yourself to writing as possible, there must come a point where you have too much of a good thing. so exactly when does creativity become pathological?

i have substantial relationships with the people whose lives i've created. more substantial, for instance, than my relationships with people i talk to every day. (for all concerned, this is probably a good thing.) i won't even bother asking if that's "normal", because that's always been a term that annoyed me to no end, with its implication that it was somehow desirable to be in a state where one has achieved a similarity with the largest number of people. but i will ask if it is healthy, even from an artistic standpoint. after all, how am i going to be able to write meaningful things about real people if most of the people in my life are imaginary?

in defense of this sort of behaviour, i would like to point out that 1. i am still very conscious of the fact that the people who occupy my life are not real, as opposed to some of the people i see wandering around who have crossed that important boundary and; 2. i firmly believe that if you think about characters as having a life beyond the events written about in the stories they populate, it becomes a lot easier to write them. after all, you know what's motivating them, even if the reader doesn't (and will never find out).

my main concern, however, is not so much that these fits of introverted bliss will retard my future ability to write cogently and realistically, but with the havoc they might wreak on the state of the rest of my life. after all, if i'm spending all of my time with people who don't exist, doesn't it point to some problems dealing with the things in my life that do exist? any psychologist would probably tell you that it does. then again, psychologists exist to make people believe that they're not handling the real world very well and to listen to you when you get to the point where you believe them.

fact is, the time that i spend thinking about writing is more real to me than the staff meetings i have to attend on a regular basis with flesh and blood people, more meaningful than eighty percent of the conversations i have every day and more lasting than most of the incidental relationships i have in my life. most of the people i know are so obsessed with what they do for a living that it manages to permeate every aspect of every conversation they carry on. and when they're done talking, they fall asleep and dream about it. the ironic thing is that most of what they tell me is about how much they hate where they are. so if i spend more time thinking about my imaginary friends and less time thinking about the sad details that drive everyone else crazy, i think my outlook is pretty healthy.

25 January 2006

raise a glass


it's robbie burns day. the day to remember scotland's (questionably) great bard and honour his legacy with a meal of haggis and a wee dram of scotch.

once you've had your dinner (and, more importantly, your scotch), read this out loud, phoenetically (excerpted from the man's "address to a haggis". he was talking to the food, so it stands to reason he was wasted. so honour him well.):


Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

24 January 2006

silencing your outer critic

a few months ago, i did something my younger self would have considered powerfully lame. i found a quote on line that seemed to sum up the greatest dangers to me as a writer- namely, the danger that i will cower in fear for the rest of my life and not accomplish anything- and i printed out and stuck it to the wall next to my desk. it’s a sort of inspirational cudgel, urging me to overcome my insecurities because the alternative is more frightening.

among other things, it reminds me of the dangers of giving into the power of what most creative people refer to as their “inner critic”, that annoying voice in your head (yeah, i know i’m imagining it) that tells you that you aren’t good enough, that you don’t have what it takes, that you aren’t accomplishing anything by sitting around writing things for your blog... you know the voice. the inner critic is a nasty bastard and it’s a real battle keeping him/ her/ it down.

in recent years, i’ve come a long way towards finding ways to avoid those criticisms. there are lots of tricks and if you play around, you’ll find one that works for you. my trick is that i actually argue back, to question my inner critic on every bad thought its voice puts in my head. i don’t have the talent for this? why do you think that? give me examples and they' better be beyond question. eventually, the inner critic gives up and goes away. (this process also gives me a hint as to why other people have described me as aggressive or argumentative. i can even argue myself into walking out of the proverbial room.)

what i haven’t managed to find is the equivalent process for dealing with it when the voice you’re hearing really does belong to somebody else. my inner critic i’ve learned to defeat. it’s my outer critic i’m struggling with. after all, is it really more destructive to think things that undermine your self-confidence when you know it’s just your own insecurities than it is to hear an independent, free-thinking person tear up something you’ve put your best efforts into?

don’t get me wrong, i’ve had lots of criticism that i took fairly well: constructive criticism. i try to give the same. (i’ve failed a couple of times in this regard, but i’m generally pretty consistent.) if someone wants to give me an idea of something that would work better and explain why , this helps rather than hurts. what i’m objecting to here is the sort of broad, unexplained criticisms that will tend to chip away at the self-confidence you build up. your inner qualms you can put to rest as just so much insecurity, but there is the perception that words that come out of the mouth of another person are automatically imbued with some gravity. if someone said this, there must be some validity to it.

the worst criticism i’ve had directed at me actually came from someone who hadn’t ever read anything i’d written. he just made an off-the-cuff comment that because i hadn’t been published, it meant that i wasn’t really a writer. that comment haunts me still, (although i did manage to get one thing published) because of its equation of existence and published material. what i do has no merit unless people can purchase it. i wish i could argue that point, but the moment passed several years ago. i believe at the time i just sat in hurt silence, wishing i was dead and feeling like i wasn’t that far off it. it’s bad enough when i think things like that about myself without promptinh. it’s a hundred times worse to have someone else say it. once it’s out there, it’s a lot harder to dismiss.

i’m not ever going to be able to rid myself of the outer critics, i realise. people will say things either maliciously or ignorantly and the only way to deal with it is apparently to develop a thicker skin. (i’m hoping i can buy a recipe for this on ebay.) it’s funny, because i’ve read so much about trying to conquer your own personal demons, but i have yet to hear someone come up with a really viable method of dismissing the noise you get from others. it tends to mask the damage that they can do.

until i do find that recipe for thicker skin on ebay, i figure i don't have much of a choice. what can you do to avoid harsh words except hide in the house and not talk to anyone? currently, the plan is just to be as diplomatic as possible when asked for an opinion by others and hope that they return the favour.

ten reasons why it's ok to be happy about the election

hate the idea that we just elected a right wing government whose leader supported the american war in iraq? angry that no one seems to have the seats to control what's going to happen? confused? afraid? need a hug?

ok, i can't help with the hug, but, for once in my life, i woke up the morning after an election not feeling like i'd been beaten with something. there are a surprising number of things people should feel happy about in this election (and this is coming from someone who finds the new government a wee bit creepy).

1. the ndp are back- the country's most left-wing party to win seats in parliament won more than they had in the previous four elections and came close to winning a number of others. anyone who thinks that the election results indicate that canada is shifting to the right isn't looking at the numbers very carefully.

2. you have to play nice with the other kids- the wonderful thing about minority parliaments is that they force politicians to work together. and a policy patchwork of elements from all the parties would be an accurate reflection of what canadians voted for. think we'd be better off with a more limited choice of parties, only ones that have a real shot at winning government? look to the south of us. feel better now?

3. the scare tactics didn't work- the liberals' cynical return to the strategy of making voters scared of stephen harper's conservatives (who would admittedly be scary if given unfettered power, see point #2, above) and of telling people that they were wasting their vote if they went ndp, was a failure. if that's the best argument they can make to stay in power, they deserved to lose.

4. people care- it's still not great, but voter turnout was close to 65%, which is a lot better than last time, when it was just under 61%. we're moving in the right direction.

5. there seems to be a country again- the conservatives won seats in every province except prince edward island, ending years of parliaments marked by deep geographical divisions and ultimately controlled by the seats in vote-rich ontario. every party still has their areas of strength, but the lesson seems clear: parties that want to run the country are going to need a presence from the whole country. now they just have to work on that urban-rural split that seems to be developing.

6. every vote does count- for once, the voters in british columbia weren't tuning in to find out that the results were already a forgone conclusion. their seats were crucial in determining the strength of the various parties.

7. we aren't getting divorced- although they won two thirds of the seats in the province, the separatist bloc quebecois got a sharp wake-up call. they had made a point of saying that they were aiming to win more than 50% of the popular vote, thus raising some serious questions about the status of quebec in canada and possibly moving things in the direction of a third referendum. the resurgence of the conservatives at the last minute confirmed what many of us had already figured out: that bq support was not coming exclusively from separatists. a lot of votes that have gone to the bq in previous elections came from people who just couldn't stomach voting for the liberals. all in all, the bq ended up with 42% of the popular vote in quebec, not exactly "winning conditions" for a sovreigntist referendum.

8. but the divorce lawyers aren't as bad as you might think- the bloc quebecois won 51 seats. politics in quebec has a deservedly bad name. for some reason, corruption seems to spread like the proverbial pandemic there, in my lifetime infecting the liberals, then the conservatives, then the liberals again. the bloc quebecois, having no pretensions to power or access to public money, seem happily immune to this. they have a smart man as their leader, a lot of their policies are progressive and after more than fifteen years in the house, they seem to take their jobs surprisingly seriously. quebec could do (and has done) a lot worse.

9. sarmite bulte, the "entertainment industry" mp who was the subject of a sustained campaign aimed at exposing the hypocrisy and self-interest of her attempts to rewrite canadian copyright laws, was defeated by new democrat peggy nash. the system works.

10. after reaching a nadir in the year 2000, it appears that youth engagement in the electoral process is recovering. the parties that increased their seat count- the conservatives and the new democrats- were the ones who showed a particular savvy for new technologies (yeah, the blogs) to which young voters can relate. the liberals, who showed themselves to be powerfully out of touch, failed to capitalise on this neglected population segment. paul martin, the latest in a string of liberal leaders perceived to be past their best before date, has now stepped aside, clearing the way for a more relevant person to take up the reins of canada's "natural governing party". i would say the times are a-changin', but that would seem dated.

22 January 2006

i want to pinch

i don't know exactly why, but this ad is hilarious. warning: you will be speaking in the voice of the crab for days after seeing this.

21 January 2006

nag nag nag

if you're in canada, you should be aware that there is a federal election that is happening on monday. unlike a lot of elections, this is one where the outcome is unsure, which makes it all the more important that people who would be inclined to sit at home and ignore what's happening to get out and figure out which candidate, if any, they support.

there are lots of ways you can make this decision. you can vote because you like the platform of a particular party. you can vote for a particular candidate because you think they are a well-informed, principled person (having those around is a good thing, no matter what party they come from). you can even make a point of spoiling your ballot (as long as you don't eat it, because that's illegal), if you feel that you've studied the parties and their candidates and really cannot find a decent one among them to support.

the important thing is to participate. because the easiest way for politics to become/ continue being corrupt and unfair is for the people to stay asleep and refuse to hold them to account.

in fact, voting should not be the only participation people have in their democracy. things as simple as making an effort to inform ourselves on issues, publicly question and take action against decisions we feel are wrong and support decisions we feel are right- those efforts are, in fact, more important. but the fact is that voting does change things, particularly when there are as many closesly contested races as there are in this election.

a word about strategic voting, while i'm at it: voting for one party or candidate you don't like or know nothing about because you dislike or fear the alternative is a really bad idea. it is a long-standing tool of those in power to maintain their position by keeping people afraid that anyone else is going to sell the country to foreigners, let terrorists blow us all up, or turn the country into a fascist dictatorship. you want to know what happens when people vote because they are made to feel afraid? look to the south of us.

vote for someone because you feel they are good or their party is good, even if they aren't going to win. because it's better to vote for what you want than to try to choose between devils.

information on how to vote is available through elections canada and riding by riding candidate profiles, as well as a lot of other information on the election is available through the cbc.

still convinced that your vote is meaningless? why not use the election as an excuse to campaign for electoral reform, so that people don't have to feel that their votes are wasted just because they don't support the winning candidate?

here endeth the nag.

19 January 2006

happy birthday in a morose kind of way...


...to edgar allan poe, always in our thoughts and on my bookshelf. (i have him stuffed, complete with black cat and raven.)

17 January 2006

politicaliterature

politics has been a thing with me for almost as long as writing. when i was seven, i literally dealt with conservative crap, as i helped out on a candidate's bid for office by cleaning the toilets in the campaign office. to me, politics was interesting (aside from the toilets). it was really exciting to be allowed to stay up late to watch voter returns coming in. i'm not joking. such are the dangers for a child raised in a hyper-literate family of journalists and political observers.

you'd think that given my interest in both politics and writing, that i might enjoy books that combine these two elements. unfortunately, most political writing leaves me dry.

first of all, most writers who choose politics as a subject are political junkies above all. the writing is just a way to exercise their real passion. there are a lot of novels focused on the world of political intrigue, many of them far more popular than anything i write will ever be, and the ones that i've read are almost uniformly awful. they tend to be books written for other people who get high on politics. to me, if that's what i want, i'd rather have the real thing. (in fact, the only modern-era book on politics that i can think of that i really enjoyed was the "we'll call it fiction so i don't get my ass sued off" primary colours. and even that was outclassed in most respects by the underrated movie mike nichols made of it.)

second of all, even for books that i will acknowledge have great literary merit (george orwell), it's really difficult to actually write about politics without sounding as if you're lecturing someone. novel-writing puts the author in the special position of being able to perfect a political message and deliver it without possibility of interruption or debate. if you're talking politics over the course of a three hundred page book, you are eventually going to sound like that guy at the dinner party who drank too much and who doesn't know when to shut up. ok george, we get it, you're disillusioned with socialism. can we please change the topic? how about those red sox?

at best, i find writing about politics comes out as good reportage. as passionate as people are about political beliefs and as undeniably dramatic as political contests can get, these stories seem to lose something when they're translated into a fictional setting. perhaps it's because the appeal and tension of political drama stems from the belief that it is real (although pretty heavily stage managed) and that there is no one person (we hope) who is dictating the eventual outcome. perhaps it's because the human resonance that great writing has seems more and more at odds with the way politics works.

so as much as i'd like to think that the hours i've been putting into following the increasingly dramatic canadian election campaign will somehow inspire me to write something marvelous, i have the distinct feeling that after january twenty-third, i'm just going to feel like i've fallen a lot farther behind on projects that should have had my full attention. oh well, at least i'm not cleaning the toilets any more.

16 January 2006

my personal ad


wanted: date for this saturday in los angeles. must have good ear plugs and good sense of humour. not startled by loud noises. not generally afraid of rampaging machines heading in your general direction. not afraid of women with really, really bizarre tastes in entertainment. must consider intensive care unit a decent end to the evening.

14 January 2006

but is it art?


music review::dean gray- american edit

i thought of posting this one earlier, like, say, when everyone including mtv was talking about this project, but i decided to wait, because i didn’t want to talk about it in order to build its hype, i wanted to actually review it as music (as opposed to a media event).

first of all, if you don’t know about dean gray go here before reading on.

as a listener, i’ve always considered mash-ups a technically charming art form, but not much else. the magic of the mash-up is twofold; 1. you feel clever when you’re able to name all the sound sources and 2. it is the epitome of pop music. think about it: the perfect pop song is one that makes you think you’ve heard it before. mash-ups are entirely made up of music you HAVE heard before and, as in this case, usually the most recognisable parts of it. (if you don’t believe me, ask madonna. her latest single is anchored on a repetitive sample of an abba song embedded in the popular conscious decades ago.)

as pop music, this is untouchable. even if your acquaintance with pop is incidental (as mine is), you can sing along with almost the whole album. it’s reader’s digest for music. it even has a pretty wide scope (as far as pop music goes), incorporating everything from aerosmith to dr. who to kanye west. which only underlines it’s uber-pop status- trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible.

like the catchiest (and, hence, most memorable) pop music, american edit is ebullient. it’s almost impossible not to bounce in time with it as it chortles along, bringing you all the music that got stuck in your head as you scanned the radio looking for something you actually liked.

unlike other pop music, though, the mash-up is all about the construction. if you don’t know this already, let me break something to you: all pop music is constructed. i don’t just mean that someone writes it, that’s a given. i mean that someone actually concentrates on making it accessible and catchy, so that you’ll remember it, even if it annoys the hell out of you. mash-ups call your attention to how they are constructed and to why the music in them sticks in your head. this could be intended to make the listener think about more carefully about the music they listen to. (more likely, i analyse things too much and it’s intended only to show off the producers’ considerable talents and, with luck, land them a contract, as a similar mash-up did for dj danger mouse.)

the problem with mash-ups is that they tend to lose your interest once the curiosity value wears off (two and a half listens for the average person). and in that respect, american edit, although a stellar example of the form, isn’t really any different. listening to an entire album of this is kind of like eating a bag of cotton candy. it’s kind of cool at first, but you overload pretty quickly. although as far as top forty goes, green day probably provide as good a backbone as you're going to find, a lot of the other source material grates on my nerves (if i go the rest of my life without hearing the eagles, i’ll be happy in hell). this limits my ability to listen to it repeatedly. in an ironic twist, by jumbling up the music of “mainstream” american idiot with a lot of other stuff, the “underground” producers gut the album of its political content (making it even more ideal as pop music).

you may notice that i’ve spent far more time in this review talking about the form of the music than the substance. there’s a reason for this: as music that will stand the test of time, this doesn’t have what it takes. which only goes to cement its position as the greatest pop album ever.

13 January 2006

stop me if you've heard this one before...

i'm beginning to think that the liberal party of canada is taking competitiveness to a new extreme. just when they finally had their chief opponents caught in a bit of a scandal, they manage to do one better. the conservatives dumped a candidate who's up on smuggling charges earlier this week, but now the liberals have dumped a candidate of their own, because he tried to interfere in the election by offering his new democratic opponent a job if he would quit the race and support the liberals. it's like they were afraid that the tories had taken the spotlight off them with their scandal and felt compelled to regain their title as the campaign's leading arse-heads.

sometimes, when a party is down, it seems like they really can't do anything to get back up. everything they try just makes it worse. the conservative party in 1993 was like that, culminating in their boneheaded attempt to convince canadians that, regardless of policies, they shouldn't vote for the liberals because their leader's face was partially paralysed (how i wish i was making that up). now you have the liberals, whose chief reason for wanting to ban handguns is probably because it might stop them from shooting themselves in the foot. every day, something seems to surface that makes you wonder exactly how they've managed to run the government at a surplus. next thing you know, you'll be hearing about them running pointless, negative ads with highly dubious information... oh, wait... they did.

how in the world did they think that wouldn't come back to haunt them?

this all strikes me as more funny than sad, only because i still believe that neither one of them is going to be handed absolute power by the electorate (i.e., a majority government). so at least when one of them is given the driver's seat, someone else is going to be holding the map.

10 January 2006

too much information

writers are often advised to write what they know. there’s a good reason for that: if you write about what’s famailiar, even if it’s a detail buried completely out of context, your connection to the material comes through, something that readers can usually spot (even if they’re unaware of it) and relate to. however strange the setting, from whatever far reaches of the imagination your characters are drawn, if it’s done properly, the reader will identify with the real.

while i never had a problem inserting incidental elements of things that happened to me or that happened to other people i know into a story, i had until the last couple of years avoided putting anything beyond an incidental mention because, like most people, i had subconsciously never thought of what happened in my life as being tale-worthy.

i won’t say the pendulum has entirely swung in the other direction, but at this point pretty much everything i write has at least some moments that are based not just on a belief or an idea i can relate to, but on an honest, factual series of events.

not all of these things are directly from my experience, though. a lot of the time, i just like to include things that people tell me, because they’re stories that stick with me and i think that they deserve to be told, or because i will hear something that perfectly illustrates a theme that i have already waiting. rarely, these are things i get from strangers- something overheard on the bus, something i find mentioned on the internet, something i hear third or fouth hand. but a lot of times, the stories i appropriate don’t come from strangers, they come from the people who are closest to me in the world. and that may be a problem.

if someone took things that i told them and put them out there, in the world, out of context for other people to look at and judge, i’d be mortified. i apparently don’t have these qualms about doing the same to other people and, what’s worse, some of the things that end up in what i write, while they’re always in service of the story, are pretty much naked of disguise for those who know anything about the individuals involved. so at what point does appropriation become too much information? at what point am i obliged to ask permission, or, in the case of more sensitive details, find something else that works in the story?

i’ve included some pretty personal details of things that have happened to me in my writing, which is fine, because i can handle the exposure, but what if those events weren’t things that happened when i was by myself? if i’m telling a story about something that happened to me and my mother while we were on vacation, it isn’t only my story to tell, but hers. does that give others the right to censor what we write because it’s uncomfortable for them? or if they make the acquaintance of a writer, does that make them fair game? (i’m picturing my life where all of my friends refuse to speak to me about anything except the weather.)

none of this would bother me if i didn’t think i’d have a problem with someone doing the same to me. as it is, i’m haunted by the idea that i’ll be able to find a publisher for a first novel and at my book launch, someone who trusted me will walk up and punch me in the face. it could happen.

07 January 2006

first chance to see


no democracy was ever hurt by having more voices included in it. regardless of whether or not you agree with their politics, the green party of canada has shown that they have a substantial and growing base and there is no reason they should be excluded from the remaining debates scheduled for monday and tuesday.

please take a moment and sign their petition to have them included in the remaining debates.

thanks.

06 January 2006

they now officially have my attention


the academy of motion picture arts and sciences, ever eager to try to prove that they're not a bunch of out of touch millionaires who have no clue what's going on outside los angeles, have managed to show that they're a bunch of out of touch millionaires who occasionally find out what the world outside los angeles is doing, by signing jon stewart to host their annual love-in, aka, the academy awards.

honestly, there was a fair likelihood i was going to watch anyway, since i feel that this year has had a better share than most of decent films (although i'm deeply disturbed that jarhead hasn't been receiving nearly the award buzz it deserves), but now it's a definite. i have a certain amount of trepidation about this, because i hated seeing the "chris rock lite" on last year's show, but i have my fingers crossed that jon will find a way to shine through.

i don't make a secret of how much i admire stewart, and i admire him for a lot of reasons, not just because we're politically synchronous (although it helps). strangely, the first few times i saw the daily show, i hated it, but, like mold, it grew on me and now i rarely miss an episode. i think the change came upon the realisation that, rather than just making the same standard-issue political jokes at the expense of both parties, this show actually pays attention to what's going on. here are a few more reasons he's on my noteworthy list:

1. he doesn't play partisan politics, and slams the democrats as hard as the republicans (because they deserve it).

2. columbia university ranked him 4th out of 20 on their list of the best reportage on the election and 69% of americans polled identified him as the newscaster they most trust... and, technically, he doesn't host a news program.

3. he is the only person ever to be justified in the using the word "dick" in broadcast media. (ok, ignore the dick comment and just listen to what he's saying about media in america. brilliant simplicity.)

4. he says that he doesn't want david letterman's job (despite persistent rumours that he's next in line for it) because cbs wouldn't give him the creative freedom he has on the daily show (here's hoping that continues).

5. in a year and a half of watching his show, i have only ever heard him mention his wife to say that he loves her. smart, funny, respectful to the wife... ain't no woman in the world can resist that trifecta.

03 January 2006

fish or cut bait

writing is something i've done my entire life. well, excluding those first few years when i was still learning to work the pencil. i remember when i was five years old, i wrote my first short story, about a horse named chestnut and his life on the farm. it wouldn't win me a pulitzer, but it gave me an early start at the one thing that i’ve consistently loved.
 
and i continued. i was always writing something, vainly trying to start books, or short stories that weren't very short after all, or just little vignettes, for which i planned to find a home, eventually. there were long periods where i wrote very little (and nothing of consequence) and there were periods where i seemed incapable of writing or typing fast enough to get everything in my head out before it disappeared.
 
the last year, or more specifically, the last seven or eight months (since i finally took a stand and left the job that ate my life) have been good to me creativity-wise. i've completed a number of stories and even the first draft of a short novel. and, although when i was younger and more frivolous, i used to be content to wait for the muse to visit, it is true that the more you write, the more creative you get. i no longer have to go through long periods where i have no ideas, because i just start writing and eventually my brain will catch on that it needs to get busy.
 
all this creative bounty is not without its drawbacks. before, when i wouldn't write for a few days, it was no big deal. i didn't have to write every day, because i had my whole life to write and besides, if i wasn't feeling the creative urge it meant that i wasn't supposed to be writing. (it's the kind of excuse that works when you're 23 and looking for a reason to go out dancing instead of staying at home typing.) now, if i can't write for a few days, i get myself so worked up that i seem like an extra from one flew over the cuckoo's nest. it's something i'm still learning to deal with.
 
in the last week, however, i've run into a different problem. i have an idea that i've been working on, something that really sings in my head. i've even got a working outline, which normally helps me speed through any project (taking a drive is nice, but you get to your destination faster with a map). the problem is, what's coming out of me is crap. when i think about this story, i really like it, but when i see how it comes out on paper (paper being an olden days eupemism for a computer screen), it's depressing. i'm expecting a glass of bollinger and receiving a drink of ginger ale that's been sitting on the kitchen counter overnight.
 
when i was younger, i would have either got bored and abandoned the project or simply finished it and let it be bad. at the age i am now, i'm both less willing to give up on things when they're not working and less willing to accept things that fall below my standards (talk about your lousy confluence of circumstances).

so now i have to figure out what to do with the story as it exists. is it better to forge ahead and run the risk that i waste more of my time on something that isn't coming out right, or do i push it aside on the hope that inspiration might return, but knowing full well that i may be giving it up forever?
 
at this point, i'm doing the latter more or less by default, not merely because i have no idea how to salvage what i've started, but also because i've become afraid to look this story in the face. like most of you, i don't like being reminded of it when i'm not good at things. i like it even less when it's something i'm actually supposed to be good at. this is no longer just a story or writing project. this is now something that crystallises all of my deepest fears. every time i look on my computer, in the writing folder, there it is, waiting for me to open it so that i can see that, whatever i may like to think, there are times when i can't make things work (even things that seem great in my head). it’s crying to me that it should be better, that it deserves to be better and that, in the hands of a more skilled writer, it would be better.

i have dealt with writer’s block before. i have dealt with stories that haven’t turned out the way i wanted before. hell, i dealt with having movers lose everything i had ever written before 1996. i have never lived in fear of my writing. perhaps it’s because i find the ending a little weak. perhaps it’s because i have certain scenes sketched out very well in my mind and i’m relying on the others to fill themselves in. if i could figure out what was causing the problem, i wouldn’t have a problem to worry about.
 
i know i'll have to go back to it at some point. i know that i'll have to face my fears, but for today, i'm going to have to content myself with cowering and editing things that i've already written.
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