Exploration and Experimentation… or the writer as mad scientist

I don’t know if it makes me a good (read: dedicated) writer or just a bad student, but I tend to spend most of my time at work writing page after page of story rather than paying attention to my trainer. Though it’s all by hand so the going is slow, I finally finished the first chunk of story last week. Amazed that it was so short, I figured that I’d have to go back and throw in more details just to make the images more clear since I’m writing about things that people wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t normally see. (Honestly, how else does one write about the afterlife except by making it up?) So details are a must and I’m notorious for not putting enough in thinking that everyone can see exactly what I see when I’ve got a scene laid out on the page.

Imagine my surprise tonight when I looked back at the scenes in my head as I had written them out only to realize that the parts I’d originally intended to put in weren’t there. Not even a trace of them. This story is going to fight me, I already know it, but that doesn’t stop me. It’s just like a really stubborn video game stuck on hard mode. The story is worthwhile, the characters interesting for me to explore and the world is something that will take care to build and explore. It’s a challenge I look forward to finishing.

I can’t speak for other writers. I’m not them. But when presented with the opportunity to experiment with how I’ve written something, I sort of grin inside and enjoy the challenges presented to me. It’s like playing a game where there is no walkthrough or FAQ up to help you through it, so you’re exploring it on your own bit by bit and seeing how everything works. In a way, I miss when that was the norm, when it was talking to other people who shared your enthusiasm for that particular story and seeing how they handle it because they play differently from you and seeing if something that they do will work for you.

It’s truly… open-ended.

I am an Elder Scrolls fan. Readily admitted, though I haven’t had the chance to play Skyrim yet. I want to. I’ve also played both the first and second Deus Ex games. I fell in love with playing Morrowind and the first Deus Ex game simply because I could explore for hours upon hours and redo areas over and over again figuring out how best to do them for my unique play style. There was no “overall best” way to play when I played them, just the game, just a world to explore and figure out. Characters to tweak and re-tweak and play. Can’t play this area with this skill that low? Go someplace else and level it or figure out a way around that difficulty. And nobody told me how best to go about it, so it was frustrating but so very satisfying when I finally did succeed. What I miss about those games was the exploration and how organic the worlds felt. Despite the graphic not being anywhere near as realistic as current games, I felt like those worlds were a bit more real and enjoyable than the ones created now. It’s almost like the developers stopped caring about the story itself to a degree and focus more on the flash and pomp, though that isn’t to say that there isn’t a market for that. It’s just that I care more about the story and the motivation for going about doing one thing or another. But I’ve dragged this comparison out for too long. Suffice to say I enjoyed (still enjoy) the open-endedness I had in those games and treasure the hours upon hours spent exploring and experimenting.

Now, I’m sort of applying that to my writing. I have a scene, or even a set of scenes. I have what led up to them though that isn’t displayed to anyone but me, not even in the text itself. Now I’ve the time to go back and experiment, to make this scene work the best it can for me. Because at the moment, even if inspiration is derived from without, I’m not writing for anyone else – just me. Then again, for this piece, I suppose inspiration is only partially from without, mostly from within. Odd little thing that inspiration…

Anyway, back to work with me. *grin* Take care.


Opening the Halls of Editing and What She Found There

The creator of Garfield had it right – Mondays typically suck. You get up early with less than enough sleep attained; rush to get ready for a job that in all likelihood you hate; work said job and hope that you don’t explode, kill someone, or fall asleep; and only after you get home, exhausted from doing something essentially mind-numbing all day, do you start to feel awake… just in time to go to bed so you can wake up early for Tuesday.

It was only after nearly falling asleep at my workstation today, alongside several other classmates who were struggling against the same compulsion as our teacher droned on about the same material we’d covered a dozen or more times before… it was only after nodding off in a way reminiscent of the strange sensation of physically falling when meditating (another story, I assure you) that I came to realize that I had nothing to show for today. Most days when I’m working/sitting through class/trying hard to stay conscious, I’m scribbling away whenever possible either writing out more story or doodling in my sketchbook.

It keeps my hands busy and my mind becomes able to focus a bit better somehow. I don’t understand how that works since for some odd reason I can’t focus on two conversations directed at me at once yet here I am able to focus on the conversation going on inside my head with all the detail and clarity hitting the page while at the same time listening and comprehending what is being said around me. Nope, makes no sense at all.

So as for my not getting anything of note done for the day, after I arrived home and settled down, I started looking through some of my stories in my editing folder.


I really need to do that a bit more often. I tend to forget just what all I have in that thing. They need TLC, of course, but I keep forgetting I even have that stuff. And rereading it, it sort of makes me a little proud of myself because some of them are actually halfway decent. So… off I go to make some more to put in there and continue to ignore. One day, when I’m bored out of my mind, I’ll go through them all and question my sanity… as if I don’t already do that on a regular basis. Hehe… *walks away with a conspiratorial twitch*

September curled her fists. She tried very hard not to cry.

“Green! Stop it! I just want to know–”

“One! Because you were born in–”

“If I am special,” finished September, halfway between a whisper and a squeak. “In stories, when someone appears in a poof of green clouds and asks a girl to go away on an adventure, it’s because she’s special, because she’s smart and strong and can solve riddles and fight with swords and give really good speeches, and . . . I don’t know that I’m any of those things. I don’t even know that I’m as ill-tempered as all that. I’m not dull or anything, I know about geography and chess, and I can fix the boiler when my mother has to work. But what I mean to say is: Maybe you meant to go to another girl’s house and let her ride ont he Leopard Maybe you didn’t mean to choose me at all, because I’m not like storybook girls. I’m short and my father ran away with the army and I wouldn’t even be able to keep a dog from eating a bird.”

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Because sometimes, just sometimes, while reading a passage in a book, the words resonate so deeply with what you feel that you have to stop. I read this at work today during my lunch break and had to stop. My breath came out as a slight sigh and my thoughts for the rest of the day were daydreams I’d tried very hard to suppress.


Writing to Heal or Healing to Write?

Even though it’s been a few months since the “mascara hit the fan” as my mother so oddly puts it, it’s only in the last few days that I finally feel as though I’m healing. Yes, my days feel more empty if not outright hollow, and yes, I miss the Stray terribly, thoughts and memories and dreams often floating to the surface of my mind. But the thing is, I’m not entirely miserable anymore. One step at a time, I’m moving forward.

So maybe a massive fight where we both backed off from one another for various reasons (most likely not wanting to put up with angry attacks and refusals to apologize for attacking, not to mention the pain of feeling like nothing more than a huge disappointment) was a good thing, at least for me. Okay, maybe not. I still feel the void left behind, but I suppose there is something that can help fill that. Like my writing or taking on my newest everyday adventure: audio books while driving. Seriously, today alone I killed a third of a pen from writing this story I’ve had in my head for a while. This is a good thing! And I enjoyed my drive to and from work so much more with a story playing in the background than listening to the news.

I went most of today without daydreaming of things that may never happen or reliving memories that will never again come about. While at work, for the first time in a long time – or so it seems, though I’m terrible with my temporal cognisance – I felt almost happy. I have a bunch of really neat people around me, supportive and experienced in different walks of life. We’re all working toward the same goal – survive the damned training course. And as long as some people don’t throw temper tantrums over nothing again, it’s mostly stress-free. In fact, I came to realize just how at home I am in a classroom environment. I like having people around me who are working toward the same goals without really competing for the same single position or promotion or whatever. I like having the teacher droning on and on about the same three or four things for hours on end. I’m most productive during such periods. My few pages from today are a testament to that.

But I suppose it’s even more amazing because just last night I tried to write something, anything and nothing would come out. Everything I tried felt wrong or bad. Nothing was good enough. Judging by how easily this story came out today, I’d say that perhaps I’d been trying to write the wrong story and need to step away from it a bit. I think I’ll do just that after I finish the sequences of events I have already worked out. (Alice, you’ve never seen the Wonderland I’m painting you.) I’ve heard tale that when you’re starting out, it doesn’t matter WHAT you write, just that you do it, and that you eventually finish it. That last part is tricky for me.

But writing might just be what I need right now. I feel better when I do. I just need to keep reminding myself of that fact.

A Quiet Rage Rolls Beneath the Surface, Like Magma Searching for an Outlet

As much as I’m enjoying the fact that I am currently working, work sucks major monkeyballs. Though, I suppose I could attribute that to one person (the Angry One) creating a tense and overall hostile environment in our training group. We’ve been working there for almost two weeks now and he’s blown up at all of us three times now, twice while the teacher was leading the group. I honestly feel like a horrible person for hoping that he does not make it through training. Today he exploded at us for the third time and this time I felt him direct it at me, despite the fact that he didn’t outright blame me. (I did what I was supposed to, just to be clear. He just wasn’t paying attention.)

Also today I saw my old supervisor (codename: the Tall One). I was too far away to say hi, and when I waved he completely ignored me. Oh, sure, he’ll -claim- he didn’t see me, but we all really know what it was lol. Okay, he really didn’t see me and he was in a bit of a rush. I just like giving him a bit of a hard time. Have to have fun somehow, y’know…

But… I suppose what’s really bothering me is how unhappy I actually am. It’s funny. I was at my happiest and then almost out of nowhere I’m suddenly not. The Stray and I still talk, but it’s nothing like it used to be. I miss how easy and open our talks once were, how happy they were. Now all it takes is a few words to dredge up all of the pain, all of the anger, and all of the sadness. I’d almost rather be angry with the Stray than cry myself to sleep, though that’s what I tend to do anyway. The words “There are plenty of other girls just waiting to take your spot” still haunt me, still dig a knife deeper into my chest, still ring out as “You’re easily replaceable.”

I was replaced within a couple of weeks.

And now to hear about her, to hear how wonderful and sweet she is, to hear everything I’m not or can’t be right now… deeper still. Is it any wonder that when I get a disappointed sigh from the Stray I turn angry? I’m not a Stray. In softer times I might be called a kitten, but I feel more like a bird in a cage and even when the door is opened, my foot is still tethered to the perch by a narrow golden chain. It’s not long now, though. There is a weak link, and soon I should be able to break free. I just have to choose my moment carefully.

“I’m not going to be the one who waits, patiently, for something that’s likely never to happen,” still sounds like “you’re not worth waiting for.” It certainly looks that way too. So why the disappointed sighs that piss me off so much, as if an unfair judgement has just rained down from above? I can’t act free because I’m not. Not yet. I can rail to the sky that my life is unfair but this girl in a cage hasn’t energy to spare. Not if I’m to escape and finally fly free. Though, I’m still angry to hear that it’s hell to wait an eternity and then to hear that I don’t understand when it should be obvious that I actually do.

But then again, what do I know? I’m just a girl who likens herself to a kitten that’s probably all fluff and razorblades right now and a bird whose feathers are all ruffled and puffed up.