What is it that makes me happy as a writer? That is the question that I am going to attempt to answer today.
First, it depends on whether I am writing fiction or nonfiction. What makes me happy as a fiction writer? Well, typically, the process begins with, at least so far, a character or characters, or a theme. Then, I kind of bullshit my way around until I get to the theme, or I try to describe the main characters of the story. This is so far, and, hopefully, if I write more over the years, I will become better at it (I’m sure that I will). So what makes me happy about this process? Considering that the themes are often better fleshed out in my head than are the characters, I am happy when I come up with a plot or the main idea of the story. “What the story is about.” I’m very happy with my ideas for stories that I have. Very happy. In fact, I’d consider myself blessed. Maybe you don’t think I’m the best writer ever. And maybe no one does. But I’m very happy with my ability to come up with “main ideas” (very cliché; thanks, English teacher) and exciting plots. I can see that I want to become a better character writer. (This is very quickly turning into “How I Can Become A Better Writer”, but I suppose that the two overlap). I want to tell horrible tales. I want the reader to feel sick, and depressed, and hopeless. That makes me happy as a writer.
I suppose that’s awfully sadistic of me, but I think it’s incredibly empathetic and sympathetic at the same time, for I’m attempting to get into the minds of those who never get any sympathy due to their horrific natures. I’m not saying that’s unjustified, but I think the attempt to connect with the unconnectable is a large part of my work, and why it is so dark. It connects with me on a deep level. I can’t ignore the darkness. It’s always there: lurking. I must always be aware of it because if it catches me off guard, the horror will be worse than if I’m always looking out for it.
That’s my philosophy, at least.
So it makes me happy to bring horror to life. To bring creepiness to life. To bring horrible, terrible emotions to life. It makes me happy to bring the dark side to light. To make the reader feel hopeless, and miserable. I want the readers of my works to feel negative emotions because, quite simply, life can be quite negative. It is important for me to let the readers know that disappointment is a real thing. Hopelessness, evil, violence: all of these are very real things. And, at least to me, fiction makes these manageable. Watching the news, or watching video of brutal things is not the way that I relate to the victims. News is just as unwatchable as watching the violence unfold. But, I’m still aware of them, and fiction is my way of acknowledging the problem. A lot of other people talk about real events, and how to solve real problems, but I would rather talk about them through fiction. And it’s more fun to leave the reader feeling like there is no hope. That’s a very enjoyable experience to me, and situations where heroes lose in fiction are, typically, my favorite tales. I can’t exactly explain why, but I believe it has something to do with how unusual it is. I think I enjoy novelty and flipping things on their heads.
I don’t think I’ve written enough fiction in my lifetime to explain much further about what I like about writing fiction. As I said, the main thing is the main ideas of the stories. I don’t suppose I’m particularly good at story-telling yet, although I start foaming at my mouth when I think of all of the potential that I have, because I know I have “shittons” of it. It’s just a matter of refining the coal to diamond, which could take eons, and a lot of hard work.
Aside from what I write about in fiction, when I write is, arguably, more important to me.(How I write is also important, but I think that will only change with lots and lots of practice. Therefore, I’ll probably leave that for another piece). I do not want to be someone that works when I do not feel like working. On any project. When I am in the mood to work on a project, I feel like it is good. Working on a project when I don’t feel like working on it is against my nature. I consider that taboo for myself. Perhaps, if the work is holiday–themed, and the holiday is fast-approaching, I will “work harder” to get it done. But I do not want to become a slave to my work. I do not want to feel more overwhelmed by it than I already do. The backlog is incredible, but, at least for the most part, I’m content with my pace. I wish I had more work done than I do, but considering how I believe I get the best quality of work (working on things when I feel like working on them), I’ll compromise with quality over quantity.
The pacing of all of the work that I do is quite odd. There are large gaps between continuances of a project. For some reason, once I’ve worked on a project for a little bit, and get tired (not even necessarily of the project, but just in general), I won’t come back to it immediately when I feel like working again. I’ll work on a project, quit for the day, then the next day, work on another project. I do not want the projects to feel stale, and working on one for too long can do just that. I always want to feel like everything is fresh, and I guess I get bored fairly easily or something because I take long breaks between projects, and this means that projects take longer to complete than is fathomable for most other human beings.
I admit that the large gaps are odd, but I know why I have them, so I accept them. I don’t particularly mind them, as I’m learning the pace at which I need to create things. Initially, I wanted a bunch of work completed right away, as I thought that the more work I had completed, the more likely I would be able to “make a living at it.” But, quickly, I started discovering just how hard that was, and I began to give less and less of a fuck about it. It’s still a goal, but it doesn’t consume me as much as it used to. The work is what it is, it will be completed when it gets completed, and I’m good with that, whatever and however it turns out to be.
I like the idea of writing complex fiction. Currently, my events leading up to my “main ideas” in my fiction are just shit. They just are. But I like the idea of (in the far future, and with much laborious mental practice) taking events and tying them into the “main idea” (goddamn that cliché) in very intricate, surprising, exciting ways. I know I can do it with time and practice, but that will take a very long time. In the meantime, I’ll just have to accept that most of my work is shit, and then share it with the world anyway because 1) I can’t spend forever trying to make every single piece of writing perfect and 2) it doesn’t really do me any good if other people can’t read it. So I’ll dump my shitty writing upon the world and live with whatever happens as a result of that, hoping that, in the future, I become good enough to make a living. And to be more satisfied with my writing as I actually become mature enough to develop “standards”. (And, oh yeah, actually doing all of this in novel form instead of “short story” or “novella” form. Jesus fucking Christ, the thought of that…Fuck it, for now…)
So what makes me happy as a nonfiction writer? I want to write intelligent things as a nonfiction writer. I want to understand truth. I’m a seeker of truth. A philosopher. I’m a philosopher/comedian. I want to know things as deeply as I can. I just want understanding. And I want to share those things with the world. That’s pretty much it from a nonfiction standpoint.
Comedy is a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. Obviously, comedy is almost always an exaggeration. It is fictional, from that standpoint. But it is often deeply connected in reality, making it nonfiction as well. I think that’s why it overlaps in my fiction and nonfiction. It’s just real. It’s perfect. It works with everything. It’s who I am, and it’s inescapable. And it just makes me happy.
So dark stories that are complicated and end in depressing ways and smart, intricate attempts to be objective make me happy.
Wasn’t too hard to come to that conclusion.
Now, if I can just work on length…
…You didn’t read that, Devin.
…Not a word……
But, I think there’s still a lot to be discovered about what makes me happy as a writer. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I’m doing what I want to do. I don’t know how to explain what I want to do, but I know that I just want to do it, and then I do it. And that’s what makes me happy. And that’s what I do.
I don’t think this will ever change…