Tag Archives: Nonfiction

Map Making as a Metaphor for Literature

We begin on another journey. Another day; another desire to write. Another piece unplanned, for the plans are too great. Where will this take us? The same place we’ve always been? Are we circling the block again? Has the navigator lost his sense of direction? A real vacation takes a lot of time and effort. A long distance. How about we just drive around the block again? Do we notice anything different? Or are we comforted by the repetition? There’s a folder full of maps. But who needs a map? Who needs a plan? The plans are too great. Let’s drive around town. Have I traveled down this road before? Or have I spent my whole life with the street in my peripheral, but never going down it? Have I lost my mind? Who wants to ride with me?

There already exist maps of the whole world. I can read whichever one of them I want. But what if I wish to be a mapmaker? I can’t copy other maps directly. But they are more accurate and thorough than my own. Why can’t I desire to be something else besides a goddamned mapmaker? I don’t even have a sense of direction. How trustworthy am I, anyway? I can’t sell maps. I barely read any. What makes me think I can do what has already been done, but better, and as a tabula rasa? I know the basics: north. South. East. West. But what about elevation? What about the roads? The rivers? The landmarks already discovered?; already pictographed on maps? Why not choose a different craft?

Let’s not go anywhere today. Let’s stay at home. Let the fat waste us away. Sure, it’s stupid. But traveling is work. And scary. The isolation: what if I get lost? Go down a wrong path? But what is my destination? That’s the greatest problem of them all. Wishing to make maps without a destination in mind. Or is that a blessing? What about reading maps of countries not yet traveled? What map should I read first? What aspects of the map should I study first as someone who desires to make maps? I can’t read all of the maps. But I desire to create my own direction. But this is fucking hard.

Let’s just go to the backyard today. There’s South Carolina. Tennessee. Virginia. Texas. California. Wyoming. Spain. Turkey. Russia. Alaska. Why oh why do I want to make maps…

I’ll tell you what: let’s make bad maps. Let’s just make rough sketches. For fun. Why not? Sure, everyone else will be reading the detailed maps. But they should. If I’m going to make maps, why not start off small? Amateurish? If I want to make maps for a long time, I’ll get better somehow, right? When, and how? I haven’t finished creating the map yet, so I’m not sure yet. But at least I’ve written about making maps, even if I haven’t made one. That’s a start.



Don’t Mess With My Head

Devin Stevens Presents Literature

In the post modern era of literature (1950’s and on), American writers wrote of classic struggles between tyranny and liberty, some from fears of Stalin’s Soviet Russia, others from the demoralization caused by America’s involvement in Vietnam. It was important, these writers thought, to show people just how horrifying government despotism could become. The British writer, George Orwell, had already spoken of the evils of totalitarianism, inspiring later writers to dwell on the horrors of politcal absolutism. Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, John D. MacDonald’s Nightmare in Pink, and Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan each deal with the fear that governments can use neuroscience as a means to control people’s minds. Once the mind was manipulated in a certian way, writers dreaded that the common people would be subjected to the ideals of ruling parties and think nothing of it, all due to brain manipulation. Only stored information in books could…

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Bulleted lists of what I like about writing and what I hate about writing.

Things I hate about writing:

– organizing
– rereading
editing (the inability to make a decision, having to figure out how to fix something because it doesn’t make sense, and realizing that I have to write A LOT MORE to connect the dots I was attempting to create, but I don’t have the words for the thoughts in my head)
– shit vocabulary
criticism (I typically ignore it and don’t really care for it: I do what I want)
– fear of dedication of time and energy towards it because I “may be missing out on something else”
– comparing myself to other writers
– stressing out over my lack of financial compensation for writing
– sitting and thinking without writing (I’m excrutiatingly impatient)
– explaining to others “what I meant”
– feeling like what I’ve written isn’t original; that the subject matter has been discussed since the dawn of time, and my opinions regarding the subject have been rewritten over and over and over since the dawn of time
marketplace competition

– wanting to go 15 million directions within a piece and then getting confused
– unintentionally repeating myself
– rereading
– editing (the inability to make a decision…)
– the fear of being “better” than someone due to receiving praise from multiple people about one piece
– getting stuck; not knowing where to go next, and thinking about thinking about it (and feeling crazy for thinking and thinking and thinking about it and going deep into the rabbit hole…)
– feeling mentally exhausted before I’m finished with a piece
– people misinterpreting my words
– realizing that people will want to kill me for my words
– feeling uninspired
– forcing myself to write when I’m not “feeling it”
– self-doubt
– realizing that by saying one opinion, I’m going to open myself up to other arguments that I either KNOW I can defend myself against (but the process is so exhausting, and adds SO much extra work for just one opinion) OR I want to express an opinion that I know I won’t be able to effectively defend and then……I’ll feel like an idiot
– self-doubt with word choice
– reading what I have written, feeling like it doesn’t make sense, rewriting it, then realizing I’ve changed my original meaning, so I change it back to the original way it was, it makes sense, and then I wonder what in the fuck I’ve just done (drives me mad; the BIGGEST fucking problem on this whole goddamn list…INFURIATING)
– COMING UP WITH NEW IDEAS AND NOT FINISHING THE OLD ONES. This happens to me more frequently than anything on this list, mainly because I get so frustrated with the previous point that I just end up doing THIS point OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER…JESUS FUCKING CHRIST
– hearing voices in my head from the past mocking me for being “perfectionistic” when I start to think about which punctuation mark to use, etc.
– feeling crazy for working on multiple pieces at once while also coming up with ideas for brand new pieces all at the same time and not knowing how to fucking organize it all (so I end up “taking a break” lmfao), which leads to me never getting anything fucking done…
– confronting my emotions when it comes to my religious past
– people “trying to get to know me better” because they like my work
– not knowing what to do when people talk to me
– getting confused because ideas for multiple pieces come to my head at once and I can’t keep them organized
– not knowing when something is “finished”
– feeling like I’m a bad writer for realizing that I need to make a change
– my perfectionism regarding realizing I have made mistakes (SO exhausting……)
– making mistakes…
feeling like I’m bragging when I’m simply stating what I can do and what I feel like I am good at

WordPress specific:
– linking
– coding

(I’m exhausted, I’m tired of thinking of this, I don’t want to wait longer and start doubting myself, so I’m going to hurry up and publish this: my typical “writing mentality”…)

Things I like about writing:

– the ideas
– feeling smart
– feeling funny
– feeling good
– the tactile act of typing
– the way my handwriting looks
– dreaming of the future
– trying to be profound
– feeling original
– having people say “Wow, that was good. I never thought of that before.”
– people telling me how much they laughed at my jokes
dreaming of being wealthy and relaxed
completing an idea and feeling happy with it
– the thought of people discovering my works years after they have been written
– talking about topics that I enjoy, or that I feel very passionate about
writing stories that entertain me
– feeling smarter as I attempt to become “better” as a writer (whatever that means)
– surprising people
– getting people to seriously ponder my ideas
– learning
– flashes of inspiration
– the speed and depth which inspiration creates
– the emotional high that comes with the inspiration
– the freedom that comes with expressing my individuality
– creating discussion
– EVERYTHING about creating fiction (unless it involves anything in my “hate” list)
– learning before I start to write when I desire to write, because it helps make my writing more profound, better, etc.

Overall, I’d say that I hate it, but it is who I am, and I can’t do anything else about it. To remove it from me would remove a large part of who I am, so I’m stuck with it, for better or for worse.

A Labor of Love.

The Rantings of a Crazed, Lunatic Writer.

What is It That Makes Me Happy as A Writer?

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 holidaythemed, 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…

An amazing part about writing

It’s amazing to have story ideas in your head that no one knows about nor can they understand in the way that you do already.

And then when you finally get them finished and other people read what you wrote, it’s like a way of saying “I told you so.”

It will be amazing when I get tons and tons of things written 😀

Things that I have for sale on Kindle.

Where you can financially support me if you so desire.

Descartes – Meditations of First Philosophy

One of the best pieces of literature ever written.

I hope to read more of his work soon.

Descartes – Meditations of First Philosophy.