Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Where Do We Go Now?

So today, the little blurb on my Develop a Writing Habit course is to be flexible in my expectations.  That is, whatever my dreams may be, whatever I want to create in the long run, to not toss in all-or-nothing on that and be devastated if it doesn't work out or devalue the other things that need to get done on the way there.

It's true that I have things I want to accomplish.  There are three major stories that I really want to work on and finish.  Namely,

Air Born Novel/comic/movie/whatever inspired largely by the opening credit sequence for Laputa: Castle In the Sky.  Main idea is a young woman who lives on one of a floating island where humanity resides, and becoming involves in a war between the humans and the animal people who live on the surface.  

Artificial Heart A futuristic romance novel between an artificial human and a doctor in a world where the artificials aren't believed to have real emotions and anyone developing a relationship with one is looked down upon or ostracized, and generally treated as a gullible idiot at best, and a narcissist in general.  Part of the setting was inspired by the anime Real Drive, but like the previous it's mainly just a jumping off point.

An Unnamed Serial or at least a multi-part story I've been wanting to write involving a woman who is reunited with a childhood friend through exceptional circumstances and begins to be led, bit by bit, into discovering the magic that exists in the world around her.  And in turn, her perception of that world begins to change in a rather literal sense.  Again, there is the seed of inspiration this time from XXX-Holic and Mi'kmaq folklore.  I want it to be very Canadian and it will be set in Halifax/Dartmouth, where I lived for quite a long time.

Those three are sort of my core goals when it comes to writing and I've taken various stabs at them such as drawing up rough outlines and making notes here and there, but at this point I feel it's a bit early in the game to really start writing them in earnest.  There's groundwork to be laid, not just in the craft of writing but who I am as a writer as well.

I suppose this calls back to what I was saying in an earlier entry about character.  I'm the sort of person to get really excited about an idea, but then after some time be distracted and chase after something else for a bit.  I might return to it, and it might still remain in my thoughts, but my time will end up being spent elsewhere.  It's who I am, and in fact it's who I've always been.  

Honestly, I'm a bit sick of being that person.

That's really what this whole exercise is about, I suppose.  Wanting to develop my character so I become the person I want to be, and obviously that isn't easy.  It's certainly not something you can do in one smooth jump.

There's a personality analysis that's become pretty popular in recent years, known as Myers-Brigg.  Basically it's a Jungian-style breakdown of human personality types into four general categories, and those in turn into four categories each for a total of 16.  They're still pretty general as you might expect, and people can easily have aspects of themselves that don't fit neatly into just one category and might straddle the fence on some axis or another.  In my case, I lean strongly into all four axes of my personality type, so the archetype given describes me pretty well.

My result in the Myers-Brigg test is ENFP, or Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling and Perception.  Which in plain terms is the Champion (of a cause, rather than the winner) or the Enthusiast. In the most general terms, it describes them as a very outgoing person who's concerned with the happiness of themselves and others and are very good at finding joy in whatever they're doing, but are prone to idealizing and get frustrated when required to do a lot of fine detail or follow-up work.

There's more to it of course, and for more you can find descriptions galore online.  But overall they describe me pretty well.

One thing that descriptions of my type of person tend to have in common is the whole distraction thing, but tempered with the fact that if they are able to do very well if they're able to develop the focus to stick with a thing they enjoy.  That is, an ENFP artist could become a great artist should they stick with it.  Same for cook or writer or whatever the topic happens to be.

And that's really the point of all this.  I do, and have done, an awful lot of things in my life.  But I've never really had any success at picking one and really becoming good at any of them.  I mean I'm pretty good at a lot of things, but not especially good at any of them.  Which is obviously a drawback that I want to do something about.

The hard part, I suppose, for someone like me is to choose just what I want to focus on.  My natural inclination is to have a hard time making choices.  Restaurant menus are really hard things for me to deal with, for instance, or naming my favourite book or movie or, well, anything.  So when I look at the things I enjoy like drawing or ukulele or crochet or cooking or about a hundred other things and having to decide which one I want the focus of my life to be?  That's crazy talk!

Looking back though, maybe it isn't as hard a decision as all that.  I just have to think about what the first thing I wanted to do was, and what's been the most consistent throughout my life.  That's gotta be writing. Sure, I got interested in it as an attempt to imitate my brother, but I don't think that really has much bearing on where I am today, something like 30 years later.  After all, there's no test as to the purity of a task, just whether or not it's something that I can do moving forward.

So in the end I did make a choice, and I've selected goals.  But I'm realistic enough to recognize that there's no way I'm going to make it to those goals without taking a few steps first.  The biggest is changing who I am, and as I've said before that's a daunting task.  Therefore, the daily writing habit, and keeping myself accountable by putting all this out in public (plus, I'm a bit of a showoff so there's positive motivation for you).  

So to come back to the initial theme about being flexible about my expectations, I think it's good to have an overall goal to keep in mind.  Those three projects I wrote about at the beginning, those are sitting out there on the horizon and I feel that I need to continue keeping my attention on them.  But unless I get myself a pair of hundred-league boots there's no way I'm making it there unless I get on the road and start walking.  So there are smaller checkpoints on the way that I need to get to the old-fashioned slow way.

First among those is to write.  Write anything, write at all.  George Burns put it best, bemoaning the death of Vaudeville (and I can't find the actual quote right now so settle for a paraphrase), kids just don't have anywhere to be bad any more.  I've got a lot of bad writing I have to get out of my system before I can start putting out good stuff.  I suppose I could do that in fanfiction, but that's not really going to work for reasons I've already mentioned.  

So in that sense I'm kind of on my own, which I suppose I am regardless.  Nobody's going to write those stories but me. Nobody's going to change my habits, and indeed my basic character, but me.  And certainly nobody's going to type these blog entries every day but me.  So I've gotta do it.

Besides, I've already tried self-starting and it simply didn't work.  I've got a few fragments of stories and notes for some others to show for it, but really nothing beyond that.  Because I'd go out some Saturday to The Tea Party or someplace and pound out a thousand or so words, and then forget about it for the rest of the week.  And the next week.  And maybe the week after.  And by the time I get back to it, I've totally lost the thread and I start working on something new.

My goals are too important to me to half-ass like that.  Those three stories sitting on my horizon?  They deserve better.  Hell, I deserve better.  And so, it falls to me to try to do better and to use whatever tools come to hand to help me learn to do better.  

After all, I've got a goal to get to.

2 time segments

1541 words

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