It’s Not About You

April 23, 2013

Being someone who’s constantly looking at the dark cloud that happens to be near every silver lining, I’m constantly down on myself. I think it’s one of the reasons that I’m having so much trouble getting my own fiction written, why I feel stymied and stumped with other creative projects, why things generally seem more than a little grump making.

And it’s a darn shame. Because all this navel-gazing blinds me to the real work – which is helping everyone else.

I’ve chosen to do that through various forms of word-herding. Sometimes that means putting together a clearly-worded document that outlines an agreement between two parties. The more clearly worded, the better. I’m a very big fan of clear language in the drafting of contracts. (Note: NOT GIVING LEGAL ADVICE HERE.) I want people to be able to understand what they’re getting into, what’s expected and when, and for how long. Also, how to get out of the deal if they have to and what the price for doing so may be. (Again, yes I’m a lawyer. But I’m not YOUR lawyer. Please don’t read the above as legal advice. Get your own dang lawyer.)

I also love writing and editing and putting out fiction. The problem is that I’ve put so much weight on doing that and doing it well that the pressure naturally kills inspiration, increases anxiety, and makes the work pretentious and dull.

Good fiction has to be one thing. It has to be entertaining. We’ve been talking about this a bit on the Galley Table lately. Yes, your worldview leaks through when you’re writing. Yes, your opinions and whatnot are going to naturally flavor your text, which is why all the long-form stuff I’ve written so far tends to feature a lot of things you’d normally associate with anime – martial arts, giant robots, the inordinate influence of song and singing, benign (?) intelligent AI, maybe a thrown fireball (Kumite Mage. It’s coming. After Lamentations. Which needs to get the heck done. Dagnabit. And tonight we’re going to the opera.)

So, from now on, I’m going to try something. No guarantees that it’s going to work. I’m going to take the pressure off and just write something fun. Something entertaining, I hope. But fun. Because it’s not about me and what I perceive as some kind of self-appointed responsibility to influence the culture and whatnot.

It’s about the reader.

It’s about coming home from a hard day at work or school and seeing all the doom and gloom in the news, and being able to take a break from that unrelenting Uruk-Hai drumbeat. (Now I’m picturing the Uruk-Hai in those guard costumes from the Wizard of Oz. You know, the big fuzzy hats? Now I’ve got one saying “Nobody gets in to see the wizard, not no one, not no how…”. Now I’m thinking about them in all kinds of off-beat situations… “Pardon me, Maitre’d, but what wine would you recommend with this dish?”
“Slo-Gar prefers the rich-bodied aroma of the ’02 Chardonnay, as it pairs well with both lamb and man-flesh.” See? It writes itself. “SLO-GAR, Maitre’D of Khazad-dûm!” He’d probably know wine better than I do, tee-totaling Mormon that I am. Uruk-Hai are funny. Phew. Ask me some time about the unfortunate conversation I had the last time I was at Freebirds. But it’s not blog appropriate. But it is hilarious.)

It’s about being able to pick up a book that will be (hopefully) entertaining and distracting and allow a bit of relief from the dull roar of ennui and bills.

Yes, there are serious problems, and we need to deal with them in a serious way. But we can’t be humorless and serious all the time. In fact, we probably need to have more humor in some places just to clear the air and allow us to see more clearly.

It’s about fun.

Let’s try having some, eh?

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