29 January, 2011

shower time... and a little about writing stories

PINK: Hey, can you call me back later? I'm about to have a shower.

BLUE: Sure. So... in half an hour?

Pink: Maybe make that 3 hours.

Blue: You got something else on tonight?

Pink: No.

Blue: You take 3 hours to have a shower?

Pink: Yes... I mean, NO! I'm usually clean in 5 minutes.

Blue: Then what? Is there an elaborate moisturising ritual?

Pink: Most of the time is spent psyching myself up.

Blue: Does that mean you're scared of showers?

Pink: The rest of the time is spent either calming down or trying to get out of the drink.

Blue: You're scared of showers.

Pink: Not so much of showers. More of deluges.

Blue: Showers aren't deluges. They're little sprinklings of water that - what is that noise?

Pink: My shower.

Blue: Ok. That sounds like a serious deluge.

Pink: Yeah. Every time I go under it, I'm at serious risk of drowning.

Blue: You must be using so much water! Have you thought of changing the shower head?

Pink: I would if there was a shower head. Rivers don't exactly allow you to turn down their water flow.

Blue: Rivers?

Pink: Yeah. My shower is a waterfall. How cool is that? ... I mean, it's cool to look at and it sounds cool. It's not so cool when I'm in it and it's trying to kill me.

Blue: Where did you say you lived again?

Pink: I didn't. If I don't turn up to work tomorrow, you'll know I've drowned or been hit on the head by flotsam and drowned or caught by the current and drowned. Anyway, wish me luck!


Blue: A waterfall? For a shower?


A lot of people write stories. They talk about how difficult it is to write and how hard it is to stay on track on the one same story and how other shiny ideas come flitting to distract them. They talk about how they procrastinate and how they sometimes just can't be bothered.

I think it depends on whether writing is their trade or whether, like me, they just do it for fun. Shiny new ideas? Excellent. Find me a piece of paper and a pen to capture it. Store it for another time. Can't think of anything to write? Continue with another story or go do something else. Can't be bothered to write? Fine. Don't bother. Do something fun. Writer's block? Play with the block and make a tower of them. Want to really finish a story and can't be bothered? Imagine a boss standing over your desk, roaring, "Where is my story?" Keep procrastinating? Procrastinate away! There's still the rest of my life to - squirrel! finish the story.

It depends on your audience. If your audience is an audience of one, namely you, enjoy your writing time. Splurge. But if writing is your trade, your sole means of financial income... well... ignore everything I say here. Don't read any further. I mean it!

If you have a deadline for a written piece or writing is your trade. Then. This is what I would do (or do when I do have a deadline coming up for something). Imagine myself into an office environment. High rise buildings. Glass windows everywhere. Enclosed desk upon desk upon desk in the work room you share with your fellow minions. Typing or talking on phones feverishly. Slavishly. There is professionalism here. Expectation. And if you don't get your work done or your quota completed for that day, the boss will come calling. You'll be called in on an efficiency report. They'll reduce your pay and you will be reduced to the shrimp ranks shared by the beginners. And you don't want to have your work constantly interrupted by the more advanced workers demanding you make them a cup of coffee. Now.

Too scary?

You and your boss are good friends, even if you are his employee. Your office is situated directly outside his office and he's a very lenient understanding sort of man. He knows how much to expect of you and understands if sometimes, you don't quite meet deadlines. Even if he gets that disappointed light in his eyes. You don't want to fail your friend. It's his business after all. And if you don't get your work done, he has to take the fall for you. If he loses business, how is he going to pay you?

OR how about this?

You are a Roman slave. If you don't get this done and if you don't please your master, you will either be (a) whipped severely and thrown into the circus for the lions; (b) put in solitary confinement with a disgustingly dirty fellow slave covered with boils and all sorts of contagious diseases, not to mention the fleas and lice; (c) hanged and thrown into the circus for the lions; (d) sold to another master that will throw you in the circus for the lions at the slightest mistake; (e) killed somehow, like being tossed to a pack of hungry, goaded, angry, wild dogs or thrown into the circus for the lions.

Come on. Where's your imagination? You're a writer! You're meant to one of the world's most creative and imaginative people! You're the sort of person, who looks like a grown up, but still does play-acting in your free time when the house is empty and no one's in. You fight dragons with a sword one evening and are on the other side of the world performing espionage the next. You explore dripping caves in the shower and sink ships in a naval battle when you're washing the dishes.

Wait. Didn't I tell you to stop reading earlier? Oh. You're like me? You're writing stories for yourself because you've run out of books in the house (having read each one at least 10 times and new books are finished in a night, losing their attraction)? You don't care if your stories are never published and never seen by anyone other than yourself? Ah, then. Welcome my friend. You're welcome to read on.

Writing should be fun if it's your hobby. Like doodling pictures. Don't kill yourself over it. Don't put on weight, get carpal tunnel syndrome, have to get new super strong owl glasses, neck, shoulder and back strain just to write one measly story. This is writing practice. It's fun. It's only a first draft. It's about the art, the craft, the polishing to perfection and then stepping back in the end to admire it's beauty.

It's about creation. Entertainment. Having fun. Enjoying the sensation of building, making, forming, molding. Rollicking in the word play and smithing of the correct imagery. Surfing on the emotions and moods. It's about having adventure and the sort of people you have always wanted to meet come to life and becoming 3-dimensional amidst their 1-dimensional descriptions. New places! New worlds to explore! The familiar and the unfamiliar meeting in a maze of netting.

Forget the rest. It's all about story.

Without story, all your scribblings are exactly that. Scribbles.

I'm off to catch more of the shiny ideas floating around my head. I may never use them. Some are completely worthless, but some are real gems. The fun is in the chase and then the capture and then the carving and polishing to make them really shine.

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