Reflective Writing

Restore from last save point

I haven’t really written anything in a week. That bothers me. I know why, of course, but that knowledge doesn’t help me put words on a page any faster.

So yeah, the election threw a lot of people for a loop. My personal political beliefs aside, I work as a policy analyst, so the surprise and uncertainty threw off everything in my life, work as well as personal. I took a break. Drank some beer, played Stardew Valley, took a long drive. Work is still in a bit of a tizzy, but things are manageable.

I also had another block/crisis with Fratricide. I wrote some lead-up to the inciting force and realized my reevaluation of the premise doesn’t make any sense. Again. I have some ideas for re-aligning things, but I’d need to scrap around two thirds of what I wrote. Looking at things soberly, the nostalgia of rewriting my first novel has worn off.

My ultimate problem, and part of the reason I decided to try rewriting Fratricide in the first place, is that coming up with ideas that seem original that I actually want to write is hard. I’m so ready to drop something that seems like it has been done before, while at the same time sitting in a reading list which is re-examinations of themes that have been done over and over. I’m not going to stop reading Cyberpunk science fiction, but it’s nothing but re-examinations…one reason neither William Gibson nor Neal Stephenson write it any more.

I’m trying to figure out what grabs me about media I’ve been consuming recently. On the gaming side, I’m finally entranced by fantasy, which was something I had rejected for years. Meanwhile, I have a group which is suspicious of fantasy because none of us have given it a serious whack since college (my couple sessions of D&D doesn’t really count). On the digital side, I’ve been utterly taken by the small yet completely fantastical stories of games like Oxenfree and Kentucky Route Zero, which exist at this incredible intersection of human relationships and supernatural horror that is in the process of blowing my mind (I haven’t finished Kentucky Route Zero yet, but damn).

The one thing I’m getting out of these games, and it might be in part the medium, is that subtlety is essential, both to incorporate and also to ignore. While there are so many incredible little details that make up the world, the core plot involves things that are huge and wild. Kentucky Route Zero’s title refers to a secret underground highway! There is an enormity in how different the world is portrayed, while a lot of the little things are what tie it together.

I’ve had a lot of trouble in doing the big and the small at the same time. When I figured out the big details in Fratricide, I got stuck on the smaller execution. While it’s frustrating that I’m catching things as a reader that I didn’t as a writer, it does mean that my continual reading and mental exercise is helping me write, slowly but surely. Beyond reading making me a better writer, consumption of media, especially media that wasn’t in my typical circle of interests, is helping me realize what engages me. I have some ideas bubbling up which could be interesting…I think now I need to commit them to paper, rather than worry about whether they’re novel length or entirely original or even “good”. I should be writing, not criticizing the writing I haven’t even done yet.

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