Sunday, December 21, 2008

But how does using a frozen hotdog as a phallic comic prop make you FEEL?

Man, that's going to be another title that'll direct some really weird searches.

Anyway, I was at a party last night, and I had consumed a fair bit of alcohol. (It was the first time in a long time I'd drank heavily for two consecutive nights, since the night before that was my brothers' roommate's going-away party. And yet, the day after, in both cases: no hangover. Truly, I live a blessed life.) Often, when I'm drinking at a party, I get the urge to either work out math equations, or write down story ideas. This time, the muse that struck me belonged to the latter group. I hunted down a pen, and an available writing surface--a piece of discarded wrapping paper was the fist thing I found.

Sadly, looking at what I wrote in the light of day suggests that these inspirational works will not be among my best. The first thing written is "find a way to pun 'chronic' and 'chronicles.'" The second sounds like the voiceover for a movie trailer:

Every Doom has its Day.
Every Day has its Night.
Every Knight has its Fall.
Stories end.

Lucky for me, the important part at the moment is what happens after. A friend saw the writing (without being able to read it, and thus couldn't assess the quality of the writing) and commented, in a friendly manner, that observing people at parties must serve as good fodder for writing for me. I tried to deny this, since at the very least, it suggested a quality to what I had just written that even then I was pretty sure it did not have, but I think she's got a point. To paraphrase, I like to observe.

Don't get me wrong. Participating is great, and it's what all the cool kids are doing. I love a good conversation, and I'll take up any sort of endeavor that strikes me in the right way. But there's a part of me that really likes to take a step back, think about things, and reflect. (There's a connection between this and the post a few days ago about nocturnal walking, but I don't feel like teasing it out at the moment. Or bothering to link it. User unfriendly!) And a party's an ideal opportunity for this. People who are more honest than kind may suggest that this reflection comes from a lifetime of sitting by myself at parties in my formative years (and they'd be wrong. In my formative years, I stayed home. So there.), but I don't think it's a bad thing, not anymore. Like I said, I enjoy the interaction stuff. But there's a lot to be learned by thinking not just about what people are doing, but why.

I think I'll end this meandering with a quotation from Margaret Atwood, from her short story "Happy Endings," as to why it's important for a writer to spend time on the "why" as compared to the "whats:" and "wheres." This is Atwood, so it's slightly more cynical than it needs to be, but it gets the point across:

"You'll have to face it, the endings are the same however you slice it. Don't be deluded by any other endings, they're all fake, either deliberately fake, with malicious intent to deceive, or just motivated by excessive optimism if not by downright sentimentality.

"The only authentic ending is the one provided here:
John and Mary die. John and Mary die. John and Mary die.

"So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun. True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it's the hardest to do anything with.

"That's about all that can be said for plots, which anyway are just one thing after another, a what and a what and a what.

Now try How and Why."

I love trying How and Why. Aren't they fun?

Later Days.

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