I Am a Genius: listen to my words

I Have the Conch


listen to my words

Archive for the ‘Myself’ Category

I am interesting. At least, I think so. The main focus of this site isn’t really to convince you that I’m interesting though. Primarily it’s a venue for me to keep my portfolio and journal. Thus, personal history and so forth will go here.

Automatic Writing

This will be another in the continuing series of articles about writer’s block that I write in order to keep me writing. In case you wanted to know, this technique works somewhat sporadically for me. Frequently, I don’t have the motivation to write anything. Since starting these articles I’ve written somewhere around 10k in about a week. Only about a third of that are these thoughts on writing and writers block. Something about just getting material down on paper (or in pixels, as the case may be… and is) frees up a process and allows me to write more. Heck, it gets me typing instead of just staring at the screen, or, more commonly, playing a few levels of Oni, Diablo II, Neverwinter Nights, or the like.

So, I guess I’ll just stick with my comparison to the writing process to the flow of water, a comparison I’ve used many times in the past and will continue to use in the future, I think. It’s a good metaphor.

In this case, I’m looking at writer’s block as a dam. It’s blocking the flow of words from wherever they originate. Somewhere in my brain I suppose, but that’s a topic for another thought. But by simply getting a trickle started. Just the tiniest fracture in the dam wall, and a small amount of water begins to come through. This widens the hole, and more and more water comes out. Supposedly this would result in thousands and thousands of words gushing out, rampaging down valleys, drowning unsuspecting villagers and cows, destroying homes and businesses, causing millions of dollars of damage…

– wait. I think I’m confusing which is the metaphor, and which is my subject.

At any rate, my point is, if you (I) begin writing, it increases the likelihood that you (I) will be able to write more. And, as indicated by my experience with my last week’s writing, this writing won’t be just useless, you’ll (I’ll) be more enabled to write more prolifically on the subjects that you (I) most want to write and which you (I) feel are most important.

Of course, this assumes that one moves relatively quickly between. I suppose it probably varies from person to person, but if you write a little bit, then take a break (such as watching the Lord of the Rings Special Edition DVD – guess what I just got…) for a while, it hurts your “groove.” Stay in the groove, the groove is your friend.

So far, a lot of the things I’ve mentioned about writing seem to be little tricks. However, writing is not simply a collection of little tricks. Make no mistake about that. There is nothing easy about being a writer (with certain exceptions we all tend to believe in, like Stephen King, who apparently writes fifteen novels before lunch). Writing requires patience, discipline, and hard work (much of that work involving your head, high rates of speed, and impact with a heavy, blunt object such as a desk or keyboard).

If you don’t discipline yourself, often times forcing yourself to write, if you don’t have the patience to rewrite pages that aren’t your best work, if you don’t have bust your hump to get projects done by deadlines, then you won’t complete your writings.

Yes, there are techniques to help you work on writing. To get you into the “groove.” However, these techniques have nothing magical about them. If these techniques work for someone, it’s because there is a psychological enabling that is functioning there.

All this is to say that you can’t do automatic writing for fifteen minutes, then go watch Maury Povich and Judge Judy and expect to come back to the table (the one that holds your paper, typewriter, computer, or whatever you’re using to write) and write quickly.

Automatic writing, as I see it, will accomplish three basic things. One, it will help you come up with ideas, much like brainstorming. When you’re just writing to write, ideas you may have otherwise rejected come out and have a chance to develop into good ones. Automatic writing will help you be able to write new things that you hadn’t even planned before. They may help you with your current project, or they may help you come up with a new one (just don’t get so distracted that you don’t finish your current project–discipline, remember?).

Two, automatic writing will help you develop your writing skills. “Perfect practice makes perfect” my arse. You can’t be perfect until you learn to be perfect. You have to make a mistake so you can see what your mistakes are so you can fix them. That’s what practice is for. Automatic writing allows you to root out the bad juju you have in you, release the impulses and feelings you have that are working against your more serious writing, and work on your word choice.

Finally, automatic writing gets you in the groove, as I have been discussing. It helps you jump-start the writing process. But none of these things will work if you jump from automatic writing to an unrelated activity before doing your “serious writing.” You’ll lose your train of thought, resulting in the loss of ideas. You’ll lose any of the cathartic effects you may have gained. And you’ll lose your groove, and if you have a problem with writer’s block, well, then, you just wasted your time, didn’t you? It’d be like doing warm up stretches, then eating a big lunch before you go do your exercises.

Use automatic writing and the other tools you learn properly, to become a better writer.

The Value of Supergirl

My collection of Supergirl comic books is worth around $400.

I fear what this will do to me.

I have a number of items that I’ve collected over the years that are worth some money. For starters, I have some CLASSIC (meaning old) 45s from the 40s and 50s (I defy you to make smooth sounding sentence with that many numbers used as nouns) featuring Les Paul, Louis Armstrong, and others that are still in great shape. Haven’t checked their value, but to me, that was the whole point. They’re sure to be worth something to collectors (more if I had some Elvis in there, which I had within my grasp and lost) and while I am a half-hearted collector, I looked at them as less of a physical artifact and more as a collection of great music. I.e., I (brace yourself if you’re a hard core collector of anything, because this is shocking) listened to them. More than once. Satchmo can blow. Les can shred. Those are great tunes.

See, that was how I approached old things. I open my action figures and set them up in battle scenes on my desk (I’m infamous at the office; every time I bring in a new one I’m asked repeatedly where I’ll find room – oh, there’s room all right…). If I can ever develop a plan to get my old Kenner Star Wars action figures back from my cousin (my mom gave them to him, supposedly with my permission) I’d play with those too.

I read my old comics. I listen to old records. I drink from the crystal and eat off the china whenever I have an excuse to do so (such as I wanted to and I can make it look romantic so my wife does not object).

Things are too be used. For example, why would anyone make a stained glass window if we were not to look at it? Maybe that’s a bad example, since you don’t generally handle a stained glass window to gaze upon it. But you do a book. What value is a book if it is not read?

To give a better example, I was recently in Ireland and looked at the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is an extremely old hand-written, illuminated copy of the four gospels. But it’s still used. True, it’s extremely limited. The closest I got was from the other side of a few inches of glass. But researches and historians still look at it. Because it’s not worth anything just sitting there in the dark.

If I wanted something I could just look at, I’d buy a poster. In fact, I have. Supergirl is one of them, as a matter of fact (she’s right over the X-Men figures and earns a lot of ridicule from my co-workers and boss). I probably wouldn’t buy a statue, because that would just tempt me to explore it. It’s also possible I’d do the same with a painting, feeling the textures and the brush strokes. Not sure I’d do that, but I’m sure I’d be tempted.

After all, they’re just things.

But now I’ve had how much those things are worth quantified for me. The closest I came to that before was either when a dorm-mate offered to buy my “War” era U2 import singles or when I managed to sell a copy of one of the Robin issues from the Cataclysm story line to a local comic shop for more than cover value because I’d gotten it from another state (and extra copies, my local store had failed to get it).

But when I saw the price! I was impressed. Suddenly I was loathe to let anyone else read my Supergirl comics. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a great story. It’s worth reading. Fortunately, even if this revelation corrupts my perception of what “things” are worth and to be used for, the first nine issues (the best ones) are collected in a graphic novel format.

It may seem a silly problem. After all, most of you are screaming in horror at the fact that I’m abusing these items and casting my financial future into ruin.

But see, it’s a philosophical problem. So long as I didn’t know the value, even if I had a suspicion of what it was worth, I could keep my nonconformist stance that said things were to be used, not stored for their potential future value. I kept them in shape, because it’s easier to enjoy a record if it’s not scratched and easier to read a book that’s not torn up.

But now I have this sudden fear of ruining my items. I’m too careful. Am I going to continue to enjoy them? I don’t know. But I hope too. I look at this as a temptation to corrupt my quasi-virtuous stance of enjoying the world around me instead of placing monetary value on it. Really when it comes down to it, this is a religious issue. Do I enjoy the manufacturing/artistic/craftsmanship capabilities that we’ve been given by God? Or do I reduce it to a line of $ and ¢.

And ultimately, it’s a deeper question. Does reducing artifacts to monetary worth dehumanize me? What will archeologists in 2000 years say about us? Will the judge us too materialistic? It strikes me that modern archeologists are grateful for any preserved artifact they can find. But it also strikes me that they’d find perfectly preserved artifacts that were never used extremely curious. After all, what is the true value of an artifact that was never culturally significant?

Why I Write

I was thinking a little about what makes me write, continuing the thought of the last entry. Especially what makes me write things like this series of explorations, or the “Piece of Writing” series that gained me moderate fame in high school.

It also occurred to me that a great deal of the scholarship in history, literature, religion, the arts, and philosophy stems from the fact that we either

• Don’t have a record of what the original creator or thinker stated or thought about their production or deeds

Or

• If we do have such a record, it is unclear or debatable in meaning.

I was thinking this was deeply rooted to my need for verbose explication of my intentions and meanings. Sure, vague is fun, but I also find it intensely enjoyable to speak or write at length on a simple phrase or sentence that I feel is either vague or can be interpreted in more than one way.

On a side note, this rarely applies to when I attempt to be ridiculously funny, where I expect that if people don’t understand it or misinterpret it they simply have no sense of humor. Or being perverse (or dense). In none of those cases, do I usually feel I have the time or energy to deal with them.

Anyway, as I was saying, there’s a connection. I write because I don’t want someone in a thousand years to be debating about what I said or believed. Every thing, especially things I say, deserves exegesis. Careful exegesis. Exegesis to death. (I can imaging the people of Athens condemning Socrates to death by exegesis, except that it would probably kill many of them long before it began to phase that distinguished pedant).

Being misunderstood is one of the greatest fears I have. Which is a problem, because I live with it constantly. I once stated (if you’re going to cite someone, cite the best) that no one is truly understood, but that each person is probably has more emotional, motivational, and/or intellectual depth than they’re usually given credit for. I think I regard that as a tragedy. I even stated that one of the traits I’d demand in a wife were that she understand me. In the end, I believed I settled for wanted to understand me and tries to do so. Which is much more reasonable since, as I said, we don’t understand each other as people.

So we don’t have understanding, yet I fear not having it. So I must live in perpetual fear. Well, not really. More like perpetual frustration. I say something and I’m misunderstood, but I go on living. And hence I continue to write. Because I have this theory that the more I say, the easier it will be to understand me. Though I suppose it’s possible that I’m just providing more to be misunderstood. I think that’s the less likely of the two because I talk most about things I’ve already said.

On the other hand, another contending theory for my behavior is that I’m an egoist and just like to hear (or see) myself talk. This is also possible. I like to think there’s a mixture of the two. Am I making myself clear?

Or do I need to write another 550 words?