January 25, 2007

5 Things...

Okay, this is completely off topic for my blog and I'm wary to partake, but considering how few people actually read this damn thing I've decided to play along... mostly to appease my wife, The Mighty Sally. I was tagged by her and informed that I must comply.

So, here are five things that some of you readers (all three of you) may not know about me:

1) I cry in movies. That's right, you heard me. For some reason I find myself to be rather emotional in films... good ones at least. Worst culprits are:
Dancer In The Dark, Lost in Translation, and The New World, which in my mind are some of the more beautiful achievements these past few years.

2) If I could be anything in the entire world, I would be a singer in some metal band. While I love all kinds of music, especially the older, protest music of Neil Young and Bob Dylan etc. I love the raw, brutally honest sentiment of metal. I love the way it screams out at injustice, revels in its own bleak outlook. I've sung before, could even pull it off. But, as a good friend of mine once said, we never pursue what we truly love because to fail at that could mean the end of our passion. I'd love to be a MMA fighter too, but that's a close second.

3) My biggest fear is to fail as a father to my upcoming child. I suppose we all are keenly aware of our own shortcomings, those hidden and those more obvious, but I worry that mine will one day prevent me from connecting with my child completely.

4) I hate
South Park. This may be a surprise to most people who know me, as this would probably be the one show they'd think I love. Untrue. This show sucks. Its social commentary is minimal, the characters are funny maybe once every thirty episodes. Even the religious slams, which I normally adore in other shows, fall short. Stupid, ineffectual crap.

5) I think car racing, whether it be Indy 500 or F1 or whatever, is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. Not only is it an environmental disaster (think of the amount of fossil fuels being wasted), but it has absolutely no positive effect on any element of society, save for the red-neck faction who somehow think noise+fumes = entertainment. In fact, I have no real interest in cars in general. Sure, I'll buy one to get around, but I do not spend time thinking about which fancy sport car would be cool to drive. Do not care. I wish we didn't need a car at all.

I guess that's it...

January 15, 2007

Edit This, Muffler Trucker

Most of you struggling writers out there can attest to this: generating income from writing is bloody difficult.. damn near impossible really. Okay, not actually impossible, but frustrating enough that every once in awhile you consider going back to whatever menial job you once had and ignoring your writing impulse for as long as you can. I'm with you, no question.

The past few months have been spent researching other writing possibilities that can help with the household income. Getting a short story published really doesn't cut it. I am fortunate (blessed, really) to have a wife that makes a decent salary while I pursue these inclinations. And thank the sweet baby Jesus in his manger that society no longer frowns on the husband being the "stay at home" half of the relationship, albeit my in laws still secretly mutter about my apparent lack of responsibility. My discoveries so far: it is a slow process, full of plenty of rejection. But, it can be done.
I've started a correspondence introductory course on Editing/Publishing from
Simon Fraser University (SFU) here in Surrey. It's interesting enough, even from a writer's perspective. Lots of insight into the various types of editors out there and their respective roles: hunter gatherer, liaison and everything in between. There is potential here. A combination of factors, namely the mass influence of the world wide web and the corporate takeover of most of the major publishing houses in North America, a lot of the actual editing work (read: grammar, style, flow, consistency, accuracy etc.) is freelanced out. This means opportunity, once schooling is completed of course. But at what cost?

Much in the same way I think Creative Writing and English (studies) are at odds (construction vs. deconstruction), I think Editing and Writing may be opposing also, though not to the same extent. The job is all consuming. Most of the work revolves around ensuring the publishing machine is running smoothly: money is being put in the right places, copywriters are doing their jobs, the author is happy. At the end of the day, the editor takes the manuscripts home with him to read in his "off hours". This, of course, would be the exact time he should be working on his own material.
An even more complex notion is the issue of becoming a part of the publishing collective; your brain begins to self edit your work to suit the publisher, not your own sense of voice and style. This is perhaps the most deadly of outcomes. Publishing houses are choosing books for their marketability these days, their potential to sell to whatever demographic will offer the most money. It's a business sadly removed from any romantic love of the written word. Most writers cater to the publishing houses, then to the market, then to whatever remnants of their creative voice they feel they have left. Take a look at the bestseller lists in the supermarkets. Horrible tripe most of the time, and yet these are the authors who make the most money. I don't want to fall into that plastic, soulless realm. But, in the same breath, I want to have my work read... even at the risk of it being disliked.

So the trick is finding that razor's edge, that precarious perch where I can balance both my writing, my responsibility, and... my ego. What a vain existence. Slip one way and I'm a sell out. Slip the other way and I've become narcissistic for the sake of some dim vision of art. Stay perched on the edge and I'm safe and... mediocre. And this is all assuming that I have something to offer the industry to begin with. Writers are an underpaid, prattling lot. I suspect many write one way to survive, and another way to experience their lives fully. This is what I would love to be able to do.

January 2, 2007

Jumping to Contusions with New Year's Resolutions

Right, so the holidays are finished. Everyone has consumed far too much of everything, groaned their way through meaningless conversation and sweaty hugs from pungent relatives otherwise forgotten. So now what? Back to work? Same old thing? Or is this the new era of [insert name here]?

I realized, a long time ago, that I failed at every single New Year’s resolution I ever made. They were always losing battles to begin with: stop cussing for a year, memorize the Bible, no more awkward, longing gazes at attractive girls too old for me in high school. That sort of thing. But now, whenever New Year’s rolls around, I feel a void. Am I supposed to be making active changes to better myself as a person? After all, 2006 was a bust, so now I have to begin 2007 with some element of evolution in mind, progression and such?

In writing, there is an endless amount of growth required. My biggest issues are complacency, distraction, and often self-defeat. I find it easy to talk myself out of writing for the day simply by assuming that I will not get anything accomplished to begin with. Lack of seeing the big picture, really. And I doubt I am alone in this. It doesn’t even have to be about writing. Any artistic project outside of the realm of every day work can take a back seat to flicking on the television and watching Seinfeld reruns.

So, in the spirit of wanting more from myself, recognizing shortcomings (and there are many), and wanting to be disciplined enough to push past them, I’ve stolen my resolutions for the year from Ginny Wiehardt’s writing suggestions posted on about.com, a decent resource for fiction writers if you can get past all the damn ads.

Top Ten Resolutions for 2007.

I figure the odds are in my favor. With ten resolutions to work with, even if I fail at a few of them I can still make the passing grade, yes? Nothing like setting my sights as high as possible (that’s sarcasm, folks).

What about you other writers? Any resolutions you have that are missing from this list?