Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You've Lost A Lot In These Waning Years

Hello Reader!  I was coursing back through time yesterday, staring my memories in the face.  As it were, I couldn't help but gloss over - alright I'm a liar, I didn't gloss over it, I outright pored over them - five years of my life spent with someone.

No, I wasn't in a relationship with the person.  Although, we were close enough for it.  And it's not appropriate to explain here why the friendship soured.  I feel it is enough to say that even the best of friendships have beneath them an undercurrent of...well, something far more sinister and darker than just friendship.

Is it really melodramatic for me to call it a betrayal?  I mean, for God's sake it's been three years since everything ended.  How am I still hung up on this issue?  Probably because I did many wrong, cruel things to that person in the dying shambles of the relationship.  My justification has been that worse, crueler things happened to me.  Not over the course of a year, but during that entire five year epoch of my tiny life.  That's good enough justification right?

Either way the issue is important, for this blog at least, because I want it in my book.  I think I've said somewhere that this novel is asking the question what if Paul Muad'dib had to go to high school and still lead the Fremen?  What if Harry Potter and Dune were to be mashed up, their storylines and character attitudes merged together?  But in a lot of ways, the teenage relationships between Harry and his friends are incredibly juvenile.  For one thing they don't curse.  Maybe British children are less foul-mouthed than American children, but seeing as how I'm an American I can't really avoid writing about what I know.

That's a minor thing though.  What irks me as I reread the Harry Potter series is the genuine goodness in each of the children.  It seems to be that all of the undesirable traits, or at least those that people absolutely everywhere absolutely cannot tolerate, are sequestered to Slytherin house.  For pity's sake, the worst thing anyone in any of the other houses ever does is uncleverly tease Harry.  Most of them, actually all of them, apologize to him after they've been proven wrong by our persevering hero.  Of course I understand that the novels are meant for children.  Why shove complexity down their throats?  Ravenclaw can have terrible human beings in it too?  Whoa, heavy man.  To be fair there's already enough new information, and the whole damn thing is presented so delightfully and with so much vivid and wondrous detail there's no reason for any more complexity in the relationships between these children.

But then again maybe there is.  High school isn't the sordid affair presented by many books, movies, television shows etc.  Often these media present to us a wasteland of common sense inhabited by cliques who are all mutually exclusive from each other.  This is a complete fallacy.  High school, or at least what I experienced high school as, was an ever shifting chaotic mess of children figuring out who they are in often harmful ways - to themselves and to others.  I had friends who did more hard drugs in high school than many of my college friends, who pride themselves on their lack of boundaries, even attempt.  Backstabbing in college is so much easier, because you're not clustered with the same 60 students everywhere you go for six hours straight.  There isn't much harmful gossip in college, because as fast as word travels at the university it is thousands of magnitudes slower than the drivel that's tossed around on a high school campus.

Again, as always, I'm speaking in generalities.  You can bombard me all you want with examples of gossip and backbiting behaving by rules diametrically opposite to those I've outlined above.  Fine.  I'm a generalist, I apologize, I hope you can learn to accept it as I've learned to accept the nitpicking.  Also, I could be totally wrong.  If I am, I'll admit it.  Now on with it.

Now, how does this vision of high school relate to the novel?  Well, I'm writing about high school students for most of the story.  In fact, the first novel's plot is driven by the high school aspirations, pratfalls, missteps and melodrama that follow my teenage characters.  In a lot of ways, high school is the very first step - or series of giant leaps - we all take in becoming less innocent.  I'm not just talking about sex or drugs, I'm talking about sins and diseases of the heart.  Some of us become arrogant in our ephemeral youth, believing the success and grandeur of our teenage years will last us until we're well into the throes of our death bed.  Some wayward souls dive headfirst into waters unknown and do not surface.  Ever.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Very Origins of My Story

Hello Reader!  I've always noted, rather proudly, that the story I'm blogging about, writing about, and have been thinking about since birth has no discernible origin in my memory.  But after rewatching bits and pieces of The Dark Crystal, I've come to realize there can be no other source of genesis for my story.  Which is odd because, while I am incredibly nostalgic about the movie, the storyline behind it irks me.

Basically a race of being on the planet Thra called UrSkeks came from another planet that severely looks down on moral impurities.  They plan on using a very large crystal, the same one that brought them to the planet Thra, and its ability to focus light from Thra's three suns in an attempt to purify themselves of their sins.  Well the event is called The Great Conjunction and the results are not what they expected.  They are split in two, a species called the Skeksies representing their unrestrained, evil sides and another species called the urRu (or Mystics).  I think it's quite obvious that the Mystics represented the disciplined, righteous side of the UrSkeks.

Anyways, the whole movie is about a young Gelfling who is prophesied to bring together the Mystics and Skeksies by finding the lost shard of the Dark Crystal - the same crystal that caused all this trouble in the first place - and rejoining it to the larger crystal in Skeksies territory.  Yeesh it's weird writing Skeksies.  The word is supposed to be the singular and plural form of the species, so I'm constantly feeling as if my syntax and grammar is totally off.

I digress however, because the main point of the story wasn't to introduce you to the plot of the movie.  As I've said above, the whole story irks me.  I'm not sure why.  For a Muppet film, the movie is very dark in its tone and the Skeksies are incredibly unforgiving, paranoid, ruthless villains.  Which is all very nice and good.  You never want villains that aren't scary.  But the story just irks me.

Maybe it's because I've finally found the Big Bang.  Or at least, the Big Bang of my story.  The Mags and the Howlas did not come from the same species of people - they have always been distinct.  But they do originate from the same planet.  And the first Magna Beast, as well as his counterpart the Howlamega, were each given their powers by a crystal.  Whoa, right?  I'm not positive as to when I watched this movie, but I am more than assured as of now that this film was the beginning.

Is that the cause of my annoyance?  I hope I'm not that arrogant, but I cannot lie and say that I wasn't proud of my story's lack of origin.  Fascination engulfed me.  I was enamored with the idea that this story was a germ that spontaneously erupted in the creative nether regions of my mind.  I wanted, so badly, to believe that this story was something more than just another conglomeration of past ideas.  I will still press on, no doubt.  Briok's tale is too far ingrained in my DNA now for me to not express it.  But an itching will constantly reside in my head, something that tells me, whispers to me that this wasn't my idea.

Of course one answer would be that I have thus far steered away from outright copying Jim Henson's work and made the UrSkek story my own.  But how did I steer away from it?  Every metastasization since has been easily attributed to something or another.  The fact that I had to create a purpose behind the story, a theme that resonated was due to Mr. Perkins my eighth grade english teacher.  The darkness of the characters, their deep melodramas and their superficial joys were inspired by Battlestar Galactica's intrepid character portrayals.  The restraint of my imagination in service of the reader hammered into me by my sophomore english teacher Mrs. Higgins.  The mafias, a monkey wrench in the plans of my main characters, were yanked straight from the reels of The Yakuza Papers.

No artist since the dawn of man has painted without another's color.  I justify myself thus.  Anyways, no point in crying over spilled milk.  Is that the phrase?  I've got what I've got.  It's made some people happy.  Hopefully it'll continue to do so.  I'll just keep writing, humbling myself with the knowledge that what I've been given I'll be giving back in a new way.  And hey, what I've been given isn't so bad.  Until next time then.