Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What I Saw in the Black

Hello Reader!  Yes, I know, I haven't posted in a while.  I'm well aware of that.  I took some time off to find my bearings and get my life straight.  It isn't quite adjusted yet, in fact it's barely gotten better.  But that little smidgen of relief is all I really needed in the first place.  After all my problems aren't that big.

What a beard.

That's an interesting thought, isn't it?  Ernest Hemingway once said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  Isn't that depressing?  But it's kind of telling.  A lot of "great" writers and great artists in general have channeled their immense pain into their work.  This is what has made their literature powerful, timeless, evocative.  Some would even argue that the channeling of such pain is the only way to achieve the heights that authors like Hemingway have soared to.  Usually my contrarian self would say "Screw that" and argue against such an idea.  But I cannot disagree with the notion.  For it is my own pain that drives me towards making Briok's imaginary wanderings real.  

Sure sure, I get it, I'm only 20.  How much pain could I possibly experience?  And to be completely honest, I haven't seen much pain inflicted upon me.  I have a stable home, my mother and father are both still married and I have a loving sister.  I've got great friends, a second family really, and there aren't too many dire economic strains on my lifestyle.  I'm not crippled by some physical handicap, nor do I experience judgement, prejudice and hate everyday.  I'm verily blessed in so many departments.

To me, that's the look of true suffering.

But no one escapes pain, least of all an Afghan.  Pain is drawn to us as the tides are drawn to the shore, an incessant waxing and waning.  Sometimes these waves of pain are harsher than before, sometimes they are softer but always they are constant.  I think it may be due to my sensitivity.  I feel differently, not drastically, but just differently.  I can get butthurt over random things, and easily take shit for other stuff that people would think is off-limits.  

So where does this pain come from, if I've pretty much got it made?  Several things.  My own perceived inadequacy, a perception I do not want to argue about, my inability to handle my own imperfection and mistakes, things I have said and done and still-raw feelings over friendships severed.  I can't believe that these things still haunt my skull, but in the back of my head do they remain like slow-moving wraiths.  

Least gory way to show bleeding that I could find.

Channeling these hurt feelings and painful memories into words is not as easy as bleeding however.  Because the raucous contrarian inside of me refuses to accept this emo bullshit.  I will not succumb to some dumbass ideology that bitches and whines itself into literature, morphing my novel into a pity party.  I am a man damn it, I've got regrets but they can go to Hell.  I did what I did and I apologize, so why in the world should I be weighed down by the guilt?

I once spoke about regret in heroes.  I postulated that this regret, this interminable feeling of remorse, is not what makes our heroes so enjoyable.  It is their constant rebellion against these feelings, no matter how persistent or powerful they may be, that makes them heroes worthy of our fervor.  What else would?  And so too does Briok's story go.  

Whatever pain I feel, whatever I witnessed in the midst of my hurt, will not define my work.  The rebellion against such feelings is what will define it.  That is what will be Briok's journey, a constant series of reactions to a constant crashing of sorrow upon the shores of his human heart.  And hopefully, one day, just as he will eventually build a levee against such incessant waves I too will build a wall against the crippling woe.  

That's me, overlooking the daunting task ahead.

This is a short post, because this was really just a fleeting thought in my head.  I just wanted it put down somewhere that I refuse to allow my work to be defined by my sorrow, despite my willingness to pour such feelings into the novel.  Plus, I'm working hard on doing well in my Writer's Workshop that I am attending.  That's right!  UCLA is offering a four-week, two hour a week workshop on writing given by a self-published author of science fiction novels who has her master's degree in Neurophysiology.  It's like the university plucked from my hopes and aspirations the perfect program.

Maybe that's where the whole post can come together.  I learned in the first workshop about something called progression.  It seems like a simple idea, a common tool that any writer would need.  But it's actually very elusive.  Moving a plot forward, moving characterization forward without packing in too many details or new characters or outlandish events is excruciating.  That second one is important.  Characterization is very hard to do realistically.  Even the best characters can come off as fake sometimes.

I never want the reader saying, "Well, why didn't he just do blahdiddy blah blah?"  I want them to understand intrinsically the motives behind each action my characters take.  So what's more understandable than rebelling against pain?  We all strive to do it, we all want to do it.  I don't think anyone here would like for their pain to consume them.  And that's the progression.  Briok has to first learn what pain is.  Then become consumed by it.  Then fight it, and finally conquer it.  Or he could remain consumed by it and become a monster.  It'd be interesting wouldn't it?  Anyways, this writer's workshop has definitely been a massive help and I've only been to one session! Until next time then.