Sunday, October 21, 2012

Start anew

During the summer, I spent a significant amount of time painstakingly outlining something. It held water, the details and motivations added up. About 8000 words into it I realized it was completely the wrong story for me. It was a good story, but it wasn't one I had any real interest in telling.

I felt like I had been pushed into telling the same story that I had always told and couldn't really articulate why. No one was telling me I had to write any specific kind of thing, but if asked for how and why I felt like my answers were the same ones.

We have our personal writing tropes, the signifiers of what makes the work ours. (The linguistic fingerprints; the thematic DNA.) That wasn't what bothered me. This far into the game, I've accepted that there are certain quirks and images that will appear again and again in what I write, because I'm writing it. There's a difference between a signature style—a brand if you want to use the marketing lingo—and the same story with different characters in it. And I didn't want to write the same story again and again and yet again. Because that was getting me nowhere.

I always write stories where the conflict—the faulty aspect of the universe—is directly connected to a main character. It might be inherited, as their parents did the wrong, but it's always personal to the protagonist. Even when I wrote a manuscript about getting tangled up in other people's shit those other people were still directly connected to the larger world problems.

That's connected to my philosophies—to subjective reality and self-autonomy. Accountability is important; we ought to be the ones who resolve the conflicts we create. But sometimes we don't create them.

When I sat down to write this thing, it wasn't about the why. It was about that sometimes you walk into a forest and it wants to eat your face. You didn't do anything wrong; the trees are just hungry and you're there. (It's non-Western approach to horror.) Sometimes the world drops problems on your doorstep that you didn't invite or have any part in their conception.

It's important to clean up the messes we create, but it's just as important to get involved in cleaning up the important ones that aren't directly impacting us. Why wear purple on Spirit Day? Why wear red on World AIDS Day? Why run for the cure or donate to the food bank? Because you want to. Because you feel motivated to do so. Because you have a little bit of empathy for people who need help.

That's the story I want to write. The story where how things got the way they are and who's to blame doesn't matter as much as how they'll get resolve by a group of people who choose to become involved. People who could walk away, but don't. People who don't let life make them hard and hateful.

That's a story I haven't written yet, so I'm going to write it.