Daily Archives: March 6, 2014

Ruthless (wait for it)


The fact that after only a couple of days and a couple of posts I have picked up a follower or two is instructive. (Thanks very much, by the way, to my first two followers!) If I can trick passersby into getting interested in my daily-ish rambles, then I guess I need to seriously consider the purposes for which I’m running this little monkey show.   After all, CLEARLY NOTHING WILL STOP THIS FROM BECOMING THE BIGGEST BLOG EVER.
I had really wanted to use this as a sort of dumping ground for everything from my writing project ideas to revelations garnered through running to stupid things I picked up from teaching to whatever other sort of nonsense might occur to me. But it occurs to me at this juncture that I might actually want to keep my writing ideas especially a bit closer to the vest. Don’t get me wrong (who am I talking to? Myself, let’s get real) me, there is still plenty of writing that I can do about writing. But I suppose it only makes sense to keep the details of my specific projects a bit locked down. Fear not, (me) there will still be plenty to say with printwords about my other hodgepodge of topics. Oh, and the profanity; Fargo, I almost forgot the profanity.
Posting from the tablet is for the birds, in other news. It’s taken as long for me to type out this sniplet as it did for my thousand words this afternoon. An exercise in frustration, like using a butter knife to saw off your trapped-under-a-boulder arm, only the knife is already dull from having first hacked off your other arm, also trapped by a boulder, this one covered in badgers. Which incidentally means you have to hold the knife in your teeth, and don’t forget you’re bleeding out. And the badgers are descending. And the typos and auto”corrects”, ye gods! Words the tablet didn’t want to recognize: ye, gods, badger, dull, trapped, arm, and more, and that in only the last 50 words. So much doubling back and retyping. First world problem, I’m well aware, but ugh. In the future, only when necessary.
A teaching anecdote to close things out. I get a special warm feeling when I crack a dumb joke and one student picks up on it (most of the mutants don’t listen to me at all and even when they do, most of my humor goes over their heads).
Students are taking an open book quiz.
Student A: what’s ruthless mean?
Me : ruthless, yes, that’s a state of being in which you don’t have any Ruths.
Student A stares blankly, student J at the back of the room snorts, “Mr. P, seriously?”
Me: am I wrong? I guess you’ll have to look it up then.
Being a teacher is awesome sometimes.


Just banging out some words


(Title Edited so that I can save the totally awesome title “Wordhammer” for a more awesome use later)

Spiraling around the issue of actually putting metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper, I want to take a bit of time today as practice banging out some words.

I’m very close to settling on Accidentally Inspired as the focus for my novel.  When I say very close, I frankly can’t think of what would shake me from it, but I did after all give myself until Monday to officially make that call, so my procrastinating half will happily allow me to put it off until that time or very nearly so.  After all, me from Monday certainly dropped a DonDraper anvil on future me’s head, or at least, will have done by the time he gets around to it.  I get around to it?  Future uses are Fargoers, especially when we refer to them (ourselves) in infuriating 3rd person.  Who would do that?  Your author is as puzzled as anybody.

At any rate, I want to kick around some ideas for AI in a span of about 20 minutes or so.  That will leave me time to prep for my next class coming in.

So, I realize that what the storyline lacks is a real villain.  Sure, the characters that Andy invents at the typermachine (yeah… that happened and I stuck with it) end up working against him, but they are not villains.  They’re not working against him so much as they’re simply working for themselves.  Of course, in noticing that I recall upon myself the notion that there is no good or bad but thinking makes it so; ergo, NO villain should be working against him in the strict sense of acting as an ANTI-Andy, that wouldn’t make sense.  However, the created characters are not operating at goals which stand at cross purposes to Andy.  They want their story to go one way, he wants his story to go another way, they may not agree or be particularly happy about the compromise, but they both WANT A STORY.  It works as a conflict, but the central conflict is an internal one.  His writer’s block.

Not to say that an internal conflict can’t carry the day; certainly it can.  But why not an extra external conflict to muddy the waters?  To spice up the soup?  Chuck would say, probably, if I knew him and were he reading this, why not 4 or 5 more conflicts?  Why not indeed?

So, a villain.  If there’s a villain in the story as it exists already, it’s Andy’s barely-mentioned nemesis Harold Green (or whatever his DonDraper name is; I can’t even remember, which is a testament to how long it’s been since I’ve written and also a testament to how forgettable he was, which is kind of the point – if he’s forgettable then why is he the Fargo there?) who exists outside the action of the play, writing the stories that Andy can’t write, scoring the bonuses Andy can’t score, presumably bedding all the models that Andy can’t bed.  He’s the measuring stick against which Andy measures his … prowess, we’ll say prowess.

So why not make him visible?  Why not bring him into the tangle and allow him to Fargo with Andy up close and personal-like?  Why not allow him to get in there and grab a hot handful of Andy’s scrotum and tack it to the floor?  Why, indeed, not?  (I’ve definitely been reading Chuck’s blog.)  There are moments for it.  It could even be built up to.  First, a taunting phone call as part of a good-natured pissing match between the two of them (good-natured, that is, in Harold’s eyes – Andy wouldn’t be able to stand it, I like that dichotomy).  Then a furious follow-up when he learns that Andy has an opportunity to snake the job from under him.  Then some honest to goodness Fargoery as he attempts to sabotage Andy in the writing of the project.  Making all kinds of crazy noise in the street outside?  Why not.  Planting radios in the air vents to play Hanson at all hours of the day?  Demented.  I love it.

Point is, I think I realized that he’s a perfect opportunity for the story to have a villain that can be reviled and hated and who I can also use as an avatar to give Andy some additional holy Haberdashery to deal with – and let’s face it, if I’m going to expand this thing into a novel, there needs to be more Haberdashery in Andy’s world to make it worth the price of admission.

There, that’s twenty minutes.  Or was it ten?  I think it was ten.  Nonetheless, a villain is a pretty good product for 800 words or so of musing and drivel.  Also a pretty good indicator that I can take hold of the ol’ wordhammer and bang out some stuff if I decide to do it.

Mark me, this is not self-serving wheel-spinning and procrastination.  Well, yes, it is, it’s exactly that.  But I think this idea needs just a bit of ground-laying to really take shape and I’m hoping to accomplish that to give myself a good chance at 1) actually writing and finishing the thing and 2) okay I really don’t have a list of objectives, I just wanted to perhaps lessen the magnitude of that first and only important point by giving it some cohorts on my to-do list.  If there’s just one thing it seems insurmountable.  If there are several things, it’s like a checklist.  Did that.  Working on that.  Gonna do that.  No problem.  Let me try again.

Give myself a good chance of

1) actually writing and finishing the thing

2) having a hot sandwich for lunch

3) pondering penguins in a parade

There.


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