(Lack of) Style Points


Writer’s style is like …. it’s one of those weird things that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s this sort of indefinable quality we all have to our writing, and it’s hard to point to single passages and say “see, this exemplifies this author’s style because of this thing and that thing and also that other thing over there, and therefore their style is x”.

It’s one of those things you *feel* more than you quantify.

And styles change over time, too, just like people change. But I wonder about style in my own writing a lot, to the point I’m probably hyper aware of it. I write a passage, and I’m like, “does this sound like me?” Or more often the question is, “what does this even sound like?” Or even more often than that, “this is just totally boring and I hate the way I wrote it.”

It’s this weird hangup that has only really gotten worse with me the more I’ve written, which is weird, because everything you see everywhere about everything seems to suggest that the more you do a thing, the better you should get at it, but that doesn’t seem to be true for me and my style. I second-guess the hell out of myself and my style these days, and I never did back in the day. I could blow through over 1000 words in a session on my novel, then hop over here and fire off an 800-word blog post and never think a second thought about what I’d written or how I’d written it; all the words were good words.

Now, though? I’m afraid to even look back at what I wrote when I was starting out. Not because of the subject material — I’m sure that’s as cringey as anything I ever write under any circumstance. No, I’m terrified to look at my style back then, because I’m mindful of it now, and I fear that since I wasn’t mindful of it then, it’ll be a mess. (It’s there. I could look in the archives of this very website. But I dare not.)

Have I tied myself in enough knots? As if it’s not hard enough just to write the words down.

And it’s no use pretending not to care now that I do. You say “I don’t care what my writing sound like,” it’s as bad as the guy who purposely gives himself a bedhead, rumples up his shirt, and wears ridiculous shoes saying “I don’t care what I look like”. Like, yeah you do, man… you purposely cultivated that look to *look* like you don’t care.

It’s like one of those Magic Eye things. The image is entirely invisible to you until you finally see it, and once you see it, you can never not know it’s there.


I Should Probably Just Quit


Every now and then I get to thinking (as many writers do, maybe?) …

Man, I dunno if I’m cut out for this.

It’s just so hard… to find the time in the day, to make the words come, to face the editing monster, to spend time thinking on all these ideas…

Life would be a lot easier if I just gave it up. Just quit worrying about writing, stop stressing about my stories, give up grinding over grammar (okay, that one was a stretch. I’m a former English teacher, grammar is in my blood.)

And that’s not Writer’s Block talking, or laziness, or any other cop out. That’s 100% true. I have a full-time job, I like getting up early in the morning to run, I like having weekends to hang with the fam, and oh yeah, there’s my whole extracurricular program at the school, too…. life would be easier if I weren’t trying to write stories too.

I entertain these thoughts.

But then I think of the stories I’m in the middle of, of leaving them unfinished. (Not even unread by an audience’s eyes, but just “unfinished by me”.) And I’m appalled. To not polish them up and get them ready to leave the nest (whether they ever do or not)? Seems like a crime against humanity … a crime against all the time and work and strife I’ve put into them.

And I think of the ideas I’ve had for stories I haven’t told yet…. stories that may come to nothing, that may never have their first word written, that may start with tons of gusto and then never go anywhere. And I can’t handle that thought either, the thought of never bringing these stories into the world, half-formed and imperfect as they no doubt would be.

In short, I can’t picture a life when I’m not writing or creating something, no matter how hard it is and no matter how much I might rather live that way.

Writing has become as natural and necessary as sustenance, as exercise.

So even though I don’t do it as much as I should, and even though my projects take forever to finish … I’m gonna keep writing.

I just don’t see any other way.


Not Done Yet


I was going to share, here, a speech I cobbled together and shared with my cast and crew on the opening night of our show. (Said opening of said show is, of course, the perennial reason I dropped off the face of the earth for the last couple of weeks. But it’s over now, and I’m back, better than ever — okay maybe not, but at least *as good* as ever.)

There was a lot of great stuff in there, about magic and creativity and perseverance and all that good stuff. But that speech, like the theatre itself, was ephemeral, I think. Suited to that moment with that group and the dynamic we shared. So I’m not going to share it here, except for one particular passage: that we are capable of more than we think.

This year has taught a lot of us that lesson, as we have struggled (and struggle still) to find normality in this world turned upside down. And I keep learning that lesson myself, probably because I keep forgetting it and having to be reminded over and over.

We fool ourselves into thinking that we’re done, that we’ve given all we can, that we’ve got nothing left. And the lie sounds reasonable; just look at all we’ve been through. There’s always something left in the tank. We just get overwhelmed, intimidated, frustrated, flustered. But those feelings are as fleeting as the moment I shared with my cast last week. We can still go on. Dig a little deeper, lace up our boots a little tighter, and go on.

So. Go on.


Bloody Great Shoes


Would you wear shoes with a drop of human blood in the sole?

Nike sues over 'Satan Shoes' with human blood - BBC News

I mean, given the $1018 price tag, and the fact that they sold out in mere minutes, you almost certainly won’t get the chance. (Unless it’s your own blood. But that seems to miss the point a little bit. This is *somebody else’s blood* sloshing around in the sole of your shoe. Mixed with paint, of course, but it’s in there.

Note, also, the pentagram medallion on the laces. And the inverted cross on the tongue.

Nike is distancing themselves from the shoes, of course, saying they never manufactured them that way, and that’s fine. Lord knows they don’t need the religious masses picketing.

But that’s the thing, right? It is so easy to rile up religious people, and Lil Nas X has done it purely as a troll. Just because he can. There’s this big kerfuffle, now, over these shoes…. and if people could just chill out, recognize a troll for a troll and, you know, *not feed it*, the buzz about these shoes would disappear practically overnight.

But some people — and I’ll even go so far as to say some *types* of people — can’t leave it alone. This is symbology that *means something*, they cry, and out come the cries of blasphemy, etc etc.

There is nothing evil about these shoes, except for the backlash. These are man-made materials made by actual human beings to make a buck. There were no devils or demons involved. You can’t even argue that the blood is serving some nefarious purpose. It wasn’t harvested from unsuspecting children sleeping in their beds, or drawn unwillingly from a virgin sacrificed on an altar above a volcano. No, a bunch of shoe-designing nerds drew their own blood and mixed it with some paint and put it in the soles of the shoes to grab a headline.

The symbology is only as powerful as we allow it to be, folks. Yes, an inverted cross and a pentagram have connotations for those of us with religious backgrounds. But are we to believe that this kid — who comes from a few miles down the road from me, it turns out! — is really practicing Satanism here? Just look at what he’s said in response:

Nope, he’s trolling. And if you’re upset about these shoes, well, you were his intended target.


Knife’s Edge


With every play I’ve ever been a part of, there’s a period of time where you’re just not sure if the show is going to “make it”.

There are so many elements that have to come together: the actors and their performances, the set pieces getting built, all the painting to be done, people bringing in costumes, lighting effects, sound effects, blood sacrifices to appease the theatre gods… there’s just a *lot*. And it’s kind of miraculous that theatre happens at all, sometimes; getting that many people on the same page is hard enough when you’re dealing with normies — to try it with artists is a truly herculean task.

So there’s always that time where you look at the state of the thing, shake your head, and say “I just don’t know, man.”

Usually that time is short. Usually it strikes within a couple weeks before the show opens and it dissipates after you get a tech rehearsal or two under your belt.

But this year? In the plague year? That time started roughly a week after we had the show cast and it has not let up since.

Between kids getting quarantined and extracurriculars being cancelled by the district due to severe weather, our rehearsal time just isn’t there, and we’re unfocused and stressed and it’s getting close to panic.

But I also know that no matter how disastrous things seemed in every other play I’ve been a part of, you come through that time and the show survives. Somehow (probably all the blood sacrifices) the theatre gods smile on your show and allow it to come to fruition… and sometimes, to even be *good*.

When will that time arrive for this one?

I just don’t know, man.


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