Writing in the Fall

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything original for this blog, and I’m sorry for that.  As you probably know, I’m currently trying to make Chocolate Diamond Media a real job, make a feature film, and I’m working a day job, and have my family to spend time with.  So that’s part of it.

The other big part of it, is that I don’t write well in the fall.  This is a tough time of year for me, and even right now (the last year or two) when I’m at my most productive, the fall is tough.  I’ve talked a lot about seasonal depression before on here, and this is that time of year for me.  I’m not nearly as bad as most years.  The truth is that there is more daylight down in North Carolina than in Massachusetts, and for the last month, I’ve been waking up nearly every morning an hour earlier than I used to, in order to go run.  These have done wonders for the more overt symptoms of depression, namely I don’t feel sad/bad.  And it has helped me to want to be more productive, and more motivated than I would normally.  That productiveness has translated into editing, and filming, and forcing myself to work, but it has not helped as much with writing.

When I get to this part of the year, I don’t have any shortage of ideas, they still click into my head at the same rate as the rest of the year, but for some reason I have a hard time pushing them out into words.  I’ve started 10 blog posts, and as many short story/novel/film ideas, in the last week, and got no more than a sentence deep before abandoning them, but had pretty clear ideas, just couldn’t get them started.  Imagine you’re in a train car, and you see the train tracks laid out before you, and you know once you get on them you’re going to chug away and ride off into the sunset, but there’s 100 feet of tracklessness that you need push the train car across before starting on that.  That’s what I’ve been doing sitting on the train, staring at the tracks, and not sure how to get the cart on them.  Today, for some reason, when I woke up, the train was on the track, and so I’m pumping the coals into the fire (it’s an old train because I like the visual representation better, don’t worry coal burning is totally clean in my metaphor world) while I have track in front of me.

I hope that this will keep going, and when I wake up tomorrow I’ll be on the tracks again, but I guess I won’t know until tomorrow.

In the mean time, if you’re in the mood to see some of the creativity (non-written) that I’ve been producing while I haven’t been writing, please go check out the Chocolate Diamond Media YouTube channel.  I think I’m starting to get things into a groove over there, and there is some of the same sensibility (although an honest effort to remain unpolitical over on that channel).

Crumpled Papers in the Trash

As a writer, there are times when you have the time to write but not the mentality to, and vice versa.  So many times when I’m too busy but have a million ideas, but today is not one of those days.  Today is a day when I can write, I’m sitting here staring at my screen, and I have nothing to say.

Today is frustrating.

I have written the first sentence of fifteen different ideas, I’ve tried editing some previously started projects, I’ve even written out several comments on social media, only to scrap everything I’ve done.  Today, so far, has been a zero sum day.  Even this piece? I’ll probably realize this is too ‘navel-gazy’ and throw this out too.  We’ll see.

One thing that I’ve realized, while there is something mildly more environmentally friendly about writing electronically, when shit-canning an idea, it can be significantly less satisfying.  I don’t have a piece of paper to crumple into a ball, and then throw into a trash bin, pretending for a second to be a basketball player.

I get to delete out my work.  If it’s just a couple of words, I just press the Backspace button repeatedly until the cursor is the only black mark blinking across a sea of white.  If it’s a couple of sentences, I may just hold that same button, and watch as it starts off deleting letters, and quickly snowballs until it’s consuming entire words simultaneously.  Or if I have managed to get some block of text, I may use the mouse and highlight it all, only to delete it in one quick click. If I return to a project later, and decide it’s nonsense, I can just delete the file, which is slightly more satisfying, because at least I’m asked “Are you sure you want to Delete this?”

I am sure.  It’s not good.  Delete.

After a long day of toiling over electronic writing, there is no trash bin filled with my failures, no proof that I found many ways not to make a lightbulb.  There are only my personal memories, which often are fleeting.  Don’t feel particularly useful, and particularly non-motivating.

Then there is a spark. Not an idea necessarily, but with a little bit of oxygen it could turn into one.  What about writing about the inability to write, no one’s ever done that.  And in an attempt to kick-start some better idea, I start writing that down, hoping it will open up the flood gates, hoping that by the time I’ve exhausted the idea, that maybe I’ll have a legitimately good one, or at least the motivation to revisit my ‘in-progress’ works.

But it fails.

Lynnfield MA, 02/09/1981

As you probably know, if you’ve been reading my blogs for long, I have been working on a novel for the last year and a half. You might also know, that the last 6-9 months of that time I’ve been not doing much on it. Back in October, I started a time-travel story in its own separate blog, and as of today (or 02/09/1980) its word count has surpassed my novel’s. My novel has 38,348 words so far (40,000 is when it ceases to be a novella, and becomes a proper novel) and now my time-travel blog, “Without a Tether,” has 38,833 words.
I know this probably sounds like nonsense to many of you, but it’s a piece that I’m really proud of, and now that it is officially the longest thing I’ve ever written, I just wanted to mention that. I hope you enjoy it!

Without a Tether

Start from the Beginning

Previous Post

February 9, 1981

My grandmother came over to my apartment, and we recorded our film.  I set up the camera, along with a few lights, I wanted to make sure that she was well lit enough that it wouldn’t allow for any doubt of its authenticity in thirty years.  I wrote a little bit of a script for her to read, in order to convince my parents of who I truly am.  I knew my father would be skeptical, and while DNA would be an option, but I wasn’t sure I could get that far without more evidence.

“Hi Maria, Hi Scott.  By the time you see this film, or Michael calls it a tape.  He says it will be a tape, or disk or something by the time you get to see it, but by the time you see this, I’ll have passed…

View original post 1,442 more words

I Shot Myself in the Foot

I want to tell you a story, about an idea I had about ten years ago.  I wanted to write a novel about myself as a time-traveler, going back in time in a one-way time machine to the 1980’s.  I wrote the first chapter, I think it was something like 20 pages, and quickly realized that I didn’t know where to go with it.  But I’ve had the idea on the back burner (it’s getting crowded on the back burner) for the last ten years.  Then, in October, I thought, “why not write the same story, but as a blog.”  So I started writing it as a blog.

Not only was it going to a really easy way to hold myself accountable, to try to post in some kind of regular interval, but also, I thought it would be fun, since WordPress allows me to backdate my blogs all the way back.  So I wrote a post from October of 2010, and then the next from January of 1980.  It’s a gimmick, but one that I really like, and one that has helped to motivate me to write.

Now it’s been about 2 months since I started writing, and I’m writing a ton, I have 26 posts with about 100 pages of content up, and more idea, and it’s been some of the most rewarding writing.  I’ve been exploring the history of my family, plaid with some of the tropes of time-travel, made my mother cry (not fun, but noteworthy), and like most writing, the more I do, the more I want to do.

The problem is this.  I have enough content, that I’m at the point where I want people to start reading it.  I have enough, that I’m confident it won’t be like “oh that was a cool 500 word post, too bad that’s it” and someone forgets about it.  My hope is to get readers on board, and hopefully make it slightly more interactive, while it’s kind of a novel being written as a blog, it is still most importantly a blog, and therefore I want it to be seen and read.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, in my fun gimmick, I have backdated all my posts, so that the newest (actually the oldest) post showing is seven years old.  It doesn’t show up in feeds, because every time I add a new post, it gets placed where all the WordPress posts from 1980 do (WordPress wasn’t created until 2005, so there is a reasonable likelihood that my blog looks like the oldest on the site.)

I could abandon the gimmick, but personally, I’m still really into it.  I’m just going to have to fight an uphill battle trying to get readers, but that’s really only the secondary purpose of writing it in the first place, and the first is the creative outlet, and this gimmick is part of that outlet.

As I’ve said a couple times before here, as I continue to write more for other sites, and have my writing appear in other places and publications, this blog is going to transition into more of a traditional blog, and so one of the functions of this is going to become the desire to talk about (and shamelessly plug) the other writing that I’m doing.  It won’t be all of it, but my hope is that you’ll stay interested.

Now, if you’re into time-travel, and you’re looking for a good long-read for your smartphone or tablet, check out my new(ish) time travel blog, Without A Tether, which may be able to boast the ‘earliest’ WordPress posts ever posted!

Hopefully an Apt Metaphor

What would you rather be: broke or in debt?  Think about it long and hard, and don’t get into the ‘well is it good debt or bad debt’ debate.  It’s debt, it may be necessary, but it’s really never good.  Right?

Now think about what that means on a number level.  Broke means you have $0 (or pretty damn close).  Debt means you owe money, which means you’re negative.  Are we all set on this?

Ok, so the reason I bring up debt vs broke, is that I’ve been seeing a lot of stupid shit about “privilege” all over the internet.  Whether it’s “white privilege” or “male privilege” there are a lot of people who think these aren’t things.

“Nothing was given to me!”  “I had no advantages because I was white!”  We’ve heard all of these, and at face value, they can make sense.  The problem is, that these arguments really only hold up when there isn’t an opposing argument.  Just like being broke sounds bad, until you realize at least you don’t owe money.

“Privilege” is essentially being born broke.  You don’t necessarily have any property/money/political power or anything that will help you to succeed in life, you are starting from nothing.  So it seems natural to say “I had no advantages,” but what you didn’t have was disadvantages, and this is where the other side fills in the rest of the picture.

Being born without “privilege” is essentially being born into debt.  Not literally obviously, hopefully no one is being born into an actual place of debt, but the point is that there are specific disadvantages that come with birth for certain groups of people.  If you’re African American you’re more likely to be incarcerated, to be suspected of crime, followed in stores, the list unfortunately goes on.  If you’re a woman, you’re more likely to be harassed, or assaulted, or condescended to, or not be taken seriously in the work place.  There are disadvantages that come with being part of the LGBTQ community, or non-Christian, other races or ethnicities.  Those disadvantages are the equivalent of debt in this metaphor.  They have to work harder to get to “broke.”

I’m sure some will read this, and think those disadvantages I listed are incorrect, or inflated, or exaggerated.  Specifically the ideas of incarceration rates have been pointed out “well, if you do something wrong, you go to jail,” and other similar statements have been said to me, and my question is this: “how many times have you broken laws?”  Because I have broken laws, and I’ve never gone to jail.  Hell, I’ve been confronted by police while breaking laws, and never gone to jail.  It’s one of my least favorite things about people is that everyone wants law and order, but they like to steal movies, or do recreational drugs, or drive at excessive speeds.  There are very few people whom, I meet, who if they tell me they don’t break the law, I actually believe.  Yet we’re always ok with someone else paying the price for their actions.  This is a form of privilege.

The same idea kind of goes for the other examples that I gave of disadvantages, except that I feel like we’ve all heard the arguments against them.  We know that if a woman is assertive she’s called a bitch, and if a man’s assertive he’s respected for it.  We know if a woman sleeps with multiple people she’s called a slut, and a man is “sewing his wild oats” or whatever bullshit you want to call it.  We all know that the people telling gay people they shouldn’t be able to get married because of the “sanctity of marriage” tend to be on their third sacred marriage.  Or that the people who protest most about the deviance of homosexuality, or transgender identity tend to be significantly deviant.  Despite doing very little to actually discredit these things, or to make positive change, we all seem to know this stuff, that’s why I go into more depth on the “well if you break the law you should be punished” argument.

So which would you rather be?  Broke or in debt?  Be honest now.

A Series of False Starts

For the last few weeks, I’ve been extremely productive, writing almost every day another update for my time-travel blog, a couple articles for World’s Best Media, and some writing/editing on my other not ready to publish work.  Today wasn’t so productive.  I finished off an article for World’s Best Media, but beyond that, I had nothing.

I didn’t know what to do today. I tried working on a post for my time-travel blog but nothing came to me, so I thought about other things to write about.  Today in Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and here on WordPress (I write different things in different word processing options) I started probably four or five ideas that eventually ended like a deflating balloon.

If this were a montage in a film, it would have been me writing at a typewriter, crumpling a page up, throwing it out, and starting over again.  The only difference is that when you’re writing electronically, you don’t have the satisfaction, or visceral expression of your frustration that crumpling paper comes with.

I probably wrote five-ten solid pages of information (excluding the one article I managed to finish) that amounted to absolutely nothing.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a waste bin filled with little balls of failure.  That probably sounds good right? Why would I want those little balls reminding me that I got nothing done?  Because, ultimately failure isn’t the problem, it’s part of the process, but it can be a motivating part, it can be a satisfying part once success bleeds through, but digitally there isn’t that same feeling.

In addition to writing, this is something I miss about pre-digital photography.  Sure, it’s great that I know I got a shot of my son doing something fun, or whatever, but when site seeing or doing something else that I wanted to see or do, there was an element of surprise to photography.  There was a feeling of “oh yeah, I forgot about these” when you’d find your old rolls of film and go get them developed, along with a sense of “oh that’s a good one,” or “oh that one sucks,” or “I forgot about that!”

I know, I probably sound like one of those old people who laments all new things, but I’m not.  There are definitely a lot of great aspects of this digital world we live in, and I’m definitely a user of it, but from an achievement standpoint, there doesn’t feel like there is anymore sense of achievement as a user.  It’s no big deal to take 1000 photos to get the right one, because we have virtually unlimited space and memory.  (My first trip to Italy, I have like 15 pictures of the black Venice sky, because there was a thunderstorm and my uncle really wanted me to get a picture of the lightning.  I have kept them as a reminder.)

Truthfully, 95% of the time, I’m really happy that I can have a do-over, but days like today, I wish I had a series of crumpled paper failure balls to say “well you did something at least.”  After 10,000 attempts at creating a light bulb, Thomas Edison is quoted as saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  I’ve probably had 1000 false starts in my life (totally guessing at that number) and maybe half of them are page long scribbles in notebooks, and I like going back and looking at those 500 scribbles that didn’t work.