8.08.2005

As you may or may not know by now, I like to write. In fact, I LOVE to write. Writing is something that brings me immense joy, if for no other reason besides the fact that it allows the cacophony of noise in my head to come out in some sort of streamlined and organized manner. It's a lot of fun and gives me something to do while I'm pretending to be working, because it really does look just like work (especially if you choose to write your stories in your software development IDE [AKA Code Editor]).

I'm kidding, of course. I'm sure you know I am. I'm only saying that for the benefit of my boss, who reads this journal sometimes. I promise, Kev, I wrote all this at home and brought it in to post.

Anyway, even though I post a lot of what I write in a public forum (my website and magazine articles I do), I don't consider myself a "Writer." To me, being a "Writer" requires that you either wear a smoking jacket and talk obsessively about subject-verb agreement OR circumvent the establishment and sign a movie deal, guaranteeing your ability to keep churning out similar-sounding novels for the rest of your life.

Again, I am kidding.

This is just my opinion and my opinion alone, but being a "Writer" is an attitude and a lifestyle. Authors and "Writers" aren't the same thing, in my opinion. Anyone can be an author. If you've ever written documentation for a software product, instructions on how to clean the cat box, etc. You are an author. Congrats. You've authored a work.

To be a "Writer," however, you need to be KNOWN as a "Writer." It's your identity, much like being a Goth. You NEED people to know what it is you do, because only then can it lend some validity to the entire enterprise of spending time putting a pen to paper. This is NOT a bad thing, it's vital to survival if you are going to write and have what you write produce the food you put on your table. The title itself is very self-inclusive. It's not that you enjoy, say, cycling and have written things about it. It's that you're a "Writer" and have chosen to write about cycling. Or murder, or espionage, or even some horrible crap about Guns N' Roses and their song, Welcome to the Jungle (God, that whole thing still - as my friend Liz would say - gets my hackles up). Doing something and writing about it is FAR different than Writing about something. It's hard for me to express just exactly how I view it, hopefully I've done so enough that you get the idea of what I'm talking about.

And it's important to note that none of the above is an insult toward "Writers". It's just the truth as I see it. I don't hate them, I don't dislike them, and one day, I'd hope to become one. I'd love nothing more than for my entire existence to revolve around the practice of writing. Making enough money through writing to pay my mortgage and put food in my mouth is my wildest dream (and don't even let me get started on how annoyed I get when I think of people like Paris Hilton and anyone and everyone in the WWF who can just simply crank out a book [or, more accurately, pay someone to do it for them] and not even care about how it does, because to them, it's just something else to do... Us poor working-class slobs dream of even getting one book out there on a shelf. We don't care if there's a gigantic encap with our name on it, we don't care about glitter on the cover. We just want to be out there, and you guys are hogging up all our shelf space! FUCK YOU, PARIS, YOU WHORE! *ahem* where was I... Oh, right. Writing as a career). But I'm not at that point right now, and that's the point I'm trying to make here, because it's vital for the rest of this crappy journal entry.

In summary, I like to write. I am not a "Writer". And this fact made for an interesting situation when I attended a Writer's workshop this past weekend at the local college.

I went because, for about 3 years now, it's been suggested to me by a whole lot of folks. "You're a writer, you should attend some workshops and conferences and network and get to know other writers. It could help your career." After hearing that long enough, I thought "What could it hurt? I might as well give it a shot."

Ha. HAHAHAHAH. AHAHAHHAHAHAHSDGGHSGHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

I won't waste time describing anything about it in depth, because that's one of the things they "taught" at this workshop - don't waste time on details, because it distracts from the S.T.O.R.Y.

Yes, S.T.O.R.Y. They acronymized it. S.T.O.R.Y. stands for Story (AHHAHA they used the word itself in its own acronym), Timing, Orientation, Readability, and “Yet?” as in “are we there yet?” (Which I thought, at first glance, was "Yeti". Which, honestly, would make more sense, since this theory is about as valid as the theory of the existence of Yetis). Essentially, each of the callouts on these elements combined and boiled down to "You need to be writing Michael Bay movies, young writer. Trust us, because we are writing experts who - even though we haven't had a thing published - have managed to put on a Writer's Workshop, which qualifies us to tell you what's right and what's not. And the fact that you signed up for it instantly signals to us that nothing you have ever done is worth a damn."

Anyway, I digress, since I'm starting to get into details and that's forbidden. This Writer's Workshop was attended by about 40 or 50 folks, all of whom seemed to be either housewives or ex-dotcom employees, both looking for validation for not having a job (and before I get any angry emails, yes, I think that the job of "housewife" is perfectly valid. My mother became one after she married my dad, and I can honestly say she'd have toiled less during fewer hours if she'd kept her job as a bench tech at NorTel. Housewives do NOT have an easy job, folks, and I admire each and every one of them... Unless they are housewives who don't actually work around the house and raise their kids, instead spending time writing "Henry Porter and the Stone of the Sorcerer" in the hopes that they, too, can have a breakout novel with a great backstory of being a housewife while working on it do NOT get respect. They get bricks. Lots of bricks, right on their pointy heads).

I most definitely did NOT fit in.

Perhaps it's the years I've spent avoiding organized educational events (like, you know... School), but I personally feel like it's a sin to tell someone that they write WRONG. I mean, sure, there's bad writing out there. I don't argue with that. But I wouldn't ever go so far as to say those people are writing WRONGLY. They're writing - that's what matters. The market they're writing for will do the job of letting them know just how good or bad their writing is all on its own. People have a way of not spending money on things they don't like.

So I took all the things they talked about with characterization, plot, timing, details, etc. and evaluated some of my stories with them in mind. It turns out; I'm quite possibly the worst "Writer" on the face of the planet!

I waste time on details! I "Tell" instead of "Showing", especially through DIALOGUE which apparently should never be used to detail a setting or storyline, because the voice of a character is insufficient to carry the burden of description. I leave things to the imagination. I don't assume the reader is a nitwit and let them draw their own conclusions based on the information I've given them. Bottom line: I'm never, ever going to get a movie deal. My novels will never make it in the marketplace, as there is no audience in the world who would want to read something as boring as short stories and memoirs.

At least I know FOR CERTAIN (cause the workshop telleth me) that all the things I've been suspecting about myself are true.

It took about two hours for me to get fed up and walk out. The breaking point was the group "plot creation" exercise. All I did was wonder aloud "Just exactly how many vampyre (with a 'y') code-breaking mutant adolescent wizards attempting to save the Earth in a post-apocalyptic society novels do we really need?" and I was instantly branded as "Just not getting it."

I sat silent until it was time to break for Fudge Stripe cookies and coffee, where I grabbed liberal amounts of both and made my way to the car I crashed into a fire hydrant and wrote a story (a BAD one, too) about. I drove home, put on my smoking jacket, and immediately started writing about the entire thing, hoping like hell I'd have some sort of kitschy moral to end it with.

The moral is this:

My blog entries are not only boring, they're far too long.