Truth Is…

Trut is I haven’t been blogging much, but it didn’t mean I stopped writing, which kept up.  I’ve also been taking writing more classes and trying to get myself in order. On top of that it seems my schedule has conflicted with everything; my life, diet, sleep, and creativity.  I am not a happy camper.

That out of the way, let’s talk of pleasant things.  One of my writing lessons has been to look for the emotional payoff of characters in a story.  So, the question of “what’s this story really about,” sunk in for me.

After much contemplation I found myself writing down something that was too real and raw for me, personally.  It really pinched a nerve, in addition to being an emotion I felt I could explore and discuss.

My initial reaction was to pause, let the words cool down, then I went on to working on technical aspects (outline). Still there’s an elephant in my room that’s being ignored, because I felt I was shying away from my own story/character epiphany.

So as chaotic as things may be, the current goal is to get back to the heart of what I discovered, write it out, and work through a pinched moment.

On a side note I am glad I paused from blogging.  It helped me want to blog again.

Happy creative endeavors.

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The (Emotional) Payoff

Well, as I write, figure stuff out, and do my research, one question comes to mind: Am I writing a plot-driven story, or a character driven story.  Most of the time this seems like a simple choice, but I can’t find there balance between the two.

For the record, plot-driven is when events happen to your main character(s), and the MC(s) react to the the plot.  Genre stories can (not always) be plot-driven.  Melodrama (my fave) is for sure plot-driven–bad things happen to good people.

Conversely, character-driven stories focus on the desire and/or fears of the MC(s)–how the MC(s) react that tells the story. Literary stories are often considered character driven, and many of the the stories are about the character’s journey. The story has an emotional payoff.

Therein lies the problem for me. I like both, but found myself straddling the line between the two in an incomplete way.  What this does mean is looking at my work and revising it to be more character-driven. As always, I got rewriting to do, but I like that when I fell off the wagon, i was able to refresh my POV.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

 

No Bad Dreams Allowed

Last night I had a dream where I decided to take up running. Cool running outfit and everything. As I ran, I was ready for the pain associated with me trying to exercise; shortness of breath, pain in my legs, and chest, and wanting to fall on the floor and lay there until I calm down.

To my surprise, there was no pain, or negative symptoms. Even better I felt energized, so I kept running.  I woke up from that dream feeling happy. It that moment I saw myself as strong, enduring, and moving towards greatness and happiness.

I like this dream, simple, sweet, and didn’t have me waking up feeling confused, disrupted, or upset — as sometimes my dreams can leave me in those states.  

For the record, I don’t know what this dream fully meant. My interpretation is that I’m doing something good, or about to go in the right direction. Can I have more dreams like this one?  

That said I wasn’t writing for a few weeks as things got very chaotic, BUT I think I was fortunate to have the luxury to abandon projects temporarily. As I review the notes I see them with fresher, eyes. Some things make more sense, and had me thinking and writing down  my thoughts.  

Happy creative endeavors.  

Get It Done, Darn it!

I was trying to write about how I was looking forward to revising material for the novel. The content was sweet, thoughtful, and faced multiple revisions. Then I deleted it.

Why?  I was laboring too much, and if the material is to unabashed, progressive, and creative. I must act, not hold back, and do what needs to be done to make an entertaining story.

That said if the main character is naive, innocent, and these are defining traits, then he’s not truly passive. I simply have to break his traits. By that I mean I’m going to break, destroy, and ruin those traits for him.

He’s going to get some choices, where he can run, hide, and hope it all goes way, or he can man up, and get his life under his control, and it won’t be easy, or pretty.

So everything can and will fall into place.

Why? Because he’s my hero. Right or wrong, he’s going to get through his journey.

Happy creative endeavors.

Tropes, Archetypes, and Sterotypes

Was looking over tropes and archetypes and came across something interesting.  In my novel I needed a mentor archetype to teach my MC (hero) the ropes. The MC is white and the mentor is black. I didn’t think this was a trope, but came across what is called “magic negro.” BTW I bristle at the word, and should. It’s a pejorative.

For those not in the know, the term refers to a black character, usually of a lower economic and social standing, who is “in touch with the earth,” and may or may not possess magical powers. He or she may be the sole black person within the story, and his/her sole purpose in a story or film is to find the clueless white leading character, and give him or advice, then sacrifice himself for the MC.

This magic black man/woman typically doesn’t have their own storyline other than he or she is to be the MC’s guide. The magic black person has no family, no origins, and kind of a blank slate. This makes their character role pivotal, but also underwhelming.  Even Obi-Wan got to hang out and guide Luke after his death. Dude had more than agency—he had staying power.

By contrast, mentors are the archetype, and serve to guide the hero. They may sacrifice themselves, however they have agency and are viable parts of the narrative. For the record, the mentor for my novel has magic, and knowledge he teaches the MC how to use magic properly, but this is a world where magic exists.

The mentor in my novel evolved from being simply a mentor, to having elements of an ally (potential friend/companion), and trickster (who’s side are you on, anyways) archetypes.  He definitely has his own story arc, and he’s not the sole person of color in the story.

For the record, I love mentor roles in stories. I also love teachers, ad teaching. Academics is important to me personally. It’s important for me to get story elements correctly without falling into tropes and/or racial stereotypes.

Do I think I can have a black mentor for a white student? Do I think the roles can be misconstrued or misunderstood?  Can I give my mentor the role he deserves, past perceived limitations? Can I even defy expectations by not having a mentor be perfect or a great role model? The answer is “yes” to all of these questions.

Happy creative endeavors.

The Artist: Part Two

So then I wondered, why am I apologizing for stuff that hasn’t been even shown to others yet?

It’s easy for me to want and wish for approval. The scale of likability goes up for material produced or published—but even then that’s no guarantee people will approve and like the material, or myself.  So this is the wrong way.

It’s also easy to fear my own potential. Have I gone too far? Did I go far enough? Did I learn my techniques properly enough to execute my visions?

There must be an unflinching bond of trust between the subject, the actual project, and myself.

I must be willing to accept the consequences of my works—misunderstood, or not. I don’t owe anyone anything, least of all, and apology for quality content. The only exception this rule is I go in half-assed, and the material suffers/meanders. That’s’ gross unprofessionalism.

Furthermore I have to believe that I will put together solid works from start to finish. If I’m willing to be responsible for the content, I must not rely on the content to sustain my ego. I’m not an artist because I need adoration.  I happen to love being creative, and don’t mind growing and sharing my material.

The Artist: Part One

As I put away books, I stumbled across random bits of information. One of the subjects was about various artists, and their point of views.  While not intended as research, it fit the bill for that moment perfectly.

One thing I saw that was consistent, and reinforced by my own teachings, was that artists often act and react to subjects. They present their work, and rarely do they apologize. The material can be bold, audacious, engaging, exceptional or vulgar as all get out.

Regardless of the medium, artists can capture moments, stir responses from us (positive or negative), and even force us to confront elements that we may or may not wish to deal with or discuss at the time.

For example, a topic like child abuse, or racism can make us all squirm, but there usually is a point that’s presented and confronts us in some works. The topics can be as simple as eyes, shoelaces, or doors, but they still can be delivered in a variety of ways.

It reminds and reinforces me to create and deliver without feeling a need to sugar coat, sterilize, sanitize, or apologize about my own works. Furthermore, sometimes you really don’t have to elaborate. Let the material speak for itself.