Painting With Shotguns XXVII

Happy St. Paddy’s day, folks. I don’t have much invested in this holiday, being German and Lithuanian. Frankly, I wished we had a day. Mindaugas Day, maybe, where instead of drinking, you execute your rivals and then renounce Christianity? That sounds about right.

That said, St. Paddy’s Day is a good day to drink and a good day to gain a hatred for any color that approaches “emerald green,” and that further makes it a great day to thumb two shotgun shells stuffed with my words into the breach of an over-under and asplode my thoughts into your chest cavity.

Boom. Splurch.

‘Tis now time for Painting With Shotguns.

Writing Advice From Mister Selfish Pants Dick Face

I need to speak my mind on something, and you’re going to sit there, and you’re going to listen.

Terribleminds has inadvertently become a “writing blog.” I don’t know that this is a bad thing or a strange thing, what with me being a writer and all. “Writer” is one of those critical identifiers for me, and so one cannot be too mystified that my posts veer drunkenly into the territory of writerly topics.

This means I end up dispensing lots of writing advice.

Does this bother you? Is this an irritant, like grains of sand in the waistband of your panties?

I’ve seen comments on The Twitterspaces and thereabouts that occasionally paint writing advice — or, rather, those who dispense such advice — in a negative light. It’s a little silly; I don’t waste my time yelling about Things On The Internet That Irritate Me, because heck, I’d be here all day. I’d just stand here, frothing, screaming. Like an old man on his doorstep. With a tinfoil hat, diapers, and colostomy bag.

My first mistake, of course, was assuming that the Twitter Voices were talking about me. Given that this is the Internet, which is approximately Full Of People, that paranoid perspective is pretty much insane. It’s like being that guy who thinks the two Mexican dudes over there are talking about him and laughing. “They’re talking about me. I just know it.” No, they’re not. They’re talking about their wives, or Disneyland, or tacos. (See the racist thing I just did there? Suggesting they’re talking about tacos? Except, what if they are? I mean, shit, sometimes I stand around and talk about hot hogs. You figure “tacos” as a topic is a delicious one, right?) Either that, or those two guys are saying, “Hey, why is that white dude staring at us? Let’s politely laugh and hope he doesn’t shoot us, because white dudes are fucking scary.”

Even still, I rankle a little bit once more at those who’d rather End The Conversation than allow others to Have It, but again, this is the Internet. It’s not worth being mad, because then the Internet will just go and do something worse. That’s how the Internet rolls.

All that being said, I’d like to make clear two points.

First, Eddy Webb is right. (Don’t tell him I said that. He’ll get all huffy and proud, and think he owns the place, and next thing you know he’ll go putting up more Penis essays.) Don’t be one of those faux writers that pretends to be a writer, their hollow confidence filled with the hot air provided by nothing but endless writing advice. They read the advice but never put it into practice. I mean, you can be one those types if you want; that’s your bag of snacks, pal. But you come here, I will exhort you to put this shit into practice.

Second, do not assume me some magnanimous benefactor, a selfless giver of advice, a Sherpa willing to lose fingers and toes to frostbite for you people. Aw, hell, no. I’m a selfish ass. I write this stuff not to be some pompous professorial type — though I do love that! eee! — or to create an aura of self-importance. I write this stuff because I’m trying to learn how to write. Okay, yes, I know how to write, but writing is a machine with a million moving parts, and I will never, ever, ever have it all figured out. I’m constantly trying to sort through the gears and widgets, forever examining the tools that go into my toolbox. The stuff I write about here is stuff that comes to me because it troubles me. It’s a question in my head, and so I endeavor to answer it. Yes, maybe it’s a question I feel (for now) I’ve answered rather than an ongoing discussion, but even still, it’s just me dropping mile markers behind. You can follow them, or you can find your own way. I don’t mean that as a dismissal; really, you should find your own way. Once in a while, though, your path might cross mine, and something I think I have figured out might be something that helps you cross another threshold and get to the next plateau (more on plateaus in a minute).

Third (yes, I said two points, but I’m too lazy to edit that and say “three points”), while I take writing very seriously, you shouldn’t take me very seriously. Right? I’m just dicking around on the Internet. I’m just making shit up, like most writers. I’m not important. My advice isn’t important. If it works for you, then I am very happy. If it doesn’t, I’m not sad, because you’ll find the proper path all on your own.

All that being said, I’ll put the question to you: am I taking up too much of the void here with writing talk? Do you think writing advice is bullshit? Do you think my advice is bullshit? Would you rather I write a daily missive about beards and shit? ‘Cause I can do that. Let’s have a discussion. Pop on into the comments. Tell me what’s up, yo. Give me a ration of shit if you feel it necessary. I’ll try to play nice.

I Got Me The Fear, I Got Me The Doubts

I don’t normally talk about it, because I don’t normally acknowledge it even in my own head, but lately I’m reminded that writer is a terrifying career choice. I mean like, jump out of a plane every day scary.

Actually, you know what it’s like? This is what it feels like.

Imagine a series of rising plateaus. One after the next. Each higher than the last. Ascending toward the heavens, the bright clouds, the warm sun.

You’re in a little plane. A biplane. Engine like a mosquito’s hum. Wings made of paper. Clouds of black smoke behind you.

You don’t have a lot of fuel, so you kind of have to hop. From plateau to plateau. Taking flight between each, trying to rise up, trying to make it to the next highest level. Maybe you don’t quite have the speed yet, so you have to idle and drive around in circles on your current plateau. Maybe you gun it, maybe you take off, and maybe you make it to the next one. Or could be instead that the plane skids off the edge — oops, didn’t have enough juice — and you tumble down into a ravine. On fire. And then bears kill you and lay eggs in your mouth.

(What? Bears lay eggs. Who are you, Jacques Cousteau?)

Right now, I’m on one such plateau. Driving my little plane in circles.

I’m eyeing up other plateaus, though. Higher ones. I just need the juice to make it to one. I just need something to take. I’ve got these things out there, and it feels like any one of them could make it happen at any point, but whoooooa, Nelly, I got the fear. I got the doubt. Chiggers and tapeworms chewing my skin, nibbling at my guts. Maybe I don’t have the juice. Maybe I’ll take flight. And maybe I’ll crash.

Won’t stop me from trying, but man, I get the runs just thinking about it.

Stuff I’m Digging

Watched Justified (used to be called Lawman) on FX last night. That show pops. I quite like it. Timothy Olyphant comes in and kicks ass as Raylan Givens (apparently one of Elmore Leonard’s more beloved characters), a too-cool-for-school U.S. Marshal who gets sent back home to Nowhere, Kentucky after a snafu (read: dead guy) in Miami. I like it a lot. Dialogue that’s sharp, but not too sharp. We get to see the dirty, corroded American South — Jesus Saves on a rotting barn, houses that don’t live on any map, Neo-Nazis, blood stains on moldering carpets, a kick-ass performance from My Favorite Hillbilly (Walton Goggins). Good stuff. Episode went places I didn’t figure on, and it went there fast.

I should probably read some more Elmore Leonard. It’s been a while, and my exposure is limited, honestly.

What else?

Chuck. You are watching that, right? It’s a sweet, funny, geeky, not-too-serious show. And it’s named after me. (It’s not.) So why aren’t you watching it? It continues to get better and better, and I cannot imagine why you wouldn’t watch it. Unless you hate fun? And the Baby Jesus? I think you do. Hater. Go drink your haterade! And wrestle allihators! Wait with hated breath! Go do an Ollie on your hateboard! Take a ride on the Hate Talk Express! Go buy some stemware from Hate and Barrel!

I’ll stop now.

I finished Mass Effect 2. I liked it. I like that game a lot, actually. Considering how little I think of the first one, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the second one. Forgive me for saying so, for perhaps this crosses your opinion stream, but I think ME2 is infinitely superior (in game, story, graphics, acting, everything) to Dragon Age. For the record, I got the ending where “everybody lives.” I played my surly military lesbian Shepherd cleanly between Paragon and Renegade. I never did get to bang Kelly Chambers, though. (I never… got to stick my shepherd’s crook into her chamber? I dunno. It’s early. I’ll do better next time.) How’s that happen? I took her to dinner. But she never wanted to seal the deal? Heck, I even saved her life from those Bug Tubes or whatever was happening there at the end. You’d think she’d be gracious enough to throw me a little scissor-bumping love.

Anyway, now I’m onto Bioshock 2, and I’m having a hard time seeing where the hate is coming from. I’m finding it a more-than-serviceable game. No, the story doesn’t contain the same level of wonder and mystery as the first, but I don’t know that they could ever get that back. Even still, I like that we’re getting to see the Collectivist side opposing the Ayn Randian “hell for geniuses” that came before, and will note that this is a billion times better than the stories put forth by most first-person shooters (DEMONS ON THE MARTIAN MOONBASE FROM HELL, KILL THEM — Moon? Mars? Hell? what?). The mechanics are solid, and even better and actually improved over the first game. Rapture continues to be a beautiful location, also unlike anything in any other game.

Oh! And the sound effects. So good. I turn off the music. I just listen to Rapture. The pang-ping-pang of water on your metal shell? The distant gibberings of a Splicer? The mechanical whine of a camera, or the moaning of a stompy Big Daddy? Ooooh. So tasty.

So, why the hate? I’m not clear. I’m enjoying my time nearly as much as the first. Giving this a B+ to the first one’s solid A ain’t bad at all, especially for a sequel they really could’ve shitted up.

I haven’t finished the game yet, mind. And no multiplayer yet for me, either.

The Lynx

You did see that I had my glorious debut over at Do Some Damage yesterday, right? “Crime Is King?” Go there. Go there now, or I won’t love you anymore.

You should also go and gaze upon the Best Thing The Internet Is Offering Right Now, which is about Terminator and comes from the mouth of the Aaron, the Dembski, the Bowden.

Do you know who Oscar Martello is? You click that, you’ll find out.

[Edited to add: Weddle also sends along this: Do You Really Want To Be Published? Great.]

Spring has definitely established a beachhead here at Der Wendighaus.

IT’S ARTWORK, MOTHERFUCKER.

And, finally:

The other day I linked to the awesome video for Fuck Shit Stack by Reggie Watts, but now you should see the dude live and in action, and so I leave you with…

Reggie Watts – Fuck/Shit Stack – UCB, LA from The Real UHF on Vimeo.

27 comments

  • You’re not alone – I really enjoyed BioShock 2 as well. I’m not inclined to play it again, though, as I got the best ending already and I’m not feeling things like unlocking all of the free plasmids by playing Sir David Attenborough in a diving suit.

    Mass Effect 2, though? Love the hell out of that game. Both games, in fact. I’m on my second total play-through, that is to say playing ME all the way through and then playing ME2 immediately after. Currently I’m on Hardcore difficulty, and it’s pretty damn Hardcore. I look towards my Insanity play-throughs with a mix of anticipation and dread.

    • @Josh:

      I may one day have to go back to ME1 (though, I probably won’t, much as I say I will — it took me long enough to get through ME2, and I loved that game).

      Bioshock is a hoot so far. I am curious to try MP, if only to gaze curiously at its inclusion. (Why not do some kind of coop thing, 2K? I mean, c’mon.)

      — c.

  • I don’t care what holiday it is. I’d celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Versaille if it gave me an excuse to go out drinking. This is the one day of the year where even the Italians want to be Irish.

    I like Chuck. Not you, mind you, but the show. You just talked me into DVR’ing Justified, too.

    Ah, Video Games. Now you’re speaking my language. Here’s a list of what I’m currently playing.

    Mass Effect 2 (PC): So far, is my vote for game of the year. I’m playing a lot right now and I’ll hit a small rundown.

    Heavy Rain (PS3): A close second place to ME2. It’s a uniques style of game play with a pretty good story.

    NHL 2010 (360): This is the best offering from EA to date. Great physics, intense action, pllain awesome.

    Dante’s Inferno: Turn off the lights, turn up the sound, and enjoy this little time-waster. Any game that starts you off by pitting you against the Grim Reaper is great. The fact that he begs you for mercy as you tear him in half with his own Scythe…icing on the cake. That’s just in the first 10 minutes of the game.

    Final Fantasy XIII (PS3): It’s a solid offering by Eidos, but not a home run. The acting is awful, save for a couple of characters. The story is fucking confusing as hell and the combat engine is kind of tough to master. Overall definitely worth a play through.

    Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PC): Modern what 2??? After surviving an attrocious launch filled with network glitches and DRM problems, I was rewarded with an intense and amazing shooter. This game is about team play and not about individual achievements. Gorgeous environments can distract you as you wander into the open to be gunned down by a scout sitting half a mile away. The vehicle combat is vicious, but not over powered. This game is truly outstanding.

    Starcraft II Beta (PC): Not excited after playing the beta. It feels a lot like the first one and is geared towards the online dueling community. Pretty dissapointing, actually.

    Waiting for: Red Dead Redemption, Fallout Vegas, WoW: Cataclysm

    That’s my wrap up for the time being. (See what happens when you mention video games???) By the way…I nailed Kelly AND Jax. That’s just the way I roll.

    • I sadly find less time to devote to video games these days, and with the weather improving, that time should shrink even more.

      I am intrigued by Bad Company 2, though. I’d go 360, because PC Games Are Dead To Me. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2009/10/25/pc-gaming-is-dead-to-me/

      Heavy Rain sounds very cool, but no PS3 for me.

      FFXIII: Once upon a time, I was excited that this was coming out on the 360, but after reading reviews, I think I’ll avoid avoid avoid. I read enough “Oh, the first 20 hours are slow and awful, but then it starts to really rock!” that are (to me) a total turnoff. I don’t have 20 bad hours to invest to get to 20 good ones. And uber-linear play makes the Baby Wendig cry.

      ME2: Kelly — how do you end up actually getting in her digital drawers? I’m very confused about that. And who the heck is Jax? Isn’t he a Krogan from the first game? Are you running around, nailing Krogan in their Krogan orifices?

      — c.

  • So many topics – must be a good Wendigboi and answer all the words of He Who Is Most Bebearded.

    First off, happy St. Paddys. Still no baby yet. Hulk mad.

    Secondly, writing advice – this is the best way I can think of to put it. If your advice sucked, was misleading, or just you stroking your peen I wouldn’t keep coming back to read it, and I doubt anyone else would either. So shut your yap, then open it and keep putting out writing advice, then shut it again. Your fragile ego need not be threatened, you Kick Ass (capitals make it important). Also, I heard the two Mexican talking about you… or some bearded taco. I assume they meant you.

    I am just getting into Chuck (the TV show, not you. Eww. Note to self: find better choice of words). I saw an episode when he and his buddy were captured beneath the store, and spent the better part of the time laughing my ass off – which made it fucking hard to sit in my chair.

    As to Bioshock 2, I am one of the haters – I couldn’t stand it. It just felt like really expensive DLC to me, and the story was just not compelling. I’ll be honest, Rapture is beautiful – but not enough to keep me playing by itself. It’s like you said in a comment when I was complaining about all the world building I did; it’s the story that drives you, not the location. That is less true (perhaps) in video games, which is a very visual media – but the story of the first Big Daddy just didn’t hit me like the entire rift with Atlas/Fontaine/Ryan did in the first one. Also, I got sick of the Big Sister every few Little Sisters, the underwater bits just felt lame to me (and boring), and I hate – fucking HATE – that the drill needs gas. All in all, I was very disapointed with Bioshock 2.

    I am, however, completely geeked with God of War III. I have never said “OH MY GOD” so many times when playing the opening of a game. Seriously, go get/rent/borrow a PS3 from someone and play this game. It is fucking -amazing-.

    • @Rick:

      I am now accepting donations for my very own PS3!

      I mean, no, not really. I do want one, though. More games are coming out that interest me — but not enough to warrant the purchase, yet.

      On Bioshock 2: I can dig that. The story isn’t as good, no. But I’m still into it. I love the whole sequence in Ryan Amusements when you see all those animatronic displays about The Parasite? Fantastic. The drill needing gas does suck. It’s why I rarely use the dang drill. I like the Big Sisters. One thing I don’t like, and I didn’t like in the first one: Vita-Chambers. They steal the fear from the game, I feel.

      On Writing Advice: Got it. Will keep writing. Will keep plugging nuggets of writing-related “wisdom” from my greasy beard. Nice.

      — c.

  • @Paul: Our looking forward list is pretty close – I am fucking drooling over every little bit of Red Dead Redemption information I can get. And Cataclysm looks like it is going the right direction… I was more than a little underwhelmed with WotLK.

    Alliance or Horde?

  • Do I love your incessant ramblings about your mystical beard and other crazy topics? Abso-friggin-lutely. Do I want you to take up less time discussing writing? HELLS NAW!

    Whether the wisdom you impart is from selflessness or arrogance matters not to me. Any way you slice it, you’re more knowledgeable and have way more experience than I do. Until a year ago I had only taken pride in my witty and entertaining emails I sent off to my friends and family. Now I’ve been pouring every part of my being into my very first attempt at completing a novel. Through this process I’ve learned that not only have I completely forgotten everything I’d learned in English class all those years ago, but the future task of securing an agent/publisher is, to say the least, a motherfucking daunting one.

    I first discovered your blog via a link to your Writers Don’t Do That post. While I originally fell in love with your twisted metaphors spewed through vivid use of truck driver vernacular, what I appreciated most was the information contained within. The unique combination is what has kept me as a faithful follower. Throw me the jumpsuit and pass the Kool-Aid. (And I even checked out your Crime is King post so you’ll continue to love me. :D)

    So don’t you go changing a thing, Mr. Wendig. In short: your blog rocks just the way it is.

    • @Gina!

      Your adoration is noted and appreciated. You will receive a check in the mail.

      (It’ll be written in crayon and on tree bark. Uhh. Don’t cash it right away. I need to put more money into the tree.)

      I will now change nothing, and then people ask me why, I will point to you and tell them, “It’s her fault.”

      Expect hate mail from these people. ;)

      — c.

  • @Rick: I think Cataclysym is a great step in the right direction. Remaking the Azeroth and changing the leveling experience vreates a new game. 5 levels instead of 10, along with the mastery system, is easier to swallow. WOTLK wasn’t that great, in my opinion. It was far too much of a grind. Right now I play Alliance…but I miss being Horde (My friends talked me into playing with them). I have 5 80’s…soon to be 6. (Shaman, Pally, Druid, DK, Warlock, Warrior) The Druid and Warrior are my mains.

    Red Dead Redemption is looking better and better with each story that comes out. The new Game Informer has a good deal of info. I LOVED the first Red Dead…especially the use of recycled Spaghetti Western music.

    @Chuck: Being unemployed makes it easy to game, but you’re right, the summer will bring reduced play time. Final Fantasy isn’t boring if you like the story…which I don’t. Still…I don’t find it boring. Jack…not Jax (Head cold strikes again) the bald, tattooed chick. I don’t know how I ended up banging Kelly…suddenly some where near the end I got the option. This article explains it, but I just happened to stumble into it:

    http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Kelly_Chambers

  • Pshh. Hate mail? Bring it. I can totally take it.

    Actually, no, I can’t. Just thinking about people being mad at me churns my insides. But I refuse to retract my earlier statements, so instead I shall throw away all of my future mail. And when the bill collectors call and ask me why I haven’t paid them, I’ll point to you and tell them, “It’s his fault.” :D

    “See” you tomorrow, good sir.

    P.S. Per our convo yesterday, I added a little tidbit pointing out my Angel’s inability to “roll with the punches” and I absolutely love it. Spanx.

  • I read writers’ web sites FOR the writer’s advice. Interesting bits about what’s going on with them are okay from time to time, but, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, if I want tedious descriptions of ordinary occurrences, I have my life for that. Blogs that spend too much time on the minutiae of kid’s or dog’s bowel movements get moved to the On Probation tab of my NetVibes page. (From which, by the way, this blog has been moved, into a more permanent location, thanks in large part to the stimulating writing-related posts.)

    The best thing about reading writers’ blogs for advice and real world experience is that four people can tell you exactly the same beneficial thing, but only one will resonate with your way of thinking. Read lots of different opinions (Rules lists, whatever) and eventually something helpful will stick. The catch is, you’ll never know in advance which it will be.

    JUSTIFIED looks great. Raylan Givens is one of my small handful of favorite Elmore Leonard characters. Olyphant struck me as a little young at first, but he has the look. I DVR’ed last night’s episode to save for the weekend.

    • @Dana:

      Well-said, and thanks for bumping me up into a discretionary period. :)

      I try to keep about two days of “writing-related” yammer a week, at least. More if it comes to me, but I don’t want to force it, either.

      — c.

  • First off, I’m not a writer. When I try to be witty on paper, it looks like a retard humping a dictionary, but I still love reading your rants. Say what you will, but there’s something fun about being able to sit with a raving homeless guy every day without having to drop a fiver in his cup (although the smell is about the same).

    Face it, Chuck, you’re Nathaniel Ayers with a typewriter, and you’re damn good at what you do. If everyone’s writing practice was as witty and well written as yours, we’d be living in domes and flying with jetpacks by now.

    • @Tome:

      You didn’t get your jetpack yet? Huh. Sorry, man.

      Boy, this air-conditioned dome is comfy.

      Oh, and “retard humping a dictionary” gets points, too. That plus SCHADENFRIES totally beats any of the witty shit *I* said today.

      — c.

  • My problem with BioShock 2 (and I think most people’s) is purely story: there’s no need for it. The story of the first game very cleanly tied all loose ends together. Lamb was never mentioned, ever, so she feels shoehorned in to make room for a new story. It suffers the way many sequels do in that it’s unnecessary. At least Mass Effect knew it was going to have sequels and made room for them, BioShock did not. But I’m not a fan of sequels in general so you may not entirely agree.

    I can’t speak to the mechanics personally, but I know a lot of people hated that bit on BioShock 1 where you protect the Little Sister, and this game’s full of that, so. Your mileage may vary.

  • So, first off, as I mentioned on the Twittertubes, I don’t mind your writing advice because you, you know, write. I’ve always read it as “Hey, you, just learned this cool thing and want to share,” rather than “YOU MUST DO THIS OR I WILL EAT YOUR FACE, PUNY WRITER.”

    Well, the latter might be cool, too.

    I’m with you on Mass Effect 2 > Dragon Age. I thought maybe I was burned out on RPGs, but I’m also playing Persona 3 and liking it, and I had a blast playing Final Fantasy VII for a while, so I think there’s something about ME2 over DA for me as a player.

    Hrm, what else? Oh, Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, that wasn’t it, but I just remembered that.

    No, there was something else I was going to say… Hrm… what was it?

    Oh, yeah. I WAS RIGHT, BITCHES.

  • I’m diggin the writing advice so please keep it up. I enjoyed hearing about your different approaches to the different projects and mediums you have been writing for recently. The piece on dialogue came at a perfect time for me and helped me smooth out a rough patch in a piece I was working on at the time.

    Thanks for that. Keep ‘em coming.

  • Finished another chapter, so I can post.

    I like your writing advice. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one going through the same shit, trying to put one word after another. Yeah, I hope I end up with a decent story, but sometimes I just end up with a pile of turd.

    I bought the Sith edition of Force Unleashed, but I haven’t been writing fast enough to play it. I have to finish up a chapter before I get to play with the Internet or play games. But lately, I’m experiencing a writing funk. I had hoped to write a chapter or nearly a chapter a day, but I’m just not pacing where I want to be. And my outline still needs work.

    Yeah, keep the writing advice coming. Just don’t suggest I put a sex scene in every odd or even chapter. That’s just too much:)

  • Yo dude, I got hooked on this place and its stink through your writing advice! You got style and you got the goods — seriously good advice, a lot of it, which resonates with me and has me muttering later “hey…yeah!” at things no-one else in the room was talking about. I love it. And then you got posts about other stuff too: it’s why I love it here. That and the pottymouth, obviously. Keep it coming!

    • @Eric, @Bethini, @Brian —

      Awesome. Glad to see you guys are continuing to come back. :)

      I’ll keep up the yammering, then. I’m please I’m not just shouting into the void.

      — c.

  • I say why not have Beard and Writing Advice? Hm? Why not? Hm?
    Love Chuck, watch it religiously. Cassey is in a heap of doo.
    And now I wish I’d gone ahead and watched Justified! Darn it! Hubby took a look at a commercial and went ‘eh’ so I didn’t do it. Stupid hubby. :( :P

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