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.
‘Tis now time for Painting With Shotguns.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…