Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jane, You Ignorant Slut!

Pop culture. Really. I pity you if you don’t get it.

Anyway...

I know I said I was going to write about mystery tips, but I got distracted by a few things. And then my mind went other places. So I ended up scribbling notes for some potential rants down the road rather than working on the one for... well, this week.

So I thought, hey, what if rather than doing a rant about mysteries, I did one about getting distracted by other ideas? Yeah, it’s more of the procedural end of writing than I usually deal with, but isn’t it about time to try something new? Doing something a little different could really ignite the old spark again, right?

Well, let’s see...

A while back my girlfriend told me a wonderful story about the slutty new idea. I laughed a lot and immediately identified with it. She’d read it on a message board, but couldn’t remember who posted it. I dug around and found it here on Richard F. Spencer's blog, and he’ll be getting credit from me unless I hear otherwise.

The story goes something like this...

You, the writer, are out with your story. Maybe it’s a novel or a screenplay or just a short story you’re working on. Whichever it is, you’ve been together a while and you’ve fallen into a good pattern.

Perhaps, in fact, too good. Maybe a bit of a rut. You just don’t have the enthusiasm for the story you once did. There was a point that it was fun and exciting and all you could think of, but as of late... well, the honeymoon’s over and now it actually takes a bit of work to get anywhere with your story. Things have almost become mechanical.

So, anyway, you and the story are out and you happen to notice an idea across the room. It’s big and bright and it’s got that look to it that just says “you know it’d be fun to tumble around with me for a while.” It’s got a naughty edge to it, and it’s showing just enough to make you think about all the stuff you aren’t seeing, and how great it would be to get at those hidden parts. Just looking at it across the room you know that is the kind of smoking hot idea a writer’s supposed to have, not the dull thing you’ve somehow wound up with

In fact, let’s just take a moment and be honest with ourselves. That’s how we all want things to be with our ideas, right? It’s supposed to be a wild and spontaneous and intoxicating relationship you just can’t get enough of. You want it to keep you up late and wake you up early so you can get right back at it.

By the way, any innuendo or double meanings here are purely your own inference, I assure you.

Alas, more that a few of us know the awful truth of the slutty idea. Oh, it’s fun at first, but then one of two things happens. Sometimes you find out there’s not really anything else to it. Oh, that first night is fantastic, maybe the week after it is pretty cool, but it doesn’t take long to realize the slutty idea is... well, it’s a bit shallow. You had some fun, but after a couple days you realize things just aren’t going any further.

On the other hand, things might work out with you and the idea. The passion fades a little bit, but you’re still giving it your all and getting quite a bit in return. Eventually the two of you settle down into a comfortable story together. And just as you realize things are becoming a bit of work with your story, the two of you are sitting down one evening and you happen to notice a slutty new idea hanging out over at the bar...

Again, let’s be honest. We’ve all been there.

Now, a sad corollary to this that I’ve developed is the booty call idea. This is the idea you used to spend a lot of time with, but now you don’t for one reason or another. Maybe you needed some time apart. Maybe it just wasn’t working out between you. It’s possible you decided to call it quits altogether.

But, there you are late at night, and suddenly that idea looks really sweet again. There’s a lot of stuff you could do with that idea if you had a little time. Nothing serious, mind you, just a writer and an idea hooking up for a few hours and doing what they do. Yeah, there’s other things you should be working on—putting serious effort into, really—but one night won’t make any difference, right? Heck, not even the whole night. Just a couple hours to ease back into it and take care of that little itch you’ve had.

And yeah, maybe this time it’ll be different. But more often than not, come morning you’ll feel a bit guilty about that time you spent with the booty call idea when you should’ve been, well, doing other things.

Y’see, it all comes down to focus. Writing isn’t always going to be fun and fast and exciting. Sometimes it’s going to be work. There are going to be periods when the days just blend together. But if you stick with it and don’t just chase after every little idea that flashes you a bit of plot, you’ll find that most of the days are going to be good ones. And more than a few will be fantastic.

So, don’t chase after the slutty idea. Resist the urge to check in with the booty call idea. You’ll be a better writer if you do.

Speaking of which, I should really go work on that top ten mystery rant so I’ll have it for next week.

Until then, go write.

4 comments:

Rakie said...

It's been a while since you tried to upset my spam filters like this. ;)

And i'll weigh in to say, it is of course perfectly advisable to get the phone number of that slutty young idea over there, since no matter how good the story you're working on, at some point it'll come to a natural end and you'll find yourself looking for something new... i guess you just have to be careful your current story doesn't see you asking for that phone number. :D

Virtual Stranger said...

Well, I didn't want to go as far as say you should keep a couple ideas on the side... that would give the whole post kind of a naughty tone...

Anonymous said...

*pops vyvance*

ZombieMutts said...

Six months after reading this article it has done wonders for me.

Right now I am trying my hand at a lot of flash fiction stories..you know…the 1,000 to 1,500 word type pieces. I have something due on Friday and it has been weighing on me for a week because I lost focus and couldn’t think of what to do. The situation was I made a commitment and now I am going to blow it immediately. My idea multiplied like gremlins in water to where I started and stopped a lot of ideas. Then I tried to pull them all back together and came up with a clogged toilet going nowhere. Been pretty bummed out about it to be honest feeling like I let myself down and more importantly I let down the person I committed to. I know 1,000 to 1,500 isn’t much, but to me that’s a week of work. Especially when I clearly have issues organizing my thoughts.

So last night I was making dinner feeling foolish and I kid you not…the title to this post popped into my head out of nowhere. I Sat my desk to eat dinner and went back to the original idea I had planned out before my infidelity took over. I literally just finished my first draft right before I popped on here to comment.

Now is what I churned out quality? To be determined but at least I have something to work with!

Thanks Pete