Monday, January 13, 2014

A Tale of Two Chapters

This is what I do every time I sit to write something. I type three words, grow unhappy, and delete them. Then I type again, grow even unhappier, and delete that. I do this over and over because what I write is so darn boring. Take for example the first chapter of a story I started for this blog. It starts with the main character waking up in a forest surrounded by endlessly repeating tress of the same shape and color. As he wanders through it, it gradually becomes more alive as he begins to see varieties of trees and birds. He eventually wanders onto a hilly countryside bordered by a twinkling lake. He walks up the hill and sees a dark grey castle in the distance. From that castle he meets four warriors and joins up with them.
And that's the whole chapter. Riveting, isn't it?
The story was going to be about him fighting off an evil thing called "The Whisper." It was all allegorical, with the warriors serving as representations of aspects of himself that he must help to overcome their various insecurities and self-loathing thoughts in order to defeat the thing that represents his own insecurities and self-loathing thoughts. It was going to be very meta, very self-reflected, and very boring.
I disliked it almost immediately. I thought so much about every word, every sentence, that writing became a chore, a job, something that must be perfected then and there. I had hopes that score of people would write it, be very impressed, and tell their friends, who would tell theirs, and before you know it, I would have a movie deal! All this I took very seriously. In fact, I was so serious that what I wrote was a joke. It was pretentious, silly, and full of the most obscenely grandiose language you've ever heard with lakes shining like diamonds and armors flashing like fire. It wrote it and found it tedious.
After being convinced that this was not a good story to write (which was a chore in itself), my wife off-handedly said that I should write an adventure story, maybe with pirates or something. I wrote the idea in my journal. I would have written any idea there since I didn't have any in my head. And thank God for wives who are wiser than their husbands.
The more I dwelt upon a pirate adventure story, the more I realized how fun that sounded. Why not a rousing pirate adventure story with a cast of kind-hearted swashbucklers who offer to help an amnesiac find his lost memories and building an entire world around these people. A captain with a tragic past. A first-mate who's only thirteen years old. A cook who wears iron shoes. A woman posing as a man! How exciting all that sounded! The ideas tumbled out of my head like rocks on a mountain, bouncing and knocking more ideas out until I drew a map of the world and bios for each character. Now there's a world to explore and to excite!
So, the moral of this tale of two chapters is this; if you're not excited, if you don't like what you're writing, no one else will. The act of writing is an act of creation and if that act isn't filled with joy, nothing created can be. I began with a joyless story filled with cliches and have begun to delve into a world that grows more real by the day.

Now, usually when someone writes an introduction, they place it before anything else. I'm going to reverse that and write my introduction now. My name is Carl O'Brien. I currently live in Japan with my wife. I work as an English teacher in Osaka and have been writing short stories all my life. And this blog is a place for them. I doubt I'll ever get published, but then again I'm not really shooting for that. I just want a place where people can read my stories. It's wrong to be selfish. If I'm the only one who enjoys these worlds, what's the point of them? They remain only stories in my head and are helpful to know one. Thus, I have to let them go and send them into the cruel dark called the Internet. I place no expectations on them. I have no delusions of grandeur or self-importance. I merely wish to see my creations in front of my face, instead of in the back of my mind.
My updates will be spontaneous, erratic, and more than often rambling. I will contradict myself in my non-fiction posts and more than likely change my style halfway through a story. I may, although I pray I won't, give up in the middle of a story or do away with this blog entirely. I'm rather fickle. Therefore, I place no expectations upon you, dear Reader. I don't ask that you tune in every week to read my latest work. I only ask, and it's a very slight request, that you subscribe to this blog in whatever manner you choose and consider reading what I've written when you're informed that I've written it. Beyond taking a slight internet in my work, I ask nothing else of you. Thank you for your time.

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