THE INSPIRATION: Becoming
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
There is a process that leads us out of one space and into another, where you leave behind who you’ve been and start to become whatever your new self is. Sometimes, we rush toward that new becoming. Sometimes, we resist.
But in the end, we always become the new thing anyway.
THE FAT ORANGE CAT: A key
What does it open? A door? A cabinet? A bike chain? Does it start a car? Is it decorative, like a charm or a necklace? Does it look decorative, but is actually functional.
Keys, man. They’re kinda magic, aren’t they?
The “Get Your Stuff” link will bring you to an item I selected specifically to accompany this post, but you do not have to buy that thing in order to support me. Just keep popping through Amazon and buy the stuff you were going to buy anyway.
THE TROPE: Epilogue
An epilogue is the story that comes after the story; typically, it’s showing us the world many years after the events of the story. It’s not the resolution scenes, which are essential because they show us how the world has changed, thus giving us the meaning of the story. Epilogues typically travel a bit down the road to show us how happy our characters are, and insinuate that they will be happy forever.
You know… okay. Good for them. But if they’re happy, it’s not story. Story is about the struggle.
Happiness is great and all but… I don’t want to see it. I’ve discovered uses for voice over, flashbacks, even prologues, but epilogues? I don’t get it. I have yet to discover a true narrative value to an epilogue. They don’t bug me that much because they’re at the end and when they happen in a story, I just don’t read them. I don’t care.
But maybe I’m missing something. I understand why some people enjoy them; they want to see their beloved characters be happy. But what is the narrative value? I haven’t seen an epilogue of actual narrative value yet. Have you?
THE QUESTION: Too nice to write?
“What do you do when you're blocked in your writing, not because you don't know what to write, but because you really, really don't want to write the awful things that need to happen to your characters? I recently had a plot revelation on my short fiction piece which means the story is now much darker and more sinister and my two main characters will be ripped apart by the devastating thing that has to happen...and I haven't written anything since. Being a highly sensitive, intuitive, empathetic person, I don't know if I can make my characters suffer this much. I know it makes for great stories, but I just can't bring myself to do it! Help!”
Wow. I feel like this is going to reveal a dark side to my nature but I have literally never had this problem.
I love tormenting my characters. The more, the better. My characters are most interesting to me when they’re suffering. Usually, my problem is that I don’t have a lot of sadism in my nature, so I have trouble imagining enough ways to make them miserable, but once an idea comes to me? I’m into it.
I think that’s because when my characters are in pain, I see it as a release for my own pain; their trauma is a way to process my own trauma. And that’s how fiction works; we walk through the pain with our characters that we are afraid or incapable of walking through on our own.
It’s possible that reframing your situation through this lens might help. When you put your characters through this torment (which sounds awesome, by the way) you’re actually going to be helping your readers work through their own pain. Maybe if your empathy switches focus from your characters to the readers that those characters are going to help by going through this… maybe that will help?
I don’t know. I wish I could be more help. I’m literally never more excited to write than when my characters are knee deep in the misery.
THE PRACTICAL: Way too good to be on CBS
I just finished my second run through “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and I have to say… I don’t get it.
I don’t get why this great show was on CBS, a network famous for its dedication to mediocrity. CBS has made an art of rounding up any good parts of TV shows, then taking them out back and beating them to death with a shovel. I don’t get why “Old Christine'“ didn’t get more attention for being as good as it was. I don’t get why it was unceremoniously canceled after the last episode had been shot so it just… ends in the middle of a handful of active storylines, just cut off dead like Tony Soprano*. Show runner Kari Lizer said publicly that CBS was sexist and that’s why it showed no respect to the show and I believe her because… well. I’ve watched CBS.
Here are all the things I like about “The New Adventures of Old Christine”:
Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is a comic genius. She was also amazing in “Veep,” but I find that a rougher ride, so it’s nice to be able to enjoy her as Old Christine and not have to think about the fact that Washington insiders said “Veep” is practically a documentary. And that was before Trump.
Clark Gregg is charming as hell. I don’t believe him at all as Richard, the ex-husband walking around amidst a companion cloud of loser, because he’s just too charming to be believable as a loser. But I don’t care because charmed.
Hamish Linklater, who did a stunning turn recently in Netflix’s “Midnight Mass,” is so adorable in this show that I had a hard time not finding him hilariously funny in “Midnight Mass.” It was a problem.
Richie, the little kid, is allowed to hover legitimately in the average-to-dumb area of the intellectual spectrum. I’m so tired of precocious kids who are smarter than their parents. He’s not, and considering that his parents aren’t that bright, either, it makes the kid adorable, lovable and hilarious in a way that kids usually aren’t allowed to be on sitcoms.
Wanda Sykes is one of the most brilliant comedians of our age and she is even funnier here.
The active acknowledgement of racism, classism, and sexism without being preachy or smug about it. This show’s characters often have toilet paper streamers of all three on their shoes at any given time, which allows us to look directly at the realities of our uniquely American brand of toxicity and laugh at it without pretending that it’s not that bad. It’s absolutely that bad, and this show knows it. The honesty is refreshing.
There are a couple of things about that I don’t enjoy so much—the brother/sister relationship gets textually incestuous in a way that gets really uncomfortable—but overall, it’s just a good show, and it’s total lack of boundaries is definitely part of its charm.
Have you guys watched it? What do you think? It’s good right?
*Oh, you’re really gonna be mad at me for that? “The Sopranos” is 20 years old. What’s the statute of limitations on spoilers anyway?