Welcome to the World of Tomorrow
I’m jamming to a little Tom Petty music while I crank this out. The song is appropos. It’s “Running Down a Dream”. Good guitar licks, good vocals, and good harmony. I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s cleaning any remaing cobwebs from my head as the day is lumbering to a close, so let’s jump to it. There are words to write.
Today’s theme is migrating a bit away from influences–I warned you I might venture away from this from time to time, so today I am going to talk about procrastination. I suppose, if one really wanted to reach, we could file this under “bad influences”.
I’ve spoken about not killing yourself, breaks are healthy, and it’s okay to take a breather every now and then. The mantra, however, is everything in moderation. While video games are fun, television is diverting, books and graphic novels can be entertaining, and research can be downright riveting, there comes a time to put away such childish pursuits and sit down and write the words. No matter how magic your ideas may be, as long as they are floating around in your head, they are nothing more than that. A lot of people have great ideas. How many times have you or your buddy seen some thing and said, “Hey, I coulda done that” or “I thought of that years ago”? The fear of failure wrecks more ideas upon its craggy shores than some of those really nasty reefs off the coast of Austerbeck.*
Ideas are always shiniest in the beginning. They are new. They are excited. They are clean. Like sneakers untouched by dirty fingers and unscuffed by the uncaring masses who invariably are attracted to accidentally stepping on them as though they have metal boots and you have magnetic socks, they are white, clean, and prestine. Nobody wants to have their nice clean sneakers scuffed up. But shoes aren’t meant to be stored away (despite what avid shoe collectors may have you believe), but are meant to be used, just like comics should be. Sure both products may appreciate in value, but how much enjoyment do you get out of either? Exactly. And you have to admit there is nothing better than a nice, broken in pair of shoes, or the fun factor by the kid who used to be who snagged up the wrinkled, dog-eared comic to read through it (for the 100th time). I admit, I like to keep my books in nice condition, but once they get scuffed up, I get over it, and am invariably much more comfortable with using it as the resource it is. It’s quirky, I know, but I’m not afraid to admit. Ideas are like all these things. They may be safe “mint in the box”, but they aren’t doing anyone any good, and they are simply taking up space in your mental closet. Get them out. Wear them. Get comfortable with them. Which brings us to our next point, getting the ideas down on paper (or media of your choice).
You’ll notice once you have some sort of idea down, it’s like pulling the comic out of plastic or slipping the shoes out of the box. They are still clean, but have already lost value. Admit it. Suck it up. Get over it. The idea in your head is filled with untoward potential; it’s still the IDEAL. Once it makes the migration out of your mind, through your fingers and out the keyboard, and onto the screen, those little pixels become REAL. They are fixed points. Zeroes and ones configuring pixels configuring letters configuring words into your idea. It’s not as grandiose as it once was. That’s not to say it’s still not a good idea. It’s a starting point. The idea becomes granite instead of silly putty. Its strength lies in its reality, its solidity. Now you have to get out your mental chisel and see if you can craft the good stuff from this oblique monolith before you. You should also take a moment to revel in the fact you are no longer static. You have actually taken your first step to building your tower of this book, setting, story, novel, or what-have-you. You have just placed the first brick. Just make certain you bring plenty of concrete, you’re going to need it.
This becomes a dangerous point for a lot of folks. Once the monolith is before you, it’s not as shiny, not as cool as it once was. For some people, this is enough. They have fed the demon. They have the illusion of progress. Many ideas die like this. Ripe grapes on the vine withering beneath an uncaring sun. Don’t let your stony grapes wither. You have to grab a pair and squeeze hard until they whine. Don’t be the uncaring sun. You have ideas fermenting away. This brick is the first brick. Now, we have a stony, granite brick. I have wandered far afield, and I don’t live anywhere near a vineyard. Let’s mosey back to the original point, and see if we can have some nice closure, complete with setting sun casting a red hue across the horizon, shall we?
There are times when it’s not fun. There are times when it is work. If you want to know the truth, it’s always work. Whether it’s a smiling stripper doing a pole dance while the bills are piling up on the stage, a politician gladhanding, or a writer grinning as he signs his latest, greatest thriller. It’s always work. There are times when it’s very, very good, and there are times when you stare at the darkness of your soul and wonder what you’re doing with your life. This truth is universal. Granted, you’re unique like everyone else, be they rock star or ditch digger. Writing is no different, but you’re less likely to overdose, have groupies, or suffer a bad back from digging all day. It has its own challenges. If you’re in it as a hobby, that’s cool. Admit it and move on. I have things I do as a hobbyist and things I do for reals. You have to choose. If you’re read this far, you’re showing your interested, if not serious, about what you do. If you’re gonna write, write. If you’re not, do that thing you’re meant to do. It’s all cool, and why there is more than one flavor of ice cream
With that last bit of info dripping like (your favorite favor of ice cream) over the edge of the sugar cone, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!
*Austerbeck is not real. Fill in the blank with some nasty, reefy area of your own imagination. I’m no oceanographer, but I’m not going to let that stop me from using this clever metaphor.