Force or Not to Force

Chaos Theory...huh?
Chaos Theory...huh?

Today is 10/10/10.  When I searched for images based on today's date, here's what I got.  An explanation of chaos theory.  Kinda like writing.

Although, I'm not sure what the significance is. I thought I'd use it to announce that I haven't found that 'yes' from an agent who will help bring my story to the world, yet.

But I've been told that I can't force a tomato plant to grow by yelling at it, throwing money at it, or by giving it an ultimatum.

"Grow or I'll send you to your room!"

Attack of the killer tomatoes, attack of the killer tomatoes...

Attack of the killer tomatoes, attack of the killer tomatoes...

The tomato will grow on its own with the right environment. Basically, dirt, water and sun. Dirt is pretty much free. Water is cheap. And so far no one is charging for sunshine.

Is getting published, breaking into Hollywood if you're an actor, finding your soul mate, soul searching for your passions like growing a tomato?

I was talking to a fellow writer from work. He's a rabid reader and especially loves fantasy. I'd talked to him at the beginning of summer about his book and he had finished writing chapter five. He asked me how long it took to write mine. I said about four years.

A few months later, I asked him about his progress. He said he was at about chapter five. So either he's been doing some serious rewriting, or he hadn't written much. We had gotten onto the subject of forcing art. He still loved the idea of his book, loved writing, but needed some balance in life. I asked if he used an outline, and he said he wanted to, maybe it would help the flow of his writing and story.

Steven King starts his books with an idea and writes until it's finished. John Irving starts his book with a very detailed outline. He needs to know where the story is going before writing.

Who's method is right?

Both.

I told my friend to find a method that works best for him and just go with it. He agreed but stated that he didn't want to force the creative process. I totally agreed. But is knuckling down on your work forcing?

With any creative undertaking, the artist only has to provide the most minimal of ingredients. Just like the tomato plant, it just needs dirt, water and sun. Everything else happens by itself.

Damn it's cold up here.

Damn it's cold up here.

One of the challenging things about writing fantasy is the creation of things that doesn't exist in our world. Many fantasy writers use Tolkienesque creatures, which is great. My story came to me outside of that, and I've spent a lot of time wondering what to call the different things in my world.

My process was simple: I ask the question. Like, what do I call this bug that my character eats? Then I wait. Sometimes it comes to me immediately. Sometimes it comes to me in a month. Nevertheless, it comes to me.

But it comes to me not just because I ask the question, but because I show up for the answer. I spend a lot of time each day fantasizing about my world. I imagine the feelings each character goes through. I think about the conversations they have, their goals, and their character arcs. Since the majority of my days are spent at work, I tend to find a lot of dead time that allows me to do this. Don't tell my boss.

The point is show up. I show up to write. I show up to think. I show up and work. Forcing something would be like sticking strictly to my outline and not coloring outside the lines. Have an outline, but let the idea sprout. Let little surprises in. Let mistakes enter. For those are the things that can make any artistic project grow into something amazing like a tomato plant. Just watch out of the killer tomatoes.

Instant Message, Ugh

One of my favorite things to do is read people.  I used to think that I had to be present, to be there next to the person, to feel their eyes.  And I don't mean getting my grubby hands on people's corneas.  To be there  wasn't necessary.  But as instant messaging becomes a tool in corporations, it becomes a tool for me, and anyones else, to learn to read people through their IM. People IM they way they talk.  Which is fine!  But it's funny when people type "Uh..."  And they do type the ... after the Uh.  Like they want you to know they're thinking.  I've also seen my questions answered first with "er".

Er?

Or what about the "Let me think about that."  Why not just think about it, then respond once you've pondered, surmised, and worked through?

I also love the "Hmmm."  I love it cause I do that when I don't know how to respond.  Gives me time to think without typing let me think.

So what's the point?

One thing that is true in our world, in our universe, is we're all connected.  It's the reason I can read people when they're in my presence or not (something anyone can do).  There is an energy like the force in Star Wars that connects us all, connects us to the environment we live in.  We think of ourselves as separate beings, when we are really a single entity.  It's the reason why when a person hurts someone, they in turn hurt themselves.  When people come back from war they're forever changed and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.  The death they see, the death they cause rips their souls.

Remember Harry Potter?  How Voldemort wanted to rip his soul into pieces by killing others?  There is truth in that.

I've had to think this about a lot.  The main character deals with this not only within himself, but with the families that are opposed to the erupting war.  A war that he's partly responsible.

And of course this idea doesn't just apply to death.  This applies to hurting someone emotionally.  I can't tell you how many times I've argued with my mom and felt guilty about it afterward.  Or the number of times I've fallen into severe arguments with my ex-girlfriends and felt horrible.  In the end, no one wins a fight.  Both sides are hurt, exhausted, and don't want to connect with each other.

Is it better to be right, or to be happy?  Because isn't the  meaning of life happiness?

Is Rebelling a Bad Thing?

The hero of the 7th Province has a choice.  He either rebels against his close friend and former mentor, or join him in taking over the world.  Each choice ends in war.  That's a tough place to be.  Is there a correct choice?  For the hero I'm not sure.  As a writer, the choices that each character makes, ultimately mine, is a crap shoot. I love that.

Even though I've plotted my whole novel, each day I wrote brought new discoveries and challenges that made me giddy.  I'm never sure how things were to happen.  I just know they had to happen.  As a result, writing my fantasy was a huge adventure.

Is rebelling bad?

I have a secret.  It's one of my favorite things about myself.  I don't get along well with authority figures.  That doesn't bode well since my day job is encrusted in a corporate empire.  The funny thing is they have a lot of propaganda that emphasizes their business values.  I won't get into the hypocrisy of it.

Is rebelling not a good thing?

A parent tells a child to kiss Uncle Louie.  Child scrunches her little face and shakes her head.  Parents eggs the child on, saying Uncle Louie loves the child.  Child pouts her lips, turns, runs toward her parent's leg, and grasps with all her might.  Parent gets upset, unhinges the child, pushes her to Uncle Louie, and forces her to kiss him on the cheek.  (I credit this example to my best friend.)

Is this wrong?

Hell yeah.

The parent just took the child's power away, forced her to kiss a strange man, despite her not wanting to.  If Uncle Louie were a child molester, the parent just punched a large hole in the child's ability to resist the attack.  In the child's mind love is associated with force.  And we wonder why some women stay with men who batter them.

What if the child was just being a brat?

Firm discipline should take place.  You decide what firm is.  That's different in each culture, society, family and individual.  But in the example above, the child is not being a brat.

Teaching a lot of adolescent kids made me realize one thing.  Almost every single one exerts their own independence.  Every parent exerts their control in an attempt to guide them.  It's the nature of the ocean, the ebb and flow.  Parents think their kids are being a pain in the ass.  Offsprings think their parents are being assholes.  What more could you ask for in a relationship?

Think of a pendulum searching for their own center.

Parents often ask me to infect a behavioral change.  But that's an impossible task.  All I can do is mentor them without limitation.  Tom Cruise taught me that.

He was on Inside the Actor's Studio.  A great show by the way.  He said that his mother never limited him in what he did.  She was watchful, but allowed him to explore the world.  Now he's some actor making at least twenty million dollars per movie, chump change.

As you sit in your day job, and if it's not the place you want to be, then what are you doing about it?

See part 1 to this article.