Joe the Revelator from The Inquisitive Loon and Masks of Monsters, recently asked me several questions about the writing process, and it has perpetuated this run I am on of committing myself to the act of writing, like some mental jet pack boost.
What I’ve come to realize is that when I am NOT writing, I use the time I don’t spend writing to more or less meditate and search for inspiration. This is similar to the self-employed business man who writes off things as “business expenses” regardless of how outside people see them.Til and I have discussed this quite a bit, but one of the things we revel in is rich character development. You can have a kick ass plot, but if you don’t know why anyone is doing anything, you can bet the house that we are judging you. I’m by no means saying writing is easy, but rich characters are essential to plot.
Which is why I love Lost and rewatch it, and most people don’t understand it, but it’s why we geeks gravitate towards each other on geek forums. Here’s a scene that I think is one of the quintessential ones, and I took all this time away from writing to try to piece it together to explain this. NOTE: I do NOT own rights to this, I am just borrowing it for the purposes of explaining. This show is awesome, and you should watch it. It’s on Netflix and in stores everywhere.
Jack has been captured by the Others, but then much to the dismay of his fellow islanders, he takes Juliet (who has been abandoned by the Others) back to camp with him. No one understands this, and initially people assume that he’s lost his mind, Stockholm Syndrome, or what audiences may be thinking which is, “I get that she reminds him of his ex, but seriously!?”
Jack spends the entire episode telling his friends to leave Juliet alone, even though her people have done terrible things to him and his friends. At the end of the episode, he says, “You can set up camp with us, but eventually, they’re going to need some answers.” And she says, “What about you? You’re always talking about them. Why don’t I ever have to explain myself to you?”
That’s when Jack tells Juliet that she and he experienced the same thing at the same time, and he could tell they both felt a loss only unique to them. By witnessing this, he states that the reason she never has to say anything about her past is because Jack could SEE it, and he just knew. This is such a powerful moment, and it blows me away every time. That’s character building, right there.
Another thing I find constantly happening to me when I’m not doing anything that SEEMS directly related, is that I find a way to make it so. This is human nature, but it can also be very dangerous. My husband recently asked me, “Who would you rather be? The author of many best-sellers or Dostoevsky? Someone who is allowed to spend all their time churning out words people buy and gobble up, or the author who was imprisoned and spent his days writing in the prison?”
Like most writers, I am a masochist. So I picked Dostoevsky. Now, whenever I’m ridiculously depressed or angry, I say to myself that this is worth it, because it will make me a better writer. Or as George R.R Martin says through his character Arya in Game of Thrones, “Syrio says, ‘Each hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes us stronger.”
I could keep going, but I need to go to the bookstore, because writing. Just some think piece for your Sunday.