Flying the right path

I’ve noticed the myth of Icarus popping up a fair bit lately, and I couldn’t help but think about it in my own dopey sort of way. Most everyone has some sort of ultimate dream-goal they’d like to achieve (so says the guy who wants to become a relatively well-known author), and I think it’s safe to say those dream-goals usually exist at some sort of lofty heights and require a great deal of hard work and sacrifice. It’s Obvious Day here at Misadventures in Fiction, in case anyone hasn’t noticed.

To recap briefly: Icarus soared too high, the sun melted the wax binding his wings together, and he fell to his death. A cautionary tale, no doubt, of how dangerous pride can be. As dangerous as sweeping generalizations may be, I think it’s safe to say Icarus’ fall is the most well-remembered detail. But what about the rest of Daedalus’ warning? He also warned Icarus to not fly too low. In order to escape successfully, Icarus would have to find the perfect height at which to fly; not proud and close to the sun, but without holding his head low so as to not be swallowed up by the sea. Finding such a balance is something that can be applied to pretty much anything in life, but we can safely say I’ll be focusing on finding that balance in creative adventures (and misadventures). I’m not speaking as an expert on the topic, as I was accused of being my own worst enemy yet again tonight. Whoops. Continue reading

Seven Deadly Sins applied to writing – Pride

First and foremost, I’d like to indicate the shiny new linkage at the top of my page.  I’ve finally made a page for “Joshua’s Nightmares”, which is a little ridiculous if you think about it since that’s the reason I made this blog in the first place.  To follow my progress, or total lack of real progress so far, on writing that novel.  Yikes.

On the plus side, I made a good deal of progress in terms of world-building today (while at work, no less), and will be doing a ton of writing for the actual novel tomorrow…so I thought I’d get this written now.  I found myself thinking, “Self, there’s probably some way you could apply the Seven Deadly Sins to writing.”  In line with my last post, I Googled that and was completely unsurprised to find a trillion billion similar results.  Honestly, though, you could Google “Seven Deadly Sins of Making a Seven Deadly Sins of List” and there’s probably results.  If not, someone should get on that!  Moving on.

The first post–this post, of course–will focus on Pride.  This is a bit of an odd one, as pride and writers go together about as well as peanut butter and gasoline do in a smoothie (Protip: Premium gasoline and peanut butter probably do make a great smoothie, though I take no responsibility for anyone who actually ingests a premium gasoline and peanut butter smoothie).  On one hand, most writers suffer from so much crippling self-doubt that Pride (capital p for this post because of reasons) doesn’t pose much of an issue.

However, when Pride does rear is ugly head it often has to do with an unwillingness to make changes to a piece of writing (and, in some cases, accept that a story you wrote may actually just be a stinking heap of needs-sent-to-the-trash-bin-now).  Maybe you sent it to some friends for critiquing, knowing they’d love a particular witty one-liner or character, and you were completely taken aback when that particular gem was highlighted with critical comments.  On one hand, you could let Pride rule your pen and say screw it to those suggestions.  Not everyone will understand your overwhelming genius, right?  Or, more realistically, you could see what fixing that “gem” could use.

What I typically notice, and experience, is the absence of Pride with writers.  It’s not even humility so much as this weird blend of doubt and self-loathing, with a splash of cheap bourbon.  I’ll write, and write, and write some more, and then I’ll look at the finished product and think about how everything could have been done better, or had been done somewhere else already, and how the story itself wouldn’t be worthy, in print, of being used as toilet tissue.  And then editing happens and I might hate the story a little less, or a little more, or just the same.

Ultimately, it’s a weird balancing act with being proud of the works you create, but understanding that everything could use a little tweaking.  Unless you’re infallible, in which case I politely must insist you are actually full of shit.