Monday, July 30, 2007

Aft gang awry

Take my word for it, sometimes it just doesn't work out. For whatever reason, maybe a multiplicity of reasons, some hidden, some obvious to the embarrassingly naked eye, a pitch just doesn't gel with the writer. Maybe you can't make a coherent idea out of "goober grape" or maybe you get stuck imagining quasi-invisible break-dancing goblins, and can't clear that dross from the path of a better story. The question is, what do you do about it when you can't get a good idea?

Some people will tell you that you should just go right ahead, and write something down, even if it's utter crap, just to have it on paper. Maybe it sucks but at least you'll have bulldozed that road block from your sight, freeing you to move on to bigger and better things. Plus you may have learned something useful in the process; maybe it's good to give some thought to the biomechanics of "popping and locking" in a pint-sized fairy creature - never know when that could come in handy, after all. Normally, I count myself solidly in this camp. But not today.

See today, JP and I realized that our last pitch, "Modern Gothic" just wasn't doing it for either of us. Hard to say why exactly, and maybe that's worth exploring more. For me, I just couldn't really find an idea that inspired. I started to write something about a young Asian photography student photographing a cathedral and talking to a schizophrenic man who sees the ghosts of things that aren't dead (like a persons past, or people who've stood and daydreamed about the place), but I just couldn't get a coherent line on it. It kept wavering and flapping like heat lines on the highway or a butterfly in a hailstorm. The story wanted to be something else maybe, or maybe I felt like it should have more to do with the "goth" movement, or it was a still life without a plot line. A bit of all that, but in the end it just didn't float my boat.

And usually, that would be tough for me, because my writing partner would turn in something fantastic and unexpectedly angled and surprisingly beautiful and I'd be guilt ridden to the point of pushing on. But that did not happen this time. Apparently JP was in the same boat. Locked in motionless plateau of writing from which no escape route was visible. And probably we were also busy with regular, everyday life and all it's sublunary concerns too. Anyway, it just didn't click. So we tossed it in the dumpster and substituted something else in it's place. Hopefully this new pitch will throw a more accessible line of thought our way. At least that's the theory. And if not, this time at least we'll have to rely on each other to push on through to the other side.

So the moral of this post, in my opinion is that sometimes it helps to have a buddy. Not just to push you to do your best and help you when you've fallen over, but also to say "dude, let's try something else" and make you feel not quite as sorry-ass for having given up. But what do you guys think? Should a writer write, always? Or should you sort the wheat from the proverbial chaff?

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