Archive for February, 2013

You’re not God and this is not the Bible

Change is an uncomfortable process, especially for a self-righteous Lutheran. The answer, “because we’ve always done it that way,” is very popular where I’m from. So is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s that stubborn resolution to remain constant in the inevitable face of change. It comes from stalwart farmers who refuse to back down from the elements and bitterly judge folks who try try sully their traditions with “progress.” “Different” is a derogatory term here.

Yet things must “progress” anyway or nothing gets done. This is especially true in writing. No matter what you write, until it’s printed, until the control of the story is out of your hands, things must change.

Writers are artists. Writing is an act of personal self expression, just like painting, composing, sculpting, etc. In some ways that’s wonderful. A writer plays with rhythms in dialog. A writer sculpts a description with a plethora of adjectives at their disposal, weaving metaphors and clever turns of phrase through their story. A well written story will emotionally move a reader, much in the same way a well composed song will move a listener. It’s a work of art.

There in lies the rub. Because writers are artists, they are stubborn about changing stuff, sometimes even a single word. That word is beautiful. That word makes the whole paragraph, maybe the whole thought. How dare anyone have the audacity to mess with that word. It’s sacred.

Um, no it’s not. It’s just a word. A paragraph is just a group of words that progress a story. And a story is only as good as it’s reception. If you want to live in a cave like Gollum; clinging to your “precious” story, savoring every word like it’s air, and reveling in your own self-importance, that’s your business. If you want your work to be appreciated by others, to be “received” publicly, you must be willing to change it.

Your story will only become something that deserves an audience if you allow it to evolve. It needs to molt off all those precious descriptions. It needs to pair down all that witty banter, and it needs to streamline all those thoughtful metaphors. A word is only sacred when it has earned its keep in the valuable real estate that is your story.

In the words of my people: “Don’t put on airs. Who are you trying to impress anyway?”


Agent Wyatt needs his wheels!

There are lots of cop cars, news vans, and pick-up trucks in the Dairyland Murders series. Advertisers are going to want their products used as props in the show. Since most law enforcement vehicles are limited to the big three (Dodge is Chrysler’s baby, so don’t go splitting hairs):

Which Car Company should have product placement in the Dairyland Murders mini series?

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Spirning reality…for now

There are people out there who get paid to follow the odds. They are called risk assessment managers. They base their entire careers on following statistics and making (supposedly) impartial judgements based on those statistics. They determine if someone gets a loan, job, contract, etc. These people are dream killers. These people are not artists.

Artists tend to thumb their noses at the status quot in my opinion because they’ve never been a part of it, willfully or otherwise. They don’t fit. This exclusion automatically changes their very perception of reality. So having “realistic expectations” that the rest of normal society seems to understand is a foreign concept to them. It needs to be.

To function as an artist, to be able to think outside of the box (or look at the box and see a chicken, or decide that there is an entire universe in the box, or the box is just an illusion to distract mankind from the overlords of dystopia), reality needs to keep its distance from abstract thought processes and creative problem solving.

If you’re too busy fixating on reality, you can’t concentrate on being creative. For any artist, that can be debilitating. Why create something if no one but you is ever going to appreciate it? There, you’ve already given up.

Again, in my opinion we already have enough risk assessment managers. We have more than enough people who are perfectly happy to go with the flow. We have too many people who give up before even trying because the odds are against them. We will always need more dreamers, more artists, more envelope pushers, more progressive thinkers.

Reality isn’t going anywhere. Sooner or later you need to face it. Make it a positive reflection of your efforts, not some insurmountable wall that impedes them. Don’t give up. You’re better than that.