Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

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This entry is not what you think it would be about

So I watched a good bit of the Twilight DVD (Target edition) today--I got through the first two discs and a couple of things on the third, and while I was there I started mulling over something that's occurred to me once or twice, but I don't know that I'd ever fully articulated it, even in my mind, and it is this: it is a lot harder for me to write now than it was five years ago when I started Black Ribbon. Original fiction, I mean, as opposed to recaps or parodies or what really amounts to doll fanfiction. And the reason for that: I've been linkspamming movie and general entertainment news in some capacity or other since late 2001. I have watched the process of a book--many books--becoming a movie, becoming a merchandising property, becoming a cultural touchstone. And inevitably, a production where anyone gives a damn always includes various people gushing over how wonderful the original book was and how they just wanted to honor that. I mean--Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, The Golden Compass, Twilight and now Watchmen--I've watched the life cycle of this process dozens of times, both for series and individual, one-shot books.

And what this has done to me, I'm starting to realize, is given me an entirely new angst topic: forget whether I can sell the books themselves, can I write something that will make dozens if not hundreds of respected professionals--producers, directors, actors, production designers, costume designers, composers, special effects supervisors, publicity departments, even toy manufacturers--sit around and gush ever so earnestly about how they just wanted to honor my vision and the spirit of my book and my beloved characters and my fabulous wonderful creative visionary blah blah blah blah blah. Can I inspire people to those lengths? And I sit there in a cold sweat and go, "I can't, I can't do that, I can't sit here in front of a blank document and birth this instant cultural phenomenon, I can't write books that people will line up at midnight in the cold for, I can't write original characters that people will get into violent shipping wars over, I can't write something that will make 6000 people pile up at conventions and scream their faces off, I can't live up to that, I can't do it, oh God, oh God, oh God, I think I'm going to throw up now."

And before you jump in like the good people you are with knee-jerk assurances that yes, I totally can! You love my recaps of other people's work and my stories about other people's characters!, I have to stop you and point out that this isn't about what I can or cannot do. This is about--I have to keep reminding myself--what I should do, and the last thing I should do is think about that shit. If you're trying to write a marketing phenomenon, dumbass, you're doing it wrong. The reason it makes me want to throw up, the idea of not being able to write because what I write might not be the next big thing, is because writing is all I want to do, and even when I'm too scared to write my own work I find something else to write, something like blog entries or TV recaps or like the dolls, something that's safe because it can't ever go further than that one post, it can't be published on its own or made into a movie or whatthefuckever. And more importantly, no one expects that of it. And I write that because I can't not write in some capacity. Yet I'm sitting here giving myself such a head trip over whether my story is going to be the next multimedia cultural phenomenon that I can't even write it badly, I'm so scared to write it at all.

So I am going to try to go back all the way down to the ground floor and tell myself, Fuck it, you're not writing this for anyone but you, you don't have to ever show it to anyone else. I mean, no, that's not how I want this to end up, and I don't want to turn it into self-indulgent badfic that's NOT FOR YOU. But I think there's a point where you have to say, right now, I am doing this for myself, because I want to, because I love it, because I can't not do it, and fuck all my crazy daydreams and delusions of grandeur. You write this bitch and then you worry about ever showing it to someone else.

And I feel terrible that I have such delusions of grandeur--or maybe not "delusions of" currently so much as "desire for" in the future. And part of what finally made me realize I was worrying about the wrong thing--that I was doing it at all--was (and you're going to laugh at this) writing the Secret Life of Dolls. Because I really don't think it would work as a printed book, which means I don't have to worry about that; I just do it for fun. And I've kind of been treating it like a workshop or training camp--in a context where I have no (well, few; I still worry if it works at all, because that's what I do) expectations for the final result. You know, let's try some foreshadowing, let's try to show character in different ways, let's try to create recognizable individuals, let's try to pace a long-term storyline, let's try to misdirect people or surprise them, let's try all the things writers should be able to do and see if it works--because it's in a serial format, I basically have a live audience, so I get to see what does work. When people immediately said, "Oh, I hope Edward doesn't go after Iorek," I thought, okay, that's not something that needs a ton of foreshadowing, and in fact, I probably need to dial future hints down as much as possible so I don't telegraph it. And it got to the point where I started thinking, this is so much fun--why am I not back on Black Ribbon doing this? It's the exact same thing. If I was afraid my craaaaaft was rusty, well, at least I've warmed up a bit. Just get in there and do it and who cares how it turns out.

So basically, I'm trying to refocus on why I write, which is because I love writing, the actual verb of it, and get back to actually doing it.


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Tags: anxiety, writing
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