Really, this was extremely lazy. Ah well, had to write something today.
WASHINGTON, D.C. During a Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on Apple, Inc.’s (AAPL) offshore tax holdings, Senator John McCain (R, Ariz.) was quoted as saying, “I’m out of time, but what I really wanted to ask was why the hell do I have to keep updating apps on my iPhone all the time, and why can’t you fix that?”
Though the moment was played as a lighthearted end to a session grilling Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, anonymous McCain aides have stated that this was not the first time Senator McCain has expressed bafflement at modern technology.
“I know the office – and everyone on the subcommittee – thinks the Senator was joking,” said one aide, “but I’m not so sure.”
The aide talked about various moments in the past when the Senator expressed severe confusion and, at times, anger about technology.
In one instance, said the aide, she was called in to the Senator’s office to find Mr. McCain staring and frowning at his computer. She asked what was wrong and the Senator said, “It’s im-[redacted]-possible to pick up Cronkite on this [redacted] thing. Fix it.”
During the campaign, she continued, referring to the Senator’s 2008 bid for the Presidency, the candidate was “infuriated” and “damned to tarnation” the iPhone 3G. Staffers had insisted that McCain use one to appear as tech-savvy as his opponent, but the campaign often found the Senator “holed up in the bus and trying to use it as a remote control.”
“It’s [redacted],” he was quoted as saying at the time. “You tell me why a [redacted] remote control needs a [redacted] screen. You sit there with your [redacted] and you [redacted] tell me that, you filly.”
Responding to an e-mail regarding Mr. McCain’s outburst in the Senate Subcommittee, the McCain office stated, “Senator McCain is extremely tech-savvy, despite his portrayal in the media as a curmudgeon confused by devices that have been largely unchanged for five years.
“Further,” the office continued, “Mr. McCain would like to challenge any of you to sit down and take him on, one versus one, man vs man, in Pong. Or Frogger. But nothing that moves faster than those, or anything with more complicated graphics than an NES game. Modern media confuses him, and often gives him a headache.”
Though critics of the media coverage of McCain’s question say that giving the statement attention is a waste of time, many members of Congress have taken up technology – utilizing Twitter, Facebook, and, in some cases, Tumblr – to interact with potential voters.
One of the best known cases of Congress’s presence on Twitter was the Anthony Weiner scandal. After tweeting photos showing his penis to female followers, the Weiner case became a guidebook on how not to act on Twitter.
McCain himself is no stranger to social media faux pas. After initially joining Twitter, some of the first tweets on the McCain account were, “Too many [redacted] on this site. #whitepride”
The tweet wass quickly deleted, and the office of the Senator offered a statement that the account had been compromised.
The Senator’s second account, @TheRealMcCain, was fairly innocuous until a tweet reading, “When it comes to money, Romney’s half a Jew – and that’s what we need in government. #Romney2012” sparked an uproar.
The Senator’s spokesman stated that the account was hacked again, blaming “teenagers with too much time on their hands, too busy playing World of MagicCraft to get a job.”
Since then, @SenMcCain has been tweeting steady, nonoffensive tweets, though it has been rumored that an intern has been in charge of the account, rather than Senator McCain himself.
“Don’t understand what the big deal is,” said Senator McCain in a tweet. “I fought for this country. I can complain about this app crap.”
He followed the tweet with: “And remember, Apple. I’m on the subcommittee hearing your case! #government” and http://www.google.com search for why does palin haunt my dreams
So. Spoilers ahoy.
I finished Bioshock Infinite last week and, like most people who played the game, was busy trying to puzzle out the ending. Did the end really change anything? What, exactly, does Booker’s ability to operate post-lockdown bathyspheres mean? Will Elizabeth get that damned puppy.
That is, until I read this article on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s about the striking parallels between Infinite and The Wizard of Oz, a connection I didn’t think about until reading the piece. Well done!
It also linked me to this article over at Super Opinionated. The central premise is that Infinite misses the point in criticizing Columbia’s – and pre-War US’s – racism on one hand, and then, with the other, makes its most prominent black character into a horrible villain before the ending. (Further points include the idea that the “big-titted” woman lead is no longer a romance interest, but a daughter – primarily due to aging gamers in game companies. That, I can see.)
Now, I get where the author is coming from. It is highly suspicious that such a one-eighty happens. However, I feel that the article misses a few points. First, we’re not really given a lot of insight into DeWitte’s racial beliefs – we know that he was a horrible person in both the Battle of Peking and Wounded Knee, and that his only comment on Columbia’s racial segregation is “that’s the way it is,” but the only out-and-out opportunity for him to show his views – the ball-chucking scene in the raffle – is left to the player.
What I’m getting at here is that whatever in-universe racial sympathies Booker might have is up to the player. What does that matter? Well, it matters because that provides the motivation for Booker to join up with Daisy Fitzroy. Is he motivated by injustice, or is he just seeking an ends to the means?
Without a doubt, Columbia is meant to inspire disgust in the player, and it does so by horribly backward racial definitions and practices, but that is as much a sign of the setting as anything else. Would Comstock have remained such a villain without the racism? I think so. The guy did imprison and torture his own daughter, after all. Not much good can be said about that.
Instead, I believe the reason for Fitzroy’s fall had nothing to do with “white people feels,” or insensitivity about race, or hypocrisy, or anything on that count. Instead, I believe that it all comes back to the idea that class divides people more than race and nationality ever will.
That’s right, ladies and gents:
MARXISM COMIN’ AT YA!
Recall that Fitzroy and the Vox Populi are revolting because of their station in life. Does that have something to do with race? Of course. But it has just as much to do – if not more – than degrading work, alienation from the products of their work, and never having hope to move up the ladder in society.
I mean, hell, if you want an in-your-face indication that that’s the case, have a look at the banners, propaganda, handkerchief, and music that the Vox Populi use. It’s ripped out of the Bolshevik Revolution. Bold text superimposed on red backgrounds; triumphant, haggard workers raising their fists in the air; singing “Fortunate Son,” a song so about class that you’re surprised it hasn’t been covered by Pete Seeger.
(NOTE: It probably has.)
Yes, there’s race – and you can’t miss that. But the overriding message in the Vox Populi’s revolt is that they are doing this because they are seen as cattle by Fink and Comstock. They’re not human because they are willing to work for inhuman wages. Instead of being lions and demanding their share, they are cattle, eagerly looking for work wherever they can get it.
But what of Daisy Fitzroy’s turn to villain?
It’s unmistakable. And, in case you can’t figure it out by her attempted execution of a child, the game narrative hits you over the head with it. (“She’s no better than Comstock.”) But, also recall that, while there is a voxaphone recording of her speaking about racial alienation, when she is about to murder the child, and at her most Snidely Whiplash state of mental clarity, she states her reason is because “The Founders are like weeds; you have to tear them up by their roots.”
She’s not espousing a Malcolm X, early Nation of Islam anti-white sentiment – she’s vocalizing the desire to stamp out economic inequality by violent means.
That, of course, does not mean that it’s any more ethical. It’s still incredibly villainous to do what she was trying to do, but the reason is not solely race. It’s not Irrational Games’s missing the point of their own game. It’s their illustrating their point even more – heavy handed, maybe, but they’re still on track.
It is also worth noting that we are not in the same universe as we were when we started the game. We have jumped through tears and gone to a place where Booker DeWitte is the hero of a revolution he, in another universe, had no interest in. What happens in the original universe?
We don’t know. It’s entirely possible that Fitzroy did not become a mustachio-twirling villain. Indeed, on a large enough scale, anything becomes possible – and we are dealing with the whole, mind-numbing mechanic of the multiverse.
And that, my friends, is the crux of it. It is guaranteed – on a scale of infinite universes – that Fitzroy would turn villain. It’s equally as guaranteed that – on a scale of infinite universes – I am banging Scarlett Johansson. (This thought has given me great comfort sometimes. Good on you, Aaron Simon-99,817. You’re an example to us all.)
“When a revolution happens, yes sometimes the leaders become corrupt with power. That usually happens AFTER the power-grab is secure.”
Yes and no. It depends on the revolution. Were many leaders of the French revolution good people? Sure. But there were also bloodthirsty maniacs. Same in the Bolshevik Revolution, American Revolution, everything Che Guevara was a part of, every modern revolution, etc. etc. etc.
Fitzroy was not corrupt with power, she was corrupt with revenge.
And of the final paragraph:
Why do the twins care so much about saving Manhattan? I mean, I get *we* lived through 9/11 but they didn’t, so why does the bombing of a place we never go to in the game matter so much more than all of the people living in Columbia? For a game set in US history, this was the one piece of the game that actually stank of US entitlement. Who gives a shit about the city off-screen, let me save the city in front of me, yeesh.
I believe that the Lutrece twins acted not because they wanted to save Manhattan, but because they wanted to save Booker and Anna.
Now, it’s hard to get into the minds of what are arguably – at this point in the game’s continuum – Science Gods, but I’d wager their actions come from trying to right their wrongs. They did, after all, give Booker the means to start all of this by ripping him away from his daughter. It is entirely possible that they regret doing so, and are attempting to fix it.
(Case in point of their re-found ethics, one of the Drs Lutrece states, “To your credit, you did try to back out of the deal.” This, to me, states that they admire the glimmer of humanity in DeWitte at that time, and attempt to help him because of that.)
In other words, Manhattan doesn’t enter into it. It is, of course, wrong to murder an entire city – be it Columbia or Manhattan. But, consider that Booker is battling soldiers, and the Columbia that-would-be is bombarding civilians. (And yes, you are given the opportunity to murder civilians. That is a fair point.) Murder is murder, but the soldiers under Comstock’s orders are acting to preserve a truly fucked-up society.
US entitlement does not enter into it, either. (Well, it does. Columbia is the physical personification of US entitlement. How much more cartoony, Bush foreign policy can you get than a floating, war-producing society that spews out death-robots made to look like the Founding Fathers and bombs foreign nations?) Booker wants to save New York because he’s from there. Remember: This is an RPG just as much as it is a shooter. The player is Booker, a man whose home will be leveled by this city. Would it not stand to reason that the character would want to defend it?
It’s not entitlement, it’s defense.
So, I think that’s all I got.
My life has just changed.
It happened in a series of events that, if I were to tell you what they were, you would say, “No. This is unreal. This is the fever dream of an opium-addled fool.”
But you would be wrong.
It all culminated in visiting [dopemunk.bandcamp.com] and hearing something that makes me believe that the walls of the world are melting, and – instead of being sober – it is I who is drugged, drugged so heavily that I cannot see them.
It is as if a madman, stark-raving in his insanity took the greatest hits of the 80s alt-rock scene, looked upon them, and, from his obsidian tower positioned in the heart of the wastelands, pointed a great, gnarled finger at them and shouted, “No! This too must change!”
This madman, utilizing a cavalcade of eldritch magicks the likes of which not even Lovecraft could imagine, traveled to some point in the past, organized the Chimpunks, and forced them to record Chipmunk Punk. This album, lacking in any knowledge of even the names of Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, or Sex Pistols, took pop-alt-rock hits like “Refugee” or “My Sharona” and covered them.
But, in their Old Ones-inspired artistic throes, they did not change a thing but for the vocals, which are the only hints that you are listening to Alvin & The Chipmunks. Alvin’s voice scratches at your vocal chords, pounding them like Vonnegut’s ball-peen hammer, and, relentless until the end of the album, goosesteps around your skull.
The band murders and ravages some of the biggest commercial successes anyone who has ever gone to an 80s Night knows, and then, ends.
The Chipmunks stand on the cover, against a brick wall somewhat akin to what the uninformed might expect to see on a punk album, and glare at you. They say, “Was that not punk as FUCK?” And your mind, wrecked, agrees.
And, to an extent, it is punk as fuck. For, in giving the songs such faithful adaptations, and not even acknowledging what makes covers a cover, rendering their performance on the same level as a shitty freelance wedding band – and then turning around and declaring themselves punk, with such brass balls – they are, to an extent, punk as fuck.
But our madman is not done. He listens to the album, and his madness does not end. Indeed, it continues. He is not pleased. The screaming vocals, the everything, the id, the ego of the album does not assuage his mind. It calls out, “No! This is not enough.”
And so, the madman takes the fress-pressed vinyl and plays it on an obliterated record player. This is a record player that has been thrown from a speeding car on a freeway into a polluted river, and then dredged up and used as a toilet by diseased hobos fresh from some timewarp leading back and forth to the Depression.
The record begins and the madman turns down the speed. Then turns it down some more. And, as the drawling, distorted, heavy, grimy, filthy, sewage-ridden notes come out of his thrift store speakers, he smiles.
For he knows that he has completed a beautiful abomination. The vocals, semi-normal, but alien enough to send listeners into a pharmaceutical-free acid trip, mixed with whatever it is people experience when they are at their lowest point in a heroin binge.
The album, rendered as it is on the website, is Velvet Underground meets pop-alt-rock meets The Chipmunks meets a bored wedding band that knows they will not get paid. It is heroin rock, but it is not dangerous. It is unsettling, and you will not walk away from it quite the same, but it does not have the same danger as The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin.” No mothers will hear this and clutch their children to their bosoms, weeping and gnashing their teeth; they will, however, question whether or not they should take their children to church more often.
For in this altered album we see the face of God, and God glares down at the madman, and asks, “Why?”
“Why not?” is the response.
In a move that surprised the world, Pope Benedict XVI has resigned, effective 1800 hours, Vatican time.
Normally a position held until death, Pope Benedict’s resignation has left most in the Vatican shocked, surprised, and put out. Janitor Antionio Claudio, who has cleaned the Pope’s chambers since his election by the Cardinals, was quoted as saying, “It’s not enough that I have to clean his [redacted] all of these years; now he’s just up and leaving?”
Though the Pope’s comments following the announcement make it clear that he attributes his old age and self-perceived inability to perform the duties of his office, there have been whispers of intra-Vatican politics being at the heart of it.
Simontek NewsCorpStudios reporters were dispatched to the Vatican from our Rome offices. They met an ailing Benedict who, tiring of the media attention heaped upon him, greeted the reporters with strings of obscenities.
Afterwards, the Pope apologized and invited the reporters into his chambers for brandy and wine.
There, the head of the Roman Catholic church opened up:
“It all began when [Italian Cardinal Giovanni] Cheli ate it the other night. It really shook me up, let me tell you. This was a guy who was right there with the best of us and what happens? Boom. Whammo. Dead. Made me think.
“I mean, I’m no spring chicken. I don’t have a lot of time left.
“So I walk into the offices this morning and [Manila-born Cardinal] Luis Antonio’s all chipper and shit, and I walked up to him and told him to wipe the shit-eating grin off his face, because someone died this weekend.”
Benedict reportedly slammed down most of a bottle of wine at this point.
“The bastard had the gall to say I had ‘a case of the Mondays,’ so I punched him in his gut, walked into my office, looked at all the crap on my walls, and said, ‘fuck it.’
“I know our Father above may look down upon me for my decision, but Man was not meant to represent His Divinity all day and night. I mean, if the office of the Papacy had better hours, I might stick around, but this? Come on. Is it too much to ask for a guy to want to go to the bar one or two nights a week?”
Cardinal Antonio could not be reached for comment.
The Conclave is expected to meet soon, and rumors about potential replacements for Benedict XVI – who, after 1800 hours, will be called Ratsinger again and is expected to rush to the bars.
Though conventional wisdom states that the Pope’s replacement will be one of the Cardinals, a few Vatican outsiders say that there may be a surprise in store.
“All I’m saying,” said one anonymous source, “is that Catholics the world over had better brush up on the Church’s medieval doctrines.”
When pressed for comment, the source only offered, “Formosus.”
Pope Formosus is best remembered for being put on trial after his death and tossed into a river. Later, his remains were recovered by the Church after many years, and interred.
Pope Benedict shrugged when questioned about the possibility of a skeleton taking over as Pope. “The Church has done some stupid shit in its time. This Formosus business would, at least, be smarter than not trying to intervene during the Holocaust.”
It is not yet clear who will manage the Pope’s Twitter account after his resignation takes effect.
So you just finished The Walking Dead. No, not the show. The game. The show’s fine and dandy; it revels in its B-movieness and the moments of brilliance nestled amongst bafflingly poor choices made by characters. But the game! Holy hell. If Telltale had written the script for AMC’s show, I think we’d see the fall of Mad Men and Breaking Bad.#
I finally finished the first “season” of the game – Telltale releases installments of the game as episodes, the first game being the first season – and, full disclosure, I bawled my eyes out. I knew it was going to end that way. At the end of the third episode, I went downstairs and hugged my dog. It was an emotional drain, and, while there was a bit of a lull of that in the fourth episode – aside from the end – the fifth just absolutely wrecked me.
So, if you haven’t figured it out by now, spoilers ahoy.
So, as the credits rolled and Clem saw the silhouettes on the horizon# I did what any good nerd would do: I ran to the Internet to see if people figured out if the silhouettes were Omid and Christa.
I was disappointed. No one had a definitive answer because Telltale was smart enough to make the silhouettes into ambiguous figures so no one could tell. It is, in other words, another instance of “Lots of speculation for everyone,” the hated phrase coined by the Mass Effect community – taking inspiration from a behind-the-scenes feature – during the ending fallout. But there’s a difference: Are you ready?
This time there is no damn reason why anyone should react that way. Yes, even me. If I end up spearheading a movement to send cupcakes to Telltale Games, then I want you – all one of you readers – to remind me of what I’m about to say:
If – and I have no evidence that will happen since all of the forum posts I’ve seen are applauding the game – if such a thing were to happen, it would be because people did not get the ending they wanted, not because Telltale told a bad story.
They did the very, very opposite.
Now, there is one article I read last night that threw me for a loop. I forget which site wrote it, and I can’t be asked to do research, but it did lead off with “Your choices did matter.” And I thought about what it says if this is what some media outlets have to lead with after a choice-based game like TWD ends.
Then I thought about what could have prompted that, and the only conclusion hit me: Somewhere out there, there was someone so distraught with the ending of the game that they looked at their life and thinking, “In the end, what does matter?”
DING DING DING! Congratulations! You’ve just discovered existential nihilism!
Of course, despite what our friend Walter says, nihilism has a long, storied history of… er… being a thing for intellectuals to slapfight about.
It starts – like so many modern things – after the Industrial Revolution. The aristocracy suddenly realized that they could chain the lower classes to factories for eighteen hours a day, thus freeing up their time to do stuff like think and write novels. One of the results of this newfound free time was existential nihilism: the philosophical tenet that all things result in nothing, that all morality is worthless, and the world is intrinsically shit.
At the end of the day, we all die. So, then, what is the point of accomplishing anything? What is the point of, well, living?
If you’ve heard of Albert Camus – the pied-noir writer and philosopher – then you know he wrote L’Etranger, or The Stranger or The Outsider, depending on the translator. L’Etranger is a novel about a guy who does not apparently feel feelings. One day, after his mother dies and he feels nothing – thus inciting rage in his neighbors who do feel things – he takes a walk on a beach and, blinded by the sun, shoots an Arab several times and kills him.
Now, subtle commentary on the immigration patterns of France aside, this absurd little event triggers the philosophical discourse section of the novel. Our hero, hounded by a legal system that has apparently nothing better to do than chase down nihilists, engages in a self-righteous explanation of his behavior that an Ayn Rand hero would yearn for.
Now, friend, I wholeheartedly recommend that you tell Camus to sod off. While there is no intrinsic meaning in existence, because we’re all a result of biological and chemical reactions over millennia and millennia, what he seems to ignore – or just leave out for some reason – is that we make our own meanings.
Now, of course, that may not apply for the universe of The Walking Dead. As Molly says, “The dead always win.” So everything will probably collapse and any sense of optimism you may feel for the characters in Season 2 will be rendered moot by the first episode.
But hey! No reason for you to go all nihilist, strawman-who-I-randomly-created! Save that for the zombie apocalypse.
From: Aaron Simon
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:00 PM
Subject: Christmas Letter 2012
It’s that time of the year. We look back upon the artificial construct known as the calendar and consider all that we have lost, accomplished, and put up with over the past year. You may be struck by this e-mail, as this is one of the few I have sent this year. There are many reasons for that, but chief among them was that the detestable Ted Hayward (hello, Ted), upon hiring a new IT guy, had that IT guy block Microsoft Word on my computer. Well, I bypassed the block – you prick – so now you’re all getting an e-mail.
I’ve read your Christmas letters. All of them. How you all have so much to write about, especially since “fluff” would be an overgenerous description of the contents of the missives, is beyond me. I have spoken to most of you over the course of this year, and I can safely say that there is nothing redeeming about 90% of you. Despite my best efforts, though, none of you have yet broken. This may be because of your antiquated faith, or some reserve of willpower that I did not think you possessed, but rest assured, in 2013, you will be reduced to a mindless husk.
But Christmas is not a time for threats, it is a time for joy! Sadly, I do not have much in the way of joy. Our agency is fraught with infighting and strife. And, though our Great Director has his own methods of salvaging the remnants of good cheer that may still be found in dark corners of utility closets, know that, were I in his position, it would go differently. Every time the lot of you complain about some miniscule thing, you would be moved from offices to cubicles. The windows would be shuttered, and the light of day would never again be seen in this building.
Over the past year, I have had much time to reflect upon my station in life. I am still alive and – despite my best efforts to the contrary – my liver still functions. I briefly considered krokodil as a method of making the days go by in a more interesting way, but decided that my aim with a needle was not precise enough to indulge. I would most likely miss a vein and wind up with half of my flesh disintegrated. And, while I have plenty of sick leave saved up, I am not certain it would be enough to allow everything to regrow.
But it is not all negative! I read one good novel. I would tell you what it is, but I sincerely doubt that you would bother to pick up even the audiobook. Very well. It was Camus. L’Etranger. It spoke to my soul. And no. While I have read more contemporary novels, not one of them was worth the paper on which they were printed. Acres of forest were destroyed for this garbage, hastening not only the demise of our culture, but our planet.
And, just last month, as I sat in our department meeting, looking up at the ceiling and wishing upon all that I once held dear that the roof of the building would collapse, I came to a rather freeing revelation: Nihilism, in all of its dead-end philosophy and soul-crushing miasmic power, is the only true ethos. Consider even the greatest of our scientists and thinkers. In three generations’ time, all of their hard work will be obsolete and their names will be erased from everything but their tombstones. So, then, why do we insist upon this repetitive life we call reality?
I realized, then, that there is no reason to do so. Thus, I pledged to break free from the chains of “optimism,” that con. Further, because I believe in all of you, I will do the same for you, whether or not you wish it to happen. The light you believe to be life shall be extinguished and you shall see that the dark oblivion of the future is the only Truth.
P.S. I note that many of you are bringing in baked goods. As is custom, I shall bring in a jar of store-bought, cold, beet borscht.
It’s been a while since I’ve graced your computer monitors with incessant rambling. I heartily apologize, but the people in my office have, by and large, stopped sending out absurd e-mails for me to mock and, since that makes up the bulk of the posts on this site, that means I have nothing to post.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. I have. I made it through National Novel Writing Month again this year, and that’s, essentially, what I’d like to talk about today. Be warned: This is going to be more of a rant than anything else. I will come across as a jerk, because my filter has been worn down to nothing after the last couple of weeks. And, further, I can’t guarantee that you’ll get anything from this.
First of all, definitions for people who may not know: National Novel Writing Month (or, NaNoWriMo) is an Internet Thing where people decide to write at least 50,000 words of a novel in one month – November. This translates to around 1,700 words a day. There’s no monetary commitment for this (though the home site of the contest does run off of donations), and you don’t get anything except a little print-at-home certificate after you verify your word count on the website.
Now, I fully understand that I have been writing for a while, and really pushing myself to write a significant amount per day for a couple of years now. This means that, generally speaking, my personal goal of 2,200 words a day is only about twice as much as I usually hit.
I recognize that amount is staggering to people who are just starting out, and to people who look at writing as more a hobby than something they really want to do with their life, and I respect that. Writing’s a shitty gig with shitty pay and shitty benefits. Unless you a) know people, b) are very lucky, or c) are the reincarnation of a past literary great, you’re not going to get very far. That’s just a fact of the matter.
But, the thing that gets me about the community is the general ruckus that’s built up about the word count. I get it. It’s a hefty amount for a pretty short time. But don’t you think that daily posts in the forum about “OMG I’M GOING CRAZY LOL!” are a little bit overkill-y?
You signed up for this thing, and, in my mind, you should be willing to either sit down, shut up, and write/type/key/whatever, or back out and try again next year. That’s just the way it is. You’re not getting anything out of this aside from the knowledge that, yes, you made it, and by virtue of making it, you can probably do the same next year. Thus, to me, taking the time to make those posts on forums displays a really annoying tendency I like to call “The Attention-Grabbing Writer.”
The Attention-Grabbing Writer makes cutesy writer jokes, does something flaky and goes, “LOL that’s because I’m a writer!” They will most often be seen sitting in a Starbucks with a syrupy coffee drink, distracting themselves by posting on deviantArt or something of that nature, and, by and large not writing.
I was once an Attention-Grabbing Writer. I still have my days when I am. However, to those of you who may be AGWs, I’d like to make this plea: When your literary heroes talk about how necessary it is to write in solitude, and without distraction, take their advice.
That’s not to say that you can’t go to a coffee house. Hell, I wrote a good portion of my book this year at Barista Parlor in East Nashville, surrounded by kids, gorgeous hipster girls, and listening to their great music. But, there’s a difference between doing that and going with a group of people who you know are doing the same thing as you, and if you do that, you – I think, unless you’re a very outgoing person and would do this with utter strangers – will be more tempted to make in-jokes about your work.
See, you do need a lot of concentration and quietness to get any writing done at all. Narratives are twitchy beasts and will skedaddle at the first sign that they’re not being watched—much like toddlers. And, like toddlers, they need coaxing and a firm, guiding hand to go anywhere in life. You won’t be able to give them that direction if you’re spending time shooting the shit with other people. The narrative, after a brief while, will totally escape you, and you’ll return to your Word document with a newfound feeling of panic, realizing that you botched it.
Which then brings me to another point of confusion I have with this thing: The anxiety. This isn’t your job, man. If you’re seriously worried about it, then leave it. Take your time. Not everyone can get over a thousand words a day. It’s rough, and it takes a lot of work to hit even that at first.
But, most importantly, don’t work yourself into such a fit that you can’t get any work done because you’re focused on what you can’t do. In other words, if you’re looking at, say, 800 more words to do that day, and you just can’t manage it, don’t freak out. Call it a day, start it tomorrow. One thing I’ve learned is that if you’re working on a story or novel, and you hit a point where you have just a little bit of an idea where to go next with it, that’s the sweet spot. Stop there. You’ll give your brain more time to work out the details of the upcoming plot and, more importantly, more time to refresh itself.
Because writing is work. It’s mostly low-paid work that’s only rewarding if you think of it as rewarding, but it is work. And just as some people need to unwind after a day at the office, some people need some time to unwind after churning out a few pages of material.
But seriously, leave off the quirk-writer jokes. It’s obnoxious.