The Straightforward Way To Overcome Reluctance To Write

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If you find yourself making every excuse under the sun to avoid writing, there is always one, sometimes there are up to three, salient, isolatable reasons why. If you can pin down the reasons for your avoidance and I-don’t-wanna-ness, you are more than halfway to overcoming your reluctance. Find out the reason(s) why you are currently reluctant to write, stare at it (or them) for a few moments, and you will, more likely than not, discover that your reasons for reluctance are solvable.

Victor Poole, You’re Just Being Encouraging Again

Here is an example: You just got home from work and fed your cat. You wash some dishes and heat up some food. Then, after dinner and before bedtime, you stare at your computer. Your manuscript is calling you, beckoning with arms laden with guilt. But I don’t wanna, you think. But I oughta, you reply to yourself.

The Dance Of Voices In Your Head Goes On For Awhile

Feeling both victorious and ashamed, you browse Pinterest and read up on your favorite writing blogs. Then you research an element of your world-building, and reluctantly open your current manuscript. The I-don’t-wanna feeling flares up violently; “Maybe I really don’t want to be a writer after all,” you tell yourself, and you wander away to find a soothing beverage.

But Why, Gentle Reader, Don’tcha Wanna?

I used a lot of anachronistic phrases in The Eastern Slave series, on purpose (you won’t find such elements in The Second Queen, for example). I did this on purpose, to tear up the settled way of thinking in experienced fantasy writers’ heads. The purpose, my purpose, in doing this was to present a striking dichotomy, of vivid, humanistic portrayal beside an almost jocular irreverence for the genre. Plainly said, the series is meant to piss people off.

Why Victor, How Charming Of You!

I also wrote a very sensitive, angry, and uber-intelligent female character. I don’t explain much of her thought process, and if you, the reader, are not quick enough to keep up, or to piece together her reasoning after the fact, there is no help in the book. I did this for two reasons; one, I’m tired of trope fantasy, and I want better gender portrayal in the genre, and two, I selected a very particular and rare breed of energy to seed into this main character’s aura.

Wait, You Build Auras For Your Characters, Victor?

Exceptionally detailed and fully-functional energy fields. If you read the books, and toil through the anger and mental flaying you will probably experience in the process, you will find a world full of real-seeming people. Well, they seem real because I built them coherently. If you have a hobby of people-watching, my characters pay off. They behave consistently, and have a wonderful knack of exhibiting realistic dynamic growth. Because I’m a genius.

And You’re Humble, Too!

Yes, I know. Back to the topic of our Friday post, when you have settled on a fizzy beverage, or a toasty tea, or an economical cup of water, and have come back to your computer, ask yourself, “Why?”

The Right Questions Clear Up Reluctance

“Why am I reluctant to write?” Ask yourself this, sincerely, and wait for an answer. If you wait patiently, and repeat the question, your brain will naturally compose a reply.

  • Because I’m not good enough
  • Because they will make fun of my ideas
  • Because I don’t want to

Once You Have The First Reply, Repeat The Question

Ask yourself again, “Why aren’t I good enough?” “Who will make fun of which of my ideas?” “Why don’t I want to?”

Again, if you ask patiently, and repeatedly, and wait, an answer will present itself to you.

  • I’m not good enough because I didn’t write yesterday
  • My mom thinks space-orcs are stupid
  • I think I’ll fail

Repeat The “Why” Until You Have No Further Down To Go

As you repeat this process, within four or ten steps, you will find yourself at a definite brick wall. Some hard, definite feeling, caused by a distinct experience, will present itself in answer to your “Why.” When you have reached this point, you will know that you are at the real answer to your question.

Some Examples Of A Final Answer

Perhaps you are afraid of writing because your mother had that particular tone in her voice when you mentioned your last chapter. Perhaps you have established a routine for writing, and you skipped it all last week because the car broke down and you had to spend your writing time negotiating with mechanics, and now you can’t forgive yourself for getting behind. Maybe you are about to write a huge, dramatic confrontation between the galactic emperor and your upstart hero, and you don’t think you’re going to do the scene justice.

Once You Have It, Turn It Over In Your Mind

Pushing through genuine reluctance without addressing the “Why” is not wise; you may find yourself writing worse and worse, and getting angrier and angrier at yourself. Taking the time to figure out what upset you, and giving yourself the respect and grace to process your buried feelings, creates a relationship of trust and reliability between your process and your soul. Many writers take up a metaphorical stick, and beat themselves over the head to squeeze out a few more words every day, but such violence against the self is not sustainable, and does not result in wholesome fiction. If you practice this process of asking “Why,” and then asking again and again, you will find, over time, that the answers present themselves quicker, and that you recover from the delay faster. You are your material; treat yourself well, and the material will reflect your care.

You’re reading Victor Poole. I just finished cleaning and updating one of my books. If today was not Friday, it would be some other day.

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The Basic Warmup That Tightens Your Prose

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I am working on my anatomy homework. I have decent technique, but my knowledge of muscles and bones are in a jumble; everything must be straightened out before my compositions will have structure.

I’m Working On The Structure Of The Lower Waist

I am working slowly through The Slave from the East. Eliminating typos. My internal processors are undergoing a tune-up, which makes breathing difficult. If you haven’t been like me, you wouldn’t understand.

I am changing the support habits in my deep tissues, so that’s causing consistent turmoil.

Alexander Would Approve

If you’re writing something, warming up your mind will make the work smoother. Here is a basic turn-on for your performative instrument.

The Basic Warmup

First thing to do is skim away the clutter. Words are in your mind constantly, churning about and swimming up and down. Spill some of them out for a few paragraphs; let the words come as they may. Write down any dithering slosh you can come up with, and it can be unrelated to your project, or a summation of your last five minutes. The point is to translate your thoughts into written words.

Step The Second

Next, organize your thoughts on what will happen in your writing. Spending even a few minutes imagining the scene you are about to write will help tremendously in the execution. If you are composing a story, fix your thoughts for a brief interval on the emotion you wish the reader to absorb by the end of the final sentence.

And, The Third

Now, here is the meat of the warmup. As a preface, your performative instrument is composed of your mind (your thought process), your body (your physical housing), and your soul (your energetic self). There are three major groupings where these parts of self cross and intertwine, and which make a decided effect upon the intended audience. Therefore, we will visit each of the three hotspots in our warming-journey, and turn them each on before we get to work.

Step Three-A

First we will look at your face, your personality, your teeth and nose and forehead. But, you might argue, my forehead has nothing to do with my writing! What a horrible schmuck you are, Victor Poole, you may bellow! However, the warmup depends on attuning your performative instrument, and integrating your several parts of self to create more forceful, impactful prose. Imagine the most individual part of your face–this may be your tipped nose, your heavy eyebrows, or your particularly individual eyelashes. Take this element of your face, and write a sentence or two of nonsense with your mind fully invested in, and inhabiting the area of, this part of your physical expression.

Step Three-B

Now we make things personal; imagine a swirl of color in your ribs. The muscles sheathing over your cage here are called the interstitials; imagine that each space between your ribs is filled with magnificent, bursting color. Choose one color from deep inside your thoracic boundary, and write another sentence or two straight from this color.

Step Three-C

Finally, we will delve into the core of the physical seat of creativity, the pelvic cradle. This is the weirdest part of the warmup, but the most effective. You’re going to imagine the very base of your pelvic cradle, as having a brilliant lava lamp on the bottom. Now I want you to imagine the bright bubbles of the lamp growing up from the base of the cradle and traveling straight up your torso, down your arms, and into your tap-tap-tapping fingers. Again, write a sentence or two in this manner.

The End Of A Basic Warmup

At the end of these five steps, your mind and body will be thoroughly attuned, and awake to the imaginative process. Your writing, after you do this, will be brighter, tighter, and much crisper than before.

Examples

Bad Writing:

Ferdinand was a pretty friendly guy, when he wasn’t too hot. It was unfortunate for all of us that he decided to go out into the summer sun on that fateful, dreadful, to-be-lamented afternoon in Balcten, when the triple suns blistered down with all the angry heat of something so hot it could be thought of as ragey. And he didn’t even wear anything suited to the dire weather, which most certainly, alas, made things worse for the universe at large, which was soon to suffer his terrible wrath.

Good Writing:

There were no puddles in the vast arena, though an ocean’s worth of sweat had been shed there by the army passing through. Ferdinand knelt at the edge of the gritty dirt, and breathed in the heat and soiled air.

It was too hot to be alive out here; three blistering white suns throbbed down on his neck. He felt his wet visor steaming; it would be dry in two minutes time, and then his pebbled skin would begin to itch.

He looked up at the rim, where the magistrate sat in artificial cool, and his right nostril flared, a rose of violence budding up in his chest.

Warming Up Is Worth It

Spending five minutes getting ready to write will make all the difference in your creative output. You probably wouldn’t do a lot of hard things without some kind of preparatory ritual; give yourself the kindness of an imaginative warmup, and engage your performative instrument to reap the blessings of self-care in the form of tighter, cleaner prose.

You’re reading Victor Poole. My books are here, but this one is the friendliest. Thursday is not usually the coldest day of the week where I live.

The Simple Habit That Gets You Endless Ideas Right Now

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I’m trawling for errors in my fantasy series. Here, I will qualify: I made many deliberate foiblings stylistically, in The Eastern Slave Series, because the entire story is a drawn-out trap meant to erode a practiced writer’s internal blocks, and strip away their energy malfunctions, but there are sprinklings, here and there, of typographical errors that I am in the process of scrubbing away.

Have You Ever Written Deliberate Errors, Stylistically?

My work does not generally come with typos, but it is another matter entirely when one creates a morass of rage-inducing stylistic slips. In that case, it is a matter of removing just enough mud, while leaving filth behind. Stylistically speaking, of course.

Your Book Is Dirty? Really?

I will here say, once again, that I cannot bring myself to read contemporary fantasy works. I cannot do it. I have tried and failed to embrace anything written past, oh, I don’t know, the last five years or so. My whole being revolts from the consumption of the stuff. Here, I will say what I mean in plain English: modern fantasy writing sucks.

That’s Awfully Negative, Victor Poole

Now that I’ve offended my entire readership, I shall talk to myself. I started noticing that fantasy books were really lousy when I was in my childhood library, looking over some things in the adult section of fiction (most of that section was fantasy and historical fiction). There was a book there, co-written by a famous man, and I remember reading it and sighing when every hard piece of magic worked by the protagonist was the most painful, difficult thing he had ever done! Every time he did magic in the book it was a scene with the highest stakes! He almost died! Failure was right there with him! Arg!

Constant High-Level Stakes Create A Flat Landscape

Another book that I picked up in my university’s light reading section was about a lawyer who slipped into a fantasy realm, and there was a lady character who routinely bared her boobs and then had introspective, Hamlet-esque speeches where she reflected on the misfortune of her being born an attractive woman.

But It’s Hard Being A Woman! Many Of Them Say So!

Another book I read in the last ten years was about a pair of magical investigators who gradually fell in love with each other, despite the male counterpart’s consistent whoring and verbal abuse.

You Just Aren’t Reading The Good Stuff, Victor

The last piece of fantasy I tried to read was an RPG-lit book. I got partway through the first chapter. That was last summer. I suppose it is inaccurate to say “tried;” I try to read fantasy all the time. Just yesterday I revved myself up, once again, to go spelunking through the depths of the Zon to find some inspirational fantasy. Just look at the best-sellers, I tell myself. Go and learn from the people who are already successful, I say to me.

Everyone Says You Have To Read; I Read Shakespeare

Me doesn’t listen to my fervent exhortations, which are, admittedly, growing fainter over the years. Mind you, I’m not supposed to be saying things like this, because it’s obviously bad manners to tell everyone who likes fantasy that their favorite genre has been degrading steadily over the last however many decades. But it has been degrading steadily. In my estimation.

You’re Stupid, Victor Poole!

Ironically, or perhaps predictively, fantasy film work is getting better as the written word degrades. I will tell you the reason for this contrast, and you will not believe me, because I am yet, in the public estimation of my peers, a nobody. Professional actors, by dint of their work, live purely, and generously. They live, funnily enough, after the manner of the stories of old, according to honor and faith. I know you won’t believe me; no one but Shakespeare and the ancient Greeks ever understood actors properly.

Well, Aren’t You Keen On Yourself, Victor!

But the downgraded quality of fantasy fiction, when it is adapted to film, is redeemed almost entirely by the internal integrity of the actors who work on the project. They supply the honor, the faith, and the pure romance that are required for genuine fantasy to function.

Here’s The Actionable Part

Now, if you have made it this far (congratulations), here is a simple habit that will present to your writerly mind an endless stream of vivid images, storylines, and characters.

Find You, As A Location

Imagine yourself as a point on a map. All your life, people have been telling you that you’re wrong, that you’re too young, or too stupid, or just plain wrong-headed about the great truths of life. Because of the unanimity of these voices, you have given away trying to see things from this isolated point on the map, the essential beginning spark of your inner self. In essence, you’ve willingly blinded yourself to what you see and everything you know. Because shutting up and going along was easier than fighting back against the whole world. Understandable, but detrimental to your creative work.

You Are The Middle Point

Picture this point on the map, this center of your volitional self, and close your eyes. Now, try this: Tell yourself, with perfect sobriety, that you might be right about everything. What if you were right, and everyone else was wrong? What if the things that matter to you are actually the most important things? What if the people you care about are the most vital people? What if you are, in fact, the center of all things?

Make Yourself The Most Important

The more you thrust yourself into this metaphorical spotlight, the more ideas and visions of fiction works will appear spontaneously to you, because as you approve and condone of your own internal perception, your subconscious and conscious mind will present to you a series of powerful images and stories, characters and symbols, and you will find yourself compelled to write down what you see and hear.

Writing As An Exorcism Of Pain

You will put down what you see and what you feel, because the stories will burn in you, and writing will become a creative exercise that heals your pain, and brings solace to your empty parts of self.

Examples

Bad Writing:

Vikera snuck a pouch of wine into her belongings; the quartermaster would never know. She had no story prepared to cover her theft; it was a thing she refused to think of. She would not lie, and if she was cast out when caught, she would at last have found the depths she believed herself to deserve.

Vikera hated herself, because her mother had discarded her, and her loving relationship with wine replaced the home she had never known.

Vikera had far too many concurrent relationships with the men in her garrison, and she was far too sloppy around the women who followed behind the army.

Good Writing:

Vikera was not a drunk, but it was easier to numb the edge of her awareness with the idea of alcohol. She had not achieved a buzz for months now; not since the garrison left Greth.

She told herself she was dissolute, and she put the swallow of drunkenness against the verge of her throat, to add coherency to her story. Her smile came too easily, and her neck had that slope of a body that has abandoned itself to a slow death. The truth was that she grew tired of life as an army whore, without the dignity of the name.  Drinking was a shield, a diversion for the men she slept with. If she did not tell herself to drink, she might have started to kill.

Ideas Come From Inside Your Perception Of Reality

You are the only source you have; never will you succeed in leeching close enough to any other energy pump to produce original material that throbs and flows. You have yourself; make yourself a well-spring of ideas, and value what you feel and what you perceive. Your work will improve in direct correlation to your investment and valuation of yourself.

You’re reading Victor Poole. If you want to read the dirty version, buy it now. Wednesday is like the camel-hump of the workweek.

The Secret To Keeping Up With A Growing Market

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Oh no! Everyone’s writing books now, and it seems like the days of yesteryore, wherein respectable writers signed with stable publishing houses for reasonable advances, are gone forever.

You Cynic, Mr. Poole!

Panic and cynicism abound on the internet. However, one may comfort oneself by remembering that this hysteria has always been present, manifested in different ways.

How Was It Manifested?

People who manned the pen (or keyboard) could once moan and bitch (via snail-mail and radial telephone, or over the bar-counter of yore) about how impossible it was to get a response from an agent. Writers lived in despair of the good old days of magazine serials, or those good times before the devils, television and radio, stopped humans from reading. Oh, and get off my lawn.

Cranky Old Bean!

If a body is bitching, that body is not producing. Here is a grand, wonderful secret that no one but me will ever tell you (because I am working right now, and sometimes I feel like telling you real things). The second you hear someone telling you about how things used to be reasonable and easy (in terms of winning success), know that the person is an idiot, and probably lazy, or a thief.

What’s this? A Thief, You Say?

Nobody who is yammering does any work, beloved stranger (or despised stranger, if you’re one of the bad ones). Everyone who opens their mouth claims to do a great deal of work, but the only ones who actually do any work don’t talk about it. (I know, I know; I’m transitioning into silence.)

What Are They Stealing?

We are an entitled bunch, not because of our naturally turgid natures, but because of all the liars. They are so loud, you know. They start in on us early, and tell us every moment how hard it is, and how unfair. They convince us not to try, or to hold back our best efforts. “It won’t be worth it!” they exclaim. “I’m protecting you from the pain of rejection!” These complainy-complainerpants steal our attention, our time, and more importantly, they take our hope for our futures.

Block Them Out!

How do you succeed? You stop listening to the yammering fools. They are ever so vociferous, almost as if (cough) they had nothing better to do with their time then chew on your ear. If you are one of the bitching beasts, put one quarter, or even half, of the energy into working (silently, and earnestly) that you currently pour into moaning, and lo, you shall progress forward. But you shan’t, because the moaning folk don’t want to do any work; they don’t want success.

What’s This? They Don’t?

Is the market for fiction burgeoning? Well, a lot of people say so. However, the proportion of humans who apply themselves diligently over great stretches of time has not measurably increased, so your odds are as they ever were. You zip your lip and do the legwork, and you will get somewhere. But here’s the other big secret: this working thing has never been within reach. No person is born with a natural fixation on constant effort. It will probably hurt your pride to buckle to, because the liars have all misled you about the reality of success.

Examples

Bad Writing:

Partridge lays his sheath of arrows on the mountain ledge; he draws a red-tipped dart and notches his bow. The scene below is still, quiet, ominous, like the breath of a dying man. Women cross the opening, their arms filled to overflowing with sheaves of harvest grain. The cry of an omingol pierces the night. Partridge swings his bow up, pointing into the darkening sky. He looses the arrow with a twang! Women stop still, stare up at him. He is seen.

Good Writing:

His knife makes a depression, a ridge of sorrow, along the edge of his hip. He lays the bundled arrows down, and kneels at the rim of the ravine. The ground crunches, a sound like the whisper of death rattling in an old man’s mouth.

A whir of black wings; a flash of blue eyes in the night. The shriek of the rogue omingol rips the peaceful night into scraps of shadow. Partridge’s fingers close around the shaft of an arrow, the tip painted gold and red.

You’re reading Victor Poole. My books are here. Blowing bubbles on a Tuesday is nearly as interesting as finding out what is going on with Isacar’s¬†love life.

The Smoothest And Easiest Way To Navigate Harsh Criticism

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You probably haven’t experienced the depth of sugar-coated, malicious feedback that I have, because you are not me. I have a peculiar ability to drive people insane, because of reasons. (Modesty, forsooth, would dictate that I pretend to be a ¬†humble nobody, but having been picked out by leaders and teachers and whatnot people for my whole life, and having noticed a pattern of sly abuse and undermining, well, I don’t believe in that sort of thing anymore.)

Even Though You’re Facing Less Vitriol, You Can Learn From Me

When people are really mean to you about your writing, they are generally smiling, encouraging, and they say things like, “You can really do it,” or, “I like your book so much!”

Why do people lie? Well, let’s look at the internal mechanism of the creature (in general). People try to tear down anyone they see as a fundamental threat to their continuous survival and thrivehood of existential self. That means that if you poke your head above the ground, metaphorically speaking, and draw attention to yourself, you will encounter at least three prominent assholes who come over and smile while they stomp in your face.

The Smiling Critic

It is not particularly difficult to navigate harsh criticism from your enemies. We will define enemy as anyone who is willing to sneer at you, call you names, and shout a lot. Those people are so obviously on an opposite side to wherever you are standing that we can safely label them, “the other guys,” and move on. You know, like the bad guys who might not be fundamentally bad, but whose motivations and day-to-day life are aligned in such opposition to you that you can think of them as a fixed enemy. And when we say enemy, we shall mean someone who glories in your failure and pain.

It’s The Friendly Ones You Need To Watch For

I had a best friend when I was younger (operative word: had). At some point in my life, I started to piece together the fact that I always seemed to give, and never got. I speak now not of material transfers of goods, but of invisible and continuous effort of engagement. Once I began to fix my mind on measurable results of relationships, it was only a matter of time before I found that my closest peeps were the worst for my writing.

Don’t Share Your Writing With People; It Won’t Turn Out Well

I have read advice, at least three times in different places, that stridently advised young writers to hide their work away, and only ever release it into the world in form of a purchasable book. The idea being, if anyone really wants to tear up your story, they will have to purchase or steal the manuscript, which protects you from the kind of humiliating abuse that comes from, ahem, critique partners.

Why Are People So Set On Defending Beta Readers?

Once upon a time, there was a disinterested person who wanted all people to do well around them. Instead of building their own life and ambitions, this person dedicated their time and energy to building up other people. Over time, and repeatedly, this disinterested builder-up of others found that the others in question did not make very much progress. In fact, they seemed to get fatter and lazier, artistically speaking, than before.

This person stopped putting out effort, as it were, paused their humanitarian efforts, and began to reflect. Patterns emerged.

Examples

The Supportive Friend: You’re so talented! (never reads the book)

The Jealous Dude: Aw, You’re a writer! I love writing! (reads book; vanishes from your life)

The Sycophantic Stealer-Pants: Wow, can I please read it? (steals ideas, writes own book)

The Conversationalist: Tell me all about your idea! (uses you as conversation fodder for months)

The Cannibal: I read your book. It was so great. (proceeds to psychoanalyze your life using your characters as cyphers for your current relationships)

The Pseudo-Intellectual: It’s a lot like [well-known book]. (uses your writing as a launching pad for discussing their pet theories about literature)

The Artist: Can I use your novel as inspiration for my book/play/song/interpretive dance? (draws some mid-range art of your story and posts it prominently online)

The Investor: Wow, this is the best, most earth-shaking idea of all time! (proposes a homemade film/themed product line/karaoke bar from your novel)

The Blocked Writer: Oh my gosh, you’re such an amazing writer! Can you help me with my book? (attempts to offload a manuscript [anywhere from three paragraphs to three million words long] for you to “polish up quickly”)

The Newb: You’re a real author! Oh my gosh! Will you help me?! (attempts to entrap you into a collaborative writing project)

People Will See You As A Pile Of Loose Gemstones

In video games, particularly at the opening salvos of an adventure, there are pieces of money and other useful objects littering the computer-generated landscape. As the main character, and the volitional mover in the game, you are free to pick up anything that you find (even if it currently belongs to someone else).

Greedy Little Humans

People, particularly if your work is good, will see you as an object of value that they can pick up. The thought process goes a little like this: “What? They’re so good! Why don’t they belong to anyone yet? I must snatch up as much of this talent-resource as I can before it is taken up by some schmuck!”

Only Two Options

And then the combination of talent-grab and sabotage will begin. There are no disinterested parties in the creation of art. Others will want only one of two things from you in your journey; they will want to impede and destroy your progress, because they see you as legitimate competition, or they will want to steal from and build upon you as a foundation to save themselves trouble and effort.

All The Same, But With Infinite Emotional Variants In Expression

There are no exceptions to this rule of human nature; when it comes to creative output, people will either attempt to stop you from working, or they will try with increasing ingenuity to graft your work onto their own. You are either an obstacle or a divine-right shortcut.

Beware, Beware, And Never Share Really Good Ideas With Anyone

Protect yourself; no one else ever will. Keep your eyes open, particularly for the people who seem to support you. If you cannot articulate to yourself exactly what both of you are gaining from your artistic relationship, run away fast, because you aren’t the beneficiary.

You’re reading Victor Poole. My books are here. Monday is unfurling around us as we speak.

The Fastest And Easiest Way To Open Your Pelvic Cradle

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I developed my own performance philosophy, because it became apparent to me that no one had a functional one. I started to realize the dire state of this matter when I was reading original translations of Chekhov (not the playwright, the actor) and Stanislavsky (the actor/director). Chekhov and Stanislavsky worked together for a time until Chekhov threw a massive temper tantrum over semantics and branched off into his own performance technique.

Michael Chekhov Was Anton Chekhov’s Nephew

The “ah-ha!” moment for me came when I was comparing these two Russian methodologies (I had been studying Shakespeare performance methods, and some Dada-ist garbage alongside rhetorical analysis and third-generational Marxist bodies of work), and I realized that they–each of them, quite earnestly–were talking about exactly the same end goal, and trying to start a war over whether they should pummel actors with one set of words or another. They were literally fighting over which words they ought to use to describe the same end results.

Stanislavsky Was A Terrible Director

I spent about six years of my life studying actors as they rehearsed and performed in classrooms, tiny audition rooms, and on stages of all sorts. I acted myself, and I watched the dynamics that unfolded over several moderately-budgeted film projects. I was fascinated by the ever-increasing gap between functional performance (by which I mean, acting, storytelling, that resonated deeply with an audience) and spoken or practiced methodology.

Shakespeare Was Handled The Worst, By Far

No one knew what they were doing; the best performers were destroyed by horrible directing and teaching, and support materials were often designed to deliberately hobble the actors or build a wedge of hatred and fear between the performers and the audience.

Gosh, Victor, How Did You Learn Anything?

I met two, no, make that three, good directors over these years, and I compared them exhaustively to the many, many terrible, harmful, and utterly incompetent directors that proliferated around them. Also, remember, I was studying functional source material at the same time (excellent French plays, treatments on Alexander technique, and heavy doses of Graham, Balanchine, and newer American theatre phenomenons, among other things).

Dude, This Is Not An Acting Blog, You Dirty Cross-Pollinator!

All this to say, I found, as I read Michael Chekhov’s ardent haranguing, that no one had a coherent performance philosophy at all–and I will say here, no one had a performance philosophy that functioned. By which I mean, actually worked. And by that I mean that any performance philosophy that cannot be applied by a student actor and create sustainable, measurable results in audience reaction, popularity, and emotional connection as an ensemble and as an individual figure to the public, is only a pile of ego-stroking hot air.

So I Made My Own. Like A Mad Scientist.

I didn’t cackle while I developed it, though I did become personally magnetic, and was borderline stalked by several people of both genders who found a sudden and urgent need to cultivate my favor. When I had the bare bones of a performance philosophy, I started running trials. I tweaked things. I procured several dozen willing guinea pigs in the form of student and community theatre actors, and I applied my techniques to their bodies and personalities.

Enter The Blocked Pelvic Cradle

I found an interesting phenomenon as I tested; I could make very hot, emotionally-viable actors, but they all had the same energy blocks. Every single one of them were blocked through their foundational motion carriage. And here is where I came up against a significant problem; human beings, once blocked through the pelvic cradle, are like grievously-wounded wolves. They bite, metaphorically, because their energy source is cut off, and they are, after a manner of speaking, suffering a slow death of personality.

How Do I Find Out If My Pelvic Cradle Is Blocked, Victor?

Well, the bad news is that your pelvic cradle is probably blocked. The good news is that you can open the energy flow, and remove the obstructions, if you . . .

Duh Duh Duuuuuuh!

Yeah, I recognize this feeling. It’s the feeling I get when I’m about to show how to do something profound. Well, I’m trying something new today. I’m not going to tell you how to work through your energy blocks (I wrote some books for that). When you get tired of that dried-up numb feeling in your hip sockets, shoot me an email, and I’ll think about it.

You’re reading Victor Poole. I was raised to be invisible, and to serve the whims of all other people. I am undoing my early programming. Despite my unfortunate beginnings, my comprehensive performance philosophy, which is painstakingly illustrated via allegory in these nine books, works exceptionally well.

The #1 Rule Of Writing

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As you may know if you read my blog, I went to acting school. I know, how decadent, right? One thing that puzzled me in my time as an acting student was the regularity with which Whitney got acting gigs. I was surrounded by eager and ambitious women who fought tooth and nail for the approximately three good female parts that came available each year (by “good part,” I mean in a respectable production, with costumes and a paying audience, and consisting of more than twenty lines of dialogue). Despite the overwhelming plentitude of women, Whitney always had parts. She flitted between community theatre productions, semi-professional gigs, and school projects like a saturated butterfly of small-time fame.

What Made Whitney Successful?

I knew several talented actors, both male and female, who could not get a part to save their life. Nobody in casting would touch them with a ten-foot pole. Meanwhile, here was Whitney, adding respectable roles to her resume every two months.

This Is Only Notable Because Of The Fifty Women Who Weren’t Getting Parts

The moment that this became intensely interesting to me was when I ended up in a class with Whitney, and I was able to observe, firsthand, her regular process. (Before you get all worried about me being cynical, please remember that I am speaking of her habitual patterns and not her native talent or potential.)

Whitney, It Turned Out, Wasn’t The Best Actor

Whitney was a shit actor. I remember watching her perform an audition song for the class (we had to work our material regularly in front of each other–because, you know, it was acting school). It was some seductive, happy-go-lucky party type song, where the character was meant to be exceedingly worldly and experienced. Right-o?

The Audition Song

Whitney performed the piece after the manner of a vestal nun wearing fifteen yards of stifling linen. The teacher of the class kept blinking hard, and hesitating, as if unsure of how to address this gap between sensibility and material.

So Where’s The Secret? Nepotism? Politics?

Why did Whitney keep getting all these juicy roles? And, lest you think I am basing my evaluation of her working habits purely on this un-sexy song, I shall add a short litany of her other offenses to actor-kind: Whitney was routinely late, poorly dressed, badly prepared, and got most of her material from those books you can find in the library called, “The Best Women’s Monologues Ever!” (which, if you aren’t from the acting world, are so over-performed by virtue of being easily accessible that they are generally anathema to decent folk in theatre). She was not sensitive to her partners in scenes, was not particularly good at memorizing her lines, and did not respond readily to direction.

What Does This Have To Do With Writing, Victor Poole?

So what is the #1 Most Important Thing in writing? The answer lies in the mystery of Whitney’s success. She was a terrible actor. She had mediocre habits, and lackluster sensibility. I studied Whitney, and the other actors like her, for several years. Why, I asked myself, did these people keep “winning” in theatre? At first, it didn’t seem to make sense to me.

The Turning Point For Me

It was not until I started to direct theatre that my mind expanded, and I learned the value of an actor like Whitney. It was as a small-time producer that I solved the mystery of the mediocre actor who succeeds.

Yes, And?

What does this have to do with writing?

There are writers who work rather like Whitney did. They write stories, and they either sell them directly to readers or to publishers. They have impressive publication credits, and some manner of fan base. They may or may not make a living at their work, but they are irrefutably writers, because people read the things that they write. They may not have stellar work habits, and their writing may be lacking in sensibility, or in erudition. Sometimes their editing is subpar, or their plots are predictable.

Those Scoundrelly Success Stories!

To people on the outside, writers like Whitney are maddening, like a gadfly that is permanently and obnoxiously attached to your brain, stinging you. “Why are they published already?” not-yet-successful-writers may wail in despair.

I could tell you what Whitney was doing in a word or two, but you would not understand. I will tell a short story instead.

The Allegory Of Flynn And John:

Once upon a time, there were two space cadets at the Academy of Super-Pilots of the Future. John was two years older than Flynn, and he (John) was determined to make a splash as the greatest space pilot of all time. He (John) wanted to have a wall full of awards and trophies; he wanted to be mentioned constantly in the news-bulletins of the Allied Galaxies. John had hardcore ambition, and he worked constantly at his lessons. You could see John, of a Sunday afternoon, hammering himself into exhaustion in the simulation cruisers, while his acquaintance, Flynn, was relaxing in the local booze-gardens.

Flynn had tumbled into the Academy almost by accident. He was not overly ambitious, and had no illusions about the mundanity of the work required of a space pilot. He read holo-comics more than his textbooks, and generally scraped through exams with just-above-passing marks. He only used the simulations when he was required to, and his free time was spent either drinking, sleeping, or staring lazily out the windows of the Academy’s deck and imagining great adventures in the farthest reaches of space.

John graduated with the highest honors, and was placed into an advanced pool of candidates for interviews with the Galactic Merchants alliance. John was sure he would be hired right away, and drive the biggest, most expensive cruisers in existence.

Flynn graduated at the bottom of his class, and started to read the Star Gazette circular while he worked part time in his uncle’s scrap shop, driving beaters in and out of the lot. Flynn applied to the jobs that had the pay he was looking for (just enough, and no more), and he soon got a contract to pilot freight cruisers between the moons of Cycadia.

John got three job offers from industrial corporations who wanted him to serve as a janitorial assistant in the piloting chambers. John was deeply offended; he had not gone through years of schooling to scrub air filters and wipe grunge from the buttons he should be controlling! John went home to stay with his parents while he waited for something better to turn up. His mother pointed out that the industrial companies paid well above living wages, and John, tipping his nose in well-trained disdain, applied for teaching jobs in the local flight school.

Meanwhile, Flynn fulfilled his contract for two years, and was asked by his supervisor to return as assistant pilot to one of the experimental ships the corporation was going to use to mine asteroids. Flynn agreed, and received a small pay raise. He joined the crew of the new ship, and set out for the farthest rim of the known universe.

John got a job as an assistant instructor in the community flight school, and told repetitive stories about his exploits as a hotshot pilot in the Academy. After a year and a half, he was recruited by a new company who wanted a qualified pilot on the team to make their loan application for a ship look more legitimate. John agreed, and spent another six months waiting for the details to be worked out.

Meanwhile, Flynn advanced from contract to contract, and became, after fifteen years of continuous work, the head of a prestigious firm in the Galactic Merchants alliance. He still spent his free time drinking and sleeping, and his shelf was dominated by glossy holo-comics (the expensive kind now).

John bounced from short-term gig to sketchy partnership, all the while turning down occasional bids for his piloting services from the lackluster construction and janitorial sectors. After many years, he applied for a position at the Academy of Super-Pilots of the Future, which had become a has-been school. John was once more among the scenes of his early exploits; he told himself that he had finally arrived. Instead of awards and news-bulletins, John adorned his walls with graduation certificates and photos of his students performing flight simulations.

I See Where You’re Going With This, Victor Poole!

Whitney, and actors like her, had a fundamental understanding of the drudgery, and the actual work of acting, that most actors around me missed. They understood their relationship to the directors and the audiences they performed for, and consequently, once they started working, they never stopped. Acting was, to them, a job, much as cleaning floors or frying noodles is a job for which one can be paid.

Those Poor, Sentimental Actors Who Failed

To the other actors, the ones who could not get roles, acting was a magical fairyland of praise, play, validation, and adventure. They did not understand the work of acting; they could not tell you what the exchange was that occurred between an actor and his audience.

What Kind Of Writer Are You Today?

If you do not understand the job you are required to do in an industry, it is unlikely that you will be hired, or that you will be able to find continual work. Many writers have a fundamental misunderstanding of the exchange occurring between the reader and themselves. They look at writing, and they see a magical fairyland of adventure, ego-stroking, and play. They do not think of writing as work, and they see this attitude within themselves as a mark of superiority. Writers who do not understand the fundamental work of writing have a very difficult time establishing a sustained audience of readers.

Are you, as you are today, a writer who is more like Flynn, or are you more like John?

You’re reading Victor Poole. My fantasy series is designed to make you really, really angry, and simultaneously enhance your ability to create. Copernicus is a man of golden light; he walks over a blue moon with the hero of this book.