Ignoring Social Power Networks Could Ruin Your Novel Construction

When you write, you unconsciously repeat and recreate patterns from your social understanding.

Morals and Power

A grounding in moral and ethical behavior is necessary for meaningful plot construction. A study of power dynamics, and the pursuit of control between living bodies is similarly important.

Let’s talk for a minute about Richard the Third, the old hunchback who, bored and without a sexual partner, goes about to undermine his brothers, murder most of his relatives, and take the crown for himself.

Bunch-Backed Toad

The play is not, as most people think, about an evil man. It’s about a man who is sexually rejected, and who is without a home. He starts out going after the throne merely because everyone around him is having sex, and he is too ugly and uncomfortable to have a partner.

Literally, that’s what he explains to us in the opening, and if Shakespeare writes a character’s thoughts in iambic pentameter, that’s as good as an omniscient narrative voice. Richard is bored, and has no girlfriend.

He Says Dogs Hate Him, Too

Ironically, right after he decides to go after power, he gets all the intimacy he wants, but it’s too late for him then, as he’s already succumbed to the first idea. There’s no good woman around to wake him up and bring him back from murder and disloyalty, and so he eventually turns evil and has to be exterminated like a cockroach from hell.

But the play isn’t actually about an evil man. If you want to read a play about evil, go and look at either Claudius, from Hamlet, or Macbeth, from the play of that name.

Examples

Bad Writing (No Social Grounding)

Damien had a hard time making friends, because his hair was too long. He wasn’t a hippy, but his father thought he looked like one. Francine was a hippy, though.

The coffee shop on the corner was a good place to hang out, for local poets.

Greenland was having internal strife over some environmental workers disrupting the local economy. Everyone was very upset.

Good Writing (Social Framework)

Damien, who came from Greenland, had promised his mother on her deathbed that he would not cut his hair for five years. He thought he looked ridiculous, and always wore some manner of hat when he left his apartment.

He was a freelance illustrator, and did most of his work in a coffee shop just around the corner from his apartment. Francine, the lead barista, loved Damien’s long hair, though she didn’t care much for his drawings. She was a poet, in her spare time, and often left pamphlets lingering meaningfully about on his regular table. She hoped he would get the idea that she was inviting him to a late-night beat session, after the coffee shop was taken over by the local poets’ society.

Damien found the constant waste of paper shocking, and often collected as many pamphlets as were lying about. He carried them down the street to the nearest recycling bin, and placed them inside with all the care of a man burying a dead sparrow.

In Conclusion

Power, control, and a social grasp of morality are all essential elements for meaningful plot construction. Character action only begins to have impact when it is contextually framed in a social setting relevant to the reader.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m tinkering at the seduction scene between Crikey’s geneticist and the hunter, who is getting out dark, nasty secrets from her. Bwa ha, etc.

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Want To Write Awful Relational Bonds? Skip Tests

I was reading a story the other day, and the author attempted to write one of those gradual, easy slips into true love. You know, that thing where the two people realize, without any real effort, that they were made for each other, and everything is hunky-dory in romance land forever more, because they feel sure and happy?

Relational Tests

The problem with the story was that it skipped all the in between parts, all the emotional and psychological tests we put each other through, before we throw our emotional eggs into one basket.

Bad Writing (Skipping Tests)

Gina met the guy in gym class. She ignored him then, and didn’t notice him again for four years, when they worked the same route as a mail-carrier and dog-walker, respectively.

He only started to talk to her because he was lonely, and she only talked back because she had the dogs with her, and they made her feel social and important.

After the guy confessed to having had a crush on her since high school, her heart melted, and she looked into his eyes, and they got married.

Good Writing (Incorporating Tests)

“Gina Whorple!” the mailman said. Gina looked up from her pack of leashed dogs and met his eyes.

“Oh, hello!” she said, her heart sinking. It was that awkward kid, Felix from gym class. He’d followed her with his eyes whenever they ran laps, and always tried to get on her team for tennis.

“Well, it’s great to see you! Bye!” Felix said, waving a stack of letters.

“Yeah,” Gina said, feeling the slightest edge of irritation as she passed him on the sidewalk. She’d thought, as soon as she saw him again, that he would try to stop her for a horrible, leering chat. She noticed, now that she was not worried at all about getting caught into a conversation, that he’d sort of grown into his face.

Gina glanced over her shoulder. Felix was hot now. Hm, Gina thought, and she turned her attention back to the several dogs she had charge of.

In Conclusion

Unless your characters are brain damaged, they test out relationships and check for compatibility. That means setting up potential partners for failure, and concealing parts of themselves to find out whether the other party can see through the ruse.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m surprised at how long it’s taking, in practice, to kill some of my crusty old geezers in my book. They do have a lot of safeguards in place, of course, to make sure no one can kill them.

Lonely Authors

ajalia on dragon for blog

I went to a visiting artist lecture a long time ago. The guy wasn’t technically an artist; he was a famous critic from somewhere important, and he came to a museum event and gave a talk about art, and working towards developing your style.

He Gave Advice To All The Young, Eager Art Students

He was  really nice guy, and I liked him. He was sensible, and had kind eyes and a grounded voice. You know how sometimes you meet established persons, and you sort of get the sense that they wormed their way into power by cheating, or squiggling work out of other people?

This guy was a nice, grounded, competent guy who understood art and quality work. He told this extended story, at the beginning of the lecture, about how he got to be a critic in the first place.

It was sort of a sad story, and I’m thinking about it now. Here’s how it went:

The Critic’s Story

Once upon a time, there was a young man who wanted to be an artist, and worked as hard as he knew how. His work sucked, and eventually he learned enough about composition and technique to realize how awful he was. He gave up on being an artist, after an extended struggle with himself, and he knew so much by then about art that he took up evaluating other people’s work, instead of producing his own.

The art critic who gave up. That’s the story he told.

Here’s my interpretation of that guy, and the framework he presented as his excuse for escaping internal fire and torment:

What I Heard Him Say

Once upon a time, there was a young man with sense and ability, who had potential, passion, and a big heart. He came from a screwed-up family, and was too shy and embarrassed to get his background straightened up, or to examine his dysfunctional roots.

He found, as he entered farther into serious, professional-level work, that he was consistently prostrated with shame, confusion, and an inability to face his deepest self. As he attempted to create, and to share parts of his heart and soul through art, he found that he didn’t want anyone to realize how dark and ugly he felt.

He stopped drawing, and he painted boring, technically challenging pieces with no emotional element. He got farther and farther from pure, intense creation, and more and more into hiding and lying about how small and horrible he felt.

At length, the young man gave up on himself, labeled himself as a bad person, with an infertile soul, and became a helper and cheerleader to other artists. Thinking of himself as an artist was too painful, so he reframed all his thinking and told himself that he was a lesser sort of being, a helper and guide to worthier souls.

He became an art critic.

He was deeply unhappy and perfectly satisfied with how he had figured out a consistent method to punish his internal badness.

In Sum:

The art critic was articulate, genteel, well-travelled, and with the secret, hidden emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old boy being beaten on the sly with a leather whip.

He was very successful as an art critic, though. And I don’t think many people could tell at all that he’d been abused so badly. The self-deprecating, vitriolic humor with which he poked tasteful fun at his inability to create was the biggest tell, for me.

I Don’t See Dead People, But I Often See Abuse

I imagine if anyone ever opened up his heart, he’d become a prostrate invalid for the rest of his life. Unless he was given a safe space to paint while he got through things. Someone would have to take him over, and be a parent to him, though, and nurture him for years. He was a nice guy.

Detaching From The Self-Blame

All my actors had problems like that, deep ones that twist through your soul and make you sometimes almost dead all through your heart. The difference between people who give up on art, and people who make stuff, is how much you intellectually detach from the personal nature of the abuse and learn to navigate the physiological after-effects. Professional actors and dancers, singers, too, all do that. It’s not difficult, but laypeople generally have no idea how to begin.

I’ve got to go and finish killing some corrupt gangsters in my book, now. Happy Wednesday.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my book, Gilbert had an unpleasant procedure performed on his body in the small hours. Pops’ fate is still up in the air, though.

Top 7 Reasons To Temporarily Abandon Manuscripts

 

Ajalia Cover

  1. If you wait, your perspective deepens and you can add humor to the manuscript when you pick it up again
  2. Your cover design skills improve
  3. The visual descriptions get a lot more immersive
  4. You’re a better writer when you fix up the rhythm of the story
  5. The characterizations are clearer
  6. Writing isn’t so hard as it was on the first draft
  7. Editing the final product is a helluva lot easier, when you have Vellum instead of a Word document

You’re reading Victor Poole, and we’re heading into version two of the Ajalia series, gradually. Also, in my current book, Gilbert is on drugs this morning, but it wasn’t his fault.

Deep Character Transformations

I suppose I talk sometimes about sex, on this blog. I must, because that’s most of what I talk about in real life, too. It’s funny, because my way of talking about sex is never–um, inappropriate?

For Context

I’m not actively doing theatre right now, because my kids do better with an early bedtime, and young people are hellions when you have to cart them about with babysitters or have them up until one in the morning with actors flitting in an out.

Theatre is a night owl life, which I love, but little kids, and work, etc. It’s an awkward time of life for producing anything significant with theatre.

Back To Sex As A Driver For Character Change

But back to sex, I really never used to speak about anything to do with sex, or even romance, for most of my life. My parents are both gross monsters, in that they see little kids as exploitative bundles of energy and charm to be toyed with and played with as pretend spouses. They’re pretty screwed up, because they’re of the mind that as long as they aren’t touching anybody, they can say or insinuate anything they like. Gross.

Also, Damaging

Anyway, my two parents both used me pretty freely as a therapist, ever since I was about three years old, and since I was smart enough to manage our relationships with cunning, we accidentally-on-purpose never talked about sex, almost all of the time. My dad would try, because he was a horny old bastard who will rot in hell someday, but I’m charming, amusing, and very distracting when I need to be, and he never got the chance to be nearly as disgusting as he tried to be.

I only say all of that because sex, to me, was always a sort of forbidden no-man’s-land that I skirted around to avoid being actually raped. Impulse control was a problem, with all of my early clients, so I pushed for a lot of light emotional drama and deep philosophizing instead.

And Later

Then, once I got a lot more space between myself and my previous owners, I started directing theatre. It started out with me helping really horrible actors in their classes. People were just so incredibly bad at acting, you know? That line from Hamlet, about nature’s journeymen making men, and badly, too? Yeah, only a lot worse.

Psychological torture makes for pretty good formative acting training, and I turned out to be unbeatable when it came to shaping gradual, exquisite nuance in another actor’s performance.

And Creating Charisma

The first time my boss (important guy, professional actor) saw the scenes I’d been working with a bunch of students, he swiveled in his chair and was like, “You should be doing this for a living.”

(Meaning, teaching actors professionally.)

And I was like, “Yeah, but grad school.”

Meaning, I Didn’t Want To Go

Because for all the awful crap that went on in my undergrad program, it was nothing to what a really stinky MFA would be like. And I had–well, I looked very, very young at that point. Like, you know those police officers who look so young that they can go work undercover in a junior high school, and no one notices they’re actually in their late twenties? It wasn’t actually that bad, for me, but I did not at all look my age. At all. And with my incredible good looks, that was a problem.

I Needed My Face To Grow Up

I was really, really good at acting, and more mature than any of the old people I was working for, and people did not know what to do with me at all. They would audition me, and love my work, and coo over me, and then pass over me because it just looked absurd to put me up on stage next to the clumsy young actors who couldn’t deliver a line with any command of their emotions.

Like, if you had a musical prodigy, and you wanted to put on a concert, but all the other little kids are playing those cheap plastic recorders? So it’s like, well, we can do a solo show, or you can go move away and find a professional orchestra. Except I wanted to finish my degree, etc., so I was sorta kinda choosing to be stuck for a while.

And My Personal Life Needed Straightening Out

Anyway, I started to direct, and the first thing I realized, in the first four months or so, was that my actors were so repressed about sex that it wasn’t even slightly amusing.

Their sexuality was buried up under a pile of shit, emotional shit, and terror, and confusion, and juvenile embarrassment.

So, finally, after all my long life of avoiding any mention of sex at all, I started dragging out gender, and that worked so well on opening up and smoothing out my actors that I tentatively started to work on bringing their sexuality into their acting.

So They Wouldn’t Walk Around On Stage Like Dead Fish Anymore

That worked really well. And my actors got all shiny and contented, like abused animals who are given a real home with more food than they’re used to, and they get sleek and home-proud. My actors started to act like that, and to saunter around looking infernally pleased with themselves. The ones who were in relationships (and they would volunteer this information, because I don’t ask shit like this), would hump like bunnies after rehearsals, and the single ones would eye all the other actors and start clumsily scoping out potential mates.

Oh, they were so cute and helpless. It was sweet. Anyway, I finished some personal goals I had about directing, for testing my powers and figuring out how far I could go, as a shaper of human souls on stage, and then I closed up shop because #awkwardlifestagewithchildren and turned my mind to writing.

Because Writing Works Out Really Well With An Early Bedtime

I always wanted to be a novelist, ever since I can remember. Most of my good memories, as a kid, were of reading books. My parents were shit, but we had a magnificent local library, and I spent a lot of time there. A lot of time. I read something about O. Henry a long time ago, about how he really stopped reading after he was about nineteen or so, and only wrote instead. I’m not quite that bad, but I don’t read at all like I used to.

I Write, Instead

When you’re writing, and using authentic human soul in your characterizations (a lot of people don’t, which is weird, to me), how sexually developed the character is has pretty much everything to do with how they behave.

If you’ve got a character, and they’re genuinely repressed, you can light their whole setup on fire and change everything if you use their misunderstanding about sex as a tinderbox and a ramp into deep change.

Examples

Bad Writing (Forced, Unbelievable Change)

Fred Solanski had never yet conquered the complexity of sexy engagement, though he practiced talking to imaginary women in the shower constantly. He practiced pick-up lines, and studied all the pretty girls at the company cafeteria, and engaged in some light stalking of dating couples, only to listen to the way they spoke to each other.

Then, Fred met Bertie, and her bright green eyes and loud laugh made everything uncomfortable about dating melt away. He was easy and natural near her, and they were soon married and had a couple of kids and a smelly dog. Fred was perfectly happy.

Good Writing (Organic, Believable Change)

Fred Solanski wanted a girlfriend more than anything in the world. He had an engagement ring tucked in his pocket at all times, and read books about the secret, hidden desires of all females. He was too embarrassed to practice the things he read, but he thought about them, and imagined himself swooping in next to Vickie Botts every time he saw her in the company cafeteria.

One day, when Fred was thirty-eight and beginning to feel desperate, a woman who introduced herself as Bertie moved into the cubicle next door to his. She was not like other women at work, partially because she seemed so young, and partially because her green eyes sparkled and looked straight into his.

Fred found himself blushing constantly, but feeling sort of at ease, since she was so obviously out of his age range. He was not afraid of her, though she was very pretty, and he started to sit next to her at lunch.

“I wish I had a girlfriend,” Fred told her one day as they dipped their breadsticks in a tub of sauce. The engagement ring, as usual, was in his right pocket, though he had never once thought of it in connection with Bertie.

“Why don’t you get one, then?” Bertie asked, leaning her elbows on the table.

“I don’t know how to ask anyone. I get too shy,” Fred explained.

“Vickie’s single. I’ll go ask her for you,” Bertie said. She sprang up and Fred yelped and scrambled out of the cafeteria. Bertie sat down again, her eyes hard and determined.

Fred avoided her for three days, and then she cornered him near the copier.

“What’s up?” Bertie asked.

“I don’t want to,” Fred explained.

“You don’t like Vickie? What about me?” Bertie asked. Fred tried to run away again, but she got in the way, and he froze.

“No,” Fred said.

“Well, fine,” Bertie said, looking quite angry. She stalked off to her cubicle, and Fred felt so faint he nearly went home. He wandered back into his own cubicle. Every sound from hers seemed portentous. The light taps of her keyboard sounded like shouting to Fred.

He went over to her cubicle after work.

“Hey,” he said, his palms damp.

“Yeah,” she said.

“Want to practice dating with me?” Fred asked, his heart making uncomfortable surges.

“Yeah,” Bertie said, frowning and glaring at her screen.

“Oh. Okay, good,” Fred said, and he went to fetch his coat. He came back and studied her methodical way of closing up her files. “It’s just that you’re really young, okay?” Fred mumbled.

“How old do you think I am?” Bertie asked.

“Uh, twenty-two,” Fred said, his face very red.

“Thirty-six,” Bertie said, standing up and putting on her coat.

“No,” Fred said, all the shyness dropping out of his voice, and his eyes narrowing.

“Look, here’s my driver’s license. Look at that. I’m thirty-six. What a surprise,” Bertie said.

“You don’t look thirty-six,” Fred said, studying her license.

“I work out. I’m going to the gym tonight. Want to be my workout boyfriend?” Bertie asked. Fred’s heart made a gentle flutter.

“Yes,” he said.

“Good. Can I hold your hand?” Bertie asked. Fred relinquished the driver’s license, being very cautious to avoid touching her fingers.

“Could we wait until we got outside?” Fred asked.

“Yeah. I can bring you as a guest for a week to my gym, and you can see if you like it. And if you like me,” she added thoughtfully.

“I like you,” Fred said, staring at the carpet. Bertie nudged his arm, and they walked down the hall.

“I think you’re cute,” Bertie volunteered, when they got outside. Fred, feeling sort of petrified and very excited, reached for her hand. She grinned at him. He blushed and let go. “I bet you haven’t got anything to wear for the gym, though. There’s a store on the way. I get to buy you things today, since I asked you out. Okay?” Bertie asked.

“I–okay, I guess,” Fred said. His extensive studies had not in any way prepared him for a green-eyed woman who wanted to buy him gym shorts. He felt entirely adrift. He took her hand again, and she blushed. “Oh!” Fred said, his motion halting as his brain hiccuped over the fact that he had, without any premeditation, made a very beautiful woman blush.

“How old are you, if you were so worried about me being young?” Bertie asked, as they wandered down the sidewalk.

“Only two years older than you,” Fred said.

“Oh, I like that. I bet we’ll be perfect together. Are you super busy, usually? I like you. I hope you’re not too busy to see a lot,” Bertie said.

“I’m not–no, I’m not very busy, socially,” Fred admitted. “Um, how about you?” he added.

“I mostly just go to the gym and spend time with my dog,” Bertie said. “Do you like dogs?”

“I love dogs. I can’t have one, because of my apartment,” Fred explained.

“Oh, can you come and meet my dog, after the gym? Then, if he really likes you, we’ll probably get along super well. My dog always knows things about what people are really like,” Bertie said.

“I like you,” Fred said.

“I like you so far, too,” Bertie replied. Fred tightened his hold on her fingers, and she blushed again.

“Um, do you like–would you want to wear, like a dating ring, if I gave you one? Just like, like kids do in high school sometimes, with their first girlfriend,” Fred said. Bertie stopped walking and turned to stare at him.

“Kids don’t do that in high school,” Bertie said.

“Well, they used to give dating rings,” Fred said.

“Like with a class ring, or something? You never had a girlfriend in high school? That’s strange, because you’re so nice,” Bertie said.

“I’m scared of everyone except for you,” Fred explained.

“Oh, sweetie. If you turn out to be really awkward, we could just be gym buddies, though,” Bertie said, as if talking to herself. Fred laughed, and she glanced at him.

“Do you think I’m awkward?” Fred asked.

“No, I didn’t up until you asked me if I wanted a dating ring,” Bertie said.

“We said we were practicing dating, though,” Fred said. “I wouldn’t have brought it up, otherwise.”

“Oh,” Bertie said. “You know, that’s a really good point. Let me see it, then.”

“What? See what?” Fred asked, attempting to pull off an innocent look. Bertie snickered and snagged up his hand. She pulled him into an athletic store, and he started to feel sweaty and strange again.

“Your dating ring you want to give me, since I’m your first girlfriend,” Bertie said. Fred emitted a strangled squawk and reluctantly delivered up the ring, which was an elegant silver band wth white stones. “Oh, that’s gorgeous,” Bertie said, her voice changing. “Yes, I will wear that for you.” She stopped in the shoe section and sat down on one of the little benches. Bertie held out her hand.

“Really? You’re not making fun of me?” Fred asked.

“No, I like you. And it’s only a dating ring, right?” Bertie asked.

“Yeah, just for dating. And we’re just practicing,” Fred agreed. Fumbling and blushing, he tried the silver ring on her fingers and discovered that it fit just right on the ring finger of her right hand. “Oh,” he said.

“That’s very pretty. You have good taste, Fred,” Bertie said, examining the sparkly ring.

“But now people will think there’s something going on with you and me, maybe, or they’ll at least know you have a guy,” Fred said.

“Good. I want people to know, because you’re cute, and you’re mine for now. What size of shoe do you wear?” Bertie asked, jumping up and looking at the shoes.

“Oh, you can’t–I’m buying my own shoes, though,” Fred said.

“Will you let me buy your shorts, and stuff?” Bertie asked.

“Yeah. Shoes are too expensive for a date,” Fred said.

“I don’t think you’re awkward at all. I hope my dog likes you,” Bertie said. “Here, these would be fine for now. What size do you wear?”

Fred began to think, as they bought workout clothes and went along to Bertie’s gym, that all the dating advice he had ever studied so carefully before was a load of hokum, as it didn’t seem to take into account the reality of someone like Bertie coming along and being a genuine person with flashing green eyes and a quick smile.

Later in the evening, when Bertie introduced Fred to her dog Bowser, they all three began to ponder on the possibilities of a shared domicile, and before two months had passed, the silver ring with white stones had been changed to Bertie’s left hand.

In Conclusion

Really beautiful character development includes the sexual component of the person in question. Shakespeare’s plays so often revolve around marriage and murder because he exploits the sexual repression or awakening of his characters, and that usually ends in legal (because romantic) copulation or a descent into depravity and murder (depending on the roots of the character type).

You’re reading Victor Poole,  and in my current book, the wild game hunter is gearing up towards a very important expedition. He’s going after an onyx hound, and his foster dad, an amateur hunter, is planning to go with him.

And the monsters in the dark

The worst part is the nightmares, you know. I used to have a hard time functioning pretty much all of the time, but I’ve gotten to a place now where it’s only sleeping that bothers me. And just because of the nightmares.

The Torture Aspect Is Unpleasant

There’s this thing, where you do all the therapy shit, you know, and the recommended yoga falderal, and the processing stuff, and the freewriting stuff, and the talk sessions, and at the end of it, you wake up in the middle of the night with horrible nightmares because your subconscious starts to correlate repressed memory and integrate to do shadow dances and show you what your life was like before the therapy.

Because my mind, at least, has been doing contortions and flipping about in the land of denial, and I most of the time still think I had a pretty normal childhood. Ha ha.

Ha. Etc.

The good news, though, is that having actual experience with people trying to destroy your insides as their main goal in life means you have shit to write about. Like Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which is a pretty charming little piece. I don’t care for Ah, Wilderness! much, because there’s way too much sentimental shit thrown in on the part of the female characters. Especially that irritating maiden aunt.

O’Niell And His Fantasy Family

Have I told you that I have no patience with people who don’t just go out and lay hold of the relationships they want? I hate that, so much.

I knew a screwed up older woman a long time ago who literally spent her life making an elaborate show of how difficult it was to get a husband/boyfriend/suitable male attachment.

She Was Mean And Backstabby

She would talk constantly about what she was going to do about raising her children, and how she would run her household, but she never did a single thing to actually, I don’t know, learn how to be nice to people, or listen, or date.

Because dating is a skill that you can learn.

Speaking of Which

I’m really good at making people fall in love. It’s kind of like a superpower. I agree with Squire Allworthy about the immorality of jumbling people into permanent couplings on the grounds that they will be responsible for their behavior afterwards, so I’ve never meddled in marriage, but I have done a lot of casual hookup work (in the way of getting couples into dating, not sex shit, because that’s incredibly messy, yada yada).

I suppose I say this because my current form of night terrors make me think of my arousal superpowers.

Which Are Useful, In Theatre

You know how I stayed alive? It sounds pretty silly probably, but I am not dead right now because I learned how to flirt. I was a very attractive little kid. I figured out how to be charming, and no one ever quite could pin me down long enough to do conventional damage, in the blockbuster way. You know, being locked in the closet, or living on meager whatnot, or having secret incest crap going on between the edges of my life.

Though I Was Severely Malnourished, So

Even my violent handler thought I was adorable, and sort of endearing, and he didn’t mess up my face nearly as much as my parents wanted him to. He used me as a sort of wingman to cart around and lure in girls, because I was not an asshole, like he was.

And my relatives, the extended ones, many of whom are knee-deep in shit that I don’t ever want to know the details about, thought I was “taken.”

Which Violent Asshole To Hide Out With Makes A Big Difference

I don’t know if you know this, but a lot of predators, the emotional and soul-sucking evil kind, feed off of people who don’t seem okay inside. I watched my older cousins getting eaten up, and I read a lot (to gather source info on ways people get sucked into abusive scenarios), and I drew up sneaky plans and became the engrossing Victor Poole show.

There was a lot of benign drama.

And Free Flirting For Everyone!

Everyone, even my goddamned mother, thought I was having some sort of weird paternal bondy affair with my dad, but I was really just giving him relationship and career advice.

My life is ridiculous. Anyway, that part’s over now, and the only lasting horrible part, as far as I’m concerned, are the nightmares. Hopefully they’ll go away soon, too.

You’re reading Victor Poole. The parents in Harder Than Rocks are nothing like my parents, though the basement apartment that Samuel rents is somewhat similar to a place I lived in for half a year after I got away.

The Suitably Anti-Social Writer

I used to think it was a huge liability that I don’t get along with a lot of people in casual, everyday conversation.

Turns Out, I Just Like Getting Work Done

It’s not that I can’t so much as I find it kind of sort of a complete waste of time. Unless, of course, I’m practicing my group management skills or researching character types.

I just hate casual chitchat. Such a waste of time. When I was a kid, I saw how people did this weird thing where they “hung out”, or just, you know, sat and talked about nothing at all and seemed happy about it.

Shooting the Breeze

Like a naturalist among an alien species, I hunkered down to figure out what the shit was going on.

Because why didn’t each of those individuals peel off from the nonfunctioning social group and go into a corner to write? It was so strange to me.

That’s What I Liked Doing

I went through a long period as a young person where I decided there was something wrong with me for not taking satisfaction out of wasting time, so I tried really hard to fit in and do like the other people did. I tried to waste time, you know, and talk about popular whatnot.

It was so boring. Also, I got very little work done. Ugh.

Super Non-Productive

Then I got more into directing and found out (hurray!) that it’s a lot more interesting to play God in a group, and that most people are also bored and want to play that sort of conversationally-directed game.

When I say play God, I really just mean that I took control of the conversation whenever appropriate and made it functionally useful. You know, like actually about reality, and/or about actual emotional phenomena inside me or the other people present.

Like Public Improv

That turned out to be great for character research, for making lasting friends, and for being not-bored. Plus, after a long conversation like that, writing is exciting and fun (because you’re all revved up from actually meeting new people and knowing what they’re like on the inside.)

Anyway, the point of today is that if you, like me, find social groupings sort of useless, perhaps you will also find, like me, that going with the general flow of boring, staid behavior leads to an enormous drop in your writing production.

Like, A Big Drop

In short, if I try to be conventionally social, my word count plummets. And I don’t mean, “oh, I got a few less words written today!” I mean, like, “Oh, my usually quota just eked out to a measly ten percent, and I don’t even care because life feels meaningless.”

Which, over the course of several days, adds up and means a lot less completed work. Ugh.

And Less Usable Work

If you’re wondering why I talk about writing so much, and I only have two books out, that’s because I want to make a good impression, and I have twenty-some-odd complete manuscripts that I’m sitting on that are, for various reasons, not yet satisfactory for public consumption, and I’m tinkering on my official publication style. Luckily, I have an excellent editor.

Anyway.

So, In Conclusion

Avoid other people at all costs, unless you’re prepared to take charge of your interactions and use them to further your craft. Investigating human nature, discussing reality, or actually getting any kind of relaxing social good out of interaction is great, but if you’re just hanging around because you’re supposed to, out of some perceived need to fulfill social obligation, run away!

You’re reading Victor Poole, and no, I’m not really a hermit, but maybe I will be when I’m old and rich. Tee hee. In my current book, I think Gilbert’s gang trial is not going to go super well today.