Even More Practice!

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Are any of you guys getting tired of this relentless Loomis studying yet? Because I’m not tired of it! I am, in fact, excited about doing more of it!

The other day I was looking at a very disturbing, but useful for fiction creation, phenomenon of a mind that had pretty severely damaged itself.

The brain had built so many distortions and dysfunctional fake realities (equating action with the self and taking imagined past as veracity-laden fact) that, in order to preserve itself, the consciousness had constructed a fake world in which to live and was attempting, with alarming sincerity, to impose this imaginary and very contradictory state of objective illness on everyone nearby.

Very disturbing, like I said, but what wonderful fodder for a villain.

Here’s some more of that (ahem, delightful) fairy story:


(So far, our rebel has rescued her half-sister from the statue enchantment, carried her back to the tree overhanging Moffer Bones’ house, and is interrogating her to get to the bottom of things. Enjoy!)

Liar, Liar

So my half-sister had rolled her eyes and sighed (this was a thing she did often, and I kind of felt like she was more immature than me, despite being a good eighteen years older), and then Monacsta said, “Don’t play dumb, Winstance. He’s half love god. Everyone wants a piece of Moffer Bones. It’s a physical fact. No one can help it. Obviously you want him to yourself, too,” and then she gave me this pitying head-shake, like my attempt to play things cool was sooo transparent and pathetic.

I was a little surprised at what she’d said, because I honestly didn’t feel any more drawn to Moffer Bones than to any other hot guy I might meet. Sure, I liked him. He was gorgeous! And he had incredible eyes and looked brooding in exactly the right way. What was there not to like, right? But I wasn’t drawn to him in an extra special way, and Monacsta was definitely acting like I was.

I said, “I don’t like him that way, sis.” (I’d been calling her names like that, kind of to wear her down during my interrogatory process I’d been laying on her.)

Monacsta scoffed and was like, “Win, get over yourself. He’s a magnet. Now release me from this tree.”

She had been asking me, of course, on and off to let her out of the restraining charms I had her in, and I ignored this latest request and got back to pushing for information about this rave thing Monacsta and Moffer had met at.

“Why were you at a rave? And what was he doing there?” I asked.

“I wanted to get out of the forest! Gosh, are you saying that you’ve never wanted to get out? We have wanderlust. We don’t fully belong here, so I just popped out for a night to act human,” Monacsta said.

Now, I started thinking, you know, and I realized that my half-sister’s story really did not hold up at all, because two hundred and a bit years ago, no one was having raves, let alone naming bands ‘Acid Bong’ or whatever. So I drew the fairly straightforward conclusion that Monacsta was still lying her butt off to me, and I gave her kind of a judgmental look and folded my arms. She asked to be let go again, and I just glared at her while keeping my best ‘you are a liar’ look on my face, and eventually Monacsta began to blush.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my latest novel, someone just met a bodyguard who worked in the house when they were a child (and it is a very emotional reunion). Also, go look at my ‘Books’ page, because I cleaned it up, Hoo-Rah!


Childish Shenanigans

I ran into a nasty plot problem in my novel the other day. It took me a day and a half to get through the various drafting iterations to a strong solution.

Someday you may find yourself having a hard time coming up with solutions to problems in the plot.

Deviations. Ever experienced an energy deviation? I’m sure you have.

When you have a hard time following a natural progression of the plot (which means you’re experiencing problems with the characters’ development), you are experiencing an energy deviation.

Solutions to energy deviations lie inside your child self, which is a creative, endless problem-solving machine.

Inside of you somewhere, maybe buried deep and maybe right up there on the surface, is a childish, selfish entity that wants things NOW, wants everything to be about YOU, and needs adoration and constant praise from everyone and everything in the universe. Your child self is insatiable, demanding, and never quits being passionate about wanting whatever stuff it is that drives your particular child self.

I’m like that.

Instead of looking inside of myself and saying, “My gosh, what a depressing lack of adulthood,” I can say, “What excellent amounts of pure adrenaline,” and channel my childish interior into a kind of bottomless gas tank for work.

Yes, work, but productive, building-up-to-something-in-the-long-run work, which to a child is the same thing as fun.

Now, plotting through problems.

First, you take what you have, the current state of the plot or scenario, and then second, you dig down into your really, really childish self.

From the perspective of your inner toddler, you look at the plot and say to yourself, “Ruin this!”

Let me explain for a second the dynamic of the right kind of ruining, and then I’ll talk for a moment about why this works to create easy problem solving to your plot without any agonizing artistic pain.

So, first, the right kind of “Ruin this!”

If you have ever been around other human beings, you have presumably experienced the sort of cranky behavior from people that snarls everything up around them. Their crankiness just make everything worse, no matter what the situation. You  have, doubtless, from time to time been one of those irritable people yourself, because negative snarling is a common and transient energy dynamic and not an essential state of being.

If you are in the state of mind to make everything worse in the process of tinkering at your plot, when you say to yourself, “Ruin this!”, you will actually damage your plot badly and/or kill the story idea.

That’s more than possible if your approach is taunted with cold, remorseless cynicism; in fact, plot damage and energy denigration is likely, given the wrong starting mental conditions, so let’s talk instead about the right flavor.

The right kind of flavor within your “Ruin this!” action is a childish one.

Healthy children are productively dynamic; they create chaos that is full of potential and surging with positive motion.

Spiritually unhealthy human beings, whatever their physical age, destabilize and corrupt their circumstances.

This isn’t a good people/bad people dynamic, but a strong state of mind/weak state of mind thing. Most people, myself and probably you, fluctuate constantly from productive to negative, sometimes dipping from one state to the other in almost inexplicable waves.

You can tell which state you’re in by sticking a basic energy thermometer into your heart. Ask yourself how you feel, thrust an energy stick into your internal being, and if the energy expands with heat and interest, you’re healthy. If your energy contracts and hardens, or cools, you’re in an unhealthy state of mind. (The mere act of imagining an energy stick going into your heart creates the thermometer, so don’t worry about how to do that. Just imagine it happening, and you’ll get an expanding warm sensation or a cold, contracting feel inside your chest/abdominal area.)

The correct “Ruin this!” attitude is necessarily full of warmth and expanding energy.

(And if you get the cold, wrong answer with your energy thermometer, well, then you need a five-minute play date with your inner child. Set a timer, play like a toddler, and take your temperature again. Repeat as necessary.)

Okay, we talked about the effective kind of energy for a “Ruin this!” attitude; now let’s talk about why this works, why ruining your plot makes endless good ideas happen and gives you access to a reliable and bottomless pit of creatively fueled brilliance.

Ruining your plot or current scenario works because dysfunction (see, poor plot) relies on a static, inelastic frozen dynamic. When you’re stuck, it’s because you’re really afraid of anything changing. When you try to keep everything the same (and familiar), you close your mind to all the things that could jostle and disrupt your current scenario.

A static scenario with unchanging characters is not a plot so much as a still-life, and that’s great for painting but not for writing more than one scene, and even the scene will be sorta dry if no changes can sneak in at all.

Basically, if you’re having a plot problem, you are in a frightened, rigid grown-up mindset and you need to sink backwards and evaluate whatever energy thing happened to get you stuck in the first place.

Luckily for all of us, our inner children excel at evaluating energy deviations and exploiting them for maximum explosive effect.

Have you ever watched children? You know, babysat them or anything like that? Maybe you have some, or you’ve encountered young humans in your own past iteration as a juvenile of the species.

In any case, my point is that children target and exploit weak areas in order to create maximum satisfying drama. Noise, mess, chaos, and pleasurable destruction.

You can and should do that to your plot problems, using your inner child and containing yourself into healthy and creative “Ruin this!” modes of thoughts.

Ruining your plot from the perspective of a child works because you automatically evaluate all known elements and come up with really great ways to destroy everything, which gives you abundant drama to work with, and plot is drama. I mean, that’s what a plot is; drama, hopefully as cathartic and emotionally all-encompassing as possible.

A Childish Example

I have a very old novel sitting around in my hard drive that has caused nothing but trouble for me in my efforts to revise or salvage it.

As a live-action experiment, I will give you the general picture of the plot problem and then take my internal temperature and productively ruin the scenario, thereby creating a chunk of useable plot.


The main character is a girl in her twenties who has recently lost everyone in her immediate family to a car crash, and she takes a job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant and fantasizes about escaping to a fairy land with a magician. The different characters in the restaurant form fodder for her imaginings, and at the end of the novel, she dies and is reunited with the owner of the restaurant in a very cheesy, though emotionally satisfying, happy ending in heaven.

The problems with the plot are many and varied; part of the family who is supposed to be dead from the car crash aren’t actually dead; the owner of the restaurant and the main character engage in a long, muddy might-be-a-dream sequence that goes nowhere, and the main chef in the restaurant turns out to be an implausible billionaire who makes toy ships in his spare time. There are a lot of plot holes, and while much of the dialogue is charming, the actual book itself is, as it stands, unsalvageable.

I wrote it a long time ago. It is, in fact, the first actual beginning-to-end novel I ever wrote, and it was my first National Novel Writing Month effort.

It was lots of fun.

My editor loves the characters and wants me to rewrite it so we can publish it. (My editor is awesome, by the way. Hi, Mr. Editor!)

So, here’s my internal temperature-taking . . . mm . . . lukewarm. Give me a minute to go be childish.


Okay, I’m back. Now I am super in the mindset to be creative . . . internal temperature of hot and expansive. Hooray!

So, I have this plot that is a big, messy problem. The biggest issue with the whole thing is that it doesn’t go anywhere; the character doesn’t actually have a genuine adventure because I was too scared to allow anything significant in the story to happen or grow.

I’m gonna ruin things.

The main character does not lose her family in a car crash; she moves away from her family and gets an apartment she can barely afford with some savings, and then loses her job the day after she signs the lease. In a fit of despair, she is walking the streets and browsing job listings on her phone when she passes a quaint little pretzel shop that smells amazing. She goes into the shop, meets the eccentric and enigmatic old man who makes the pretzels, and asks for a job. The old man laughs, tells her to come back the next day, and she goes home and feels that things will be better in the morning.

Then! She goes back to the shop only to find a closed sign and a notice that the store is out of business and up for sale. Spiraling into uncontrollable depression, our main character sticks around the shop on her off time; she gets a job and barely scrapes by for a little while until she meets someone poking around the old pretzel shop, looking to buy it and start a restaurant. She gets a job there as a dishwasher, quits her janitor job, and . . . discovers a staircase into a magical kingdom in the bottom of the sink. Duh duh daaah!

More exciting adventures happen and she eventually goes permanently to live as a disguised princess in the fantasy realm and lives happily ever after with the soup-shop owner, whom she has drawn into her adventures.


Now I just have to write the book. But now I have a functional starting chunk of plot! Bwa ha.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Vince is training his hunting party.

The Actress Who Would Make A Good Mouse

I worked with an older man a long time ago on a student project. The entire scenario was a mess; he wanted to produce a classical piece, had neither the chutzpah nor the balls to make the attempt, and reverted to a weird blend of neo-dadaism and theatrical posturing to avoid the question.

In plainer language, he really thought that he ought to play Hamlet, couldn’t talk anyone into using him for a real production, and so wrote a very strange half-experimental mish-mash of soap opera nonsense and called the main character Hamlet.

He played the main character.

Anyway, I dropped out of the project partway through for fairly obvious reasons (namely that he was a mess, the project was a mess, and it was a big visual accident waiting to happen), but the guy had the very rare ability to talk coherently about script construction, so I worked with him for a while on doctoring his (very strange) script.

I should explain, I was in the project at first as an actor. This guy was weird.

The reason I’m writing this now is that I’m thinking about something that happened in auditions and then callbacks for the project.

This guy wanted to use a redhead I knew as the Ophelia character. His reason for choosing her?

“You look like a little mouse, cowering into the corner.”

When being yelled at, she cowered in a way he liked, and he felt this was an appropriate flavor for Ophelia.

Yeah, he was an awful man, and I stopped talking to him after a little while, but the actress was flummoxed by his attitude.

This guy, like a lot of male and female directors I worked with over the years, observed female-presenting actors as mere props to be used in shows for the reactive emotions they could display.

Like being a mouse cowering, or having a good and dignified ‘classical’ face.

I pondered this phenomenon for some time, being in the very odd position of a bio-girl taught to act like a boy and present as a trans-male. My life was complicated. Anyway. I thought about this a lot, and I had grown adept, over the years, at mimicking and creating convincing reproductions of a variety of gendered behaviors.

Because of my background, I approached theatre production with an idea that I could use the leftover actors, the actors that no one else knew how to use or was willing to use.

I picked up the scraps and started to teach them things that I knew how to do.

Off-topic: Here’s a practice sketch for motion.


The reason I’m thinking about this today is that I’ve come, more and more over the years, to see writing as belonging to two general camps: 1. Writing produced by abusers and 2. Writing produced by good people.

Note: Many people who have been abused (and that’s everyone) reproduce abusive attitudes in their writing without at all meaning to; these people are not abusers, and the abuse floats within the writing and is easily fixed.

There are tells everywhere in a genuinely abusive person’s work. The way they strip volition or dignity from some characters while building up the import or abilities of others; the tone they take in describing locales or emotional events; and last but certainly not least, the attitude conveyed by the narrative tone when it comes to disaster.

I’m not going to talk about any of those things right now because reasons, but what I am going to talk about for two more seconds is how to discern whether you are, unwittingly or not, writing abuse into your novel.

Big question, right? Seems like a sweeping overgeneralization, yes? Probably bit off more than I can chew with the proposition, hm?

Well, here’s how to tell, and it’s super easy, and it takes about four seconds.





See, that’s how long it would take to know if you’re writing abusive prose or not.


Here you go, and once you know the procedure, it’s simple and straightforward.

First, you fix your mind on the main character. If you write omni-POV or something, focus your thoughts on the central crew whose thoughts the reader inhabits, or whose actions form the primary connection to the reader’s experience.

Once you have a good emotional hold on the feel of the character or characters, close your eyes and thrust the heat of your heart forward in time, towards the end goal.

Every story has an end goal. Every single one has a purpose, an emotional state that is the finishing picture of the words. Even something vague and fantastical, experimental and seemingly structurally formless, has a distinct and meditative emotional state as the clear end goal.

There is an emotional goal of communication you are attempting to achieve in the reader by writing down words.

If you learn to do this for yourself, you can also apply the trick to any story you pick up or absorb through any means; look for the ending, the panache of “I am complete!” within the progression of the words and doings of the main character or group of characters.

Once you have focused your mind on the main movers, and cast your heart-energy forward into the future, towards the ending and coalescence of the emotion conveyed within the work, ask yourself:

“Up or down?”

Is that eventual, tentative emotional conveyance moving your internal energy up and out, or is your energy moving down and in?

If your internal substructures of energy and soul move in and down, your body and mind are telling you to retreat, to hunker in and protect yourself from harm. If your energy moves out and up, expanding towards the verge of your skin and possibly even extending towards the outer world, beyond the boundary of your physical being, then your body and mind are saying, “Yes, I can grow, I can relax; I am safe.”

Now, that is the four-second test, and here is how you evaluate your results.

If you are looking into your own writing, at a particular story, and your energy moves down and inwards, you are flinching in preparation for kickback from potential readers because you know in your heart that you are deliberately hurting people, and you’re preparing for a fight.

If, when you look into your main characters and cast your heart forward to the emotional end, your energy moves up and outwards, you are sharing your true inner self with genuine, human desire for connection and communication.

I’ll give you half a guess which response indicates abusive writing, and the half-guess doesn’t count.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and today in my current novel, a former prostitute is facing demons with a murderer. There is chocolate involved, as well as doctored identification documents.

Why Breathing Is A Better Strategy Than Panicking


Here is a sketch from me looking at landscapes.

I’m working on expanding my word choice for the current series I’m developing. I’m okay with my general word palette being pretty consistent over the course of one series. My touchstone metaphors and described behaviors are fairly consistent within the universe of each individual series, but I am feeling gun-shy about repeating particular verbs too often.

How Many Times Should A Character [verb], For Example?

On the other hand, I really don’t like it when writers stretch so far beyond the point of casual readability that you feel as if they’re sitting with a thesaurus and making esoteric word choices just to keep from repeating any one word more than twice. I don’t like that either. So there’s a balance I want to achieve.

I’ve been thinking about the time when I, a dancer, was going to my local studio all the time. It was frustrating because one of my important classes got canceled right through the summer that I had the most time to practice, so I got behind on classical training catch-up, and had to practice on my own, which is still good, but not nearly so useful as having a teacher on hand to correct arm placement and all that.

I’m Also Agonizing Over Comma Styles Lately

I was reading a story today where the author made a premise and then jolted into a flashback as a casual way to sneak out of any action happening in the present moment.

I didn’t like that. I thought that author was behaving like a dastardly and sleazy skunk. I’d rather the author gave the premise and then followed through on it, and didn’t squeeze two or three stories into the umbrella of a lie (the lie being, in this case, that all the narrative fits under the original premise). (Because it didn’t! No action happened at all under the original premise! Booooo!)

I think, based on my own experiences, that authors often avoid making action and significant change, and often backtrack and dither. Here’s an example of that:

BAD Writing

Silas pulled out the can of shotgun shells and sorted through for the one he wanted. Today was the day he was going to hunt after that big doe, the floppy black one with big haunches and vicious red eyes.

(Here’s where that sneaky, avoidant backtracking normally comes into play.)

Silas remembered the first time he’d seen old floppy-ears. He closed his eyes as he was lost in the mists of long ago within the confines of his sappy mind.

(Sudden flashback to years earlier!)

He pulled up his jacket and shifted his rifle against his arm as he strode through the empty cars and the discarded clothes and possessions on the freeway. The giant, man-eating rabbits didn’t come out this way often, but it was better to be prepared.

Suddenly! A black do with floppy ears! Her eyes were so red! And her large front teeth sharp, violent! He could imagine those teeth stained with his own blood! Probably the blood from his neck where he thought she would sink her horrible bunny teeth in and chew him limb from limb, or head from torso, really, since it was his neck he was thinking of.

Silas brought his gun up and sighted along the barrel, fully prepared to brutally destroy this fine creature of predatory dominance over the fallen, extinguished-almost race of man! The rabbit looked up! She dashed away!

(Return to present moment.)

That darned rabbit always got away, Silas thinks to himself sadly. He was so depressed about how he’d never caught her before that he gave up on the hunt and went back to bed.

GOOD Writing

Silas pulled out the can of shotgun shells and sorted through for the one he wanted. Today was the day he was going to hunt after that big doe, the floppy black one with big haunches and vicious red eyes.

He felt the shiver of the morning air over his bare arms; the rabbits always went for his biceps, because they wanted to taste skin right away under their awful, slathering jowls, and Silas wore a mask and full-body suit to draw the rabbits onto his arms.

He’d rigged a sort of invisible armor, a kind of electrical system that ran from his wrist cufflets to his shoulder gear, and the rabbit who bit down on his arm was a rabbit that got its brain shocked, hard. Silas had thought when he’d first invented the arm-guards that he would be able to stroll among the bunnies and let them bite his arms and kill themselves, but he had found that his arm system was more of a last-defense, as it ended up stunning a rabbit for three seconds and then turned the animal crazy and rabid. He took the massive rabbits out from afar as often as he could.

Silas stood for a long moment at the mouth of his hideout, looking along the destroyed highway and the many piles of scrap metal, where the bunny families had chewed abandoned cars to pieces. He hoisted his ram-fire weapon over his shoulder, patted the useful shotgun buckled to his body, and strolled out into the early morning air to find the black doe.

She’d left her spoor near the left-hand exit again, and it was fresh. Silas licked his lips as he imagined roasting fresh rabbit over a bonfire tonight. He hadn’t eaten a doe for a long time now, almost two weeks, and he hoped to be able to strip her body and store up rabbit jerky for the winter.

Silas tracked the doe to a cluster of trees and spotted her nibbling at a lower branch. She was fully fifteen feet, from nose to fluffy tail, and her hide was slick, ebony, and looked very soft. I will make her into a bed, Silas thought, and he cautiously unfastened his shotgun and put down his larger ram-fire cannon in the same motion. Die, bunny, Silas thought, as he lifted his gun and aligned the sights with her violent crimson eye.

And So

Following through on a premise is a good way to gain trust and confidence in the reader’s mind. Abandoning a premise mid-story (or anywhere within the story, really), is a rude thing to do.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my current novel, Dave Tinnels is about to have a very interesting conversation with a dead gangster’s bodyguard.

Why Skipping Revisions Brightens Your Craft

I read an acting book (actually it was a book aimed at directors) by a man who hated himself. I mean, he HATED himself. The book itself was pretty useful, as a treatise on directing, and the management of actors as a general group, but the preface–PHEW!

So Much Vitriol

So he’d written this book about handling actors, right? And it was a pretty perceptive, useful book.

Except For The Preface

You see, in the preface, his mask slipped, and he … um, was honest. He talked a little bit about his journey as a director, and there was raging, debilitating self-hate through every word.

The funny part (which is only amusing because he felt so sorry for himself in a melodramatic way) is that he wasn’t aware at all that he hated himself.

I mean, he knew, most probably, that he hated himself, but he didn’t at all realize (based on what he wrote, and how he wrote it) that he hated himself FOR GIVING UP ON HIMSELF AS AN ACTOR.

He didn’t see that, or realize it.

Because, You See

He really wanted to be an actor, more than anything in the universe. You could read it, taste his passion bleeding through the page, oozing through the words. He wanted to be somebody, become a real force in the world of acting.

And he felt like he couldn’t.


Because, dear reader, he revised himself.

He cut away at his original craft, his impulse towards creation, his soul. He wanted to be good so badly that he was willing to murder and contort his original offering of self in order to make himself over into, to his mind, something magnificent and special.

In frantically revising his personality and presentation as a young man, he destroyed, temporarily, his ability to act.

The destruction was temporary, but he was impatient, and insecure, and he wanted success NOW.


He wanted to be good enough NOW, not tomorrow, not next year, not after ten years of work, he wanted to find fame and acceptance and glory RIGHT NOW.

So he turned his passion for acting, twisted it, contorted it viciously, into a passion for HELPING OTHER ACTORS.

He found so much success in this, because his original drive was so deep, that he gave up on the idea of an actor and labeled himself as a director who had just started off confused. “I’m a director!” he shouted to himself. “Ha ha! I was such a newb! I thought I wanted to act!” (Imagine the sobbing that was going on underneath those words, if you will.)

So, What Does That Mean For You?

When you revise your work, as the writer you currently are, you destroy your soul.

I’m not talking about catching typos. I’m not talking about that afternoon when you realize that Gyinoss would flow better in the text if you renamed him Janos. And I’m not talking about that late-night session when you realize you skipped some emotional development in the second half of chapter twelve.

Those are editing tasks; they ADD to what is already there, and further develop the writing you’ve put down.

Revisions means pruning and cutting. Revisions means taking a scene that you label as BAD and rewriting it while judging yourself to make it NOT BAD. Not to make it better, not to heal up some emotional confusion, but to wipe out the original development and action sequence and write a BETTER ONE to replace it.


BAD Writing

Dana mowed through the grove on the back of the machine, cutting down several young trees as she moved to cut a pattern in the shape of her name in the grass. Oh, what a good message this will send to the woodland creatures, Dana thought. The squirrels, in particular, had been getting above themselves lately, and all of the birds were making complaints by the time their nests lay ruined in the grass and mangled by the teeth of the mower. Ha ha! Dana thought, and she set fire to the downed trees.

GOOD Writing

Dana Williams drove her young goats towards the grove of saplings where the unruly squirrels lived. Normally Dana had warm and cozy feelings towards all the woodland creatures, but the squirrels as a group, ever since Darryl had enchanted them to make them clever and talkative, had formed a nuisance that was swiftly destroying the neighborhood.

Their mischief had started out innocently enough; a few eggs smashed against windows and a couple of cows stolen and hidden in living rooms or tethered in the central intersection of the town. Soon, though, the squirrels had escalated to theft, destruction of private and public property, and kidnapping of pets.

By the time the fourth ransom note for a cat had shown up pinned to the town hall door with a sharp stone, Dana decided it was time for something to be done.

The squirrels had taken up with the bluejays, and the two groups formed a rowdy, insolent gang of small beasts who ran rough-shod over peace, quiet, and neighborly civility.

As soon as Dana brought her small herd of goats to the grove, she slipped their collars, drew a narrow hatchet from her waist, and proceeded to chop down and pile up every sapling in the area. Her ax was sharp, and her hoists and blows were full of vim and grim decision.

Dana had not been able to locate the squirrels, to ransom and retrieve her own cat, Mr. Fluffles, and Mr. Fluffles’ head and dismembered corpse had been left on Dana’s front porch one week ago today.

The goats grazed down the grass and undergrowth to the dirt as she worked, and before long, Dana had an enormous pile of felled sapling and a stubby, shorn piece of land that looked as if it had received a merciless shave with a rough-toothed razor.

The squirrels came into sight over the nearest hill, hooting and shouting obscenities in their usual way, just in time to see Dana pull an economical welding torch from her bag and set fire to the heap of cut wood.

“Nooo!” the foremost squirrel bellowed, his enormous front teeth bared in a howl of fury.

“This is war, Dana Williams!” another gray squirrel screeched.

“I’ll fetch the bluejays!” a juvenile squirrel yelped, skidding away just as Dana’s flame caught against the base of the pile of cut trees.

Dana smiled when she heard this, for she had a wicked little bird-shooting gun tucked down the back of her bag. I will be eating fresh bluejay and squirrel tonight, Dana thought, as she turned and prepared to flame the onslaught of squirrels into shrieking little balls of fiery death.

When You Write To NOT SUCK, Your Writing Sucks

Our director-author who hated himself had a blistering genius and passion for directing, because he had taken a true love for acting, and a genuine ambition for acting, and mashed and twisted it up until it became a subverted ability to make OTHER people into decent actors.

Not into brilliant actors, because he wasn’t one himself. You can’t guide someone into a talent you don’t understand yourself. The man was blind, when it came to healthy vanity, to personality development, to fame. He had no idea how he’d failed, or even that he had failed as an actor. He thought he’d made an informed choice into a more suitable field.

He Was So Angry With Himself

This was a betrayal, of himself against himself.

Now, there are actors who try directing and find a genuine passion for it. There are tons of people who write a book, or a scene, look at it, and say, I can write this SAME SEQUENCE OF ACTIONS AND EVENTS in a cleaner, stronger way.

That’s not the negative type of revision I’m hammering against right now. Redrafting and editing are great, and if you make positive changes and additions while revising, and calling it revision, then you’re doing the right thing; awesome.

Revision, as I’m talking right now, for this subject, means CUTTING, DISCARDING, and DESTROYING vital parts of your personal, inner vision.

That’s Self-Immolation, And It’s Morally Wrong

Don’t revise. Edit.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and I’m on a high of adrenaline because of reasons. In my current novel, John Benzing is suffering an unfortunate emotional breakdown. His graft is still a secret from almost everyone.

Is Your Writing Good Enough?

Being an actor is really challenging. Not only do you have to figure out how to make everyone like you while pretending to be another person, you also have to master the delicate art of becoming popular, which, if you’re a normal human from an average background, is fraught with complication.

Popularity Is A Deliberate Skill

If you’re from a terrible background, and you have to cope with all the neurosis and maladjustments accordant to that circumstance, things can feel a little sticky and impossible.

I went to acting school, or I have formal training as an actor, in any case. There was a kind of journey that I went on, as an actor, from the beginning to the end of my acting program.

From The Beginning To The End

At the start, I was naive, full of myself, very talented (and I didn’t know it), and supremely confident in my ability to figure things out and become the very best.

Then life happened, and very poor directors happened, and really damaging classwork happened on top of that, and I started to look about myself and think.

I Didn’t Blame My Teachers, At First

Why, I asked myself, was I such a worse actor than I had been when I started out? After all, studying, and being surrounded by like-minded aspirants and supposed professionals in the art should have, I thought, prepared me to be super awesome as an actor.

I’ve read visual artists saying (writing) that their time in art school, receiving training and instruction, was only valuable insofar as the experience hammered into their brains how completely helpless and useless formal instruction is. Their point, as they were writing, was that art school allowed (or forced) them to the realization that they were their only secure and reliable source for inspiration, teaching, and improvement. That the idiotic waste of art school forced them back into their private, personal spring of talent and inspiration.

That They Had To Become Artists On Their Own

I feel a similar way about acting school. I really don’t enjoy speaking negatively about things, and I resisted taking a realistic view of my training until it was almost over, but at last the damage, both to myself and my classmates, was so pervasive, so inhumane, and so unanimously perverse that I faced the music, as it were, and woke up.

I cut off my heart and my mind from my (genuinely terrible) instructors–and I want to say that when I call them terrible, I don’t only mean that they didn’t teach very well, though most of them didn’t teach well at all. I mean that they lied and cheated and set up long-term contextual scenarios that destroyed young actors, and they did it on purpose because they were bitter people with no inner substance.

I Sound So Cynical, I Think, But They Did

I cut off my heart and my mind from my instructors, and I determined to figure things out for myself. I took all the information and impressions and experiences I had personally gathered over the years I had studied theatre, both before school and during it, and I began to experiment.

The first thing I learned was that my teachers sucked a lot more than I’d ever given them credit for. You see, as I began to dabble in learning for myself, I, of course, required bodies with which to experiment, and I found out, in the first two months of doing so, that I had a genius for teaching and changing the bodies around me.

I Can Release A Person’s Natural Self

I could  make people do things on stage that were objectively glorious. I could create visceral emotional interactions on stage, in scene work, that gave anyone–anyone–watching, chills. When my work was going on, the room got very quiet. People turned still inside. They started to think deep things about morality, and God, and shit like that.

I was really, really good.

The second thing I discovered is that all of my instructors but two were actually evil.

No, Really

You see, when I changed actors’ bodies, and taught real, effective acting (and how I know how to do that is a really long story, not having anything to do with today’s subject), all but two of the mature, supposedly professional acting instructors got strangely irritated.

The two okay ones, the two non-evil teachers, were enormously pleased by my work, and wanted more of it. They wanted me, and my genius, and they wanted everything to change so that this kind of authentic work was happening in all the classrooms, for all the students, and in all the theatre productions involved with the school.

They were on the side of learning, and growth, and right.

Tension Between Established Old People Ensued

The rest of the professors didn’t come out and say anything, exactly, but contextually, they all shifted, and started to cooperate in concert. It was a little like a hunting party, or a creepy conspiracy film.

They didn’t want change, and they didn’t want their established power to go away. That’s when I really knew, deep in my heart, how rotten they were, and how bad each of those people were at creating art.

Angry, Empty People Who No Longer Sought To Create With Authenticity

They were exploiters, and predators. Icky people.

Anyway, back on point. What I found out, as I started to mold and open people’s bodies in acting, and through scene work, I discovered that all the dozens of really horrible actors and immature hobbyists around me (the students) were insanely talented, in terms of potential power and native ability.

I Was Startled By The Depth Of Their Talent

They were blocked, and they were ignorant, and had no idea how to access their own powers of creation, but they were legitimately precious resources, and had nearly endless potential for professional-grade, stunning acting work.

This situation startled me. I’d thought the bad actors were without ability, because their classwork, before I opened them up and made them behave like themselves, was so genuinely awful and insensible. These actors slowly transformed into the kind of exciting talent prospects that would make a film agent salivate, and I started to apply the ramifications of this situation to myself.

I Wanted A Blueprint For Acting Cultivation

I’d started with the idea of learning how to act, and in the process, I learned about creativity in general.

You see, when you set out to create, you are forming a visceral part of your own, true self, your actual energy and spiritual, unseen self, and transforming it into some kind of medium to be seen and consumed by other humans.

You’re harvesting droplets, or buckets, as the case may be, of essence from your deepest unique self, and proffering it to other people, who may or may not choose to take it, taste it, and consume it, if they like it.

Creative Disciplines, And The Emotional Exchange Of Art

This goes across acting, writing, drawing, and singing. And dance, and programming, and math, and every other creative medium. Anything requiring creative energy.

People who last, and who thrive over time in any creative discipline, do so by treating their own lives as a plant, a precious tree. They harvest from themselves, and they feed and tend themselves with an understanding, whether instinctual or deliberate, that they cannot get product without first caring for the productive plant of self.

So, now we come to today’s topic.

Is Your Writing Good Enough?

The real question that you need to be asking yourself is this:

Is my writing clean? Is it mature, fully-developed, and edible?

I’m serious about the edible part, actually. When you consume a piece of artwork, whether through seeing performance, taking in writing, or any other transaction of the senses, your energy structure opens up and you absorb, depending on the quality of the spiritual food, actual aural energy into your innermost being.

You are a living human being. In essence, you are a tree.

And Are Therefore Capable of Producing Leaves, Blossoms, Fruit, Or Seeds

Asking yourself if you can make fruit is not productive, and asking yourself if anyone likes to eat fruit is a similar waste of time.

The real question, and the only productive question, is how well and how deliberately you are caring for your own emotional, physical, and total creative being.

Your writing is good enough, always, impinging on the condition that you are feeding and caring for yourself as an inherently productive tree.

And Now, A Metaphor Or Two

A zebra who has an existential crisis about whether or not he is an elephant is wasting his time.

A heron who sits all day and agonizes over whether or not she was really meant to fly, and if she’s good enough to fly, is similarly going nowhere, as far as getting a satisfactory flight going on.

Action is the answer. You are human, and your soul is designed to create, in whatever medium suits your tastes.

Confused Creatures Who Are Afraid Of Being Something Else

Your writing, by default, is good enough, because you are human, conditional upon you treating yourself as a creative entity and caring for yourself as such.

A heron who agonizes about the value of her flight will never fly, though she can, and should.

A zebra who ponders the moral dilemma of possibly not really being an effective zebra, avoids the natural life and satisfaction zebras presumably get out of being zebras.

My Student Actors

Stop asking yourself if your writing is good enough, and start asking yourself if your writing (which, by default, is good enough by dint of being produced by you, as long as you accept that you are a creative being) is clean enough to be desirable to other humans.

My student actors were all good enough. They all, every single one, it turned out, had enough talent, and enough prospective skill to become legitimately successful, given many years of discipline and targeted self-care and cultivation.

You Are A Fertile Plant, Spiritually

Their acting was good enough. The question for them, and for you, is this: Are you currently engaging in a lifestyle and a method of self-care that will allow you to produce writing (or acting) that is clean enough, mature enough (as in, not plucked off the branch prematurely), and authentic enough (as in, coming from your genuine self, and not a plastic apple) to be edible to and desirable to a hungry person?

That’s the pertinent question, the productive question that leads to better work, stronger writing, and eventual externalized evidence of your creative worth.

As an aside, here is a link to my eerie, romantic book about a mature accountant trapped between death and the afterlife: My Name is Caleb; I am Dead

Caleb new

In Conclusion

Asking yourself if your writing is good enough is the wrong question. The right question is whether or not you’re treating yourself in a way that will reliably lead to an edible creative harvest.

As a side note, fertilizing and clearing up weeds around your roots is a deeply satisfying process, and makes for great story fodder, later on.

You’re reading Victor Poole, and in my revised book, Claire is contemplating a sudden journey to the dragon-infested continent of Asoan. Mm. This is me making a shiver of anticipation. There are dragons in My Name is Caleb; I am Dead, but they are colorful manifestations of stars, and not traditional lizard-type creatures at all. They have gorgeous wings, though, and they can talk.

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.


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.