You are viewing mild_guy

Sun, Feb. 14th, 2010, 03:03 am
Thailand! The freaking country is Thailand!

Just finished reading Hal Duncan's novella Escape From Hell! wherein, you guessed it, is a story of people dying, going to Hell, and attempting escape. Highly recommended, esp. taken with Harlan Ellison's short story The Death Bird for a chaser. Both have as themes (among others): God's a bastard and it's past time the fucker goes down.

Stories, that for me, are an irreverent brew that helped wash a bad taste lingering in my mouth since last month. Few weeks ago, I was sitting in my favorite book store's cafe, sipping coffee, reading a magazine before I got down to writing.



The young man sitting the table in front of me is having a conversation with an old man. I'm not listening when the old man's familiar voice catches my attention. Couldn't be...

It is. Even more aged that I remember, of course, but undeniably my old pastor of my late childhood's church. The young man is of the opinion that Haiti got what was coming to them, what with their voodoos and their rituals and all. Same as that New Orleans place from a ways back.

My old pastor tries to steer him away from the idea, using a soft tone of voice and words as firm and forceful as gently prodding pillows. We don't know God's plans. It could be that he'd destroy those cities as an expression of his displeasure, but the signs (whatever those may be) don't point to it. He struggles and fails to remember Thailand's name, you know, that asian country over there somewhere that got slammed by the tsunami a while back. Same deal. But such things are to be expected more frequently as we near the end times.

Ah, those ol' end times, always just around the corner. I remember anticipating their immediate commencement myself once upon a time.

Yeah, but...the young man isn't quite convinced.

Remember, pastor said, Christians died in these natural disasters. God wouldn't kill his own in a display of wrath laid upon the heathen. He doesn't say heathen, really, but he might as well have. Pastor then goes on to relate the story of Sodom and Gomorra.

I tried not to eavesdrop, told myself I wasn't going to eavesdrop. I concentrated very hard on the article spread before me, but I didn't see the words on the page anymore. I was staring down through them, through the pages and the table and the floor, down down into my own private hell.

I want to be enraged at this young man, this waste of oxygen's smug self righteousness. His sickening ignorance. I want to confront them, make a scene. But, selfish, self-centered thing that I am, I'm too wrapped up in myself. I'm paralyzed.

Hearing pastor once again affirm to his young man that unbelievers will perish in the eternal outer darkness of hell, puts me back in a place I haven't been in years, though it always seems like just last year and not a decade later.

And they ate of the fruit and became aware. When they saw that they were nekkid, they were ashamed.

That's me. Eve and Adam in a garden of books and espresso. Contemplating aberrant acts of literature. Feeling ashamed, brimming with self loathing, a small, filthy, pathetic thing. A mad urge seizes me to walk up to pastor, to apologize for giving up on the faith. To beg to be taken in again. Not even close to actually doing it though. Grateful for small blessings. But the fact that this urge, this desire so quickly springs up in me, is even there at all, is terrifying.

Where was my swagger now? Where were my doubts, my "deep" questions about faith and God and spirituality? Where was my identity of not having a religious identity anymore, neither atheist or believer? Gone, all gone.

I'm sweating. Still haven't read a word.

The pastor leaves. He never recognized me even after I made eye contact. He'd have said hi if he'd recognized the face. But why would he? I am not what I was.

Sanity returned, sheepish and offering no good excuses.

I'd never guessed that it would take so little for me to...god, I mean, I thought I remembered, but no. The memory of sheephood had never left me. Buried, but not decayed in the least. And restless in its tomb, it would seem.

There are many young men and women like this young man. And I was, oh god, I was once one of them. I was once the same.


Okay, on to fan fic stuffs.

Sometimes I really have to wonder wtf is wrong with me. Like most people, I like media that's funny. That can produce that really deep belly laughter that hurts so good. Or even just a chuckle. Brightens the day by a micron or two.

But enjoying great humor writing and being able to produce the same oneself are two very different things. And unlike the stuff I write, you can't just sorta half-way succeed at teh funny. It's all or nothing when the punch line comes round, baby.

I don't know why my stuff tends to be darker than the canon's tone. Original flavor appears beyond my grasp.

Sure, I enjoy dark or serious stories just as much as the humor, and I'm inspired by them, but that can't explain it all, can it?

Here's a recent example. I decide to write a Super Mario Bros AU. I decide that it's going to be violent, with plenty of dark accents, sure. But I also want it to not take itself so seriously. I don't want it to be gorn or deathly serious. It's going to be a fun story, full of knowing winks and charm and adventure. First paragraph comes out fine.

But before I finish the first page, this is what comes out!:

He spotted the Toads now, rounded heads and chubby bowling pin bodies skittering through the murk, hunched over the koopas and goombas and shyguys they had slain, little hands groping and little curved knives flashing up and down in the dim light as they stripped the bodies of his soldiers for loot. Loot that was not only the equipment his kin carried but their very flesh as well. Koopa shells, in particular, were a prized commodity in the market places of these abominations.

God...damnit.

See? I can't have nice things. Am I so one-note? Must I always take the lowest, darkest road possible?

I'd like to think I'm capable of more.

It's something about writing fights, battles, wars that gets to me. I can't force myself to pull back, to leaven my punches. When people...things try to kill each other, I don't see any beauty in it, even if my characters do. A big part of me hates to romanticize battle. Yet, I crave action scenes.

And us writers, we often have to write what makes us happy, frightened, terrified, pissed off, uncomfortable. Because how else can we make readers feel emotion if we cannot believe in it ourselves?

But is that really the true answer? Am I just being lazy, making excuses?

I read on and write on, hoping to find the answers. It's all I know to do.

Sun, Feb. 14th, 2010 12:07 pm (UTC)
fireholly

Religion is one of those things it's difficult to unlearn once you've learned. I was raised a very strongly liberal Christian, so my relapses are usually pretty fluffy, and they bother me enough. I'm sorry to hear what you're going through.



Re writing - I think a problem is the fandom you're working in. Trying to analyse SMB from any kind of 'serious' perspective will immediately lead to grimdark Lovecraftian horror because that's just how that world is.

(Also - I don't think your fic is that bad. If anything, it's a dark joke about the usefulness of shells in the games.)

It's something about writing fights, battles, wars that gets to me. I can't force myself to pull back, to leaven my punches. When people...things try to kill each other, I don't see any beauty in it, even if my characters do. A big part of me hates to romanticize battle. Yet, I crave action scenes.

People are hardwired to like action scenes - there's no point apologising. I know my fixation with Metal Gear is because of my love of action scenes combined with my obsession with characters never, ever getting what they want - when Snake finds someone he cares about, that person has to die, or he has to kill them, or he himself has to start dying, so that he can never have them, and that's just the canon for starters. But now I'm writing for a spaghetti Western fandom, I'm having fun writing tense, pointless and horrific violence.

I can't explain why. I'm a girly pacifist IRL and I don't even like punching my brother.

I think a lot of writing isn't writing what you know, it's writing about what you never get to know in an attempt to experience it. Victory, loss, pain, power.

Mon, Feb. 15th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
mild_guy

I'm sorry to hear what you're going through.

Thank you. I'm all right, that one incident just blindsided me. Takes one off their guard to be surprised.

I think a problem is the fandom you're working in. Trying to analyse SMB from any kind of 'serious' perspective will immediately lead to grimdark Lovecraftian horror because that's just how that world is.

I have to admit that's pretty hilarious, that I might be the wrong kind of writer for my fandoms. Just my luck. Do we choose our fandoms, or is it the other way around?

Glad I'm not the only one who sees grimdark horror (Lovecraftian and otherwise) in sweet, innocent old games. I think that my witnessing so many fans and professionals turn out ultra-dark, gory, immature reimagings of classic fandoms for easy shock value appeal have made me a little paranoid and insecure about my work. I don't want to be hacks like them, but oh, what if I'm exactly like them? Dun Dun DUNNNNN! And then Mild was a zombie.

I think a lot of writing isn't writing what you know, it's writing about what you never get to know in an attempt to experience it. Victory, loss, pain, power.

Agreed. There's always at least a little wish fulfillment involved. Writers cannot stick with what they know, though we might often fall back on it. We research, and then we make most of it up. Express the inexpressible and all that.

I know my fixation with Metal Gear is because of my love of action scenes combined with my obsession with characters never, ever getting what they want - when Snake finds someone he cares about, that person has to die, or he has to kill them, or he himself has to start dying, so that he can never have them, and that's just the canon for starters.

You could be a great literary analyst and critic, but I'm guessing music is a heck of a lot more rewarding. I'm taking notes every time you wax meta by the way. I might just be able to write Snake in character from now on.

But now I'm writing for a spaghetti Western fandom, I'm having fun writing tense, pointless and horrific violence.

Have you posted any yet? I'd love to read some. Which movies are you working with?

Mon, Feb. 15th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
fireholly

Have you posted any yet?

Oh god, no, nothing worth reading - just a tiny little subdrabble I did for flashslash once (EDIT: which is here). I have half of a binder filled with a story about an increasingly elaborate The Good, The Bad and The Ugly mindgame set during the part of the movie after Blondie's dumped Tuco's partnership but before he's caught up. But I can't show you that because it's on paper.

Edited at 2010-02-15 07:33 pm (UTC)

Tue, Feb. 16th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
psychox

"Glad I'm not the only one who sees grimdark horror (Lovecraftian and otherwise) in sweet, innocent old games."

Okay, you two, kindly stop raping my childhood. Thanks.

How do you manage to get any work done at coffee shops? Or am I the only freak who writes (or fails to write) alone in a room with all the lights off, huddled in front of a computer with the stale burn of cigarette smoke in the back of my mouth and my bleary eyes bulging out of their sockets as I struggle to clickety-click my way to a bliss ignorant of the cold fist of death clenching around my throat?

Wait, what were we talking about?

"And then Mild was a zombie."

Oh okay.

(Shut up and get back to writing, Mild.)

Sun, Mar. 14th, 2010 07:49 am (UTC)
mild_guy

How do you manage to get any work done at coffee shops?

The quiet days are easier...

Or am I the only freak who writes (or fails to write) alone in a room with all the lights off, huddled in front of a computer with the stale burn of cigarette smoke in the back of my mouth and my bleary eyes bulging out of their sockets as I struggle to clickety-click my way to a bliss ignorant of the cold fist of death clenching around my throat?

That's the best way to do it. I don't have an office with my current living arrangements, so I'm pretty eager to get out and stay out of the house most days. They're growing suspicious.

(Shut up and get back to writing, Mild.)

Trying. Trying so hard.

Sun, Mar. 14th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
psychox

"They're growing suspicious."

That you're into writing? The problem with telling people about this little hobby is that they usually ask what you write. And that almost always puts you in a difficult position.

P.S. "YES!"@userpic of Captain Falcon collapsing some guy's trachea in the comic that came with the original F-Zero game.

P.P.S. Thanks for the shout-out/free promotion in your FFnet profile.

Wed, Apr. 14th, 2010 07:16 am (UTC)
mild_guy

That you're into writing? The problem with telling people about this little hobby is that they usually ask what you write. And that almost always puts you in a difficult position

Not only will they ask questions I really don't want to answer, they'll start in on the whole "he's wasting his life" angle, and the "How's the book going? You're still writing the same one?" thing.

So I've never told them I write, as a hobby or wannabe professional. And thus they wonder what I'm doing with all my time. Dad's already guessed strip joints.

P.S. "YES!"@userpic of Captain Falcon collapsing some guy's trachea in the comic that came with the original F-Zero game.

I geeked out when I read that comic and knew I had to have a userpic from it. I never read that comic as a kid, probably because I never had the instruction booklet. Cpt. Falcon comes off a bit more of a sociopathic rogue in it. Between it, the anime, and SSB, I don't know how to interpret him anymore. Okay, he's a race fanatic, and he captures, and per this comic, kills bounties for money. Is he a flamboyant Batman or Boba Fett with better PR or the lovechild of Han Solo and Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star or what?

P.P.S. Thanks for the shout-out/free promotion in your FFnet profile.

No problem. Since there aren't many stories like yours in the "fandom" I figure you'd probably have a larger reader base if more people knew the story exists. Of course, this rec will work better once I actually publish another story that will draw people to my profile...

Thu, Apr. 15th, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
psychox

So I've never told them I write, as a hobby or wannabe professional. And thus they wonder what I'm doing with all my time.

I've been there too. This hobby takes a lot of time, and it's time that looks, to the outside observer, like it's just being thrown away. But really it's something that drains a lot of energy. It's just that no one sees it, so it's like you don't have anything to show off. People will think what they think, and you can't really control that because you chose to hide it. I say "you" in a general way. For whatever reason, I don't want to talk about this thing, whatever it is, either. Not even the originals. It's like a dirty little secret I hide under the mat.

That's one thing that separates us from the self-identified writers, I guess. Wearing the label openly may be the segue into getting acceptance from others. I have a bad feeling the hiding may be detrimental in the long run.

Dad's already guessed strip joints.

And you told him "yes," right? That's what I would have said.

I never read that comic as a kid, probably because I never had the instruction booklet. Cpt. Falcon comes off a bit more of a sociopathic rogue in it.

Yeah, that was my first intro to the Captain.

Sun, Apr. 18th, 2010 07:25 am (UTC)
mild_guy

Yeah, that was my first intro to the Captain

But which source (anime, comic, SSB, F-Zero GX) would you consider most influential? I know you've spoken highly of the GC F-Zero GX. Or do you try to take equally from them all, or does it differ a lot from story to story?

Wed, Jun. 9th, 2010 08:21 am (UTC)
psychox

I take pieces from all of the above, though probably not in equal proportions. I think I just take what I like from wherever I find it. I'm selective in what part of which canon I use. Also, when there's a loophole, chances are high that I'll abuse it. And that's the advantage to having multiple, conflicting canons.

Sun, Apr. 18th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
mild_guy

I've been there too. This hobby takes a lot of time, and it's time that looks, to the outside observer, like it's just being thrown away. But really it's something that drains a lot of energy. It's just that no one sees it, so it's like you don't have anything to show off.

God, you're so right there.

That's why writers get no respect in Hollywood, maybe? I know a lot of people think writing's easy. "I'm going to/always wanted to write a novel/memoir, I just haven't found time for it," people say. As if that's all it takes to create a book worth reading from square zero. Spare time. If only. I know this because I've read writers complain about it. And I once partially believed it myself when I started this hobby. I say partially because I at least sought out writing tips and tried to brush up on my grammar first.

Writing's thought of as a soft skill. And writing fiction is for dreamers who need to go out and get a real job.

People will think what they think, and you can't really control that because you chose to hide it. I say "you" in a general way. For whatever reason, I don't want to talk about this thing, whatever it is, either. Not even the originals. It's like a dirty little secret I hide under the mat.

That's one thing that separates us from the self-identified writers, I guess. Wearing the label openly may be the segue into getting acceptance from others. I have a bad feeling the hiding may be detrimental in the long run.


You're probably right about this too, but the costs still outweigh the benefits right now.