Thursday, January 15, 2015

Infamy (and more planning)

Now Playing: Chromatics - Tick Of The Clock

This is another one of those "I debated posting this" entries. I don't think I could technically get in any huge trouble for this, but you never know how people could react if I do anything less than gushing and praising.

But it's one of those rambling posts where I jump topic to topic and I need to write it and archive it. So up it goes!

I went to my creative writing class on Tuesday. And this is the part where I say I'm not in any way shape or form making it sound like I'm not grateful I got into the class. Because I am. I am really happy and excited. There were a lot of interesting people; the usual gathering of hipster looking peps, there was a girl who liked video games and wanted to write for them as much as I did, and another girl who I've had for two literature classes (with the same professor, two semesters in a row). That last one was super surprising--all this time, I'd thought she was an English Literature major, not a writer. We got to talking and are gonna go to a poetry reading next Tuesday--because that's the kind of thing English majors do D:< (also, it's required for a grade so we kinda gotta do it, might as well not do it alone).

And my professor seems cool, nice, funny, and has some interesting ideas for the class. There's tons of reading and writing, and it's all about experimenting with styles which I DEFINITELY NEED.

There was this thing in the syllabus--which was the same thing she had in the application--that said if we already like our style and don't want to change it, then the class probably won't be so helpful/for us. Which is perfect because I hateeee my style. It's lifeless and stupid and repetitive and honestly the more I can strangle it into submission and rebirth it into something beautiful--well, the better :D

So that was a good thing.

But The Warning happened. Because god forbid I so much as have time to sneeze in a creative writing class without first getting The Warning.

And this is just a weird incarnation of the Warning. Previously, the general consensus was, "oh I guess you can write genre fiction if you want, but, you know, it's gotta be to our standards, the great, superior literary fiction standards."

(which is what I hear no matter how nice the professors try to phrase it >> Bias. I know).

It roughly translates to--don't think vampires and laser guns and time traveling aliens are going to make your story better. Character comes first, not the fantastical elements.

And fine. I have the rest of my life to argue about the substance and depth of genre fiction, I don't have to spend my university life doing it too.

But it just got really weird with this workshop. There was this entire paragraph at the bottom of the syllabus that said it's a literary fiction class, not genre fiction, and it's not the same, and you don't take up biology  and expect to learn physics even if some things overlap, but we're still allowed to write genre fiction except, and I quote, "you have the added challenge of making your work beautiful on the subtext and prose levels while adhering to the constraints the genre places on your story."


Constrains? Genre fiction has constrains? What are they?? How do I adhere to them??? What does this even mean????

There was also this other weird thing she said: we're not really suppose to be aiming for commercial fiction.

It's not that she's against us being writers who make a decent living off of our books--she's a working writer,after all, and it'd be great if we could all live off our life's passion.

But but but but

she wants us to aim for infamy, or something. We should strive to write one of those books that are read hundreds of years after the author's death. So it has to be complex, prone to analysis, beautiful and meaningful, timeless, that kind of stuff.

And I get what she's going for--I really do. Pretty much all my creative writing classes hammer on the importance of subtext and complexity. All good stories--in all categories and mediums--have subtext and complexity to a certain degree. And that's the kind of book that survives for hundreds of years and gets torn to pieces by literature aficionados everywhere.

But it's just such a weird thing to say.

This is not the first time I've heard it phrased this way. I remember in reddit, in /r/writing, someone asked why we write and what we hope to accomplish. And someone said that once they die and their family members and friends die, the only thing that will be left of them--their legacy--will be their writing, and they will live on forever through their books.

>_> I...I am becoming a broken record by now. I'm going to spend the rest of my life asking: what the hell is it with people's obsession with immortality?

No, I get it. Death is scary. The unknown is scary. We're a self-centered group of individuals, we want the world to bow at our feet and chant our name hundreds of years from now.

Except why?



Who cares if you're forgotten after you died? You sure as hell aren't going to know if or when that happens. You'll be dead. You won't know.

I don't write to be remembered. I don't even write to make a difference. Oh, I hope my stories will make a difference, but I don't sit down when outlining and think "hmm, how will this story impact human existence in the present and future?" Does that inherently make my approach to writing shallow?

So those two things do make me worry about how well I'll do in this class. I'm sure I'll learn a lot and I hope I'll improve, but there's already that gap on the foundation between what I want and care about and what the professor wants and cares about. It's not a gap that's insanely big, but it's noticeable. It won't swallow you whole, but it might make you trip and break your teeth.

The class is suppose to be difficult. She's not like other professors that give out A's as long as the story's got the basics in place. An A in other classes means, "I don't know if I have the right to truly judge the quality, but it's technically a full story, no grammar or spelling mistakes, adheres to the format requirements, etc."

Nope! Not here. Here, the basics get you a C.

Which I am totally fine with, tbh. I'll take the challenge, even if it means it'll make my GPA nosedive.

I wasn't fine with it Tuesday. I was freaking out and worrying about everything and then somewhere between 11pm and midnight, when I was staring at the rainbow cornucopia of sticky notes on my wall, my brain went "lol  just write mythic sci-fi."

So I'll do it. I always wanted to frame a fairy tale within a sci-fi backdrop, in the same way that Dune and Destiny have a fantasy feel to them with their lore. I'm planning it out now, getting some of the mythology down, the reasons behind why the world is what it is, and trying to figure out who my protagonist is.

Actually, I already have an idea.

Remember how I said I loved the design of my inquisitor and guardian and wanted to do something with them in the near future?

I'm gonna do it now. All I have is their appearances down and some vague ideas of who they could be and who they might be in the present--but that's a lot on its own.

Through the winter break, I was also reading Halo: Cryptum, and in it, the translations of the Forerunner names are super literal and kind of poetic >.> The main character is named Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting. And I just think that's so adorable. (Another example is Glory of a Far Dawn--action girl Forerunner).

And yeah, it's all rule of cool and might be ridiculous but WEEEEE I do what I want and what I want is my blue girl with black lipstick to have such a name >.>

And I actually have one already! It happened a while back.

See, I couldn't think of a name for this blue girl for agesss until my brother came up with one. We were going back and forth, and on a lengthy drive and after some brief discussion, we settled on Breathtaker of Nightfall. Bree for short ;D Which is actually not as long as I intended. I wanted like six different titles, but nothing sounded right. He was pretty adamant about keeping "Nightfall" in there, and I kind of like it. Because my special nickname for Serena is snowfall WHAT DON'T JUDGE MEEEE DX

And that's where my story idea for this class started--how does she get that name? Because I don't think it sounds like something she'd be given at birth, it sounds like something she would have to earn.

And while this short--working title Pulse--may not be canon if Serena and Bree end up in their own novel, it'll still be interesting. I got to know other characters through these kinds of exercises, and they're always fun and informative even if the actual short stories don't end up being part of final products.

(Important side note: And no, I'm not going to take anything from DA:I or Destiny. This isn't fanfiction. It's going to be my own original stories and characters and worlds. I'm using the appearances as a launching point to their stories, and even then the appearances will change. I already know--because of the setting--one of them is going to have some kind of facial deformity. It's the usual routine for character creation: I get glimpses, I see how they look like, and then I get to know them).

For the style exercises, I'm going to use Serena since I truly don't know anything about her. I don't know where she comes from or what she's like. I know she has albinism and I know her name, but nothing else. This'll be the chance to find her voice.

Then for the workshop story draft, I'll use Bree. I already know she's going to be really young--somewhere between 12 and 14--and definitely not an action girl yet, just resourceful, terrified, and brave. Should be awesome~

Plus it's my excuse to write about giants and blue girls.

Which reminds me...

I still have Vanguard's Exodus, of course, (also chock-full of giants and blue girls; you know me, I'm a one trick pony) but as this is my last semester and I do have slightly challenging classes, I'm not going to beat myself up if I can't get more than 10k words a month. I'm at a healthy 65k into it, so if I finish by May or whatever, it'll still be 6 months of writing, which seems to be my average. Millennium Girl also slowed down a ton during my Spring 2014 semester and I picked up speed and finished and did the first round of edits through summer.

So. Uh. That's the end of this rambling post. Wish me luck?

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.