I’ve spent my writing time this week trying to figure out how to harness Murphy’s Law for the next Tanner and Miranda story. It’s been so much fun, and and has mostly involved me writing lists for the plot with what should happen on one side and what actually happens on the other. I’ve also been cackling the entire time, which has drawn a few strange looks and worried glances, but oh well. At the risk of drawing even more worried glances, it’s been a rewarding process, and I’m excited to see the result of this embrace of absurdity.
If you will, take a moment to think about roller coasters. And more specifically, to think about what the mere fact of their existence says about us humans. We have built hundreds of these tangled behemoths of wood and steel, attached carts to them, and engineered ways of strapping ourselves to those carts for the sole purpose of making ourselves go really, really fast while doing crazy loops. All because it’s fun. And because some of us really like the hit of adrenaline we get when all of our senses are suddenly convinced that we are in mortal danger (but not really).
We humans are funny creatures.
In other news, I got to go to Magic Mountain last week. Apparently, I giggle when scared.
So, this week, I got a new job. Or rather, provided I get all the necessary paperwork and certifications renewed, I got a new job. This means several things, foremost in my mind being the fact that I’m going to spend the next few weeks in a chaotic flurry that may or may not involve braving the California DMV multiple times. (Oh, joy!) It also means that my carefully curated routines are about to get turned on their heads. (Oh, double joy!) But it also– sarcasm and low-key panic aside– also means that I’m going to, I hope, be doing something that is another step closer to the emergency medicine career that I’ve been moving towards for several years now. Moving slowly, granted, but moving nonetheless. And all panic and flailing against change aside, that’s pretty cool. Terrifying, but pretty darn cool.
Plus, if I’m really lucky and I get to do three twelve hour shifts (oh please oh please oh please oh please…), I’m going to have a whole bunch more time I can use for writing.
As evidenced by the Tanner and Miranda stories, I enjoy writing silly hijinks. It’s fun, both for me to write and (hopefully) for you to read. The thing is, I’m also a sucker for huge, epic stories with earth-shattering consequences, and Deep Important Themes. I find one of the two distinctly easier to write than the other, though there’s no doubt that both the best comedic and dramatic stories show an incredible amount of skill. (My own bias in favor of Deep Important Themes is a topic for another day, as is the existence of Dark Gritty Reboots.)
My occasional trouble is that I sometimes forget how to stick to a specific tone. One the one hand, that’s not always a bad thing. If the general mood of a story is a little somber, then a heart-warming scene in the middle of it becomes that much more powerful. Or if the general mood of a particular sequence is fairly light, then ending that sequence by making your characters suffer some sort of defeat can make it even more heartbreaking. Done well, it adds wonderful depth to the whole story and gives it all more meaning. Done poorly, of course, your readers will correctly call it out as a cheap trick or just sloppy writing. Hence my trouble when I accidentally switch tones in the middle of a story.
At the moment, my best safeguard against unwanted tone shifts is to just have multiple projects going at once. (It’s totally on purpose and not just a byproduct of having too many ideas and not enough focus. Shush, you.) I think, though, I need to get better at working in a variety of tones to the same story. In the long run, it’ll make me a better writer. Tanner and Miranda’s adventures and misadventures have the potential to be even funnier if either they or the world around them act as the straight man to the ridiculousness of the other. The big, epic, meaningful stories that I want to write will be more powerful with funny moments sprinkled in, because that’s how real life works, for one, and its how to make the aforementioned Deep Important Things a little more relatable.
For whatever reason, I’ve never really spent a lot of time “just” listening to music. I listen to it habitually when I’m doing something else, of course: working, writing, driving, drawing… I play it constantly in the background, and I’ve been derailed from one task or another countless times by watching this or that music video. But doing nothing but listening? Sadly, not so much.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself wandering Youtube and listening to some of my more recent favorite songs and just listening to them for the sake of listening to them. Eyes closed, moving to the beat, not doing anything else. It was a remarkably rewarding experience, and one I would whole-heartedly recommend.
I haven’t taken my camera out much since Armenia. It’s one of the dangers of having too many* hobbies and the same twenty-four hours in a day as everyone else. But last weekend I finally pulled it out of its case and wandered out to the park near where I live. And it was beautiful.
In other news, the night class (Interpersonal Communication) I’ve been taking this semester is just a few weeks away from finishing up, which will leave me with a bit more free time than I’ve had recently– which means, at long last, more writing. I. Can’t. Wait.
* There is, of course, no such thing.
It never fails to amaze me how restful it is to come home. For various reasons, this week has been a little rough. Good as well, but definitely rough, and that partly because I didn’t end up going home last weekend–for fun reasons, but the point stands. And sadly, I didn’t even properly realize it until I was done with work and finally, finally, driving southwards and home. It was like I could feel the tension leaving my shoulders, my neck, my back, little bit by little bit, and by the time I pulled into the driveway almost all the frustration and borderline hoplessness that had crept up through the week had all but faded away.
As sometimes happens with the company I keep, a recent conversation made its way around to the concept of memento mori, which in turn reminded me of the Freshman year English class where I first learned about it. At the time it was one of those concepts that I got the gist of without really understanding much beyond that. This is, I suspect, a fairly standard response for an eighteen year old: we’re old enough to know that we’re mortal, but a lot of us haven’t gone much deeper than that yet. Probably because we’re all still pretty sure that we’re actually invincible. Which is likely also why I found the idea more than a little unnerving.
Which is why it’s vaguely amusing that it’s now more comforting than anything else.
I’m finite. This life will come to an end, sooner or later. There’s a limit to what I will be able to accomplish. Taken alone, that’s more than a little hopeless. But let me frame it a different way: I’m limited, which means there is a limit to the harm I can do as well. I am not responsible for the ultimate fate of the world, only my own actions. I don’t need to carry a crippling fear that I’ll screw everything up while trying to do the opposite; I’m just not that big, and the one who is takes joy in offering redemption.
I’m not sure if that’s what the medieval Christian philosophers were going for with their own meditations on the subject, but hey. This is what I’ve got.
Earlier this week, I noticed that my normal parking spot was included in a stretch of temporary no parking Wednesday through Friday, starting at 7am and going to 4pm each day: as far as inconveniences go, definitely a minor one as I’m at work for most of that period. But while Wednesdays and Thursdays normally see me leaving before seven, Fridays usually have a little more leeway and I don’t leave until closer to eight, which clearly wasn’t going to work today.
Which explains where I found the motivation to head out to a coffee shop before work this morning to get a little writing done. It’s not a lot of time, a little less than half an hour all told, but that’s half an hour more than I’ve been managing to put in the rest of this week (being sick is so much fun). I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while, just to help get back into a proper daily habit of writing, but I’ve hesitated because I’ve gone off the assumption that I’d need an hour or so to make it worth while, and I don’t have the mental fortitude to get up that early.
But now that I know that a half hour is totally enough time to get a little done, I think that might just do the trick.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
The above has been my favorite verse for longer than I can remember. Spoken by Christ as he prepared to go to the cross, it’s clear that it refers to dying so that others can live. But for many of us, literal life and death situations are not a part of our day to day lives. I’m still mulling the idea over, but I don’t think I’m too far off in suggesting that the verse could also refer to living for others. And in fact, I’d go so far as to say that a life spent caring for the needs of others because of the love you hold for them is actually more difficult than the actions of a heroic instant. At the very least, it requires more stamina.
Thoughts? Arguments? Counter-examples? Drop ’em in the comments!