Sunday, September 7, 2014

Paying it Forward

It's been a while since I've written anything here, but today my wonderful Mom encouraged me to answer some stirring questions.

What am I working on?
These days my creative projects mostly have to do with work, but when I'm not making websites and editing commercials, I still enjoy writing in my spare time. Now, I've always had a bad habit of only writing candybar scenes instead of finishing stories. In spite of this, I've finished a few, both of which will never been seen by human eyes.

Currently I'm writing a short, funny fantasy story, a sci-fi epic that I have NO idea how to write and a piece of speculative fiction that reminds me of Lost or Flash Forward. In addition to that, I'm always writing adventures for an RPG game I play with my friends, namely one based in Star Wars.

I also aspire to write something with DC superheroes, but I'm not there yet.

Super Heroes are cool. Much like bow ties.

How does my work differ from others in this genre?
The biggest difference is that most authors can write and finish their stories, whereas mine often get stuck on the drawing board.

I once had an art teacher explain to me that if I learned to draw by creating cartoons, I'd never be able to draw realistically. Similarly, since most of my writing these days takes the form of tabletop roleplaying games, I've gotten into the terrible practice of spending all of my time on world-building instead of character building. There's a tremendously good show called The Legend of Korra that has both of these in spades. It's my current inspiration for vibrant characters, personal story arcs and satisfying storytelling in general. I don't mean to oversell it, but it's one of the best shows I've ever watched, and I majored in watching television in college!

(Among other things...)

Why do I write/create what I do?
I'm fascinated by the written word simply because it can do things that movies and TV cannot: It's better at expressing emotions and feelings. You can crawl inside someone's head for a while and think like someone else.

You see, there's this odd thing that I've never quite understood; when you read words on a page, it somehow translates into images and emotions in your mind. It seems ridiculous that such a thing can even happen. Words on a page translate into real, tangible things in my mind? I can experience something as fast or slowly as I like (based on how fast I read) and there's no moving parts! At least not on the page. Books are in essence, someone's ideas and thoughts frozen and preserved on a page, ready to be absorbed at any time. Odd.

The great tragedy of the modern age is that many (in fact most) people will live and die without ever taking pleasure in reading. I'm sad that they will never find joy in it. They're content to roam the frozen tundra of television and movies, unaware of what they're missing. In fact, one of the most heartbreaking phrases in my mind is "I'll just wait for the movie."

The real reason I write? I want someone who has never taken pleasure in reading to be able to pick up something I've written and enjoy it immediately. I want people to be excited by stories the way I am. When they go to a bookstore, I want them to see stories instead of books.

How does your writing/creating process work?
More often than not, I find myself asking "what if" questions. My most recent one was based on the following observation:

Has a math teacher ever told you (with saccharine sweetness) that you need to learn how to do math on paper before you use a calculator? Otherwise, she says, you'll become dependent. You'll always need a calculator!

I asked myself the following question: What if people became so dependent on machines that we found a way to even have machines think for us? And I'm not talking about those obese people from Wall-E. Bear with me!

Imagine if you could hook your brain up to a server somewhere and it has all the academic, boring typical information learned by kids in school? Historical dates, events, mathematics, language? Instead of having to learn this stuff, you could just have it stored online. Whenever you need to remember when Washington crossed the Delaware, you just think about it and the memory is given to you by a computer. Now you can worry about other stuff. It would certainly cut down on the amount of school you'd have to do.

That's just one idea. I have many, many others. In fact, I'm so fascinated by all of them that I have a whole folder filled with them. Stories half-written, concepts half-finished. Just last week I read through all of them and actually found one I didn't remember writing, but the premise fascinated me to the point of distraction for a week. I still have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote it. The truth is, I wish I'd written more.

I just want to set someone's imagination on fire.