I think my only problem with first-person in this draft is that I’m always perfectly aware of what my protagonist is looking at. It’s never just that something is. It’s that either my protagonist is looking at it to describe it or he isn’t, and that means that I always say he’s looking at something, and it feels clumsy and lazy and ineffective.
But it’s a draft, right? I’ll deal with it.
Every once in a while I will see a kind of idea on Tumblr, a headcanon or just a snippet of a cool fantasy idea, and they’ll act as an interesting prompt. I won’t just think ‘wow, this person has some really interesting ideas about representation in narrative media’; I’ll think, ‘whoa, this person has a really badass story idea this would make for one sick short or even a novel wow motherfucking wow
are they writing the thing
because if they’re writing the thing i want to read the thing and share the thing so other people know it exists
because if they’re not writing the thing
like if it’s cool with them
i want to write the thing
i think it cool thing
and it doesn’t deserve to just be a notion on the internet, it deserves to live, so people who feel the same way can feel less angst about it not having happened yet and more joy that it is there, and actively engage in its critique so other people could make better things like it.’
Tumblr is a really creative space, (and maybe what I’m about to say is really presumptuous of me because I don’t know what everyone’s doing around here) but especially when it comes to narrative media I guess I kinda wish the writers among us harnessed the power they had to totally shift the conversation away from ‘I wish we had more of this’ to ‘I know this is barely a drop in the bucket compared to all the shit we have to put up with, but I wonder if people would like this if I made it anyway?’
I dunno. Just word-vomiting.
"I sighed, looking around at the rest of the class smiling and snickering at me, and got up slowly, looking right at Mister Braun. That’s when one of the boys behind me said, “Why do we even have kids like him in our class, Mister Braun?”
He turned slowly to the boy. “Wait. What did you say, Mister Hill?”
“Kids like him, they aren’t worth anything.”
My eyes widened. My fists clenched almost naturally, and I could feel my pulse in my Adam’s apple. “What?” I whispered."
- Having trouble wording today. Working through it.
- Not trying to push anything by saying this, but I don’t like the idea that the singular elements of fiction are not worth critique. I don’t know, but I find that to be a really flippant way to look at the singular elements of fiction as they come together to be a whole. If a tool isn’t supposed to be one of the judges of a piece of fiction, then you would be able to take it out and it’d be the same book. And if we’re reading books where any singular element can be removed and the book would not have gained or lost value, then we’re saying any good book is just as significant as not having read a story at all. Every piece of a story is a tool. I mean, that’s how we discuss lit - a book is made up of chapters, which are made up of scenes, which are made up of actions, which are made up of characters, which are made up of their motivations; and you inspect each one closely, individually and in concert, to put the whole book back together as a thing. If I’m not supposed to think something about those pieces, then why are they there? If a book is just this thing, this kind of monolith that comes out fully-formed, not of interlocking parts but just one part as a thing, then characters don’t grow, settings don’t change, and conflicts don’t need resolution - they’re all the same. Nothing has to, or really does, change. And I don’t like that. I dunno.
41543. Did I mention I’m bad at wording tonight?
I think the only reason I’m not outright reblogging peachmelbatoast's incredibly astute critique of the Anne Frank House scene in John Green's The Fault In Our Stars (which I found here through my friend international-nerd) is because I still think there are disconnects:
- between a American Christian white cisheterosexual male author making a mistake and the above being set in one’s ways,
- between kids giving themselves noble reasons to be stupid and kids who just want to be stupid,
- and between a novel that glorifies a mistake and a novel that leaves a character’s mistake as is for consumption.
None of which are admonitions of ‘toast, by the way. Just want to be clear about that one thing. ‘toast was 100 on that post, no doubt.
I am not saying, especially in the latter, that the scene is cool or particularly valuable (it informs, to me, very little of the entire novel). I am saying, though, that just because something problematic exists in a work without question still does not mean, at least to me, that they genuinely refuse to acknowledge the worth of these critiques.
I agree with ‘toast’s appraisal of the scene. When I read it, I had qualms with the idea that this was something someone should do in a somber space (I’m sure it isn’t equally moving, after all, to do this at a funeral).
I still really enjoy the book. It as a novel, and Green as an author, are still top-tier for me. But I don’t excuse those errors.
Which leads to my next observable disconnect:
- between fans of a work that acknowledge its pernicious traits, and people who use the mistakes that privileged people make to justify hatred.
When people on the internet equate the words of a writer’s protagonist with the words of said writer, I wonder if they actually do read critically. And it thoroughly depresses me and makes me want to finish this work-in-progress and bind it in leather and hide it because its protagonist is literally a boy who spends five chapters frustrated by the fact that his space tries to convince him that an anti-black hate crime is his business, and that means that, by Tumblr’s twisted logic, I believe that youth of the African diaspora should never be asked to take stock of the racist status quo’s effects on their lives.
Which is silly.
I wish Tumblr didn’t so often mistake ‘this person did something wrong on purpose’ and ‘this person tried to have a nuanced conversation about human beings and their arguably mistaken actions in relation to each other’ for the same thing.
So the above - a basic, quickly-scribbled comic script - was on my mind a few hours ago, and I scribbled it out in part because I wanted touyarambles to see it. Not because it’d be great work or anything (although I think it would be, I dare say). But because it’s something that has been on my mind, and I think I’ve ideally captured one of the things I think he’d say.
Thoughts about this, in brief:
- Once upon a time, if I can share this, Touya and I toyed with the idea of a webcomic. It didn’t work out how he wanted, and as a result never came to fruition, and that was totally my fault. In part, in hindsight, that was because I didn’t know where to start. I had this screwed-up notion in my head that if I just started with a good punchline in the first strip, eventually it would just organically cascade into a well-developed story. Which is not how I write anything else, so why the hell did I make that mistake here?
- So I tried figuring out what it would have had to be about, long after we had already agreed that it probably was never going to happen again no matter how badly we wanted it. And I wanted all the characters we imagined to have some central theme of some sort, some general interpersonal conflict that represented itself in different ways for each of them, that they wrestled with both solo and as a team, and that their attempts brought them closer together and closer to an answer, even if they hadn’t exactly solved all of their problems.
- Randomly, that notion came to mind today:
adulthood. Responsibility. Identity. Purpose. Desire. Drive. Combating the fear of failure, staving off debilitating self-doubt, loving oneself wholly and unashamedly. Because adulthood is hard. If we could all just curl up in bed for months without consequence, we probably would. Sometimes we hate the work we make for ourselves, and sometimes we hate the others we make work for. Sometimes we just want to be kids again. Sometimes we don’t know what to do about something people just expect you to be able to figure out once you’re over eighteen. Sometimes you find yourself in a mess you wouldn’t have even imagined in high school. And worst of all, you eventually kind of realize that all you want is the same no matter what age you are - to be appreciated. And you feel like that’s hard work to pull off. There are no ‘do you like me? y/n’ checkboxes for adulthood.
I like that, I think. Trying to talk about the kinds of fears we have about the responsibilities of adulthood.
Not like that’s something we can tinker with now. I don’t think we have the time. I wish we did. We have other, just as awesome things in store, though - things I have no intention of screwing up.
But I guess I’m really sharing this with Touya for two reasons:
- hey Touya I’m sorry I fucked up and I know I’ve probably killed this idea dead but I think I finally figured out what I wanted to do with it; and
- hey. Touya. This thing here - about making something worthwhile, about being proud of what I make, about sharing it with people I love - is something I learned in part from you. And I value that lesson a lot. Thanks.
Looking at some of the music albums coming out in May for an article I’m writing, and I’m legit up right now at past two in the morning whispering to myself, “I’m so disappointed right now… so disappointed…”
"With no hesitation, Khalil played the offensive. He dashed into me and kept trying basic combos, chipping away at my damage. I tried jumping out of range, but he capitalized on my movement, and soon enough he had me in a near infinite combo loop. I didn’t know if this was because I was feeling nervous, or because he was perfectly fueled by rage, but I was barely getting anything in. Khalil wasn’t even using any Blockbusters. He was simply punching, with no real reason or plan. And here I was, floundering, because his pressure wouldn’t give me a chance to make a hit. Round one was over in less than a minute, his Eliza the victor with just her fists.
“Again,” I heard him mumble. The second round started, and before I could prepare for it, his Eliza pressured me again, dashing in and landing solid punches, and a few kicks, on my blocking Valentine til I tried to escape, then charging through the empty space I made, with no resistance. Perfectly, just basic moves by the half dozen til the round was over. I could hear Khalil growling softly as the round played out, as if Eliza was a stand-in for him, and Valentine was just a mask over something he himself really wanted to hit."
So there was this time once when some friends and I went to an anti-gay event at the UWI campus held by one of their religious groups, and there is this moment I remember totally vividly. Touya was sitting to my left, and he was getting so gradually incensed by their pure betrayal of logic and factual education that, in the middle of the event, in order to calm his nerves, he rested his laptop bag flat on his lap, pretended it was a fighting game arcade stick, and started playing. In his mind. Totally through his mind’s eye, he was playing Ryu in Super Street Fighter IV, the event’s misinformation was his opponent, and he was lighting his rage aflame with a well-timed Metsu Hadouken.
I imagine Khalil’s doing the same in this scene - enacting his rage artificially, through simulated violence, because if he can’t he’d probably resort to real physicality, and he knows that’s wrong. But he’s mad as hell and nothing’s easing that up.
I don’t think that’s the healthiest - after all, the refusal to talk about what’s going on is acting on him and my protagonist in really uncomfortable ways, and while I don’t think my protagonist is ready to talk about anything yet, Khalil should at least air something.
But this is still a whole lot healthier than shouting, I reckon. I dunno.
So that’s where this scene comes from.
Also, I still feel like every time I describe their nerdier pursuits - the play-by-play of a trading card game or a platform fighter, for instance - my descriptions rob the scenes of the real tension they have IRL. I’ll fix that, but that’s what it feels like.
"Back in the day, before our time, comics were about people being lucky to be born with a superpower or lots of money or something. Sure, maybe some of them hated it, but at least they had it to hate, unlike us who have real life to deal with all the time, without invisibility or flight or super strength. But Shadowgirl did it all with no gadgets, no radioactive spiders, nothing. Just a lot of hard work, wanting to do the right thing, and a spy for a grandmother."
Literally text. I hate all my words from today, but I am too tired to even attempt to edit. Also, I know I want to do something with Shadowgirl (an analog of Kamala Khan plus some drops of The Question and a serious consideration about the value of unaided superheroism over powers or gadgetry?)
Also, my protagonist and his friend are such nerds. Most everything they’ve done all book is play games and talk about their favourite hobbies. I’m not sure if that’s a detriment yet, but it actually pleases me greatly.
I’ve been writing most of today’s word count literally running on fumes. I need to sleep, ASAP.
… but maybe after 32k?
For anyone who may be curious: I’m really sorry, but at least for a little while, How Many Cecils will be taking a hiatus. Feel free to still send whatever Cecil fanart you can find, in your own time and if you are able, but I won’t be making a chart at least until the end of April.
I do apologize for the inconvenience. I know a few people around here really appreciated them, and for those people’s input and cooperation I thank you all. I just have a good deal more on my plate right now, and I’m hoping that by the time I don’t there would be such a change in the fandom that either the safe spaces that are PoCecil and Cecilos will be respected, or that we can trust the WtNV fandom overall to be respectful, accepting, and considerate. Til then, I think taking the extra time to count white Cecils up to my ears won’t make me feel better about that.
Sometimes I don’t know what I want between people telling me they like my work and find my work nice, and people who take their cool time totally shredding my work with the hope of getting my work to be wonderful,
because on the one hand I really want people to like my work,
but on the other I want my work to grow and I don’t think it has.
Eye-dee-kay, man. Whenever I’m doing long stretches of writing, these thoughts come up - the thought that the reason my work isn’t reaching out to as many people as I wish is because my work is shit and people aren’t ashamed to walk away from it.
"William Rehnquist wrote a memo titled “A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases” when he was a law clerk for Justice Robert H. Jackson in 1952, during early deliberations that led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. In his memo, Rehnquist argued: “I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by ‘liberal’ colleagues but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed.” Rehnquist continued, “To the argument … that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minorities are.”"
This is not an excerpt from my draft, like I’m accustomed to posting.
This is a passage from the Wikipedia page for Brown vs. Board of Education.
I’m reading it for context about the Civil Rights Movement, because my protagonist does have to take other high school classes than Literature. I’m trying not to make his school this surreal and heavy-handed place where he can’t avoid the plight of people of colour at every turn, because that’s not how the real world works. But for the moment, I can’t help but be drawn to being as perfectly aware of the racism’s past in this story about how humanity’s future will never be separate from that past.
I dunno. I’ll probably drop it. After all, all I know about this History teacher is that he tries really hard in class to not seem like he is incapable of showing emotion.
But let it be known that the above is damn important. Because, while Rehnquist is not actually right about the deserved rights of people, he is unfortunately right about the fact that the privileged always are in a place to make it.
I have suddenly begun to realize how shitty our system of rights is on the whole planet when you see that we think of rights as obligated to all men in theory, but always up to debate in practice; and the power to even the playing field is always in the hands of the people who are already winning.
I dunno what it says that the only thing I’ve been writing poetry about for days at a time is the one thing I have been trying my very best to stay away from as a topic of any of my writing again.