What are you adding to the conversation?

Is writing anything in this day and age stupid?

As I’m working through my current WIP and working on shorter things I’m plagued by this question:

What’s the point really?

It feels like every day there’s a new piece of bad news. It feels like every day another writer (usually, but not always, a white cis man, like myself) is outed as being a creep or a literal cartoon villain.

And I’m not normally one to give into despair – my actual day-to-day life is pretty great – but, still…

Last weekend I took part in an online class with Benjamin Percy on the writing of comics. He talked about the structure and “story math” of comics and how they can be applied to writing novels, short stories, and even memoir.

The whole four-hour class was a blast and I learned a lot and have revisited my extensive notes again and again over the past few days. He’s got a lot to impart to writers because he can do the genre thing but also the “literary” thing. The kind of shuffle I wish I could pull off.

However, one thing he said towards the end caught my attention.

“What do you have to add to the conversation?”

It’s such a simple question but one I’ve probably only briefly considered: Why me? Why now?

He said he’d been asking himself in recent months, what, if anything, was his art bringing to the table? Is it just a mirror regurgitation of things he consumed and enjoyed?

I realised that it resonated with me because I’ve been wondering the same thing.

Three months ago, I said on here that I was going to make my work as personal and strange as can be. That I wanted to burrow into what, hopefully, makes my worldview unique. And then I have to spotlight my work and say, is that what I’m doing?

Now is a good time as any to remind myself that I should be working harder to do that.

It’s still in an early drafting stage so everything can change but I want to write things that feel true and that genuinely interest me.

So here’s me re-upping on that promise, mostly to myself.

Related, but maybe not, I keep having this image in my head…

An empty town. Burnt out cars. Windowless buildings. Cobalt sky with streaks of white. Warm, sickly winds that taste… wrong. Here and there, flickering lights of small communities huddled together.

And beneath an overturned, slightly crushed car, is a figure, silhouetted by a torch rigged to hang from a headrest.

The figure is hunched over, furiously scribbling on something. The hand they’re using to steady the page is wrapped, bandaged, with a discoloured shirt. In their other hand, they clutch an orange crayon and scribble in the margins and faded yellow spaces left on old newspapers and books. Paper, when they can find it. The inside of the car is filled with these scribblings.

But what would worth writing in the midst of a wasteland?

I like to imagine it’s a play.

Something that people could come together perform one day. If the author doesn’t screw it up or ruin the last section. If they don’t run out of paper. If they can only get it just right.

It’s the little things…

A few things that have been making this quarantine/work-from-home time that much easier for myself have been…

The Devin Townsend Podcast

An entirely new podcast from Devin Townsend (one of my favourite musicians ever) where he does a deep dive into his creative process and personal life that resulted in his albums.

He really takes his time getting into these things and speaks over an ongoing ambient guitar soundtrack sooo it’s been a very soothing listen for me while out on my runs or driving about for groceries.

It’s also cool to hear in real-time someone come to honest conclusions about how and why they make art. Definitely has influenced some decisions I’ve made in relation to my own current work.

Also available on Spotify.

Oh and he’s doing Quarantine Concerts now

Bosch | Technicolor

Bosch

Don’t know why it took a global pandemic but I finally got into Amazon Prime’s Bosch (where Titus plays titular character) and it’s just great.

I’ve thought Titus Welliver was the coolest mofo since last Autumn when I got hella into Deadwood and desperately wanted more Titus on screen.

Sadly, he’s only in that show sporadically but every time I thought he was brilliant. I wanted more scenes of him with everyone, especially Timothy Olyphant (clench-jawed brilliance) and Ian McShane (foulmouthed brilliance).

I’m almost finished the very last season now and very sad it’s nearly over BUT I highly recommend. Season 2 in particular was my favourite ’cause it has that updated 1940’s LA noir feel.

If you enjoy well-written cop TV with a pitch-perfect lead actor and some great, well-rounded supporting characters watch, watch, watch.

And lastly…

Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020 [Part 3] April 7th on Netflix ...

Terrace House 2019-2020

This may be the most niche thing on the list but I love Terrace House.

I moved to Japan in 2013 and lived there for four wonderful years. Watching Terrace House was invaluable at times for learning more about the language and the culture I was living in.

Now I’ve been back in Ireland nearly as long as I was away and my Japanese language-culture skills are not what they used to be however watching this in the evenings has been a fantastic way to wind down the evenings.

Yes, it’s a mindless reality TV show BUT if you’re not familiar with Japanese culture it may just surprise and entertain you in ways I don’t think you’d have guessed.

For example, how everyone on the show is obsessed with goals and life goals and working towards those goals at all times and what have you done for your goals today? It’ll seriously make you rethink how much effort you’re putting in in life… and who doesn’t like to be reminded of their failings while watching an escapist TV show?… Right?