Send some love!
I was wrong: it’s thirty pounds of spinach in a 5-pound bag. But basically, instead of writing “scene goes here” like I usually do when I’m roughing a story out, I just went ahead and wrote some skeleton of that scene, and went from the beginning to the end. It’s loaded with dei ex machina, wooden dialogue, clumsy exposition but WTFIDGAF it’s a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end…
Wasn’t really able to fit everything into the 5-pound bag, and I’m not so sure how much more I want to cut to make it fit, but I’ll cram it all in somehow and submit it before the deadline.
And then, the fun part: I get to actually flesh this out and let the characters and ideas be what they want to be!
I should have thought of this a long time ago. Forcing myself to make it short makes me want to write, and write well, in ways that a word-count target never could.
Quaipotheosis – first draft, 5,265 words
Actually, of course, I do GAF, quite a bit: about my delicate writerly feelings, and also the poor little newborn characters I just created and am sending out into the world only partly-formed. But it really feels like an important part of getting over writers block to try to avoid GAFing all that much, or at least to act like it.
And also, free crowdsourced editing advice is a big plus (though not expected). And putting this out there will help guilt me into finishing it: even if nobody notices other than Google spiders: I will notice.
So, the various excuses and caveats: first, it seems clear to me that the outline I came up with for this is really for a novella if not a full novel. This really feels like twenty pounds of spinach in a five-pound bag. And I only got like 80% done in five or so hours of writing today, so I cliffhung everything right where it starts making (a little) sense. I expect anyone who reads this to hate that, as well as the non-gendered pronouns. I am having a lot more fun with that than I expected to.
I will definitely submit something to the ICF contest, but it really seems like I am going to need to expand this out quite a bit.
Anyway, happy merciless savaging of my work!
rough draft 2016/01/03
Yesterday’s post about the M5S has got me thinking about my teenage anarchist ideals. In particular, the language about “from the base to the summit” – citizens expressing their will to their “spokespeople” in Parliament – reminded me strongly of something from the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, one of my radical heroes back in the day when I used to hop the train to Philadelphia and devour subversive texts at places like the Wooden Shoe.
In his “Revolutionary Catechism,” Bakunin declared:
The political and economic organization of social life must not, as at present, be directed from the summit to the base – the center to the circumference – imposing unity through forced centralization. On the contrary, it must be reorganized to issue from the base to the summit – from the circumference to the center…
Bakunin fled to Italy, interestingly enough, after the collapse of the Polish revolution. And it was in Napoli that he formed the “International Alliance of Social Democracy,” which would become the International Workers’ Association (a/k/a the First International). So there’s some poetic justice in the fact that this new experiment in radical democracy should be coming from Italy as well: the country my anarchist grandfather fled when Mussolini came to power.
As pessimistic as I’ve gotten about politics in recent years, I’m excited at the idea that something like this could happen in the US. After all, if a country just starting to get online can take up democracy-by-Meetup in a big way, how much more could we do it in a country where people seem to have smartphones as prosthetic attachments.
I will assert that there are no people more politically cynical than the Italians. The citizens of the US are pretty much Maoists by comparison. But I see as strong a desire here to escape the political Kabuki and have a government that actually speaks to the aspirations and concerns of the people as I do in Italy. And with the sequester and the coming of austerity to the United States, we could very well be in the same boat as the Italians sooner than we may imagine.
But who will be our Grillo?
There seem to be, in the main, two and only two schools of thought about the future: “OMG WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!” and “it’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.” Depending on where you stand politically, you might be at one extreme on, say climate, and at the other on something like the US public debt.
What seems to be missing is a forward-leaning, active view of the future as something we have the power to create, or at least materially affect.
On this page, I’m going to explore the idea of a more empowered outlook; not as a pollyannish blind optimism or a mindless faith in technology, but as a spirit of adventure. I’m talking about an attitude of resilience rather than fear or mere hope. The future I want to build is less about walls and gates as it is about roads and bridges. The way we’ve been living on has put a lot of dangers in our path. I’m interested in taking an undaunted look at all of those dangers, avoiding the ones we can, and preparing for the ones we can’t avoid or don’t even know about yet.
Tools, tips, tricks, habits of mind… clue-sticks, all of them: they’re what we’ll need to not only survive, but thrive in a challenging future.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. – Helen Keller, author, activist, lecturer, humanitarian