Putting words together to make up a story, striking balance and more | #73
As a writer, I have a lot of ideas for writing projects. Sometimes it is witty. It is dark for other times. But how do I write a great story? Paul Graham has his insight on the topic.
I've never known anyone who could do this, and if I met someone who said they could, it would seem evidence of their limitations rather than their ability. Indeed, this is a trope in movies: the guy who claims to have a plan for doing some difficult thing, and who when questioned further, taps his head and says "It's all up here." Everyone watching the movie knows what that means. At best the plan is vague and incomplete. Very likely there's some undiscovered flaw that invalidates it completely. At best it's a plan for a plan. … I'll often spend 2 weeks on an essay and reread drafts 50 times. If you did that in conversation it would seem evidence of some kind of mental disorder.
Jami Attenberg talked about her writing process with her book. It is great way to learn how other writers work on their writing process. Since I started to write more stories, I want to try and write longer stories. Maybe a novella. Just saying.
This morning, I plotted when I would have the first 60,000 words done of my novel, and then the final third of the book done, and the revision done, when I would send it to my agent. In February, I start in earnest, revising the first 30,000 words, finishing up the remaining chapters in part one. I’m giving myself a huge task in the summertime to generate and edit most of the rest of the book. I marked these things off on the calendar, coolly, nearly cockily.
You can’t have it all. I have tried and balance 2 and 3 things in my life. That is possibly the most I can handle. When one particular part is consuming your life, all you can do is try your best to find a balance but it is not possible. Those who can do it gets help from friends and others.
Consider the price one pays for victory: hours of pain and sacrifice and self-denial. When you consider all these factors, a victory isn’t really a victory. Nothing can be a pure victory. I think about that a lot. Any success can also be considered a failure, in some sense, and every failure can also be considered a success because it presents an opportunity to learn.
The story of Kanakuri also imply that society is giving us an illusion that the goals we are chasing is meaningful. The past 3 years have taught us a different lesson — health and our personal relationships are the most important part of our life.
[Shizo Kanakuri] was a runner in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. It was extremely hot that day, and he wanted to stop to drink some water, but after his break he realized he had no chance of winning. Instead of alerting anyone, he basically got on a boat and went back to Japan. Everyone assumed he had died. A lot of athletes had died during that particular Games because it was so hot. Somehow, many years later, the Swedes found out that he was still alive and invited him back to finish the race. His final time was something like 54 years. I think that his example, to me, shows how a race is nothing more than this arbitrary construct of time and space that allows for meaning to occur.
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