Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Friday, November 07, 2008

Food for Thought

I'm not supposed to be blogging at the moment so I'll be quick.  This is almost a note to myself about a couple of a-ha!'s that have recently sunk into my pea-sized brain.

The a-ha!'s are not new information.  They are old pieces of junk I acquired at some distant point in the past, stored away in the cellars of my mind, and periodically dusted off, intending to think about them but never quite doing it.  (And how's that for a run-on sentence?  I am the total Queen of run-on, curly writing.)

I like to write these things down because verbalization helps my thinking process.

A-Ha! One

Sensuous, or even sexy, writing is not about the mechanics of who stuck what where.  It's not even (entirely) the use (or overuse) of exotic-sounding words and adjectives.  Or the use of similes and comparisons to rocks (jewels), fabrics (satin, silk, velvet) or flowers (roses and cherries). 

It's about description.  Now a lot of authors just layer in those adjectives and comparisons to the point where it annoys you just to read it.  I'm totally not a fan of that, and my desire to avoid it lead me astray.  I convinced myself I didn't need to write a lot of descriptions.  I don't like writing descriptions, and I generally don't like reading them (with a few exceptions).  So I "excused myself".

And got further into the weeds, and lost sight of my goals because I began to associate description with sensual with erotic with bad writing in general.  (At this point, I'm sure many of you are in a "hair on fire" mood.) 

Epiphany:  that chain of associations is totally wrong in almost all aspects.  There are excellent erotic writers (stick your flaming head into the shower and put out the fire).  Sensual doesn't have to be erotic.  Descriptions may or may not be sensual, but it is your total best friend for developing deep, complex characters and making your audience "feel, see, hear, and taste" the scene.

Descriptions don't have to be over-written.  But they do have to be written.

If you're not writing descriptions, folks aren't going to get into your characters.  Your story will fail.  Boo hoo.

A-Ha! Two

Problems are food for the brain.  If you give your problems to someone else to solve, they will get the food and grow strong, while you starve and grow weak.  And you then can't blame them when they get the promotion/glory/money.

The last few months, I've noticed some of my team members not monitoring NTFRS replication on our domain controllers (okay, that's technie talk for "they weren't doing their jobs).  So I looked at it and found The Nightmare on AD Street.  I mentioned it to them.  They messed around with it and even called Microsoft and then basically threw up their hands.  They did a few things Microsoft suggested, but here's the thing:  any time they reached a point where the Microsoft said:  and evaluate the results, they stopped and threw up their hands.

They didn't want to think.  They wanted explicit instructions they could follow precisely without making a complex decision or understanding what they were seeing.

So I sighed, put aside what I was working on, and picked it up.  I joined one of their calls to Microsoft--didn't hear anything new, but just wanted to touch base.  Then I took a look around.  I found a huge nest of problems that stemmed back a freakin' year--which is how long these people have been ignoring things.

Now my NTFRS replication skills were rusty, but I tried a few things.  Discovered the problems were even worse than I thought.  Called my boss, made a few plans for some heavy-duty repairs.  Went to bed.  Woke up with an idea for a way to get some things repaired and make the situation easier to do the big heavy-duty fix.  Implemented them.  Got two out of three problems resolved, leaving one easy fix to be done on the weekend to take care of the last problem.

All of that is the explanation for how I grew my brain on this food--because now I have freakin' unbelievable skills with NTFRS (and wrote several new internal Wikis for my team members on it).

And my team members still have squat. And their little brains are shriveling even as I write this while I'm growing bigger and stronger.

And the real irony is that there are some higher grades opening up.  And they are going to complain if I get a promotion because it isn't fair.  Maybe I won't get the promotion, either, but...

They gave me their food.  They didn't want it. 

Don't give up your food.

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