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This is The End

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Typed The End last night. Such a great, apocalyptic feeling that I have to cue up the late, lamented Jim Moorison and listen to the black helicopter thwacking of my PTSD dreams:

(For the record, I have never been in a war: My PTSD stems from an overly-aggressive hall monitor at Churchill High School, in Livonia, Michigan, who wore freakish amounts of eye shadow, color-coded to the marker she was using that day to check hall pass validity.)

I have, on occasion, in the middle of an uncooperative manuscript, just typed, The End. “Take that, manuscript; I’ve ended you. Now, do you want to come back to life and get some fresh adjectives? Well, do you?” This hasn’t generally gotten me much beyond that look my daughter gives me when I talk out loud to my laptop. Still, it feels good. Feels like victory. Charlie don’t web surf.

My Facebook friend Claire Lambe posted a reference this morning to a book review on “Structured Procrastination”, which is the technique I’ve always used to get things done, but didn’t know somebody had beat me to naming it (I’ve always called it The Alan Method, and I encourage you to do the same). Boiling the theory down to its essence, you lie to yourself about what you need to do and what you’re going to do, and you make a long list of crap that you claim is really important, and then you do something lower down your list because you’ve fooled yourself into thinking that merely finishing a book is so much easier than all the other stuff at the top of the list, like learning Finnish, cross-breeding a better roasting duck or sweeping all the highways in the state of New York.

My preference is to avoid writing by doing other writing, so if I get stuck on a screenplay I turn to a novel. If I’m stuck on the novel I turn to a play. If I’m stuck on the play, that’s what the blog is for. While writing this YA novel — and this is serious — I finished a screenplay, three one-act plays, and am 140 pages into converting an old Sci-Fi screenplay into a novel. That’s some pretty industrial-quality work-avoidance, with the slight down-side that stories written for one media tend to leak into others in a Cowboys & Aliens sort of way.

Like every other writer I just claim the reader is detecting the subtle, over-arching themes of my fiction — my broody and writerly concerns. Minor writers have tics and fall back on tedious patterns of over-used tropes. Big, important writers have themes and overarching concerns. I know which of these categories I’m heading toward, which is why you’ll see echos of of my early symbolism (the Frogs in my 1999 treatise on individual freedom and counting from 1 to 12), illustrated by Steven Kellogg, even in the edgy and transformative genre literature flowing from my pen today.


Written by Alan

October 1st, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Posted in Writing