It feels strange to be writing a “Pwning Life” post when my life is very much in shambles, yet I’m suddenly inspired to talk on something after I came across an old bit of “writing” within some old folders. Back in the day I used to be a part of a writer’s critique group that met weekly to discuss each other’s writing. I talked about it a bit in a video, and in summary I had no business being there because I’m a vulgar atheist heathen. That I was allowed to be round as long as I did was indeed a miracle, though it still won’t change my stance on religion or that I was much better off elsewhere. That I never did join another writer’s group is another thing altogether.
The formula of each week’s gathering was as such: come forth with other’s writing you got last week, share announcements and/or advice, discuss and critique the prior week’s documents, possibly do a writing exercise, and get handed new documents to look over for next week. It did wonders to keep us on track with a quota, a quota I could never keep up with because I was a lazy schmuck. And yet one week instead of bringing in writing as I was supposed to, I brought in a mock pamphlet that spoke on the author Jacob Nelson (which is me…duh). I titled it Books You Don’t Need To Know About with the tagline, “Sometimes you just have to eat some cheese.”
The rest of the contents are just as ridiculous. There were apparently five “future” books written by me (to be released in forty years time), and their titles were The Lesbian Story, Wearing A Mask, The Barrier, The Damned, and No Room for Privacy. Only one of those is a fake title (I’ll let you guess which it is), while the rest are merely keywords to denote what they are to me when I ever get round to writing them again. The biography I gave myself was silly as well…though rather true for the time I wrote it.
While Jacob Nelson isn’t that great of a writer, he decided to go against all logic and be one anyway. When he isn’t busy eating bananas, he usually sits around the house eating chips or playing video games. Only when he really focuses can he get any writing done. Jacob lives at home with his parents, as he is a lazy fool who won’t go out to get a job like everyone else. He would much rather leech his parents resources.
So why the hell did I bring this to the critique group? I probably just wanted them to laugh, and I wanted to do it in the form of an exercise as well. See, I had no idea how to use the program that made this, and because I wanted to learn…I just did it. Making it a piece of self-deprecating entertainment just made it easier for me. However, one of the members of the writer’s group (whom I’ve butted heads with oh so much) had this to say about my pamphlet…
“I believe you’d do better writing about what you know, not something of which you have no first hand knowledge. As I’ve said before, I feel you’re wasting your intelligence.”
This is the same advice I was given in regards to a short story (and hopeful continuance) I wrote about a lesbian couple, though for all I know that advice was coming more from his religious backbone than my poor writing. On the advice itself, I am aware of it, and understand it better in regards to my depression. I had glimpses of understanding to how wretched you can feel to the point of wanting to end it all, but actually going through it? Experience is king. But on why I was told this to begin with? None of the comments he made within his pamphlet copy gave any hints, so I am made to assume he didn’t think I should have made the mock pamphlet to begin with.
As such, only writing about what you know is horrible advice to give to someone who hasn’t had the experience or done the research. It has its place, but all it does is smash aspirations of learning. Instead we should all be rushing into the unknown and screwing up constantly. Not intentionally, but more because we don’t know how to properly work things out. After that, if the world does it’s job right and properly forgives, it will allow us to do it over and over again, refining the knowledge we happen to get along the way. No perfect actions, just action, and a what a mess it would be.
It’s an idea that’s cemented in my head when I think on Amon26, a multi-talented artist, who said something similar over a year ago (has since had an issue with a Reset Button, but it’s part of the journey). Amon works in a field that is very new to the world, so there isn’t a path he can follow to success: he has to make it on his own. Heck, even the popular Kevin Smith had an example of writing what he doesn’t know, given he doesn’t personally understand a damn thing about being a lesbian. Yet he still made Chasing Amy, a film that very likely helped him understand via the process of its creation.
So does this mean we should make as many damn mistakes as we can? There’s a need to balance some things with caution, but yes, it’s pretty much the idea I’m pushing for. It’s not the mistakes that are a problem, but how we cope and learn from them that needs to be addressed. Society is more concerned with punishment than corrections, and looking at the numbers for it doesn’t make any sense. Our information age doesn’t make it easier to address this, because not only can people find out all the mistakes you’ve made, but have a means to contact you about them as well. It’s a damn cruel world in that regard, but it’s one that must be burdened because this information age allows for better learning as well. Good with the bad as ever.
I don’t know the answers to the multitude of issues we have, let alone my own problems. If I did, I would be out making the world a happy place rather than filling it with the misery inside of me. What I do know is I need to stop smothering my ego over what I’ve done and what I fear I will do, because it’s getting me nowhere. Would much prefer a quick death filled with action rather than drawing out the vulgar living I’ve been putting myself through. And when I’m finally out of the fog of my mind, prepare for a whole lot of failure from me. It’s going to be mega hella awesome, no doubt.