stillsostrange gets my beer-out-the-nose line for tonight: And in case there was any doubt: No, I did not vote for Darth Cheney and his butt puppet. I should clean my living room before the SS comes over.
So I was thinking today. I was thinking today, while pondering how on earth I'm going to fix "L'esprit d'escalier," that it's easy to forget that building stories is a wonderful game. A wonderful game.
Like jigsaw puzzles, and mountain climbing, and sex, as I was saying to cpolk. It's hard work, of course, and there's a lot of craftsmanship and knowhow and risk that goes into it, but it's still a game, and there are rules, and you can learn them. And you can analyze the way that people who play better than you play, and you can learn from that--or, if you're really lucky, you can sometimes get them to explain a trick or two.
If they know how to do it. If they haven't practiced so much that it's just instinct, now.
The thing is--and this is deadly to me, at least, and I'm sure to other writers as well--it's easy to forget that it is a game. It's fun. It's supposed to be fun, and if it hurts, as they say, then I'm doing it wrong. (I'm aware that there are other writers for whom writing is agony, or for whom it's just a job, and I don't profess to understand them, or understand why they do it--because this is, quite frankly, a lousy way to make a living, but I'm talking about myself and cpolk here. And maybe some of you. Or maybe not. But that's okay, either way.)
So every so often I have to stop, and look at what I'm doing, and remember that it's a game. It's a game of charades, where the object is to communicate a narrative to the reader in such a way that he recieves satisfaction from the work he puts in as well; and it's a game of chess, where the object is to maneuver the pieces until there is only one right and inevitable outcome; and it's a game of baseball, where the object is the absolute thrill of knocking that sucker out of the park; and there's a little bit of structural engineering in there too, and some just plain black magic.
And it's fun. It's supposed to be fun, but fun in the way hard work is fun, fun in the same way that digging trees or mucking stalls or hauling rock is fun--hard solid honest work, work that you can get your back and your shoulders into.
Still the best job in the world.