Writer’s Commentary: The Beast Within

When you write on a regular basis, it’s only natural to dissect every little thing. Five seconds of human interaction could spawn a novel if you’re lucky enough, or a short story, or a poem. It doesn’t matter, just as long as you manage to get something out there, right?

So when you’re assessing the use of that frighteningly attractive guy sitting across from you on the train as a character (Super Spy? Thief Extraordinaire? Secret Lover of Someone or Something or WhatevergoodGodhe’snicelookingisn’the.), there’s nothing wrong with that. Even if you might feel a tad bit freakish doing it. You are not a stalker that should be feared. You are an artist. So there.

But I can’t help thinking that something that’s supposed to be a good thing can also be a hindrance. Possibly in a pretty big, fairly unhealthy way.

I’ve mentioned that I tend to see things like stories, and it makes it easier to figure out most times where things are going to go. I’m not right every time, and when I’m wrong, it can be pretty spectacularly so. But this ‘insight’ (at least, that’s the term it’s been deemed with, whatever), I’ve realized, can be turned far too easily on yourself.

Which is where the trouble begins.

It can start pretty easily at first. You’re having a godawful day, and the record player in your head’s skipping on one thought, over and over again; “Oh God, just kill me now.”. (If this is not a thought you’ve ever held, apply your own sentiment here.) Enjoy it while it lasts, you have about thirty seconds before Writer’s Commentary takes over.

That voice that plays in your head, disconnected and always observing the whole thing with either amusement or disdain, will work its way in. But this is not your conscience speaking. This is The Writer Within. And it wants to edit.

“So. We live in a soap opera now, huh?”

You stop. Color rises into your face at your own melodramatics, and the internal argument begins. “No. I’m just tired. It’s been a long day, I need a nap–“

“There isn’t a reader in Christendom that’d follow this. I’m just saying.”

“But this isn’t a story!”

“I’m just. Saying. Can’t we tweak this a bit? Turn down the emo child angst a few notches, maybe scowl a little less… Come on, seriously. It’s getting boring.”

You have every right in the world to feel as crappy as you do. Sadistic boss, unruly coworkers, take your pick. But suddenly, you feel like something of an idiot. And now you’re reigning yourself in, curbing all those impulses to sulk or whine. For the better? Probably. But take a moment like that, and apply it to any other time in your life where it’d be far from appropriate; dates (maybe with that guy from the train? You know you want to.), times when you’re depressed (clinically or otherwise), family gathering (though that’s something everyone does), and so on.

As a writer, my understanding is you’re supposed to be able to go inside your own head. Which is absolutely fine. There are stories everywhere, whether it’s the aforementioned five seconds of human interaction, or That Horribly Embarrassing Time We Won’t Talk About. You know the one. Don’t pretend you don’t.

But if you have a hard time stepping outside your head (run with that image if you must), and interactions that you’re supposed to be a part of become just another story, then it leads to a kind of detachment that you might want to look at a little closer.

Who knows. There might be a story in it.


~ by Sara on February 6, 2012.

One Response to “Writer’s Commentary: The Beast Within”

  1. Long time no blog. What’s up?

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