Monday, August 19, 2013

Check your 6 o'clock...

(I've been incubating this post as long as I care to. It is what it is.)

We all have something lurking over us, breath murky on our ear, claws trembling in anticipation of flesh. 

"...Sin lieth at your door.  And unto thee shall be its desire..."

At best, this temptation wishes no greater harm than to delight us, but in a derailing fashion - choosing chocolate over the workout video, watching tv shows instead of writing, playing video games instead of parenting.
At worst, giving in would be unhealthy, immoral, illegal.

That said, discipline means something different to everyone. But it seems to always be the harder choice. The endless struggle. It starts the moment you become conscious that your actions are your own (which is later in life for some of us than others) and doesn't end until you exhale for the very last time.

Like gasoline to every automobile you've ever owned, tension is a universal solvent. That's why conflict is necessary in a good book. There's comfort in discomfort... because pain is relative. The smartest writers convince us it couldn't get any worse. And so, while reading a good book, our problems pale compared to those of our hero. We're comforted by how easy we have it.

www.wired.co.uk - The Zelda Project

A good lesson for writers, especially us nerdy, world-building, fantasy sorts, is that tension is key. We've all played video games where innocent music trickles from a sunny, blue sky and our chief concern is smashing all the pots to find rupees. And so when we attempt to translate that joy to the page, in all its neutered comfort, we overlook the most important subcutaneous inevitability: The  world's going to end if something isn't done!

When an author can sneak a whisper of unease into every burst of laughter, every tulip's shadow, every whistled tune, she's written something magical.

Though I have only my own experiences to rely on, I believe the people who don't understand the language of tension are those who've forfeited all discipline, given up any control over their lives. They're the leaves on a breeze (not to be confused with a leaf on the wind), the constant victims, having long since forgotten their own identities. Consequences no longer register because nothing's their fault. The world ended already and they'll be the last to know it.
If this refers to you, know that I'm not condemning you. There's a very real place for you in my books. It's just not the most flattering.

Are you able to weave your personal struggles and temptations into your craft, whatever it may be? 
Considering that this post is 100% rambling, I welcome discourse to convince me I'm wrong on any point I've made herein.

They say, "Write what you know." We all know struggle.