Glossary of Chain Accidents by Temim Fruchter, Brevity, Issue 57, Jan 2018

This piece is about everything the author doesn’t know. It’s about more than that, obviously–and it doesn’t always make complete sense literally, though metaphorically and emotionally it certainly does.

Lines stand out that touch the human emotional cords that all writers try to touch, try to stroke. Those ones are the ones about unknowing, about being afraid of mirrors, about jumping off a 50-foot cliff and not knowing where you might land. presumably, this author landed in water.

This piece makes me think about those moments I’ve had, fewer now than once before, when I’d look into the mirror for too long. It’s like saying a single word over and over and over and over and over and eventually, the sound of the word loses meaning. If you stare in the mirror for too long, your reflection loses meaning as well. It reveals as a shell that isn’t you and you, as in I, begin to question it. This piece is like that–perhaps for the author, and that’s it made me think of. I like that feeling. It makes my skin crawl. My eyes dry up, my mouth fills with a metallic singe as though I’ve just dropped a penny in my mouth, or perhaps something stronger. This piece elicited some physical reactions in me. I like that. It’s real–or perhaps just passing. (B+)

Auto Pilot

Before I tell you any more about my dyslexia, I want to say something about Auto Pilot. Auto Pilot is an intriguing thought, just as Cruise Control is–but you know there was that lady who thought Cruise Control just made her car autonomous and got in a big crash, so there are definitely problems with humans, if not Cruise Control.

Auto Pilot, does make an airplane autonomous–at least while it’s in the sky. I think, when it comes to animals, Auto Pilot is the same as instinct. It’s the thing that tells them to eat, mate, and do whatever it is they do–without reflection or a deeper understanding of why they do it.

Yesterday, I was on my way to see some friends, and I had a transfer at a major bus terminal. It was around 5 so a lot of commuters were there going this way and that, transferring buses, checking smartphones, etc. And as I watched all these people going about their day, it struck me that they also looked as though they were on Auto Pilot. A bit like ants. They looked as though they were slaves to their habits, they did the things they did because that’s just how it goes when you’re a working professional with an atomic family and a white picket fence–and you ride the bus only because Seattle traffic is the worst.

Of course, I don’t know if this is true, but I do believe there’s a substantial part of our culture (and so population) that has grown to the idea that emotions are not something we, as humans, can control. Therefore when you act based on those emotions you’re acting according to your biology, your animal instinct (though commuting on buses has nothing to do with instinct). However, I think this concept is harmful to people–this concept that if you feel something, you can’t change it, and you can’t act against it, so you just go with it, and you complete an action the fulfills that feeling–you are on Auto Pilot. The problem with this is, there is always another feeling after you’ve gratified the one you just had, and so the cycle is continuous. You become a willing slave to your own biology. Because if you just wait and sit and feel the emotion that’s in you, you can actually decide what the best course of action is. It’s like when someone feels bad, so they eat something sugary, because sugar releases dopamine in your brain, you feel better. The person wasn’t actually aware they felt bad, but they weren’t particularly hungry either–they ate sugar to feel better without knowing.

I think we can all accept that humans are a special type of animal. We can reason and reflect on our own actions in a way that other animals cannot. So why don’t people reflect on their emotions–feel it–weigh your options, then act accordingly? Much of the time the best action is not dictated by your emotions–but sometimes it is. Now self awareness and self reflection isn’t easy, but the reward is a more autonomous lifestyle. Instead of being governed by your biology, you take control of it, and govern your actions, your body, and your life, with your mind.

8/22/15 A New Idea

So I’ve thought of trying something new.

I’m currently dealing with a lot of revision concerning my novel. Because of this I’ve been thinking a lot about the craft of writing, revision, and technique of fiction. How does an author look at his or her own piece of fiction and say, “Yes, this is the feeling I wish to provoke in my readers,” or, “No, this isn’t working,” and furthermore, “This is how I will fix it.

Now, I’m capable, I think like most writers, of writing a great amount of material quickly. The first draft of this novel came to me within 3 months. About 100,000 words within three months is great, but at some point–this point–I need to look at those 100,000 words and say, “These are the ones I need, and these are the ones I don’t need, in order to tell this story in the most effective manner.” Or, “These are the words the reader will need to feel included in the plot and characters, compelled to keep reading, and interested in the ideas.”

So this is my problem I have comments that something in my manuscript isn’t working. I know why it isn’t working and then I delete, or reword, or rewrite something. I look at the comments again and then, again try to identify whether my new writing is accomplishing what I want within the scene. And that’s a whole different issue! What do I want my readers to feel when they read this piece? Identifying this is identifying my issues with revision. I think if I can understand my own desires in scenes that aren’t working, then I’ll be able to revise with accuracy.

This is the kind of post I want to start making. Each Monday I’ll post on technique and craft. This will most likely will be directed at my novel, but issues I’m dealing with, and how I deal with them, will hopefully be helpful or interesting to others.

Until Monday.