A friend posted a status update asking people to tell him what they’d like him to write about. I thought about it for a while, and first I gave an answer that was in the spirit of my previous vomit– write about your reflections on your own experiences, your own wants, and so on. But then I realized that that was a little bit prescriptive, so I said, “What does [[your_name]] want? Write that.”
It’s not an original thought at all, lots and lots of artists and writers and so on have said that that’s how they keep going. They write to scratch their own itches, to solve their own problems, to explore their own curiosities, to fulfill their own desires. You get the drill.
To tie the two together, e very so often then it makes sense to sit down and revisit and review my life to ask myself, so what am I doing this for again? What do I want exactly? I know that I want to write because I want to get better at writing, because that is my craft, because I love words. That’s probably not going to change, so we’ve got that covered. What’s next? What do I want to get better at writing for, apart from the intrinsic pleasure of it? It’s possible that the answer is “nothing” or “I don’t know” or “I write to find out”, and those are all answers that I’m comfortable with. But I can always fall back on those answers. I’m curious to try on other ideas in the meantime.
I’m thinking about the works of fiction that have been floating around my head. I’ve always had this idea of Gandalf and Aragorn having a long, late-night chat, perhaps while riding their horses, or perhaps while tending to a fire, or watching their friends sleep. I don’t know why, this idea has just really stuck with me. I guess it’s because I’ve always enjoyed late night conversations with friends, and I’ve always been curious to see that portrayed in art. In a movie or a short film. That’s part of why I really liked the Before Sunrise trilogy, although as always I wonder how I’d have done it differently. I would’ve thought that it focused too much on the relationship. I’d be more curious to see how the conversation goes on to change the individuals’ lives.
I suppose similar things could happen say, between Captain America and Iron Man. I’m never quite satisfied with the short conversations that you get in a movie. I want to witness a really good conversation that goes on for hours and hours. I suppose theater achieves that. So maybe I’m into theater and I should look more of that stuff up. Something to think about.
What else? I have a mental picture of a movie that’s filmed entirely at the void deck of a HDB flat, without the camera ever moving. And it tells a story about the people in the block, and the people in the neighbourhood, and maybe a bit about the country. There’s a void deck wedding at some point, and a funeral at another point, and there are a few different recurring people talking, of different ages, races, and so on. I like that.
What other stories do I want to tell? I like the idea of science fiction, but I’m not sure what exactly I’d write about. Maybe again I’d write fan-fiction about characters that I already know and love, say from the Mass Effect universe, because I’m somewhat familiar with the universe. Maybe I should do fan-fiction. What sort of fan-fiction would I do? Well, I’m curious about Shepard’s motivations. The game leaves it as an exercise to the player’s imagination, and I feel like it deserves to be every bit as good as the characters, if not greater. And again, I’m curious about the lengthy discussions, the debates about ethics and virtues and friendship and life and death. I know these conversations have probably been done to death already in all sorts of circumstances, and I’m also sure that people have been having them throughout history.
Now there’s another idea. Two humans having a conversation, from the dawn of the African Savannah all the way to present day, until the distant future. That’s of course not an original idea either, but I’d be curious to see what I’d have to say about it. I don’t yet know what I want to say. There’s some amount of research that would need to be done. And I don’t want to end up procrastinating and just doing a ton of reading without doing any writing, I want to write things that go out into the world and make a difference to people. I want to write something that really captures the “arbitrary configuration of reality” idea, the same way I think Limitless did a great job with conveying that there are “peak” states and “trough” states (or whatever you’d want to call them). How the Matrix did the contrast between the real world and, well, the Matrix.
What do I want to read? I want to read about friendship and sacrifice and teamwork, I want to read about difficulties and obstacles being overcome. I want to read about personal epiphanies and perceptual breakthroughs. How people see things differently, do things differently. There need to be stakes, which is something I’ve always seemed to have a bit of trouble with as a writer. I’m too kind to my characters before I even begin to write them– they know too much, and they’re just generally too good at everything. So my stories don’t take off. There needs to be more conflict. I suppose I should list out all the conflicts I’ve experienced in my life, and imagine different ways that they could have played out, imagine different, adjacent realities. That would be cool. I should create a to-do item for that.
That’s a pretty useful insight. I don’t have time to explore it right now, I want to write another vomit and go to bed. And I don’t want to make that list public, because I think it’s more interesting when it’s kept private (at least until long after people have read the work.)