Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Is Your Winter Discontent?

Writer's block - don't you just love it? No, this one's not going to be a random stupid humor one, or a love one, though I know those seem to generate the most hits - at least from the handful of people who know this blog exists.

As a writer, it was inevitable that I'd have to sit down and write one of these writer's block entries at some point. And who doesn't love surfing the blog-o-hexagonal-prism for entries written by jackasses essentially babbling about not knowing what to say, or what to write. Spiral Reverie's been active for a little over half a year now, and every once in a while, when I'm lucky, a few people here and there will drop by and put up with my ramblings for one interval or another. (That or they took a wrong turn in one of those cyberspace-tubes. I did that once and ended up stuck in the belly of a whale. I had to keep commenting loudly and obnoxiously on where I was at the time - I'm in the BELLY OF A WHALE! - until the pitiable creature took it upon itself to end its life and thusly rid itself of me. The things we do for survival.) Over half a year in, and what sort of internet presence have I established? Not much of one, that's for sure. (I can hear all the seasoned bloggers laughing at my acting for a moment as though that weren't standard faire.) I've joined some communities, tried posting on blogging sites, and so forth, but predictably, I haven't found my niche. I'm not sure where on the internets there'd be a convenient little community of some sort or another for blogging aspiring authors to convene and converse. Let alone if there'd be.

This blogging thing is tough - hahaha - always trying to find something unique and meaningful to say. Sure, there's plenty of other blogs out there that focus on things easier to generate content on - show business, video games, music, blog-profiteering, llama farming - but when the core of your blog is off-beat writing and reflections, coming up with things to write about is no walk in the park. Sure, I've written some stupid stories now and then, but far as I can tell, those haven't gone over too well. A Something Awful writer, I am not. Political rants can be satisfying, but they're exhausting, and rarely seem to do anything for the blog and its few readers. And writing on love is incredibly emotionally draining. Cynical as I am, I have to get into a certain state of mind I rarely find to write that way. Though writing on that seems to be my most popular subject, far as I've been able to tell. It's a challenge, though, finding your target audience when writing a blog of this variety. Many days, I'm entirely lacking in inspiration, and most blog readers out there like to seem to focus on single-minded blogs that focus on filling a need in a certain particular subject. I'm almost envious of the bloggers who can sit down and stick to a single subject. When it comes to the subject of writing itself, I'm never quite sure what to say. Hey kids, I'm an aspiring novelist! This whole writing thing sure is swell! So I'm left drawing a blank, just trying to find something, anything worth writing about that others might want to read. But I'd imagine there probably isn't a huge crowd out there thinking to themselves, "Boy, I'd sure like to keep up with the aimless meanderings of a blog written by some loser aspiring author who might not even be published anytime soon!" When granted, this blog was largely started to try to cultivate a bit of an early audience and eventually keep up with readers after establishing myself and getting my books out there on shelves, advertised and such by then so that a few more people in this world might've heard of me and what I'm doing. Almost a shame I'm not trying to obnoxiously commercialize or trendify (Which is now a word!) my romantic or professional situations. I'm not that hip or cool. Just a nerdy, awkward guy at a strange place in his life - trying to finish this book, find an agent and publishing, and get into a grad school in New England this fall to pursue something in creative writing.

The grad school thing is daunting enough alone. I haven't taken the GRE or GMAT yet, so I'm going to have to look into more details so I understand exactly what they entail and how I can prepare for either. Then, I'm not entirely sure how the standard grad school thing works, beyond going back to school for another year or two (Or more depending on the degree you're going for.), taking some more challenging classes, and eventually writing another big paper so they can slap you with another degree. I have, naturally, concerns in regards to getting into a creative writing program, when I took few writing classes in my undergraduate years, largely due to a less than stellar program at my undergraduate school - though at least the courses were interesting, and taught by good professors. I don't have anything close to any kind of English degree, and my first inclination is to assume that grad schools want their students to generally continue pursuing a higher level of the subjects they got any and all degrees in. (And honestly, while International Studies was very fascinating and I gained a lot of interesting knowledge about Asian history and the working of the world, if I ever have to listen to another lecture on globalization, I might just shoot myself. And while I loved Japanese, I'm far too rusty now to pursue anything of that on a graduate level, I'd imagine - especially when the program at my undergraduate school only went through a minor.) So, at least, I end up under the impression that I'm probably screwed in regards to getting into a grad school and studying something I'd really like to, polishing my writing even more. But then, I've heard that plenty of grad schools like to admit students with diverse backgrounds, studying all sorts of different things, and in and of that, I might actually have a legitimate shot at getting into one of these programs - which I'd really like to. It's a confusing, frustrating situation, and the time element has me stressed out - especially with my efforts to finish Project 27 Days in that time and begin the agent/publisher hunt. My relative cluelessness about all this leaves me feeling very young and small, an odd juxtaposition to how often I feel like a bitter old man in my cynicism. It's an odd place to be in one's life - getting into your mid-twenties - caught between higher education and the ever-brutal "real world" just waiting to tear you apart and trap you in the same kind of soul-crushing 9-5 work-obsessed lifestyle so many waste away in. The sort of atmosphere that would simply wither an already exhausted creature like myself.

And so here I am, an awkward aspiring novelist hoping to - against all likelihood - get his first novel published before Spring 2009 and struggling in late January to find meaningful subjects to write on. The pressure online is that you must write regularly, and quality content, no less, if you hope to keep the readers coming, to maintain your reader base, and to find new ones. But with my sort of blog, coming up with meaningful and funny things to write about once or twice a week is easier said than done. It figures that once I really started making serious progress on finishing Project 27 Days, I'd start blanking out on things to write here more often, for the few of you who stick around. Advertising is key too, and I've never been spectacular about that - I'm never sure of where to go to advertise to get my traffic up, and services I've joined, while they've undoubtedly helped, haven't exactly produced the "crazy traffic explosion" I always hear about. I feel like an obnoxious ass trying to get people to come here, too, though I know advertisement is an important part of success as a blogger. "If you build it, they will come" doesn't quite cut it. Nor my general idea that "If I write it and get it on bookshelves, they'll eventually come."

Not to mention, it's late January. As much as I love winter, this is one of the tougher parts of it, leading up into the Valentine's season, choked with that painful, commercialized "You're nobody unless somebody loves you" attitude that I find downright depressing. I love, though I'm undoubtedly not loved by the one I love. (Now that's lovely sentence structure, isn't it?) But I'm sure as hell not nobody. I'm just somebody who's still effectively nobody in the grand scheme of things - and in the end, that's what we all are. But at least, I'm hoping to someday, within the coming years, be somebody - even if it's the most insignificant somebody - in the literary world. I want to write stories that make people feel, whether they laugh, or cry, or feel anything else on the grand spectrum of human emotion. I want to do something good and worthwhile for this world. Something worth noting - even if I don't really amount to anybody in the eyes of the one I love, in the end. I want to make a meaningful contribution to literature, and culture, and I'm tired of feeling like I don't do anything for anybody. I want to do something profound, like I'm trying to do in love - even if it's stupid, and in my cynicism, I know I probably won't succeed. It's important to me that I attempt this, that I keep trying until I succeed, even if it kills me. I just can't stand being one of those mopey people who spend their whole life in this world taking from it, and others. I want to give something back - to live, and love. Rather than resign myself to spending the last of my days as a meaningless background character in my own life, as I have for far too long.

I really wish we'd get some snow here - some real snow, rare as it is for North Carolina. We had a light dusting on saturday, after I saw some of my friends on friday for the last time until who knows when - isolation again, huzzah! - and enjoyed just hanging out, talking, and watching lots of comedy on the Wii Internet Channel. The dusting of snow we got that next day, however, didn't cover much, and melted the next morning. There aren't any further signs of snow on the horizon. New England seems to get hit with snow and ice often enough, much as a nuisance I'm sure it is to some people. I've always loved the weather, though. A factor in my wanting to get to that part of the country, in addition to the political climate and general regional culture being of interest to me. I've always been out of place in the south. And I'm not expecting to conveniently find my place up north. But it'd be a step up - a start to getting out of the rut I'm stuck in within my own life in general. Snow has a certain magic to it that no other weather can match, hence my focus upon that sort of snowy environment in Project 27 Days. The harsh winter air stings as it winds around you, and leaves you feeling alive. It can be cold, lonely, painful, and desolate. I've known these things much firsthand. But coming in out of the cold and warming up is a wonderful feeling. Enjoying snowy weather with friends can be incredibly fun, and it's something I miss. And though I lack firsthand experience in that regard, I've always imagined that winter would be the best time of year to be close with a loved one. To warm one another and your hearts, and truly take in the magic of the season and weather. Sad as it probably sounds, it's a dream of mine, though not one I'm expecting to come true. As much as I'm putting into what I'm attempting with Project 27 Days, even if I manage to get it published and out across the country within 2008, I can't hold my breath and pretend there's any guarantee of it reaching her heart.

Ah, sorry to bore you with my prattlings. And vent at you, as well. I'm in a blogging rut at the moment, and dealing with all kinds of stress and pressure in my daily life, so I'm a bit on the downcast side. And that gets worse when I'm tired as I am at the moment. I need to find something interesting and worthwhile to write about that people might actually read, just maybe. Got any suggestions? Anything in particular you'd like more of, or that you'd like to see my thoughts on in general? This place isn't exactly the most popular of blogging corners of the internet, so I'm not expecting any responses, but in the off-chance that one of you random passer-bys reads this, how about leaving a comment? Any sort of thoughts, really. Hopefully I'll get out of this and be back to bringing you interesting reads before too long. (If you considered this place at all interesting before, anyway.)


Space of Reality said...

Hello ben.. we are the same page.. I mean we have the same topic.. Just one suggestion, which was suggested to me by other bloggers :D... I think it would be better if your posts are short.. not to bore the readers.. also, place some image.. just a suggestion :D Nice meeting you :D


Benjamin Fennell said...

Nice meeting you too, Hye. :) I know I need to work on integrating images more. I've used a few in some older posts, but I'm not very good at figuring out what sorts of images would go best with certain posts, so I need to work on that. I'm also usually a bit worried about copyright issues with images, since obviously, I don't want to run into any trouble in that regard.

But yeah, I tend to write too much and ramble, but that's sort of my "thing," as an aspiring writer. I imagine it'd flow better with more images and such to break things up a bit, but I feel kind of awkward with shorter posts, so I like to write a good bit to elaborate and try to draw in an appeal to an audience based on that. Seeing as these are the same people I'm hoping will eventually be interested in buying my novels. :)

Thanks for your thoughts and advice, at any rate, I know I need to polish this blog and its overall look and feel still as is, so I can certainly use advice like that. Thanks for friending me on blogcatalog and all too.

Space of Reality said...

No Problem benjamin.. nice meeting you too.

BTW, somethin's waiting for you. I've tagged you at my blog.. Please check it out :D See you there...


Benjamin Fennell said...

Cool, I'll check it out. :)