I asked Sarah what I should write about today, offering a few tongue-in-cheek suggestions and ending with the title of this post. That one, she replied. She knows where I’m at in life, because both of us are staring the abyss of exhaustion in the face and daring it to come closer.
As a writer, operating under a certain level of fatigue is challenging. In order to be creative, you need to be able to think, or at any rate, organize thoughts coherently on paper (the screen, you know what I mean). And there are days where I sit here at my desk thinking “I can’t brain now. Don’t make me brain.”
Necessarily, on days I can’t think, I can’t write. I can, usually, manage to do homework, but that’s not creativity. Art, in a visual sense, is creativity but not as challenging to the tired brain as writing is. I think because of the scope: my art isn’t terribly complicated stuff that will take weeks to complete. A novel is. Maybe that’s what it is. It’s just so overwhelming to try and contain a world in your brain when there is all this other stuff demanding space and telling you that it’s more important.
Even reading becomes a challenge. I mean, look at this. It looks like perfect gobbledygook to me right now: “Whether vertical conduct by a disruptive market entrant, aimed at securing suppliers for a new retail platform, should be condemned as per se illegal under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, rather than analyzed under the rule of reason,” the brief states, with Apple asking the court to “confirm that vertical activity, undertaken for bona fide, potentially pro-competitive purposes, is not transformed into per se illegal conduct merely because it also has been found to facilitate horizontal collusion.”
Oh, wait. That’s not just me. That is gibberish. That’s a company trying to persuade a court that it’s okay for them to fix prices, because they are a NEWB. A newb, they say! And we’re supposed to get mental fatigue from parsing that sentence and give them a pass.
Maybe it’s just my tired brain, but this one hurts to read: an editor telling people why a massively selling book-made-movie is crap. She’s talking about the Martian and assessing why editors would reject it, and… and I got nothing. The gatekeepers are tilting at the giants and calling them windmills now. I mean really, who wants that nasty science cluttering up your story when you couple have more emotional depth? Who wants to read about a cast of characters who share a mission and yet have them be similarly-minded? And above all, who wants to read an exciting story with a competent hero who keeps a stiff upper lip and never gives up? No, editors want navel gazing. The problem is… my brain hurts. Ow.
It could be worse. It could be a book starring… gasp… a bureaucrat. Which can actually work. Sabrina Chase’s Bureau of Substandards makes it work in a very funny fashion. But she breaks all the rules and has competent characters. But in an article which I can’t find, so I’m linking instead to a fisking – and a very good one, better than I have the mental power for – there’s a literary critic who seems to be agitating for a book about an auditor. And no, he doesn’t mean Miles Vorkosigan (there’s a new book out in that series! Squee! Ok, brain, back on track. Seriously, it’s so easy to derail when you’re sleep-deprived. Shiny!), nor does he mean the Gray men of Pratchett’s books. ”
“Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience reveal that our brain is hardwired to respond to story; the pleasure we derive from a tale well told is nature’s way of seducing us into paying attention to it.”
Tale. Well. Told.
Not a mirror. Not message fiction. Tale well gold.
Damien, of course, twists this concept into tossing the old muscle-bound hero stereotypes in favor of less traditional heroes, such as… well… you guessed it – minorities, women, bureaucrats, homosexuals, transgendered individuals, logistics officers, and others that aren’t generally portrayed as heroic. Because muscly, violent men are out, and dull, tax auditor-types are in (and it would be great if they were women and gay too!)
Hercules is out. Here comes Pajama Boy!
Forget Superman. Let’s see more HR specialists.
Red Sonja the tax auditor.
I could drivel on, but that last broke my brain, which wants a cookie and a blankie and a nice hot cuppa… something. Oh, and a book. I recommend you check out the Halloween Sale going on this weekend, a lot of good authors and cheap books. Evidently, our brain is hardwired to respond to story. So reading, it’s for science!
Or because it helps me sleep better.