Dear Mudge, Monkey Face

Monkey-faced eel – not really an eel, but tasty.

OK, Mudge, you claim ambivalence rather than kindness. But at least you’re a polite ambivalent. (And didn’t you recently claim kindness as a goal? Which you retracted, yes, but I think the label stuck.)

As to making a worthwhile point—on any topic—all opinions matter equally, which is, as we’ve determined, not at all. Yours, piled high and reeking, would at least provide philosophic nutrition to worms, weevils and woodlice.

You posted a set of nice lyrics; hard to imagine they weren’t part of some sonnet or modern Shakespearean knockoff. I would point out that simply by acknowledging your appreciation of such a touching piece, you expose a human side that, although you state such sentiment has bled away, I think not.

Our recent conclusion that intelligence correlates with misery garnered numerous counter arguments. Here’s my rebuttal: Although the tally of those miserable on either side of the IQ curve may be equal, the quality and variation of misery on the high side and, were the weight of grief totaled (intensity + complexity + recurrence), our side would tip the scale. (If that’s not a Pyrrhic victory I don’t know what is.)

On the subject of writing about the philosophy of existence, upon reflection I’d say my personal intent is therapy. Vaporous thought is one thing, but persisting one’s ruminations, for me, allows logic to overlay the mystical. I gain perspective this way. Not to mention that rereading such pontifications, later in life, often provides a chuckle or two.

Writing fiction used to be me dreaming on paper. These days, given my blooming narrative enlightenment, attempting to create something of beauty is now my goal. Although also therapeutic, writing is a challenge and when executed well, proof that my faculties are still somewhat intact. In highlight, there’s nothing like being in the *flow*, the slipstream—time fades away, I exist only in the moment, the story. That feeling comes all to rare, but when it does, it’s euphoric. You should try it sometime (grin).

I’ve convinced my “writing class” that they need to deliver 1000 narrative words by the 4th of February. One has complied and I’ve already waded into that one, red pen slashing.  As I edit, I’m reminded of my own neophyte writing those years ago.

“Boy, you sure are brutal.” My first contributor patted me on the shoulder. “But all your comments are spot on.” I’m surprised at how effortlessly I see what needs to be changed. But this is all ground-level stuff. The elevated techniques, levels two and three and beyond, that I’ve mentioned in the Writer’s Log, are much harder to communicate and learn. These core writer’s skills, when they’re missing, stick out like a blue tie at a Drumpf rally.

Time and practice. Starting out, such advice always appears short-sighted, “well, duh.” Only after actually putting in the long duration effort, and then measuring one’s progress by analyzing beginners, can one acknowledge that dogged regimen is the only way to excel—at anything. I started this writing endeavor at age 55. You, just turning a half-century, I wonder what skills you could amass were you to apply such a theory. (Is Vet-Tech still in your cards?)

Concrete ideas are always so much easier to discuss. Can you build a birdhouse from clear plexiglass? Should Lunists & Martians leverage lava tubes as habitat? Would artificial floating ocean islands, SeaSteading, be productive and useful or a waste of resources? It’s fine once in a while, but getting wrapped up in continuous existential conundrums, oy, let’s go fishing for monkey-faced eel or hunting for peyote or something, anything…


10 thoughts on “Dear Mudge, Monkey Face

  1. he quality and variation of misery on the high side and, were the weight of grief totaled (intensity + complexity + recurrence), our side would tip the scale. (If that’s not a Pyrrhic victory I don’t know what is.)
    No, if that’s not complete elitist bullshit I don’t know what is. And homo sapiens are not the only emotionally complex beings on this planet. However, I do understand that code writers often think they are the only misunderstood, maligned and miserable sons of bitches under the sun. News flash. The tortured artist inside of a slave to society “I coulda been a contendah” syndrome is not only trite but at least a fable if not a proverb. Go fishing. Seriously.
    Look, all of that writerly bullshit is useless without a personal standard and desire and supplying yourself with techniques that you can synthesize into your work. There are many resources available to teach you how to turn your thoughts into words, your hands into music. They are not absolutes like math or code. You may choose to break a few, or many, rules and still end up with a workable product. But if you can’t stop yourself from sucking on the front end, ink to paper, all the advice in the world is useless. All that posi-speak, like the jocks who say “We just didn’t get it done this week. We have to work and get better every week.” No. Motherfucker, you lost. You sucked. It’s not the way the ball bounced it’s the way you performed. And hell yes, back to the drawing board. After you own your suckiness which needs not be a quagmire of emotional gymnastics in the mud of philo-elitism. Is just is. Sucks just sucks. Fix it. Next.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m wondering if you think everyone starts out knowing all there is to know about perfect writing mechanics and all you have to do is channel your inner angst to write well.
      My intent is to point out that until you can get the basics naturalized, embedded like DNA in your word choice, sentence structure, paragraph design and all the other tiny bits that noobs would never think of — you can’t begin to write well, regardless of your high-minded, artistic intent.
      That’s what I’m trying to share, foundational skills that I’d wished I’d developed in my 20’s and 30’s – and not in my 50’s.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That said it is a conceptually growth process. Read, learn, listen to yourself. Read yourself out loud. the best skill you can have is to know, or have a template in mind, of what is “good” as far as you are concerned. IF you aren’t hitting it, figure out why. The best skill you can ever have is knowing when you’re sucking. If you kow that about yourself you can reseach your way out of it. Some things, like character descriptions slap you in the face one day. How to drop cliche backstory moments inside a scene the same. Good is when the thehique, to the reader’s eye, is invisible and you’re storytelling. It’s not theis big blob of wisdom out there. Figure out what you want to say and how to say it ina way you can live with. It’s not about rules, it’s about “what do I want to happen right here” and getting to it. In such a way that, as an amp designer I know used to say about his gear. “This’n here don’t suck much.” Hear it. Write it. Stay out of the way between those two.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Except that doesn’t work. Not starting out. I wrote dozens of stories I thought were compelling and engaging and told with heart. They all sucked. I didn’t know that. I thought they were great. Only when it was pointed out why they sucked did I understand how they could be better. That lesson is what I’m shooting for.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s