Sunday, March 17, 2013

Musings on The Future of Society

Allow me to think out loud at you for a second...

That we should fear a utopia as much or more than a dystopia is an interesting proposition. Though as I consider it, I become less convinced of where lays the dividing line. Through social and scientific progress it seems we are moving towards a utopia - a care-free, friendly and provided-for society. Or maybe I've phrased that poorly. I'm not sure we are actually progressing towards a utopia, but I think we are probably trying to point ourselves in that direction. I don't think the idea of a utopia has to be global, either. But I think the goal of every society on some level is to remove their stresses and debilitations. Medical research won't stop until it's cured every disease. Computer development won't stop until they can do ALL the thinking for us, automotives won't stop until it is surpassed by a quicker, cheaper, cleaner, safer means of travel - industry grows, competes and profits through innovation. People WANT to innovate and improve what we have. That's why we have dishwashers! Dishwashers are certainly a sign we have our eyes set on a relaxed utopia.

And yes, it's a very technology focussed idea but since it's much harder to get slaves, these days, it's got to be technology that starts taking over all the hassle of work for us, so we can get back to watching The Geordie Shore. There's no end to the obstacles non-technological that stand in the way of something utopian but if a problem isn't bothering us, is it still a problem? 

But back to the point: It is easy to imagine a world in which the only jobs are those that contribute to progress and those that maintain the technology that provides the essentials of our life. But even so, technology already builds technology on the production line. When all the vital industries are automated to pinnacle efficiency, we are left with only time for leisure.

But one wonders what we lose when we have removed any and all anxiety over our base needs. When Mazlow's hierarchy gets hobbled, do we also get hobbled? Hypothetically, if we are entirely devoted to our own amusements then, as a society, we begin to tune out. Actually, is that hypothetical at all? Isn't that what is already happening? I know more people - adult, fully functioning, rational, voting, human people - who know the life and times of Snooki by heart but do not understand how the voting system works in their own country.

This is a people you don't need to intimidate or brain-wash to control or oppress. This is a people who simply don't care. In a utopia in which your only concern is what makes you happy, what's fun and what feels good, as long as your Law & Order marathon isn't interrupted, it doesn't matter what goes on around you. A utopian society is a society ripe for the picking. The natural next step becomes tyranny. Utopia, perhaps, only leads to dystopia and you'd never know it happened.

But if you still get to watch Toddlers and Tiaras all day, is a handful of lost freedoms so bad? Hmmm....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

We Have A Problem

There seems to be some kind of mistake. No doubt about it, there's been a terrible mix up.

I'm looking at this manuscript for a book called Pilgrimage. I'm confused because I wrote a manuscript for a book called Pilgrimage. But this can't be MY manuscript? It has my name on it, it's telling my story scene for scene, it's on my computer. But this can't be MY manuscript because this appears to be written by somebody shit. I'm not shit, am I?


Oh wait, yes I am. That's the nature of the beast, right? First drafts are shit. They're supposed to be shit. Kill your darlings, remember?

It's funny. There's excitement to be had in the creative process. Writing a first draft is so much fun and so exciting and there's all these ideas being put down in words and taking shape. Cool, right? I know when I finished the first draft of Pilgrimage I thought to myself:
"I won't need to do much to this, I think. It's got a few big issues but once I solve them, I think editing will be pretty light."

Wow. Right? Who would be so stupid?

Fortunately, when it comes to it, I know better. The first draft is made of suck. It's hideous, deformed and bloated. IT MUST BLEED.

So we edit. And as I sit there editing I think "Oh man, this is so much better than it was before. I am fixing all the problems. Once I get to the end of this draft it will be damn near perfect!"

Hahahaha... No.

This kind of optimistic excitement is exactly why you don't get to the end of a draft, go back and start revising right away. It's too soon. There's still too much love and excitement. You're still on the honeymoon. You need to move into that stage or arguing over how to stack the dishwasher and who should stop to get bread on the way home.

Honeymoon is a weird word, by the way.

Editing is fun but it's a lot of work. There's lots to do, especially after the first and second draft. Second drafts are usually fatter than the first because you're filling in all those plot holes and gaps where logic and sense should be. You're more aware of the themes and characters so you add in more to define them.

The third draft is where you really start to cut the bullshit out of the writing and turn that fat cow into a super fine lady that the whole world just wants to stare at and write self-insertion fan erotica about. Oh yeah...

Ahem. Editing. Right.

In theory every draft should bring something new to the table. Every draft should have its own focus and improve in a special way that makes that draft a worthy effort.
1st Draft: The happy word vomit draft.
2nd Draft: The plot cement draft
3rd Draft: The Liposuction draft
4th Draft: The "I remember how to use a comma" draft

Now of course you can add and subtract and mix drafts as you need. You might fix all the grammar in the second draft. You might have a 5th draft called the "The editor just stomped all over my dreams but he's so right" draft. Or that might be all your drafts. It's different for everybody and that's how it should be. But there are definitely stages between your idea and the final production and even though some of those stages result in a lot of bad writing (especially the first draft) you should still be happy with them. It's a step forward.

Just remember you suck and so does your manuscript. Now do it again and make it BETTER! Pick your target, ready your weapons and make that manuscript BLEED!