Friday, May 13, 2016

"Yesterday's Post"

To be honest, I believed it was going to be worse.   There’s an encouraging beginning.  Is there anyone still out there?  Actually, in a way, it would have been better if it had been worse; I’d have had a more definitive example of what I did wrong.  The fact that it’s not terrible is instructive in itself, demonstrating that an established professional can gussy up a pig.  Or a dog, depending on which is your animal of choice when labeling “ugly.”

“Like there’s any comparison.  Did they do Best in Show about pigs?”  (Do I need to identify who’s talking?)

I had been putting off writing yesterday’s post for some time, confident – thus proving that you can be confident about being unconfident – that in the immortal words of Jimmy Durante, I would “stink up the place.”  I also knew, being a servant to my creative impulses, that I would inevitably make the effort.          

I had already written concerning the relationship between chemical stimulation – Read: drugs of all varieties – and greatness.  I wondered equally about it’s motivational sidekick:  Obsessive ambition and greatness. 

My personal biography reflects neither addiction nor laser-like ambition.  But also, disappointingly, no greatness.  Was there a connection, I wondered?  Or was it simply that I was inherently “good” but not exceptional?  I voted for “connection.”  Who wouldn’t?   

There was no doubt I would write about this.  The only question was “How?”

I decided to write a dialogue.  Two talented practitioners with contrasting approaches – one, gifted but sensible, the other, Darwinially obsessed.

The problem was, your humble chronicler was “light years” from being objective.  Which was the hindering obstacle from the get-go.  How do you write something literarily successful when your thumb is transparently pressing on the scale?

The answer is, you can’t. 

The writer’s prejudice is exposed in every selection they make.  Starting, in this case, with the colors.  Did you notice?  I made the guy on the “wrong side” a vituperative “Red”, the representative of my views, a relaxing “Blue”.  I had not yet delivered a syllable and I was already tipping my hand.

Choosing a racket I knew nothing about – the culture of concert pianists – guaranteed that my effort would be blissfully “experience free”, opening the door to unlimited caricature.  “Rule Number One” in dramatic delineations –  “Never write ‘Types.’”  (Unless you’re a polemicist.  No one expects polemicists to be multi-dimensional.  Or funny.  “Burn it to the ground!” has never gotten a laugh.)


I went immediately “over the top”, having my monomaniacal character wearing protective gloves while drinking coffee.  I know it’s comedy, but was I perhaps prematurely – and shamefully unsubtly – going for the “ha-ha”?    

I made the character reflecting my views deliberately likable (“I wish you luck on that”), the single-minded character sarcastic ({“Practicing} eight hours a day is great… if your lifetime objective is ‘Honorable Mention’”), cold-hearted  ({MOCKINGLY}”… “‘a balanced life’ – Like anyone will ever remember you for that!”) and Machiavellianly pernicious (purchasing his competitor’s neighbors noisy animals, tossing a disruptive “monkey wrench” into his practicing.) 

Any question whose side I was on?  Any way my unbalancing bias made the material more enjoyable?

Oh yeah, and there’s this.

The two characters, portrayed as hardly strangers, interact as if they have never talked to each other before.  I suppose I could have identified this “coffee-date” as a “first encounter”, but I didn’t, which is sloppy.  What I am left with is… well you know how the two cops walk into the station house after a long drive together, exchange dialogue you would think would have happened in the car, like…

“Did you notice the guy’s hands were shaking?”

Shouldn’t they have already said that?  Ditto in this case.  Colleagues speaking unrealistically for purely expositional purposes…

“How many hours do you practice?” 

That’s a “D-minus” in Writing Class.

Oh, and that “breaking the ‘Fourth Wall’” ending – “I guess Earlo was teaching us a lesson”? 

After hitting the “Bad Guy” with a garbage truck?        

Can anyone say “desperate”?

Conclusion (Which I was already aware of but I fell into the trap anyway):  You are doomed from the get-go when you are stacking the deck. 

And neither teach nor entertain when you are “sledgehammering the message”.    

I have dutifully learned my lesson.

(WITH SERLING-LIKE EARNESTNESS)  “Message to aspiring writers:

“Do not let this happen to you.”

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