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Archive for February, 2010

Jesse Bullington and I have (perhaps foolishly) decided to embark upon a quest: watching “classic” fantasy (and, for today, “science fiction”) movies that informed one or both of our childhoods. We’ll be posting one every Friday. . . at least, that’s the goal.

The Film: Barbarella (1968)

Also known asBarbarella: Queen of the Galaxy

WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS??? Jean-Claude Forest source comic strips, script by committee but notably Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove), directed by Roger Vadim (…And God Created Woman), swinging soundtrack by Michel Magne, “acting” by Jane Fonda, John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O’Shea, and Marcel Marceau

Quote: “I’ll do things to you that are beyond all known philosophies! Wait until I get my devices!”

Alternate quote: “De-crucify the angel or I’ll melt your face.”

First viewing by Molly: As an impressionable late-teenager

First viewing by Jesse: A few years ago?

Most recent viewing by both: Last week.

Impact on Molly’s (late) childhood development: Astronomical. My friend Daniel Blair showed this to me during my first semester of college and it blew my fucking mind. I had never seen such a vibrantly campy, unabashedly sexy film. The film (in conjunction with said Mr. Blair’s vigilant tutelage) launched several of my more unwholesome obsessions, like vintage erotica, corsetry, and costumes as elaborate as they are raunchy.

Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: Negligible. Aware it existed, not much else. If only…

Random youtube clip that hasn’t been taken down for copyright infringement:

Molly’s thoughts prior to re-watching: I have watched Barbarella every few years since my first viewing, including showing it to many uninitiated folks. When Jesse and I started toying with the idea of this project, I had a hard time immediately coming up with influential fantasy films I saw as a kid, mainly because I never really watched that many fantasy movies, barring a late-high school anime craze. I saw Legend (which we’re definitely doing for this), The Neverending Story, Edward Scissorhands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, as well as some animated bizarro-fests like The Maxx and The Last Unicorn and The Secret of NIMH. I also saw a few other things that appealed to my nascent sensibilities (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, omfg), but it was college before I really started discovering what made me tick in terms of stuff I’d seek out, if that makes sense. Barbarella was the first film that I knew we really had to do, for my part, just because, well, when I think of things that really made a younger me sit up, prick-eared and bushy-tailed, Durand Durand and his Excessive Machine immediately jumped to mind. This viewing promised something new for me, as well, as I’d just recently discarded my beloved VHS copy for a widescreen DVD.

Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: Molly expressed incredulity at my never having seen Barbarella at some point in our friendship and so a screening was arranged with her husband John and my wife Raechel. Previously the extent of my familiarity consisted of a scene I had caught on television where Barbarella is menaced by parakeets:

And that was it. I anticipated something along the lines of Flash Gordon but Barbarellawas actually a high-booted step closer to Flesh Gordon only, you know, watchable. I remember enjoying the film more than I expected when the four of us screened it but John is something of a savant in the ways of mixology and so the pan galactic gargleblasters (or maybe they were Long Island iced teas) he was administering may have helped. Going into the re-watch with Molly I was sober as a parson and thus afraid, very afraid.

Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: I still love this film, every minute of it, even the overly-long psychedelic space/mathmos/dream chamber scenes. Also, widescreen makes a ton of difference! I mean, it always does, but damn! So awesome. Watching it is seriously like hanging out with an old friend, re-telling stories you’ve both heard a million times but they’re still hilarious. Even though I know it’s coming, when the wicked twins put Barbarella on the ice-toboggan and she says “But I haven’t skied in ages!” I laugh every time. The scene where the Catchman takes off his furs to reveal what must be the inspiration for Austen Powers’ chest-mane, still so good. The very “explanations” of things are amazing (the plummeting spaceship telling Barbarella “I’ve been repaired in reverse!” What? When Professor Ping shows Barbarella some mustached man with a hole in his chest, he just says “That is one of the Grand Grotesques—that’s the classic way of ending life in the Labyrinth.” Okay?). And the costumes! Oh, the costumes! And then there’s the whole subplot of How Pygar Got His Groove Back, which is outstanding, especially the scene of Jane Fonda in his nest, post-scromp, just covered in feathers.

I think the brilliance of the film is its camp—sure, the special effects are dated, but when you watch it, the utter lack of CGI gives it this amazing quality of “holy shit, they made all these props/set pieces by hand, with love.” The sinister Excessive Machine, the Catchman’s Ice-Wind-Craft (or whatever), the cityscapes of SoGo. . . glorious. And, unlike The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which, if memory serves, kind of slows down in its third act, Barbarella just keeps going, building upon itself, until it’s just hitting you in the face with awesome: Barbarella encounters la résistance only to find it woefully understaffed and headed by a sex-obsessed weirdo named (seriously) Dildano! Barbarella escapes only to be captured by Durand Durand who puts her in The Excessive Machine, which breaks because it simply can’t keep up with Barbarella’s ability to take pleasure! Barbarella is put into the Tyrant of SoGo’s dream-chamber only to release the concentrated evil of the Mathmos! Barbarella is protected from the Mathmos because of her innocence! Which looks like a bubble! Pygar rescues Barbarella and the Tyrant, and when Barbarella asks why he saved the Tyrant, he just answers “an angel has no memory.” And that’s the end of the film! Fucking shit! Yes! What?

Not to make too much of this terrible fucking movie, but really, as problematic of a cosmic-space-bimbo as the titular character truly is, there was, for younger me, something very liberating about her attitude to sex. I’d not really seen anything like it. She is active and enthusiastic about it, aggressively soliciting sex from males by the middle/end of the film. She’s not just an object of desire for the intended viewership (though the visual thrill of Jane Fonda in skimpy costumes is not to be denied, esp. as you see her nipples)—she turns the tables by demanding consideration as a subject. Sort of. At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: Whooooooooa. Barbarella psychedela. First off, I’ve gotta say that watching this movie sans inebriating beverages was a big ol’ mistake, because the sober millennial mind just cannot handle the visual overload of this late-sixties film without recoiling. Just. . . Jesus, they were not even fooling around with this. The colors, the colors. . .

Molly’s right about the costumes, and definitely right about the camp. In contrasting it with Flash Gordon, which shares its lavish sets, costumes, and overall look, I think the main things missing here are Brian Blessed and Timothy Dalton, and a soundtrack by Queen. If the two films could be fused into one I think you’d have a serious contender on your hands but alone Barbarella, like Flash Gordon, falls short of perfection; perhaps it was not seen quite early enough in my life for me to really love it. It’s fun, definitely, and has some stunningly ridiculous sequences, but overall never becomes more than vintage eye candy—which is of course just fine when all one wants is something sweet and colorful.

A note for anyone calling shenanigans on Barbarella qualifying as fantasy—you’re right, it isn’t. But if we didn’t also do science fiction than Molly would never let me pick Krull, as she insists it’s sci-fi and not fantasy (Molly says: It is!!). She’s wrong, of course (bullshit!), but we’ll get to that in due time. Oh, and apparently his name is Durand-Durand, but tell that to the architects of “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

Some quick Barbarella highlights: killer dolls, killer kids, Barbarella smoking a dude out of a hookah (!?), candy coated decadence, playful debauchery, wanton wantonness, mutants, freaks, pervs, angels, and, of course, Jane Fonda’s skunk tail.

molly says: i totally had this image as a poster over my bed all during college

Final Verdict: A film so awesome it doesn’t matter that the actual plot makes no sense whatsoever.

I’m seriously closing in on the end of The Book. Like, less than five chapters away, probably more like three and a half, and I’ll have a draft. Seriously, omfg.

But! I’ll be taking some breaks over the next few days, tomorrow to post the next installment of Films of High Adventure, which will be on Barbarella, Queen of the Universe (yes!), and Monday, my review of Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy.

I haven’t said a lot about the content of my in-the-works novel here, mostly because I am insane and superstitious, but in celebration of that just-in-sight finish line, I’m posting three songs that have really gotten me through the tough spots in the writing. But with no explanation of why, of course. Enjoy!

Belly’s “Slow Dog,” for the ultimate in 90s song-writing technology:

Lizzie West’s “Chariot’s Rise,” with incredibly distressing footage from the Harry Potter movies featuring Ron and Hermione, but it was the only version I could find with the sound enabled:

Susumu Hirasawa’s “Forces,” from the Berserk soundtrack:

I think. . . well, perhaps, better I should say, I just realized that my main character is narrating the section of the novel I’m writing currently. Weird. I suppose that makes sense, as she’s a writer, but I think being aware of this will make things much easier for me as I go.

No no, I’m not pregnant, I just was, you know, reading The Handmaid’s Tale a few news articles about how women should probably avoid living in Utah altogether these days, since if a woman miscarries there, she’ll likely be tried for murder. . . if the governor signs a new bill that would criminalize miscarriage if it is determined (?) the woman acted “recklessly” (?), even if she was not attempting to terminate her pregnancy. Penalties are up to life in prison! Fucking awesome! From the article linked above:

“This statute and the standards chosen leave a large number of pregnant women vulnerable to arrest even though they have no intention of ending a pregnancy,” Paltrow said. “Whether or not the legislature intended this bill to become a tool for policing and punishing all pregnant women, if enacted this law would permit prosecution of a pregnant woman who stayed with her abusive husband because she was unable to leave. Not leaving would, under the ‘reckless’ standard, constitute conduct that consciously disregarded a substantial risk,” Paltrow explained.

Well, such a provision would be just goddamn unreasonable! Especially according to the bill’s sponsor, a (big fucking surprise) Republican by the name of Margaret Dayton (source: The Salt Lake Tribune):

“I know it’s well-intentioned,” Dayton said of the attempt to lift “reckless acts” from the bill, “but I don’t think we want to go down the road of carefully defining the behavior of a woman.”

What? You mean like, defining a miscarriage as homicide and deciding to prosecute women for miscarriage when, like, drinking coffee, or horseback riding, or not knowing you are pregnant and taking a hot bath can cause a miscarriage? And something like one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage just for whatever random reason? Well here’s something good about it. . .

The bill does exempt from prosecution fetal deaths due to failure to follow medical advice, accept treatment or refuse a cesarean section. Bird said this exemption was likely because of a 2004 case where a woman who was pregnant with twins was later charged with criminal homicide after one of the babies was stillborn, which the state deemed due to her refusal to have a cesarean section.

OK! Cool! Good thing, because if they hadn’t, then it might not have had the added bonus of protecting Quiverfull types who ignore medical advice constantly in favor of prayer and keep pumping out babies because apparently it’s God’s will and stuff for ladies to risk uterine prolapse so we can have one more potential Christian on Earth. Wouldn’t want them to be punished, they’re God-fearing.

Basically, what it comes down to is this:

Paltrow says this bill puts a lie to the idea that the pro-life movement cares about women.

“For all these years the anti-choice movement has said ‘we want to outlaw abortion, not put women in jail, but what this law says is ‘no, we really want to put women in jail.'”

Pretty fucking much.

ETA: Well! Since the Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (Republican? Huh!) just came out and told everyone that abortion makes God punish abortion-havers by making their subsequent children disabled (!!), I wonder if he’d care to comment on if this is also the case for miscarriages? Keep it up, folks.

Jesse Bullington and I have (perhaps foolishly) decided to embark upon a quest: watching “classic” fantasy movies that informed one or both of our childhoods. We’ll be posting one every Friday. . . at least, that’s the goal.

hoist and spread, both of you!

The FilmConan the Barbarian (1982)

WHOSE RESPONSIBLE THIS???: Robert E. Howard source material, script by Oliver Stone and John Milius, directed by John Milius (Red Dawn), score by Basil Poledouris, acting by James Earl Jones and Mako, hackting by Arnold and Sandahl Bergman

First viewing by Jesse: ?

First viewing by Molly: A couple of weeks ago

Most recent viewing by both: A couple of weeks ago

Impact on Jesse’s childhood development: High. Released the year of my birth, which has to mean something.

Impact on Molly’s childhood development: Negligible. Aware it existed, not much else. I’d read some of Howard’s short stories, never saw the film.

Jesse’s thoughts prior to re-watching: The majority of movies watched in one’s youth cannot live up to the false memories of awesomeness we imbue them with, especially films made in the 80s. Not so with Conan. The prospect of re-watching this quintessential barbarian epic filled me with equal parts joy and horror—joy to again watch such an amazing film, and horror because I knew exposing Molly to the movie would result in her joining the cult of Cimmeria. . . and insisting we watch those other Howard adaptations of the 80s, Red Sonja and Conan the Destroyer. No matter. A strong man does not fear such things as pain, even when said pain is pretty goddamn severe.

I actually came to Conan the Barbarian a little later in my development than some of the movies we’ll be covering here, but I made up for lost time by going on a huge Conan kick in high school thanks to my friend Jimmy. In true snob fashion I eschewed the L. Sprague de Camp stuff and went for pure Howard with most favorable results. I wrote an article for the school paper titled “Why Conan is Better Than You” and in my senior year created and successfully snuck into the final product a yearbook page for Conan—I’ll see if I can’t dig it out and scan it at some point in the future.

Being older and presumably a little wiser, I went into the re-watch both anticipating good action movie times expecting to possibly cringe a bit, both at the movie and my own youthful fondness for such a testosterone-dripping, beefcake picture.

Molly’s thoughts prior to initial viewing: I had heard the soundtrack a few times during various role playing games (hell yeah, I’m awesome), and I had seen the first 45 minutes or so of the film, I think up until the scene where Conan and Valeria start doing it and being all rich and stuff after their heist. I remember being impressed with the opening sequence with James Earl Jones rolling up on the village and just being a total piece of shit with the best weave in the ancient world, but not much else. I don’t think I was in the right state of mind. For years I said I’d finish it, especially when Jesse and I watched some Russian movie called, I think, Grey Wolf of the Clan of the Greyhound Wolves, which just doesn’t even pretend to do anything other than plagiarize the Conan-as-a-kid-watching-his-parents-die verbatim, but it was never the right time. Then the other night, it was The Time. I asked Jesse if we could just real quick re-watch Conan’s mom get iced, he obliged. . . then beauty began. We watched it the whole way through, occasionally whooping with admiration and high-fiving one another like two nerds who’ve lost their old role-playing group. . . wait.

Jesse’s thoughts post-viewing: HOLY SHIT THAT MOVIE IS EVEN BETTER THAN I REMEMBERED. By Crom’s mullet, I was a fool to ever doubt this movie in any way. Wildly offensive, dumb as a sack of warhammers, and beautiful, beautiful beyond words. This holds up perhaps better than any other childhood fantasy movie, with elements from disparate Howard stories and mythoi all jumbled together into the quintessential barbarian movie.

Highlights: Mako’s voiceover at the beginning. The soundtrack. Any time James Earl Jones opens his mouth—any time. The fierce look on Arnold’s face as/immediately after he kills some random goon. The Wheel of Pain! The Tree of Woe! James Earl Jones’ Spinal Tap refugee sidekicks! Conan reminiscing about picking berries as a child with his father!!! FUCK YES!!!!! Hell, this even got me excited to watch Red Sonja and Destroyer again.

a few years ago, they were just another snake cult

Molly’s thoughts post-viewing: God damn! God damn! What the fuck was wrong with me that I didn’t immediately love this film? I am, at this point, completely convinced that if Jesus truly reigns in Heaven, He is pissed as hell that Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t play Him as a sword-wielding savior in The Passion of the Christ, laying waste to the Pharisees and shit. Barring that, I’m certain He is mad that they didn’t at least get Basil Poledouris to do the score, because there is nothing better than the Conan score.

So here is the long and short of it: this movie is awesome. Mako’s voice-overs are fucking spectacular (“HE WAS BRED TO THE FINEST STOCK.” Who wrote that line and thought it was OK? SOMEONE AWESOME), and just the overall scriptwriting is amazing. I actually got a little emotional when they’re burning Valeria’s funeral pyre and Subotai says the line about weeping for Conan because Conan will not weep. I also loved the non-Western aesthetic of everything, even if it is questionably racist at times. The sheer size of the swords alone was fantastic, especially after that twee bullshit that was Narsil/Anduril in The Lord of the Rings movies. FUCK YES. Eat it, elves.

fuuuuuuuuck yeeeeeeesssssssss

Also, just to class up this review, holy fuck, gender in this movie! Is actually pretty awesome! Mostly. The sex-witch. . .whatever, and I know one could chalk up Conan’s mom’s sword-wielding as maternal devotion, but it’s still bad as fuck. Additionally, Valeria. Though Sandahl Bergman’s acting leaves something to be desired (that “something” is quality) it doesn’t matter, because she is so awesome! She doesn’t do anything but kick ass and have sex with hot dudes and steal shit and call bullshit on hare-brained Conan schemes. Then when she comes back to help out and stuff, during the orgy scene. . . okay. When she fell behind Conan and Subotai I fully expected some bullshit where she’s captured and they have to come back and save her, but NO OMG SHE TOTALLY FUCKING SAVES HERSELF and then is taken down by the ultimate cheap shot that is James Earl Jones magicking a snake into an arrow and shooting her. And then comes back as a valkyrie, grinning cuz she just saved Conan’s sorry ass. I mean, “sorry ass” in the sense that he and two other dudes just took down an army of goons, but still.

Well, at any rate, I loved it. I’m going to re-watch it again soon, probably. The gloriousness cannot rest after a single viewing. I’ve been quoting it at people in the most tiresome manner for days now, especially the scene Jesse already commented on where Conan goes all Robert Bly on Subotai and talks about his dad and stuff, and also I am half-considering getting the runes from Conan’s sword tattooed down my arm, for shits and giggles. We’ll see.

Final verdict: a big old FUCK YES from the both of us.

So, this show. It’s called Look Around You. I think anyone who has watched boring videos in science class will identify and be charmed. Check it out! It’s all up on YouTube.

The pilot, part one:

The thrilling conclusion:

There are more. Go check them out!

John and I consider our veganniversary to be February 14th, but that’s not entirely accurate. It’s only part of the story. The truth of the matter is that we decided to go vegan on Valentine’s Day, then spent the next few days eating up the non-vegan perishable food in our fridge. But the decision was on the 14th, and thus we honor it every year with a small celebration.

Well, this year, time got away from us, so we’re celebrating today! The 14th just had too much going on: Jesse’s b-day, Valentine’s, and I’ve been less than energetic due to the sore throat I’ve been nursing for a week now (going to the doctor tomorrow if it’s not better, ugh). We had planned to go to the local Chinese vegan buffet over at TsingTao, but then I got a Facebook message that our beloved vegan-friendly pizzeria, Sun Deli, is launching its new lineup of vegan bestitutes, thus prompting a need to go and eat there, instead. Now they don’t just have vegan ranch dressing, vegan cheezy breadsticks, vegan Caesar dressing, three types of vegan cheese (the ubiquitous Follow Your Heart, the melty-soy-free-wonder that is Daiya, and a house-made almond ricotta), house-made seitan pepperoni and sausage, but starting today they will also have tempeh, Gardein “chicken,” and maybe some other stuff! We thought we had it good in Tallahassee when our local pizzeria would make us cheeseless pizza–and we did–but we had no idea.

I guess that’s why I love celebrating my veganniversary (four years!) so much–it’s so fun to be vegan!

Marie Brennan has a wonderful post up at SF Novelist entitled Emasculation Not Required. It’s about gender in media, and how, unfortunately, in many male/female relationships presented in movies, TV, and books, the loss of the archetypal male protagonist who runs roughshod over the plot and gets the useless (but attractive) babe at the end has been replaced not by men and women working together as friends and equals, but instead it has been replaced by shrill women who assert their power over newly useless or dumb males.

This sucks, obviously. Brennan’s point is that this new trope does nothing to level the playing field and does everything to create frustration and annoyance on the part of women and men alike.

To wit: I love Princess Leia from the original Star Wars movies, but I always want her to. . . I dunno. Chill a little. Be the same bad-ass laser-gun-weilding bun-head (hell, be the same space-concubine on a leash) but at the same time, be less terrier-like, please! That said, Leia is infinitely preferable to Queen Backlash or whatever her name was in the new Star Wars movies. Queen Backlash is not, if I recall correctly, shrewish. . . but she also is critically deficient in moxie, so much so that she appears to die of sad, like some sort of weird throwback to Genji Monogatari or something.

We’ll see what happens with the Red Sonja remake in the works. I cannot imagine how that movie could be worse than the original, but I will be majorly disappointed if the new Sonja takes its cues from the original, which I believe was an hour and a half of:

Red Sonja: I don’t need a MAN to help me!

Not-Conan: Yes you do!

(She does)

Here’s hoping!

I stopped caring about the much-lauded but in-reality-questionable entertainment value of Super Bowl ads after the year I saw a beer commercial featuring horses farting on a woman (hilarious!), but this year the blogosphere went up in a explosion of righteous feminist WTF after several mind-bogglingly sexist commercials aired, so I took notice. By which I mean I thought to myself “huh, it seems like people are really unhappy about the Super Bowl ads this year.” I didn’t bother watching the YouTubed versions of the commercials intelligent folks like Cat Valente critiqued because, again, after seeing those horses fart on that woman, what really was there for me to be annoyed by?

Well, a lot, it seems. After noticing that the A.V. Club posted a feminist video response to the now-notorious Dodge Charger ad that aired during the Super Bowl, I watched the original (holy fucking shit) and the gender-bending one (nicely done). Ugh, ugh, ugh. I am so very glad my TV broke years ago and now I watch shows I care about on Hulu or on DVD, years after everyone else. It’s less depressing that way.

Cat Valente was not exaggerating when she described the world alleged by these commercials as “hell.” It really is. And it makes me feel like I’m insane, because I like men. And there are men who like me. We like hanging out with each other despite the differences in our chromosomes. I do not find their presence infuriating and they do not find my presence to be soul-crushingly emasculating. Maybe it’s just that most of the men I know (hetero and homosexual) like to read stuff and talk and make food and eat that food and sit around and watch movies and argue intelligently about things like genre or politics or racism or whether Reign of Fire was a good dragon movie or whether or not we should go see The Wolfman even though the reviews are shit. Most of the men I know think it’s fair to split chores so that no one works a second shift, and most of them also think it’s fair to trade off movies or activities so both people get to do stuff they like if there are dramatic differences in taste with their female friends/girlfriends/wives. They do not feel such things as carrying lip balm or wiping down the sink after they shave or eating fruit (?) to be the  equivalent of having their balls hacked off by a knife shaped like a vagina.

I dunno. Maybe I just hang out with a bunch of queerbos in disguise? I guess advertisers think so. That’s why I broke up with TV a while ago. . . and it seems pretty obvious we’re not getting back together anytime soon.

Jeff VanderMeer just posed an interesting question over at the Booklife blog, musing on the often problematic but also fruitful relationship between fetish and writing. Given the project I’m working on right now, I find myself more inspired to write about fetishes of a different sort, but Jeff’s post made me sit up all prick-eared, especially his opening quote:

In Booklife I have a section on relinquishing all fetishes, which is another way of saying don’t let having to use a fancy pen or special desk get in the way of writing. As I mention in the book I’ve learned to write anywhere at any time, and to never stifle my imagination just because I’m not in the ideal writing situation.

I give this advice in the book because we most commonly procrastinate and find reasons not to write. But the fact is some “fetishes” actually aid our creativity.

This really got under my skin (in a good way). Compared to some, I’m not particularly fetish-oriented as a writer, though I have a few quirks, of course. I do my best work up at a coffee shop, but given that my husband works from home as a world history teacher, speaking on the phone all day to children, my need to be up here is more born of necessity than a necessity, if that makes sense. Other than that, I do have an inability to write by hand, but mostly because I do my best work while editing compulsively.

That said, I may not be a very fetish-prone writer, but my booklife does tend to operate within a system of taboos gleaned from writer friends, things I’ve read, advice from writing teachers in my distant past, “common knowledge,” etc. And, just as fetish-objects should be eschewed when they’re hurtful rather than helpful, so should those taboos. As I’ve posted here lately, I’ve been paralyzed by a pretty epic bout of writer’s block. Thankfully, the ice is cracking, slowly, but that’s in part due to my decision to break taboo, in the form of outlining.

I used to outline compulsively when I wrote, for both creative and academic projects. But I found, years ago, that for my creative writing, having an outline made me feel wedded to that outline, and often prevented me from exploring with the characters; it put me in control of them, rather than them determining their own reactions and personality. It also sometimes made me feel wedded to a certain plot, even when it didn’t feel like the right thing.

So I quit outlining. I haven’t written a single outline in years.


The large project I’m working on right now is. . . large. And there are several different storylines. I’m working on the final one, but while it was the easiest of the three to write for the first part, when I got to the real tofu-and-potatoes of the plot, I froze. I had no idea where to go, what to do. I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know how to get it. After writing a bunch of short stories and puttering around and griping, I finally broke down and busted out the “outline” function Scrivener supplies. And lo, lo I said, I worked out a mock-up of what I need to do for the rest of the book. Hallelujah.

It just goes to show (as Jeff said), some fetishes really do aid a writer’s creativity. For me, I have to say that the process of discovering (for some are quite unconscious) taboos and then breaking those taboos seems aids my creativity, as well. I have an informal checklist of things I do when I cant write: find new music, edit from the beginning, research more, work on something else, imagine scenes I’ll never include in the project to get a feel for how the characters would act naturally outside of their “screen time.” But I think I’ll add a new item to that list of tricks: engage in self-reflection to see if a sense of taboo is holding me back from a new way of interrogating and negotiating with a project.

And now, I must run. I have a novel to work on!