Buenos días, ohaiyou gozaimasu, and good morning! Welcome to another jueves, Mokuyoubi, and Thursday. It’s that day of the week, by any other name, on which I write my blog posts, and that’s just what I’m going to do.
I must warn you, however, that I’m currently suffering from the viral respiratory infection that’s going around the office. More specifically, I’m in about the second full day of the thing, which is often among the worst, when all the cytokines and other inflammatory and immune mediators are floating around the body, triggering low-grade fevers, chills, aches and pains, as well as poor sleep (something to which I’m at least reasonably accustomed). In other words, I may be at less than my optimal writing state, and I may further be in less than an ideal state for evaluating the quality of my writing. So, if you find that this blog post is irritating or incoherent or simply stupid, I ask you please to cut me some slack.
Basically, I’m giving myself excuses for not doing as good a job as I—and presumably you—might like me to do. Perhaps the fickle Spirit of Human Charity will even work to my advantage in this, and this blog post will be popular even if it’s not great. How cool would that be? If only I always had such excuses*.
Okay, sorry about that bit of auto-derision. I’m currently reading a light novel series in which the main character/narrator is a cynical loner who ends up doing good things for other people more or less against his will, despite being a natural outsider. That thought style resonates with me perhaps a bit too strongly…though I’ve come to my personal attitude thanks to fifty years (minus three days) of experience, whereas Hikigaya Hachiman reached that stage of enlightenment** by the time he was in high school. I suppose there are prodigies in any area of expertise. Also, he’s fictional; as far as I know, I’m not.
It’s good to be reading fiction again, though I think “Oregairu” is about the only one for which I’d have any stomach right now. It’s a unique story with a unique protagonist—almost an anti-hero, but not quite—and it’s been made into a two-season anime, which I’ve already watched more than once. It was very well done, and very true to the books, so I already know what’s going to happen, but that’s never been a problem for me. God knows how often I’ve read The Lord of the Rings and enjoyed it every time. Ditto for many other high-quality tales.
I’ve heard of a study that claimed to find that audiences and readers enjoy a story more when they already know the outcome (more or less). I’m not sure how robust or convincing this study was, but there’s little doubt that audiences of almost all movies, books, shows, etc. have a good idea going in how most stories will end. “The rest is commentary,” as they say. Though, of course, they also say the devil is in the details…which is particularly true in most of my writing, though perhaps not in the sense usually intended.
Speaking of my writing, I’ve almost completed the third editing run-through of Unanimity. Indeed, I just finished the main arc of the story yesterday, and only the denouement remains. I feel a little silly relating this, but the climax of the story literally brought tears to my eyes. Mainly this is because the characters involved were crying, and when I write and edit, I try to sort of act out the scenes in my head, and I often speak the dialogue aloud; it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m great at writing heart-wrenching fiction. I’ll sometimes tear up when singing songs from The Phantom of the Opera or The Long and Winding Road or Empty Garden and similar, just because that’s the mood of the songs***. Also, being prone as I am to depression, the resonant frequencies of my brain simply respond to minor keys—literally and figuratively—most powerfully.
Perhaps that’s why some people are prone to depression: their mental circuitry is arranged such that it “vibrates” most energetically in response to dark inputs. And, unfortunately, as when a crystal wine glass resonates with an opera singer’s voice, sometimes these harmonics can cause a thing to shatter.
I’m probably pushing the analogy too far.
Anyway, the bottom line is that the editing of Unanimity is coming along well, though I still have a long way to go. I think it’s getting better with each round of the process, so it’s pretty satisfying. It’s quite nice to enjoy one’s own stories, after all…and I can pretty much say that I enjoy all of mine. I think some of my earlier works really needed a bit more fine-tuning than they received, but I guess I can still go back and improve them in the fullness of time. Life is always a work in progress. As they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination…which is pretty much trivially obvious, when you think about it, since the destination is always the same no matter what.
And even dark and forbidding scenery can sometimes still be cool to look at along the way, if you can just catch it from the right angle.
*I can’t really count depression as an ongoing excuse, since it’s more or less my baseline, and might even bring a kind of Goth/Punk/Horror coolness to my general attitude. Okay, probably not, but it would be nice to think so.
***Though, to be fair, these examples are truly exceptional works, whereas my own writing is evocative to me mainly because it’s my writing. If it doesn’t resonate with me, then there’s something deeply wrong.