Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Story From The Brown Depths

So, a couple of weeks ago (sadly, it’s going on three now), I got this idea for a story about the Brown Depths Monster, an urban legend from somewhere in America—the South? the East Coast?—and a movie that got made about it.*  I was pretty excited about it and begun writing it the next day, but made the mistake of telling one of the bosses at work the tale, and found him to be less than impressed.  That took some air out of my sails (though it really shouldn’t have, it’s not like I wrote it for him, right?).

But now I’ve started writing the story in earnest, and I’ve gotta tell you, this is SO much fun.  In 2015, I wrote “Beggar’s Canyon,” which was a total pleasure, and this is like that.  I sit and type, the words flow (I'm now at about 8,000 words), and every time I start to write on it, I feel what you humans call “happiness.”  A foreign emotion.

Now, I'm fully aware that this is probably not going to be a great story (not that you'll ever read it, right?), maybe not even a good one.  But wow, it has been such a pleasure to write that, well, I don't care.

And that's probably a problem.  I get emails all the time from companies offering to read my screenplay and give me notes on it (for a fee), or the chance to have award-winning producers or writers give me script coverage (if I'm the winner of their contest . . . for a fee).  And I'm never even remotely interested in that.  I don't want feedback, I only want encouragement.  I must think my stories are good enough that I never need to hear criticism or suggestions about them, or I must think I'm a fantastic writer who can't possibly use any advice or outside help.

And that's probably pretty damning.  

What is an artist, if he is unwilling to change and grow and evolve** . . . to consider his shortcomings, to try to reach beyond the limits he has thusfar achieved?  And what is a writer, if he doesn't know if "thusfar" is one or two words?

But as the years have gone on, and I'm starting to see the people around me not only becoming parents, but becoming GRANDPARENTS (yikes), I've become more and more like my father, set in my ways, and closed-minded enough to think that if I think the Nikki Minaj song "Your A Stupid Ho" is worthless, roach-covered garbage, well then, I'm right and everybody else is wrong.

Honestly, as much as I harp on the man, I'd rather go through life like he does--stubbornly, almost-angrily confident and obdurate--than the way I have: shrinking, stammering, crippled by self-doubt and insecurity.  Neither are probably the perfect way to go, but I am happier today knowing that I have become like my father than I ever have been before.  

I'm writing a story that has been a pleasant experience, and if I finish it, then it's a success.  If I finish it, am proud of it, and put it out there for people to read or listen to, then (even if nobody actually buys a copy), I'M A SUCCESS.

Right or not, that's my mindset.

And eff you.

Rish Outfield, Short Story Writer

*I believe I talked about it the day I got the idea in the Outcast episode "The Terran Chronicles."

**Though in my defense, I am attempting to do something unique among my stories, in that I'm going to try to put in a scene or three from the movie-within-the-story, using that to fill the backstory rather than text or dialogue.  It may work, it may not, but I like the idea, and I'm gonna
try it.

P.S. The story was published in early 2017.  Feel free to buy it HERE.  Or better yet, right HERE.


AspiR said...

I'm glad to hear you are getting the same pleasure from writing this story as Beggar's Canyon. This tells me that the pleasure derived isn't specifically attached to fan fiction, as the Brown Depths is an original concept right? So maybe this just means you've reached a point in your writing where you are having a good time with it rather than struggling with it. If you keep this up it should be smooth sailing.

As for the rest of your blog post, far be it for me to tell you what you think, but in my opinion you are combining ideas that are separate. First off you say that taking pleasure in your writing regardless of if people will like it or not when it reaches them is a bad thing. I don't think so. Writing, as you've said many times, is a very personal, solitary thing. If you can't enjoy it while you're creating it, you'll be less likely to create it again, and then no one gets to read it whether it's bad or not.

The separation, to me, occurs when you are talking about people critiquing your work. I think this is different from finding pleasure in writing it. You go on to say that this might be because you think you're a fantastic writer who doesn't need any help. I don't think this is true. Most of what I've heard from you regarding your writing has been self deprecating. Would it be more fair to say that the reason you're not interested in critiques is because you don't always think your writing is the best, and you're really sensitive to negative feedback? That seems more aligned with what I've heard from you on your various podcasts than "too good for critiques".

I suppose it's not a super important distinction, because avoiding constructive criticism is harmful to your writing regardless of the reason why you're avoiding it. But if I had to choose one, I'd rather be the person that is too timid to express their work than someone who stubbornly thinks they're too good to learn anything. The former has a better chance of overcoming this obstacle.

But what do I know, I'm just a listener.

Should we expect to see the monster from the brown depths on one of your podcasts? And what are the odds that there will be absolutely no scatological humor with a title like that?

Rish Outfield said...

I really ought to talk to someone--whether it's Big Anklevich, my blog, or a counselor--about my history of writing about fecal matter in stories. It might have something to do with the time when dung rained from the sky back in early 1991.

But having said that, "The Brown Depths" is really just a play on The Black Lagoon. The story-within-the-story was gonna be "Creature from the Brown Lagoon," and just be some kind of silly rip-off, but as I started to dwell on the idea, I liked the sound of "Brown Depths" more and more. So, the movie is either called "Monster From the Brown Depths," "The Brown Depths Monster," or most likely, just "The Brown Depths."