What I’m not writing

4th-doctor-nope
NOPE.

It’s probably obvious by now that I don’t write about politics in my fiction, at least not as a major plot point.  [Governmental shenanigans do make a few cameos in the Bridgetown Trilogy, but they’re not used for political intrigue.  It’s used to show how bureaucracy and adherence to rules over logic can cause a hell of a lot of headaches.]

That isn’t to say that I haven’t come close to writing a few politically-tinged stories.  The close I ever got to doing so was an short story idea I’d called “Noah and the Schoolyard,” in which the titular character witnesses a breakdown of order during recess, in which several cliques are formed and eventually start to fight each other.  It’s a too-obvious allegory of the present political weather and I found myself really not wanting to write it after maybe a few hundred words.  An interesting idea, but something I know I’d hate writing, let alone reading later on.  Lesson learned.

This also ties in with my decision during the last election cycle to disengage myself publicly from the peanut gallery.  I’d be contributing little except more white noise to whatever was already out there.  I have my opinions (and they’ll still leak out occasionally on Twitter if I’m all het up about something in particular), but for the most part I keep them offline now.

Are there any other subjects I won’t/can’t/would rather not write about?  Sure.  That’s not to say such things are beneath me, of course.  My main reason for not writing about certain subjects is simply a lack of interest in wanting to do so.  [This does not include stories or plots about gender or race — I’m interested in them, I just don’t want to write them half-assed.  I haven’t used them as plot points, but I have tried to be inclusive to some degree.]  I don’t often write what I love reading.  I’m fascinated by hard SF like Cixin Liu’s current trilogy, but I can’t write that genre to save my life so I’m not going to try.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I know my boundaries.  I’m not beholden to them, and if I so chose, I could figure out how to move beyond them.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I taught myself early on not to hold back, either.  There are a few scenes in the Trilogy where I pushed myself past my normal comfort zone, because it was needed in the story.  But I wouldn’t do it if there was no reason for it.

Now–on that note, I’ve already voted via early ballot here in San Francisco this past weekend, so all I have to do now is wait out all the damn robocalls that are flooding my answering machine and the fliers that I’m sure even the mailperson hates at this point, and let Tuesday do its thing.  I’m not sure if I have the stomach to sit through the coverage tomorrow night (or to read all the live-tweeting for that matter), but we shall see.

[And for the record, if it isn’t already obvious, I’m definitely 100% With Her.  I have some…issues with Trump, which I’d rather not go into here.]

A Bit More About Day-to-Day Balance of Work, Writing, and Play

Some of us writers tend to think of writing as separate from work and play, like it’s a third piece of the balancing-your-life puzzle rather than filing it under one or the other.  I’m one of those, purely out of semantics.  I think of ‘work’ as my day job.  I think of ‘play’ as goofing around online, watching TV or going somewhere with A., or some form of entertainment.  Writing?

Well, writing, at least for me, is a synergy between the two.  It’s work — hella hard work sometimes — because my brain isn’t just thinking about the part of the story I’m telling at that very moment, but also thinking about the story’s end result so many as-yet-unwritten pages in the future.  At the same time it’s an incredibly fun process, because I’m creating something and I’m proud of my ability to do so, especially after all these years of practice.  To that end, I end up thinking of it almost as a second job, albeit one that I enjoy doing.

The trick, at least lately, is to remind myself not to sit on my ass all day long, sun up to sun down.  There’s a life out there, outside of the nonstop chugging of my mind gears.  That’s why we make it a point to hit the local YMCA a few times a week and take long walks on weekends.  But I also need to remember that not everything on TV is crap.  We’ve been really enjoying Wolf Hall on PBS the last few weeks, there’s always another Attenborough or Burns documentary to watch, and Canada and the UK seem to have a wealth of great mystery shows that we can stream.

Back in the early 00s (aka the Belfry Years), I had to remind myself to put down the writing and go out and play now and again.  This is why I went on road trips to Boston and elsewhere, took the occasional night off to watch The X-Files, check out my current stash of comics, or read that new novel I’d just picked up.  Still a bit sedentary to be sure, and I was still working out plot ideas in the back of my brain, but I made sure I didn’t become a hermit.

Nowadays I’ve made it a point to get up during break times at work; I’ll walk down to the lobby to check the mail or get that load of laundry.  I’ll watch an episode of Murdoch Mysteries with A before heading up back to write for an hour or so.  I’ll listen to my mp3 player and think about plot ideas while walking a half hour on the treadmill at the Y.  I’ll still sneak in some writing whenever I can, but not entirely at the expense of living a life outside of writing.

It’s a tricky balance to maintain, and as always, there’s no set-in-stone way to go about it.  It’s all about whatever works for you personally.