It’s tough for techno-illiterate geezers & observations refuse to go quietly….

March 22 09′

It’s Tough For A Dinosaur & Observations Don’t Go Quietly Into the Night

All this time I’ve devoted to trying to find the solution to my (e-mailing a word document) problem could’ve been avoided had I simply asked my Dad (admittedly, not often an easy thing to do).

I’ve still got the same server problem, but I was able to bypass it, and mail out my submission.

I’ve never taken a computer course and thus had never had anyone show me how to use Work’s word processor. If I did take one I certainly don’t remember it.

All this time I’ve been using it like a typewriter, because that was what I was used to. Like an idiot I knew nothing of copy and paste, and have missed out on submitting quite a few stories because of it.

To find out  my problem could be solved so easily was sort of disheartening. It solidified the fact that I am technologically illiterate and almost without hope. And as someone who aspires to learn as much as he possibly can, this failing is an aversion to my nature.

All this makes me feel incredibly old and out of sync with even my own generation. We have grown up with computers, and should all  be able to manipulate them at will.

I know what happened. I know where my timeline skewed. It was the rise of societies’ scapegoat. No, I’m not talking about horror novels, or the movies based on them, I’m referring to the video game.

Once game consoles began to mirror the graphic capabilities of computers, that was it for me. I said so long to the inherent limitations of computer directional buttons, and goodbye to the non-sensical numbers and letters designated with seemingly little method to  the madness.

And from that point on my association with computers was merely academic. DOOM was the last game I really played on the PC.

What little writing I did on the computer took a backseat to gaming and movies. But I always read. I’ve always loved books even when I was unwilling to set aside the time to read one.

Looking back I wish I would have come to the realization that it was the stories themselves I loved and not the dazzlement of all the pretty explosions, and high-octane chases of movies. These things were, and are, just devices to further the story.

Gratuitous violence, the gross out, the obligatory sex scene, they do happen and are a part of life, but they’re just like clothing. Without the character of a good or bad, man, or woman, they can’t stand alone.

And I use the term man/woman loosely. It could just as easily be an alien man/woman. Or some kind of creature.

If we’re honest about it, it ought to be plainly seen that we supply every thing under the sun with human characteristics.

This is probably the only real way you can write what you know. We all know human emotions, and intentions, even if we lack the skill to describe them eloquently.

Everything else is just academic. We can study it, and form opinions, and perhaps even prove some theories about it, but unless we are of its mind we can never truly know It.

So, if you consider that write what you know advice, you should conclude that the only thing you really know is you.

Because your mind is the only one you have nearly unlimited access to. You’re your own case study. The only person you have the ability to formulate a true comparison of, in both the light and darkness.

You have countless memory stores which provide you with reasoning for actions, whether wrong or right.

And the point of delving into this brain bank is not necessarily to pass judgment on yourself (although at times it will be unavoidable), but to debate analytically, philosophically, the reasons why you chose one path over the other.

The things that make you act a certain way, are also the things that drive a character to action.

They are one and the same and deserve at least minimal exploration. But it can’t stop at you, or else your characterization will be truly limited in scope.

Once you’ve panned all your past life examples, used what was useful and tossed what was not back into the murk, you have to go out in the world, and observe others in their habitat.

But be careful, people are wary these days. Your prolonged interest might put them off. Or it might piss them off, and they may feel inclined to kick your ass. Many books on writing advise you to take a notebook along and jot down your observations, and that might work if you’re in a big city, or a wide open area like a park, but it just isn’t feasible when you’re in a small town, probably in close proximity to the subject of your interest.

Most of the time you’ll just have to rely on your memory. Even if you don’t remember these things consciously you’ll gain insight from them.

A good place for such observations is a bar. Drunk people aren’t very inhibited, and it’s here you are the most likely to witness the whole spectrum of personalities.

But if you go out and get smashed, you likely wont remember anything of import. So if your goal is observation keep the drinks minimal, or better yet don’t drink at all.

But do be a socialite. Work the room. It’s the only way you’re going to be able to get the really good stuff down in that ole mental recorder.

If you’re scared of losing a really important observation then by all means keep a small notebook on you, but go somewhere out of sight and scribble quickly.

When people think you’re writing something about them (and they’re drunk) they’re liable to get pretty irate.

And for god’s sake don’t carry a recording device of any kind. They’ll think you’re a cop, and almost nobody wants to talk to a cop.

They may even take your plain clothes as an invitation to beat the livin’ bejesus outta you. Who knows you may be the spittin’ image of an officer that arrested them one time. Caution is key.

But most of all you need to become a great multi-tasker. Constantly aware of the environment and what relevance it has for you as a writer, but you can’t zone out, and forget the people around you.

Because as a writer you’ll be considered an odd entity yourself, and you need not create any outward extensions of your personality to further this brand of thinking.

It wouldn’t matter except that you need people: they’re the clay by which you mold your characters.

So you can’t let the self-imposed loneliness of the job totally separate you from the world or you’ll likely run out of creative juice.

Now, go forth and feed as it is your Vampyric nature to do: let the blood of their personalities recharge your imaginative soul.

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