Friday, December 14, 2007

Making the most of it

As my favorite Sheryl Crow song, "Soak Up the Sun,"goes...

"It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got."

This has never been a concept easy for me to grasp and make work. I guess for many people, the grass is always greener.

But I think everybody has something they'd love to be better at, the just lack the fundamental talent.

I don't mean playing quarterback in the NFL. I mean something more attainable in a way - something probably that at least one person you know, maybe several, can do, but you just can't.

I don't mean hard work, either. We can't all bake like Jin, but most people can at least cook something decent. Hell, even I can make cookies.

I'm talking about a gift, even a low-rent version, that you just don't have. But wish you did.

Marisa, for instance, loves music. Loves it. But she can't sing. Not a note.

Well, one note. But that's it. The same note, every note of every song. It's endearing. But also bad.

(Editor's note: Hee. I initially typed "Bust" instead of "But" in that sentence "But she can't sing." Paging Dr. Freud...)

For me, the frustration stems from my fundamental lack of art talent. I can barely draw stick figures and cartoon munkees.

I think very visually. I mean vivid, sharp images I can see in my mind's eye like they were projected on a screen.

But I can't get those visions onto paper. Not with my hands. Not as drawings.

I think that's part of the reason I write. I have a good imagination, some decently inventive (or not overly derivative) ideas and yes, a certain way with words.

The thing is, as a fiction writer, I find my great failing is that I often cannot find exactly the right/write way to describe what I see in my head.

Either I wind up spending way too much time violating the "show, don't tell" doctrine, or I can't quite make the words explain the picture to my own satisfaction.

You can't imagine how frustrating that is, to see something, and just not be able to describe it satisfactorily.

Or maybe you can, if you have a similar talent disparity.

I think that's part of the reason I got into screenwriting - it's a way I can describe my vision without worrying about the perils of prose. It's a medium in which I sort of have to "tell" and not "show" what I see in my head, because I'm giving the director cues as to precisely what I envision.

Sure, he'll interpret my vision in his own way, and craft his own vision, but the point is, that's a style of writing that is well-suited to my particular skill set.

On the other hand, right now, I'm working on my first novel, and there are times it ranges from what I regard as wonderfully entertaining - my stated purpose in writing - to complete and utter crap.

The thing is, the further I progress, the more I find myself imagining it as a graphic novel, rather than one of the limited edition horror books I collect.

I can see the comic-book-style panels in my head. I can envision them drawn, inked, lettered. I mean, see 'em like I'm reading the book.

But I can't reproduce them. Somewhere between brain and hand, they fall apart.

And somewhere between brain and keyboard, they lose something, or at least, they do in my mind.

You can script a graphic novel.I would imagine I could do that, and try to find an artist. I have a friend who wrote a comic book series.

But my vision can be so specific sometimes, I could almost storyboard it instead of scripting it.

I can't draw it, though. And that's the damnable, frustrating part.

Don't get me wrong, I love to write.

But I can see things so clearly, it makes the flaws in my writing even more apparent to me.

And some days, when I can't find the words, I could cry.

I think that's part of why I've been blogging more lately. I have so many thoughts running around in my head, and the blog - the blog isn't a visual thing for me, so I can just write, without that layer of frustration.

I can enjoy writing. Some days, trying to make that novel work is agony.

So yeah, my fourth wish, my fourth wish would be talent like this. Or this.

Meanwhile, I hack away.