Monday, March 29, 2010

How Refreshingly...Original?

Originality is the bane of any creative individual's existence. No matter what you chosen medium, sometimes being original is a major pain in the but-tocks, and when it becomes a major pain in the but-tocks, you try anything and everything to cure it.

Oh sure, you can take the lazy way out, which if your chosen field is blogging, you can paste a couple of pictures to a blank screen, and viola, instant post.


Did you somehow forget to write a short blurb to the picture, so as not to leave your readers in the dark and make yourself look like an idiot? Of course you did. Which brings you back to square one.


So you sit quietly at your desk (or cubbyhole, or cube, or park bench, or credenza, or foyer, etc. etc. etc. etc.), staring at the wall, or in my case, a calendar (Winnie the Pooh, thank you very much), trying to refill that empty noggin with any useful tidbit of information that you can latch onto.

Eventually, after squeezing and poking, prodding and cajoling, and even applying the Valsalva maneuver, you come up with the following piece of originality.

A man is standing outside, leaning against a post and looking miserable. He nods at a passing co-worker, before turning and walking up the ramp to go back inside the building.
Once again, as you can plainly see (it's cliche time doncha know?), I'm scraping the bottom of a scuzzy sea barnacle infested barrel trying to come up with something original to write. It seems as of late, the more I get into writing my latest book (which in and of itself, is a very good thing), the more problems I have trying to come up with original content for the blog.

Funny how things fall into new places as you strive to improve your craft, be it writing stories or blog posts. The way I see it as it applies to me, if I try to improve one area, the other area has a tendency to show withdrawal symptoms, and vice versa. When I was blogging up a storm last summer (refresher: last summer I wrote about 30 posts out by hand, which took me from about mid-July to late October to use up), my writing output dropped considerably.

But once I started concentrating on my writing, it became a little harder to write good blog posts. Right now, my blog posts are/have been for the most part, pretty pedestrian and/or head scratching. To give you a f'r instance, this particular blog post would fall under the realm of head scratching (hence, the tag down below called "Brain Squeezins"), because although I wanted to write about originality being the bane of a creative person's existence, I also wanted to somehow dovetail the first part of this post into something about the problem of writing a graphic scene without being graphic. The problem with that, is how to write about it on this blog without completely turning people off.


Without a doubt, the biggest challenge in writing a story about a woman who gets involved with the adult movie industry, is how to write the required sex scenes in such a way as to not turn off any potential agent (from what I understand and please correct me if I'm wrong, most agents will not handle material that contains even a whiff of hardcore. Softcore, yes. Hardcore, no) or potential publisher.

Obviously, if I didn't particularly care about who was receiving it on the other end, I would write it pretty much as graphic as humanly possible (my first book contains some pretty graphic sex scenes, some of which surprised even me). However, since I do care who receives it on the other end, I have spent quite a few hours while writing, trying to find that perfect balance between graphic description and appropriate word substitution for said graphic description.

For instance, to describe one of two set activities that all of those films feature, I wrote it like this: She loosened the strings to his bathing suit and took out his cannon. Giving it a half dozen gentle strokes to get it solid again, she raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth. Todd exhaled, took three steps in and carefully began to make passionate love to her mouth.

So I try to get the point across without sledgehammering the reader with details about whatever activity is going on at the given moment. More often than not, it seems to be working as I'm making a conscious effort not to turn this story into something hardcore, at least for the time being. Like I stated in a previous post, the story is written in such a way that it would take about a good hour to rewrite certain parts if required.


Is it the bane of creative person's existence, or simply a case of sour grapes being uttered by people who don't have the mental strength to rise above the formulaic drivel that seems to pepper the vast wasteland that we call "The Arts"?


  1. I had a hard time concentrating because I kept thinking, "He has a Winnie the Poo Calender?"

    Yeah, I'm not creative enough for fiction... not at all!

  2. I come from the Hemingway school of thought that less is more. I've been working on a western for months now and have whittled it down to what I hope is the closest to perfction I can achieve.

    As for originaity, I'm not sure there is much left these days. Benjamin Franklin said "Originality is the art of concealing your sources." And that was uttered three hundred years ago.

  3. Oh, methinks that doth think to hard.
    Why is the ordinary not good? Why does a blog post have to knock off socks, make people laugh until their sides hurt, cry until their shirt is soggy from blowing their collective noses? Ordinary is what most of our lives is all about. When you write about your town and post pictures I find that interesting. It's different from where I live. When you talk about music I'm interested, because I know so little about all of that. Writers, notice things. When you write about what you notice around you, I'm there, taking it in. So, don't be so hard on yourself.
    And, if my blogging drivel displays a lack of "mental strength", that's ok. Life needs some seasoning and if I'm the "pepper" that's ok, too. :)Bea

  4. I just read a post (on lunch here) about a site called, or something like that, that encourages you to wake up and write three pages cleanse your thoughts. Might get some ideas, too.

  5. T1G: What's even better about this calender is that its the original Pooh and not the disnified version.

    I beg to differ about your assessment, because after spending about a year reading your blog, I do believe that you're creative enough for fiction. :D

    David: I think I tried the less is more approach a few times and I thought my writing came out a bit dry, but when I do edit, I do see the difference in the less is more school approach.

    Originality is something I've always struggled with, both with my blogging and my time to time. I guess everyone hits those occasional vallies and why should I be the exception to the rule.

    Bea: Thanks.

    Being hard on myself is something I spent the better part of my life trying to keep under control. Sometimes though, it does rear its ugly head.

    Also, my comment was more directed to the stuff that's been coming out nowadays where average writers rewrite the classics and add stupid things like zombies, etc. to the mix.

    And to my knowledge, you don't write drivel. I've always been curious about the physical side of the arts, so I have quite a few blogs like yours that I follow, simply because I find stuff like that incredibly fascinating.

    R.K.: Oh god, if I ever had to cleanse my thoughts, I would give myself a lobotomy and watch Barney for the rest of my life. :D

    As for that site, I'll probably check it out. Haven't done too much 750 word writing since I left the chat rooms (they have a 750 word/4,000 character limit on things).

  6. Hmm...there is a huge amount of formuliac drivel that's for sure:)

    I'm pretty broad minded G but I can't get over the "cannon" word! I don't think it's a common expression over here...but it sure does conjure up some vivid images:) You won't use the words "cannon" and "balls" in the same sentence in any further snippets will you? I'm afraid that such indulgence may cause me to pass out:)

  7. I think you should write it how you want to the first time through. After you've done that, edit away to your heart's content. Once you start writing to an imaginary (potentitally real) reader, it changes everything or at least that's been my experience. Write for yourself first - then you can hack and slash away, but the best part of creating is pleasing yourself first and foremost.

    I've never been bored reading your posts, G. I think you're being too critical of yourself.

  8. Jane: I made it a point to use the word "wheels" when describing the other part, and I believe I used that word less than ten times in the entire I previously mentioned, I substituted the more mundane descriptions for a particular body part while I was writing this and I managed to keep it that way througout the entire story.

    While there may be further snippets, you'll find them on FSG....:D

    Talon: The way I ususally write is that before I create another part, I do some basic editing on the hard copy (I keep a notebook with the entire thing printed out, that I take with me to work or to the park), then I write another block of text.

    I usually write for myself and not for the reader, but the only nod I'm giving towards the reader is that I'm toning down on some of the explicitness, so that I can get agents/publishers to at least read it and not reject outright.

    And thanks. Being hard on myself is something I've always had problems with. Even in school I was a major perfectionist, which created problems from time to time. I strive to do the best in whatever I choose to undertake, and because of it, I sometimes put a lot of unnecessary stress on myself.

  9. Originality is overrated. Hollywood copies crap all the time.

  10. I think there is a place in fiction for a love scene done tastefully. When I come across something that is gratuitous more than anything else, and there is no emotion behind it, than it doesn't really click with me.

    Being original doesn't take as much work as trying to be like someone else :-).

  11. Hmmmm, I did get a real visual of the cannon! And glad it wasn't pointing at me at the moment! LOL

    Although it's not the "written word", when I work on an illustration or graphic collage it is the same...what to leave in and what to edit out to get the meaning across...without belaboring a point.

  12. Bearman: Only in the Hollywood of today is originality overrated. Let me ask you this, do you find it easier to be original with cartooning, or harder?

    Jewel: Good point about the love scene. I think that there's a fine line that one has to tread about putting in love scenes. I think they need to be able to at least advance a particular plot point, as opposed to being gratuitous (which unfortunately, due to the basic plot of this book, winds up being the later).

    You're also right about sometimes trying to copy someone takes alot more work than being original.

    Carol: Glad I was able to give you a decent visual about the cannon. :D

    Interesting. I would think that it would be almost impossible to belabor a point with a collage or an illustration, but I guess no matter what the medium is that you use, there is that realistic possibility of sledgehammering someone with it.

  13. I think original is a difficult thing to achieve when so much has been done before. Finding new concepts n new words is a tricky business.
    I don't think you should worry about turning off editors- because the right one will publish your work, n make you revise it later if they don't agree with particular section choices. the concept will stand for itself, as will the original descriptions.

  14. I know I shouldn't worry, but after writing my first one, and getting hammered over content issues (some legitimate, some not), I chose to cover my bases with this one.

    Depending on where it gets submitted or who is receiving it will make me decide on what version they should get.

    I don't have a problem writing stuff like this, I just want people to be able to make a decision on the story in question without concentraing on the type of language used.

    Plot, pacing, narrative, continuity, etc, are things that a agent/publishers should take in consideration for a particular story. Concentrating on language, unless guidelines specifically state otherwise, should not be taken into such heavy consideration as everything else.


Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

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