Oh, the global warming outside is frightful, the U.S. is an unmitigated disaster, and the nuclear apocalypse may be imminent. On the plus side, Bread Crumbs from the Void returns this week full of rancor and indigestion! A couple of weekends spent indulging in decadent, rich food and astronomical booze intake will leave you in such a tattered state. Take it from your pal, here. I make poor life decisions so you all can learn valuable lessons, as evidenced by this column.
Diving promptly into the meat of this installment, I have touched a bit on writer’s block previously exposing it for being nothing more than a shit goblin of a writer’s imagination. In actuality I maintain that writer’s block categorically does not exist. No, your productivity is not spontaneously obstructed or hampered during some cosmic unforeseen interval. There is only the fear of penning unintelligible refuse. Said hindrance hinges on the very notion that you may churn out a dumpster fire. The realization that every piece of writing evolves from the primordial muck of incoherent and utterly reprehensible drafts should aid your mindset during initial shaky pursuits.
Another factor far too easily overlooked in the war against productivity — and the infuriating subject of today’s article — is the looming self-imposed threat of originality. You yearn for brilliance to spring fully formed and wholly unique from your loins. You clamor for an anomaly comprised of quirky yet singular idiosyncrasies the likes of which have never been witnessed. There is just one hitch to this luminescent fantasy, folks. The aforementioned piece of work is nothing more than a figment of your fucking imagination!
Neither perfection nor originality exists. The intent should only be to tell the best story you can from the perspective that you alone can offer.
Whether you are an Iranian expatriate who narrowly escaped the blood-soaked revolution of the eighties, an Ohio native who suffered through your formative years with none other than Jeffrey Dahmer, or a British researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International who happened to conjure an idea about a school for wizards there is only one you. Considering the derelict god-damn scoundrels who populate my key demographic, the world should count its lucky stars.
War, serial killers, magic. These topics are not exactly obscure in the realms of fiction and non-fiction. However, it is the specific immediacy of personal experience brought to their chosen topics by the writers which reinvigorate potentially tired subjects. The trick is to infuse your own personality, humor, verve, etc. into the fiber of your work. When you are skilled enough — which you will not be for some time, if ever — you will possess the ability to rewrite the phone book and have it come across as an enthralling and beguiling yarn about the triumph of the human spirit.
The fact of the matter is that no other individual shares your distinct journey through this magical mystery tour called life. Not one other entity has experienced the world in precisely the same manner you have. Analyzing, extracting, and recording your exclusive relationship with everything from the mundane to the magnificent is what will set your writing apart from the washed out masses.
“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” – Toni Morrison
Rule numero uno pertaining to originality in your writing is as follows: Write whatever the fuck moves you, but do not restrain or constrict honesty. Never overly concern yourself with your subject matter. Fads and popular genres are reserved for unimaginative assholes on a safari for what they believe will be an easy ‘in’ for their careers. These human hemorrhoids latch onto markets perceived to be fashionable or commercial in an attempt to bolster their own floundering, pathetic output.
Not to mention an overwhelming lack of talent.
Consider the mastery of Kurt Vonnegut or Elmore Leonard. Both can widely be considered genre authors. However, it is their character’s intimate interactions with the painstakingly orchestrated environment(s) and situations which brand a lasting impression on the hearts, minds, and genitals of the audience. You must, above all else, present personality and emotion at the forefront. Readers will not continue to traipse through a plot without a relatable guide with whom they wish to spend an inordinate amount of time.
Tug on Superman’s cape! Throw caution to the wind! Pull the mask off of old Lone Ranger!
Refuse to allow the fear of other’s scrutiny or criticism to malign your efforts. Dance to your own beat and permit yourself to be compelled by every win and every tribulation you endure. Did your latest bout of venereal disease impel the creation of a slam poetry piece? Are your woes regarding the inability to score crack due to overdraft fees instigating the development of an experimental short story? Was the cantankerous squirrel that attacked you in the park fodder for a brand new series of children’s books?
Whatever the case may be put it on the god-damn page! There is no tale too insignificant to be told. To think otherwise would be little more than imbecilic naysaying.
If you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: https://alexschumacherart.com/about/. Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, or declarations of lust.
Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks with another thrilling edition of hard-nosed reality for you big-talkers and wannabes. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.
Alex Schumacher has toiled away in the relative obscurity of minimum-wage jobs and underground comics longer than he cares to admit. Currently he produces the weekly feature Decades of (in)Experience for Antix Press, Bread Crumbs from the Void and The Fucking Funnies for Five 2 One Magazine, and Mr. Butterchips for Drunk Monkeys.
Stalk him at http://alexschumacherart.com/