Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!

Sunday, January 23, 2011
  Quit your bitchin' and get to work

Mario here,

My sons gave me an iPad for Xmas, which makes for a handy way to watch Netflix.

One show that I haven't yet decided if I like is Showtime's Californication. David Duchovny's character, Hank Moody, has writer's block, which is fueled by his anxieties despite his publishing success and a movie deal. As expected, the show takes liberties with the life of a professional writer. Unlike Moody, I don't have panic attacks, nor do I have difficulty cranking out the word count. On the other hand, I don't have women chasing me for sex. (Hmmm...maybe I should get writer's block.) One plot complication I don't understand is that Moody claims to be a New York writer and hates living in Los Angeles. So, why doesn't he move back?

Here's a glimpse of the show in a funny Russian over-dub.



The show's premise hinges on Moody's writer's block. As a professional writer--meaning that if I don't write and write well, I don't get paid--I can't afford to mollycoddle myself with writer's block. And neither can any one of my writer friends. Many of them astound me with their work ethic. For me, 2000 words is a good day. I know writers who manage 4000+. Paolo Bacigalupi posted that he once did over eight thousand. Amazing and somewhat intimidating. That and his many awards.

Which leads me to digress for a bit about creativity. Being this is the age of the Internet, I Googled creativity process. The website Directed Creativity flayed the creative process to the point of eye-glazing absurdum. No matter what model you use--or more likely, don't use--when you write, your creative process probably overlaps many of the proposed creative steps. I find that a good way to get creative is to apply this acronym: BICHOK--Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. I once heard Chuck Palahniuk address the issue of performing a task he wasn't keen on doing. He applied the dictum: Thought follows action, which at first seems like a backwards way to tackle a problem, much like Fire, Ready, Aim. But in fact, the take-away is: Don't wait to get inspired; Get to work now. Which is the best way to attack writer's block.



I've mentioned in an earlier post that this year I challenge myself to not only keep writing but also paint more. With that in mind, let's build a little forward momentum by going backwards, much like a pitcher doing a wind-up. I've posted some of my watercolors in Facebook that I did when I first started painting professionally. Hope you like them.

Don't forget our Bad sex in writing contest. Ends this Thursday, Jan 27. Prizes!


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Comments:
I LOVE this example of your early work. (Did I really say that?)

XO
 
Wow, Mario, it's hard to believe that picture is a watercolor, it looks so realistic. Very nice!
I must admit I'm having a little trouble with the BICHOK lately. There are so many distractions from writing, like blogging and commenting on blogs...

But, I had to write to comment about Californication. I disagree that it's about writer's block. (What season on you on?) IMHO, It's one of those navel-gazing Hollywood shows that's not really about what it appears to be about. (Another example would be Entourage; it isn't really about making movies--it's about the BS surrounding the movie business.)
I think Californication is about love and self-destruction. Hank claims to love Karen and Becca but his actions indicate that he hates himself. How low can he go before he loses them? And has he already lost himself?
 
Hi Mario. Nice seque and interesting point. I agree with Lesley on Californication (a show I like by the way). Not to over analyze the thing but Hank is self-destructive, the fact that he's a writer with block issues seems incidental. Normal for him is not healthy or happy or functional, and at a very basic level he's always working to reach that dysfunctional norm. He blocks because if he creates, it will be decent, people will buy it, and he'll lose his excuse to be unhappy.

Which leads me to BICHOK. I think when I'm anti-BICHOK, it's the Hank Moody part of me that's looking for excuses. Excuses that permit me to stay in the place of less risk, less reward, and...just less. Sometimes I just need a good slap in the face. Fortunately for me, I have an anti-Hank Moody guy running around in there too. I think he has a military background because he enjoys shouting things like "what the !@#$@!# are you doing!" and "get your ass in gear!" and "don't be a namby pamby" and "writers write."

Point taken. Later.

Cheers,

Mark

P.S. Cool watercolors!
 
Thanks for your comments and observations. I'm now into the 2nd season of Californication and yes, the show has moved away from the writer's block plot device. I'm trying to figure out why Hank Moody must be unhappy. Or course, this is not Highway to Heaven. The dialog is awesome.
 
Californiacation always felt just a bit too clever for me. I can take it in small doses. The husband loves it. Maybe it's cuz I miss Xfiles.

I've had writers "stumble" but never block. If I stumble, I get up and go vacuum, do laundry, and peruse job ads. The alternatives to writing cures it pretty quick.
 
Betsy: Right on. Sue Grafton once said that scrubbing toilets for a living will cure writer's block.
 
I still say the best cure for writers block is a deadline. If you're serious about a writing career, you can't afford the luxury of writers block.
 
Mario,

Thanks for putting my finger on what bugged me so much about Californication. It's the writer's block. I just want to grab and shake him, screaming, SUCK IT UP.

But then again, I guess all that sex would make it difficult to write...

Beautiful work on facebook. You have a wealth of talents.
 
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