Kristan Hoffman - Writing Dreams Into Reality
Mon Feb 20 2012

Sampler

I’ve had a bunch of notes in my Drafts folder for months now, snippets that I keep intending to turn into full posts. But at this point I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. So here are three “mini-posts,” somewhat related, somewhat not.

Writers often hear the advice, “Kill your darlings.” Typically that means delete the bits of writing that you love the most, because odds are, they are self-indulgent. Beauty is not reason enough if the words don’t add to your story.

For me, the biggest darling is the internet, and killing the internet leads to an exponential increase in productivity. I always forget that, until I hit rock bottom and have to find a way to pull myself up out of it again.

It’s “easier” for me to write at night, because there are fewer distractions even when I’m looking for them, and because by that point I’m so mad at myself for wasting the day that I finally buckle down. But I need to learn how to work under more normal and more positive conditions.

“Every girl wants a bad boy that will be good just for her. Every guy wants a good girl who will be bad just for him.”

(Or as Usher and Ludacris so eloquently put it, “We want a lady in the streets but a freak in the bed.”)

I’ve seen variations of that quote all over. Twitter, Facebook, emails, songs. And I see versions of it over and over in romances. Everyone wants to be special, to be the exception. In Twilight, Bella’s mind is the only one Edward can’t read. In Knocked Up, Seth Rogan gets the girl, even though he’s a gross schlub. Even in the classics. Plain Jane (Eyre, that is) manages to captivate Rochester, and in turn she sees past his grouchy demeanor.

I can’t decide if this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, it sort of reflects reality, in a way. None of us are perfect, but we could seem perfect in a certain someone’s eyes. Through love, ordinary people become extraordinary.

But on the other hand, as Justin Long tells Ginnifer Goodwin in He’s Just Not That Into You, we can’t count on being the exception.

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10 Comments
  1. Laura says:
    Mon Feb 20 2012 at 8:39 PM

    This is a cool idea! I know I have a whole bunch of sad, neglected drafts of blog posts as well. It’s nice that you are giving them a chance to shine :)

    I find it easier to write at night, also. (Which is strange because I’ve always considered myself a morning person) I’ve tried getting up early to devote an hour or so before school to my writing, but often it’s not as productive as I’d like. For some reason in the morning I feel like I should be running around frantically in preparation for leaving the house, having breakfast, preparing myself mentally for another school day. In the evening on the other hand, when all my homework is done, and can take a deep breath and devote myself fully to what I’m working on. The only problem is, I find myself crashing around 10pm. *sigh* I guess it’s kind of a toss up.

    Oh, and yeah, I probably need to kill my internet as well… ^^ Great post!

  2. Shari says:
    Mon Feb 20 2012 at 9:30 PM

    I’m so jealous that you write well at night. I’ve always been an early bird, so writing time is first thing in the morning. Editing comes later in the day – I’m a revise-as-I-go type – but by the time evening hits, my brain is just focused on so many other things. I’ve always found the morning to be particularly inspiring, just the idea of it being a fresh new day, but I’m also the kind of person who needs quiet to work best – so nighttime would be much better for that!

  3. Anthony Lee Collins says:
    Tue Feb 21 2012 at 2:37 AM

    I’ve never been much iimpressed by the “Kill your darlings” rule. It seems as lazy as “Don’t kill your darlings.” Part of a writer’s job is to carefully examine each darling, one by one, and to decide, without favor or mercy, who gets killed and who doesn’t. There are no shortcuts. (I made some suggestions about how to make the decisions here: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=2842.)

    My biggest time-waster was TV. Back when I had a TV, I had no finished novels (0). Now, post-TV (it went down in a flood over ten years ago and I decided not to replace it), two finished novels (2). The Internet can be bad, but at least it encourages _some_ amount of activity and participation. Not TV.

  4. Sonje says:
    Tue Feb 21 2012 at 8:44 AM

    I think “getting the bad boy (or girl) to be good just for you” is a very interesting storyline–obviously so because people keep creating that story and consumers keep eating it up. You could probably categorize my four book series that way, so count me among them. But in real life, wouldn’t it be a greater example of love if you loved the bad boy/girl for who they are without wanting them to change?

    That was one of things I admired most about the ending of (the American version) of Queer as Folk. In the beginning, they introduce this bad boy character named Brian, and he sleeps around all over the place. Of course, he meets a boy named Justin, and he falls in love with Justin, but he’s still screwing around (they have an open relationship most of the time). As the final season draws to a close, Brian decides to go all-in with Justin. He proposes, and they were buying a house outside of the city and really settling down as they planned the wedding. I remember watching it, thinking, “This is lame, but what else can you expect? That’s how the story always ends.” But then it didn’t. Then Justin realizes that Brian is giving up who he is in order to make him (Justin) happy. Justin essentially says, “No, I won’t let you do it,” and he leaves. The last scene is of Brian, back at a gay bar, checking out all the guys. Such a better ending!

  5. anthony Lee Collins says:
    Tue Feb 21 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I agree with Sonje. Acceptance is the most romantic thing. That’s one thing (of many) that I loved about the movie Ed Wood, as I talked about here: http://u-town.com/collins/?p=53.

  6. Elissa J. Hoole says:
    Tue Feb 21 2012 at 11:04 AM

    I just want you to know that I was nodding my head so hard about the writing at night because I feel guilty for not being productive all day and wishing I could figure out a way to write under more constructive, positive circumstances. So when I get time to write in the middle of the day, sometimes I actually have to close all the curtains and put lights on and pretend that it’s night, haha! But yeah, most of the time I’m working all day, and night is my only choice. Still, I wish I could be productive right off the bat, so I could feel better about doing other things with my day.

    I’m ruminating on the bad boy/good girl piece…interesting to see a bunch of your small posts. I almost never post to my blog anymore because it takes too long for me to pull something together that I feel is more than a beginning, lol.

  7. Juliann says:
    Tue Feb 21 2012 at 11:58 AM

    “But I need to learn how to work under more normal and more positive conditions.”

    I’m curious why you keep trying to change your workstyle, when it seems to be working for you? I’ve noticed you making comments like this a lot; as though you’re doing something wrong and need to correct it. If writing at night works for you, then write at night.

  8. Kristan says:
    Tue Feb 21 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Laura-
    Hah, you sound a lot like me. I think I’m a morning person AND night owl; it’s the times in between that I may or may not be functioning, lol. And yeah, I get tired early-ish, but I usually find that if I push past that initial feeling, I get a second wind.

    Shari-
    Grass is always greener, haha, b/c I would love to rise early to write. Haven’t been able to do that since high school.

    Anthony-
    Absolutely I agree, that’s a writer’s job. But I think for most writers that impartiality is hard, hence the term “darlings.” If it’s precious to you, you probably need to be doubly hard on it.

    And yes, TV is a huge time waster. I do, however, allow myself a certain (small) number of shows/hours, because I also find it both (paradoxically) relaxing and emotionally impactful.

    Sonje-
    Funny enough, changing (or not) for one’s partner is something that’s been on my mind. (Nothing going on here, no worries.) I may blog about it at some point, if I can wrap my mind around my own thoughts. Basically it’s a paradox, I think, b/c we may want certain things about our partners to change to better suit us, and yet changing FOR someone (i.e., compromising oneself) is… looked down upon, to put it mildly.

    I’m not sure I agree that someone else “not letting” me change for them is my idea of a happy ending or true love. But then I don’t like when people try to make my decisions for me.

    Elissa-
    Hee! I remember reading somewhere that Amy Tan writes in a closet she converted into a writing nook, b/c she needs to feel holed in.

    And isn’t it funny, b/c like you, I often feel like I need to put together longer, more “worthwhile” posts. And yet this “sampler” post has garnered some of the lengthiest comments in a while…

    Juliann-
    That’s a fair question. To some extent, you’re right, I don’t NEED to change what I’m doing if it works. But I WANT to. Because I don’t want my schedule to be so off-sync from everyone else’s in my life. And I don’t want to push myself past the point of exhaustion to make up for all the time I wasted during daylight hours. It’s doable, but I don’t think it’s sustainable. My is long-term, a career, not a few good spurts. So I’d like to develop better habits. That’s a big part of why I quit my job last year.

  9. Jon says:
    Thu Feb 23 2012 at 8:22 PM

    I need to get better at “killing the internet.” As it stands, I get about ten minutes of writing time for every hour or so I spend online!

  10. Jim Snell says:
    Sun Feb 26 2012 at 6:59 PM

    “Kill Your Darlings” strikes me as a pretty good title for a mystery/thriller novel.

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