Processed Writing

Beth asked:
“What do you believe about the process of writing (as in, creating worlds and putting them down on paper)? Do you think it’s even more a ‘spiritual’ or ‘soul’ thing than a brain thing? How do memories and opinions and dreams and hopes and desires (etc.) affect this process?”

I didn’t really “discover” writing as a creative process until I went to a little university in Texas. I had a professor there who had a strong love of words (her doctorate is in rhetoric!), and I was forced to write a LOT. Academic writing is, of course, different from other forms, but I grew to develop a process and discipline for combining words to form sentences and convey meaning. When writing for assignments, I was forced to write even when I didn’t want to, but I think that my best work was when I was truly invested in the result. I could turn out “A” papers in a very short amount of time, but those last-minutes works, unless heavily coffee-induced (more on that some other time), often lacked something…

I’ve never finished anything more than a short story, so I’m not sure how much I can speak to the world-creation of the greater writers of Faerie and myth. I have tried to understand, relate, and at times even emulate, but I have come to the conclusion that a truly great story is the result of either a time of fantastic inspiration or a lifetime of work. (I expressed something on my attitude towards writing here, but nothing in too much detail.) 

That being said, I do think that a good or “okay” story can be built from the processes of an analytical brain. The greatest writers are often geniuses in their own rights, but the best and most well-loved stories in the world are those that draw us as readers into the story and prompt us to connect emotionally with the characters and happenings. I think that the sort of writing which causes us to love, hate, pity, and generally empathize is drawn from something greater than “brain-work.”

I think that truly great stories require both a great deal of logical talent and a healthy dose of spirit and emotion. Most people are not drawn to a story on robots, unless those machines are trying to become like people. We may find a textbook on rocks fascinating, helpful, and informative, but I think that we very rarely connect with it on an emotional level.

I think you might find the concept of mythopoeia or “subcreation” interesting, if you haven’t read on it before. It was a concept popularized and promoted especially by Tolkien, who has written what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest modern fantasy stories. The personal experiences (dreams, opinions, etc…) of an author always play into his writings, whether he means them to or not.  When an author has experienced a trauma or a triumph, she has experienced the depths or heights of emotion required to convey the same in a character. In the same way,  authors can use their experiences with the real world to create something unreal, even surreal.

So, in short, I believe that writing requires a holistic attitude and complete concentration of creativity. Technically-poor writing can harm the presentation of a good story, and a perfectly-written, drab story is not worth the bother of receipt!

Cheers,
Chris

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A Duck!

Max asked:
Why is a duck?

Max, to be honest, I have no idea what you mean by that question. I’ll give it a shot, though. I practically never walk away from a challenge.

To start with a basic interpretation of your question, I’ll say that a duck is, in most cases, because he is not naught. This, however, is a common answer that even a pre-schooler could provide. Let’s go for a more in-depth analysis of your question. To do so, we shall switch to the plural and refer to our good avian as “ducks.”

Indeed.Therefore, why are ducks? This is a much more complex and is, in fact, an extremely challenging question. Ducks have many purposes, not all of them yet known. At least one of the purposes, as demonstrated by Sir Bedemir and King Arthur, is to use ducks as counter balances on scales (particularly useful when weighing witches). Another purpose, completely unrelated to the function of weight, is the use of the feathers of ducks as a filling for pillows. I don’t know if that’s a thing, but it should be.

Finally, ducks make incredible jerky. You should ask one to make you some.

Good Day,
~XK

P.S. — Note to my loyal readers who have returned to read this incredibly silly piece of thought. Thoughtpiece. I have been gone for far too long now! Fear not, my friends, this blog shall be razed from the ashes and rebuilt… wait. Anyway, THE INTERMISSION IS OVER. 

P.P.S. — A duck.

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The Timeless Dilemma

That Girl asked:
How can I handle being too not-wealthy to do the work I really love? I don’t have a rich husband to bank roll my hobby into a full-time gig so what’s a creative type to do? Stop paying the bills and eat ramen and hope I don’t get kicked out of my apartment?

I’m assuming that since your work is one that does not invariable provide a large volume of payment, you are an artist of some sort. If I’m wrong, you can just substitute your line of work for “artist” throughout the post. 😉

Ah, the timeless dilemma of the artist who finds that in order for her art to pay her bills, she must devote much time to that art, but in the time that she devotes to the art, her bills most unkindly demand to be payed. When she realizes that “oh dear, I haven’t payed my bills; this must be resolved!” her art suffers in turn. What then is an artist in such a state to do? This same story could also be said of me, though the pronouns in my case are decidedly of the male gender. I have as yet to untangle my confusion, but I have had some ideas for resolution.

Like this’ll ever happen…

My first thought was that one day some wandering stranger would notice the spark of creativity that shines so brightly within my soul, inform me of his or her observation, and go on to detail his or her rich and powerful position and line of work of funding such people who wish to do nothing more than write random stories and take photographs. Unfortunately, no such individual has appeared, so perhaps that avenue, whilst always open, is not one from which to expect much aid.

I then turned my attention to the interwebs, for herein are contained many marvels and opportunities which bespeak themselves of great employment status and funding sources through the pockets of willing strangers. While I had some luck on sites such as ebay with small trinkets and devices, it seems that many others contend for the attention and wallets of those who enjoy a good story or image.

This being found, I turned my attention to the real world. Herein I found such things as I wished not to have discovered. I learned the meaning of a 48 hour workweek and the boring machinations of the corporations contrived for the improvement of productions and profits. Yet, while the sum deposited into my bank is not unwelcome, the time required to gain such a return discourages the creative and douses that spark so deeply hidden. So, in short, I am in the same boat as you.

What then shall we do? I rather like the idea of walking away from the traditional rat race, and I doubt that I will continue in this vein for long. Who knows, we may perhaps one day discover a job that caters to both the creative side and the side of us that pays the bills. Have you considered becoming an Underwater Basket Weaver? I hear the pay is very good…

Cheers,
~XK

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Eloquence

After a rather lengthy hiatus, AP is being reopened for questions! Click the link at the bottom of the page to submit your own question! I’ll start with a self-imposed question.

Hi me, I’m not very eloquent. I know this is written to myself, but do I think I could help me?

Hey me! How’s it going? Eloquence is something that comes naturally to some people. That’s how it seems to me anyway. I’ve seen others form beautiful sentences and excellently phrased statements off the top of their heads. The words flow with ease and the message comes across clearly and succinctly.

Not me. Not all the time, anyway. I try to say something, and I sound like a broken record player, scrambling the words I want and forgetting the rest. I generally know the message that I want to convey, and the idea may be entirely formed and shaped, but I tend to trip on thin air at delivery.

Intended message: Greetings to you, my most excellent friend! It has been long indeed since I have seen you, yet, forsooth, I have forgotten not the days we spent together in times long past. From whence have you come, and how fares thy self and wonderful family? 

Actual result: “sup dude.” 

I have a few theories that might explain my quandary.

  • I might actually be a robot who is powered by tiny hamster wheels. The hamsters are generally happy, and they run fast enough to sustain thinking powers, but they grow tired towards the end of a prolonged thinking spree, and that’s when I start to stumble. Of course, I don’t even know if I’m a robot… maybe I’ll ask Cleverbot.
  • My brain runs so fast that it out-maneuvers my mouth. This results in jumbled messages and partially completed sentences.
  • Eloquence is actually a secret skill taught by alien Tibetan monks who appear to certain people at opportune times in those people’s lives. The knowledge bestowed is then retained and used to empower the lucky soul who received it.
  • Perhaps I’m exaggerating… slightly.

Well, I’ll just keep reading Poe, Wilde, Doyle, and the other Greats. Maybe they’ll rub off on me…

Until Next time,
XK

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The Origin of the Hat

On the Origin of the Hat by Means of Unnatural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Apparel in the Struggle for Avatars. 

Mocha asked:
Why do you like your infamous hat so much, and why do you think it’s cool? Is there any back story to it, or do just like looking like Indiana Jones?

I’m glad you asked. There’s no true awesome story behind this hat, so I think I’ll make one up. The main reason I like it is because, well, I like hats.

You may think that the image that appears as XK’s avatar is just that–a cool, mysterious-looking avatar. In reality, it’s a picture of a real person in his real garb. This is the story of how XanthusKidd received his hat. To be mysterious on the internet, one must have at least three things: a cool, obscure name; a demeanor pervaded with unpredictability; and a cool avatar. I had two of the three things, but what avatar should one use for a character who writes about everything? The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is something epic, like a seal.

Of course, it’s rather awkward to use somebody else’s seal, be it insignia or sea-bound, so that leaves only the option of making one’s own seal. Seeing as I’m not that creative when it comes to drawing utensils and paper and I don’t have ready access to a zoo, that option was ruled out.

Another popular avatar option is some epic item. Like fire, or tornadoes,or woolly mammoths. Or all three; a flaming woolly mammoth who’s caught in a tornado.

The above options were all infeasible, for one reason or another, so I decided that a photoshopped image would have to suffice. Now, as a person, I am not all that mysterious, however much so I would like to think of myself. One item of clothing that I own that could be construed as mysterious, though, is an old trenchcoat–a Burberry Classic.

The trenchcoat on its own is not mysterious, though. It requires something else. That something is a hat. I set out on a quest to obtain the perfect hat. After much trial and infamous peril, I came across an old man who was sitting on a tree stump by the road. This was no ordinary old man, he appeared to be about four and a half feet tall. He wore an old robe, and upon his head sat a hat of peculiar style. I inquired as to where he purchased his hat, but he merely laughed–a right funny laugh it was, too.

He told me that I would have to endure many severe trials and march far across the fiery plains of something or another to reach the magical hat maker of somewhere (I don’t remember the name). So, I bid him goodbye and bought my hat at Belks. That’s how I obtained my hat.

Happy 127th Anniversary of the end of the Sino-French War!
~XK

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3-4-1

kris landt asked:
OK, I’ll play…. What really happens to the socks which go missing in the dryer? Why do men find The Three Stooges so amusing? Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

Before I commence with the answering of the above question, I have a confession to make. I’m a terrible person. Kris submitted this question a really long time ago. Like, if this question was bread, it would have been stale and a bit moldy around the edges. No fear, though! I have deemed now the appropriate time to answer this question, mold or no. (Sneak attack. I bet ya didn’t see this one coming…) 

If this post is unsatisfactory, please accept this image as your answer.

Let’s start with the last question, just because it looks lonely, and it’s probably the most asked question in the entire world. Ever. Except for the question of if Han shot first. He did. The answer to your question is both. Time was actually a bit warped when the chicken was made, so sequentially, the chicken was the first thing on this earth. However, due to an interesting bend in time, the egg came first, objectively. It all depends on the way that you look at time. Objectively, the egg came first. Linearly, the chicken did (the line has a lot of curves in it).

As to why the Three Stooges are deemed amusing by most men, I believe that has to do with the way men’s brains are wired. I have heard it said that men’s brains are like boxes, while women’s are like spaghetti (works for me). Men can completely zone out and think about nothing, while women are usually always thinking about something or another. When men watch shows in the genre of the Three Stooges, they close all of their objective, serious boxes and open the pointless, mindless boxes (it’s not called mindless comedy for nothing).

Finally, what happens to all of the socks that go missing in the dryer? I honestly do not know. You have asked a question that will probably never be answered. I did try once, but I don’t think the result was entirely suitable. I think one of the best dissertations on this topic can be found here, but be sure to devote some time to the reading, for the post(s) is(are) rather lengthy!

Happy 1591st anniversary of the marriage of Emperor Theodosius II to Aelia Eudocia!!
~XK

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Whodunit?

No Name asked:
Ok…lets try a little scenario/question. So say you have a best friend and lets call him “Tom”. Tom tells you about a certain incident that happened to him involving “Sam” who’s also a good decent friend to you at the time. NOT as close as Tom, but you guys have maybe drank together a few times or even hung out probably because Tom wasn’t around and you all just know each other. Though Tom is clearly your best friend and everyone knows that. You guys practically were raised together so your like brothers. Tom then begins to tell you a little disturbing story about how Sam betrayed him on a few deals and caused him so much pain he almost lost his wife over it because it nearly destroyed him and you can see its taken a lot out of him. So, you naturally put up your guard and even become cautions of Sam because of what Tom has told you in detail happened to him. I mean its pretty obviously Tom is in pain over the incident that happened. But you don’t befriend (defriend?) Sam as the man has always been decent to you. AND what happened to Tom did NOT involved you.

Time goes by and one day Tom sees you hanging out or having a few beers with Tom (Sam?) and he quickly freaks and gives it to you straight saying: “HOW THE HECK CAN YOU BE FRIENDS WITH TOM (SAM?) AFTER WHAT I TOLD YOU HE DID TO ME”? Now what happened to him with Sam might have not been a good thing but you don’t think he has the right to tell you who your friends are or what you should feel about anyone because you have your own brain and heart to do the thinking for you. AND though you do feel that Tom does have every right to be upset with Sam for what he said Sam did, you are now offended or shocked that Tom would expect you to cut him out totally in the name of “friendship” because that isn’t you. The Q is: Who is wrong? Tom for expecting you to consider what happened to him with Sam so you shouldn’t be friends with Sam? Or You for not seeing and considering Toms feelings? Does a close friend have the right to expect such a thing? I mean…..WTF? What is this, six grade? Who is wrong in your eyes?

Good heavens, my dear questioner, this is a most lengthy theoretical scenario. You should take up writing soap operas. I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing your question in the analysis below. Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the situation through the eyes of someone we’ll call Fred.

So, Tom is Fred’s best friend. They were raised together and are practically brothers. That implies a pretty close relationship. Now, a third party enters the scene: Sam. Sam did some unsavory things to Tom and Tom was pretty tore up about it. Tom tells Fred all about the betrayal, and Fred is sympathetic, but not overly deeply or personally offended by Sam.

Fred continues to be friends with Sam because he likes the guy, and the situation with Tom had nothing to do with Fred. One day, though, Tom sees Fred hanging out with Sam, and Tom is thoroughly ticked. Tom flies off the handle at Fred, and now Fred is confused as to who is in the wrong.

First of all, let me say that Sam is definitely in the wrong. He deeply hurt one of Fred’s friends, so he should be treated with caution, as he was. Ultimately, Sam is the cause of all this mess. Tom and Sam, however, probably share equal blame. This situation is what is called a lack of communication. One party is offended by the actions of another because of a misunderstanding.

Let’s look at the betrayal of Tom by Sam and Tom’s friendship with Fred on the same personal level. The betrayal, obviously, is a negative influence, which deeply scars Tom. Fred’s friendship, though, is a positive and encouraging influence at the same personal level. Tom, looking at this through the irrational and emotional lens of one who has been deeply hurt, is placing a lot of value on Fred’s friendship. When he sees Fred hanging out with Sam, he immediately connects the negative influence of Sam with what he thought was a positive influence, i.e. Fred.

Still smarting from Sam’s betrayal, he is over-sensitive and feels that Fred has now “betrayed” their friendship. The best course of action for Fred to take, if he truly values his friendship with Tom, would be to steer clear of Sam for a while. Tom is operating off emotion, and until he comes to grips with that, he will continue to be deeply agitated by Sam. One could not expect any different, though. If Tom was about to lose his wife, the situation was indeed very serious. That is not lightly recovered from.

Fred should also talk with Tom about the situation. If they’re like brothers, I’m sure they will be able to come to terms. Arguing at an emotional level, “he’s my friends, why can’t I hang out with him?” Without considering the emotions of the other “he just about split me and my wife, you retard!” Will not resolve the situation in any beneficial way. I’m not sure the blame can be squarely place on any one person, other than Sam for starting the whole situation. Fred should be more considerate of how he presents his friendship with Sam, but Tom should look at the situation more logically and perhaps realize that he and his friends are adults.

Finally, the last thing for Fred to take into consideration is which of the friendships are more solid. If both are solid friends, then he should be able to honestly talk through the situation with them. If Sam really is as deceitful by nature as he was with Tom, is he worth hanging out with or risking Fred’s own well-being? Just food for thought.

Good Day,
~XK

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Wealth vs. Women

Someone asked:
Why is it that some gentlemen feel the need to disregard the women who hath the fruit bottom pantaloons while on their quest to acquire currency?

My good sir or madam, this is indeed a question worthy of some effort in acknowledgement. Seeing as you have chosen to not identify yourself, (which is a choice, of course, quite open to all) I have decided to refer to you throughout as Rupert, thereby identifying and directing this post towards those of the male sex. So, Rupert, without further ado, here is an attempted resolution of your mental quandary.

The desire of some to obtain such wealth or material goods at the cost of ignoring those of the fairer sex, is, indeed, not an idea entirely without merit. Think, for a moment, upon the state of one who has chased a lady all of his life. Instead of seeking work or a steady or profitable job, he has frittered his existence in the pursuit of one who may not even  have returned the feelings which he held for her.

Would I then be able to recommend this alternative existence, dependent upon the fickle nature of one who chooses to parade her figure as though she has something to sell? By no means! In fact, I recommend to all young men the idea that women are not worth pursuing on the mere basis of visual attraction. In fact, I can think of at least five things that would be much more profitable and rewarding:

  1. Base Jumping: Base jumping is totally awesome. I’m going to do this sometime in my life. As long as you don’t die, the rewards last throughout your life.
  2. Cliff Jumping: Ok, maybe I’m a bit obsessed with jumping, but really, can you not say this is fun? (If you’re scared of heights, I understand.)
  3. Traveling the World: Unless you have a lady that’s willing to eat strange food, use scary toilets, and endure long periods of time without showers, money is a much more versatile companion.
  4. Work for Go Pro/Red Bull Video Department: I could live with this. Who wouldn’t want to travel the world, filming people doing epic things? I would even want to try most of that stuff.
  5. Write a Blog: Obviously, this is a choice which requires neither women nor money. Indeed, many of those who choose this route do so because of the lack of one or the other. (I imply nothing.)

Happy 92nd Anniversary of the induction of Azerbaijan into the Soviet Union!
~XK

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A Sluggish Work Ethic

A Busy Student asked:
Why do some people do things in a way which is obviously harder or more time-consuming, when there is a perfectly good way of doing it more easily? Is it ever wise to join in this madness?

Well, many people do things for many reasons. In fact, if the reasons that people do things were all the same for the multitude of things that they do, I’m not sure why anyone would ever need to explain anything. (Unless, of course, the questioner hadn’t ever been explained any reason. Then he may be forgiven.) Working on this assumption, I would tell you to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then eat it. Why did you make the sandwich? The answer is the reason as to why people do anything!

Fortunately, we don’t operate on those assumptions; you can disregard everything that I just told you! The real reason why people do things in unconventional manners lies in an old Biblical proverb. Proverbs 6:6 ~ Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 

The trick to understanding this verse is in the understanding of the target audience. The word sluggard is usually used to describe people who are lazy, but it is a little known fact that this word descends from two words meaning slug and herd. A slugherd is one who keeps and protects flocks of gastropods: snails, slugs, sea slugs, and other interesting slithery things. Obviously, a little extrapolation is required in order to understand this verse in modern day context. Let’s use as your main duty, instead of slugherding, your actual work. We’ll examine the concept of duty in light of colonial ant responsibilities. Obviously, an ant needs to keep up his colony, his ant hill, and his reputation in order to be a good ant worker. In the same way, you should care for others, your community/home life, and your own character. If you are able to work without comprising your character and values, then the method by which you do so is your own choice. Another consideration you might contemplate is the influence of your superiors, but that’s merely a suggestion.

Happy 176th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto!
~XK

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Heart-Shaped Heart

Moni Asked:
Why do people people automatically shape a picture of a heart like ❤ instead of the actual shape of it? I mean, including all it’s ventricles does the heart really look like that?!?

Well Moni…

Happy 237th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride!
~XK

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