Sunday, October 30, 2011

Feeling Well Enough and More.

Greetings, citizens of the world.  It's been a little while since I wrote in first person on this blog, so I thought I'd take a moment to let everyone know how I'm doing.

I can feel your anticipation from here.

As it happens, I'm doing pretty well.  Looking back on the last time I talked about myself here, I can see that I was in something of a foul mood.  Nobody likes guys in foul moods: they sulk, they make snide comments, and they often refrain from bathing.  A guy in a bad mood doesn't even particularly like himself, so it's very important that he find his way out of it as soon as he can.

Anyway, about a month and a half ago I'd just started a regular daily exercise routine at the gym.  Since I had hardly ever "worked out" a day in my life, it was rough going at first.  My body reacted to the sudden lifestyle change with petulance and pain, and I responded by punishing my body with buckets of sweat.  The two of us weren't on good terms for a while, and I suppose that had a lot to do with my unnecessary surliness.

Well, my mood has improved significantly since then.  I can do more than handle the routine I set for myself; I've had to increase its difficulty repeatedly.  And most significantly, I'm beginning to notice changes in my physique.  Shirts that previously fit tightly are hanging a little looser, and some of my looser shirts are even looking a little over-sized.  It's a little ridiculous to admit this, but it always seemed kind of abstract before: apparently, regular exercise actually has an effect on a person's shape.  Imagine that.

So it's entirely possible that I've lost some weight.  I can't confirm this, because I don't have a bathroom scale and I refuse to use anyone else's (because they can't be trusted), but it seems highly probable.  I'm not really making a point of counting calories one way or another.  I just follow a simple principle: if the day's workout doesn't make me feel spent, then tomorrow's needs to be harder.  It can be painful sometimes, and I'm beginning to suspect that "runner's high" is a myth created to entice fat people to move around more.  But the joy of realizing that I've poured so much energy into something that's actually, objectively good for me is absolutely thrilling. 

Being healthier has obviously been good for my mood.  In fact, I've heard it said that the healthier you get, the more likely you are to stay in a happy state of mind.  That means fewer episodes of irrational rage and surliness, which presumably makes me a more pleasant person to be around.  Everybody wins!

Well, I got all caught up in my passion for aches and sweat and forgot to talk about the blog. Let's have a little word on that now.

In the past month I've put out two short stories which I am very proud of.  I've wanted to say a couple of words on each of them, but I kept forgetting to, so I thought I'd say it now.  Both of them are significant for me, because they revolve around dialogue.  Writers have strengths and weaknesses, and while I like to think I'm strong generally, my weaknesses are very obvious to me.  Writing convincing dialogue ranks up with describing clothing as something I hardly consider myself capable of doing.  John in the Box, however, is mainly centered around a conversation between two people, while Red Alert is composed entirely of a single conversation.  Neither of them were especially easy to write, but they were not as difficult as I thought, and they're both more enjoyable to read than I had hoped.  Small successes can make a person very happy.

But even so, looking back on them I see obvious cause for criticism.  Even as the author, the omnipotent and all-seeing creator of the universes in which these tales take place, I can't quite distinguish where my voice ends and the voices of my characters begins.  This probably results from my method of composition.  I often carry on very involved and evolving internal monologues which can turn into the substance of future conversations and stories; when dialogue is necessary, I play it out in my head as if I'm talking to myself.  This has a way of making characters who speak at length in my stories seem just a little less real.

I think Red Alert actually plays to this weakness as a strength.  You could almost call it a stream of consciousness piece, as I transcribed more or less the conversation I held inside my own head.  The two characters essentially are myself, engaged in a transparent metaphor of my creative process.  If they both speak with my voice, that's to be expected; and yet, the fact that they disagree and seem to have different priorities creates the opportunity for some interesting interpretations.  I of course interpret the story as evidence of my own latent insanity, as I always do, but I wouldn't say that's all there is to it.

It's nice when art can bend to the limitations of the artist and still become something worthwhile, but all the same I really ought to get better at writing dialogue.  Limitations can only take you so far.

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