Degrees of Storytelling

My wife works at Pixar.  It's basically as cool as you might think.

The company I work for has an office fairly close to Pixar, so every Wednesday I drive over to have lunch with the Mrs.  And it's great (and not just because of where she works -- getting to have lunch with your wife at least once a week is a pretty nice perk).  It's also a little torturous, because it's a campus full of creative people making stories.

As you can probably imagine, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to work there or in the writers' room on a television show or with an artist on a comic book.  I like the idea, but I also know that it's a completely different type of writing than I'm used to.

It's not so much the collaborative aspect that's foreign to me.  What's weird for me is the ability to access that creativity every day on a regular basis.

Which I guess isn't as hard as I think it is.  There's a new girl in our department at work.  And the other day one of my co-workers told her that I'm funny, and that I make up crazy stories.  While I don't really think of myself as a funny guy, I do make up ridiculous stories pretty much every day at work.  It's just the way my brain works.  Sometimes those stories are a bit too weird to have really been said out loud, but on average they're more or less acceptable for a general audience.

It's always been difficult for me to write.  Part of that is very real, but part of that is rationalization.  I've never really taken to the whole drunk writer mythology, but I'll admit that sometimes I've fallen into it.  For some reason, I have it in my brain that it's often easier for me to write if I have some liquid courage.

I think this stems from the fact that a lot of what I write is extremely personal, even if it's fiction.  And for as much as I might babble on and on about myself, I have always had a hard time of actually getting past the surface.  There are a lot of things that aren't easy for me to get to, which is, honestly, another issue entirely.

So in an effort to get myself to open up, I sometimes get a prescription from what Warren Ellis refers to as Doctor Whiskey.  And it works.  It's worked pretty well for years (although I suppose an argument could be made against that, given how I'm still struggling to get published).  It's pretty damn cool to read something you wrote and see that it's actually really good, which is surprising, both because it's good and because you don't particularly remember writing it.

Like I said, a lot of this is rationalization.  There's no real reason to believe I couldn't get to these places without any chemical assistance.  I've actually written an entire book without any kind of mind altering substances.  It takes longer, sure, but those hidden places are still accessible.  It's also just much harder to get there on my own.  Heck, it's hard regardless.

The thought occurred to me, then, that there are, perhaps, degrees to storytelling.  And if that's the case, then I seem to be writing on only one setting most of the time.  I think that's probably a bad thing.

Then again, I should also mention that the few nights of the week when I have the time to really sit down and write, it's a lot like a vacation.  Instead of a beach and sunshine, I have my office and a single lamp at night.  Instead of Mai Tai's, I have whiskey.  And instead of heading home at the end of the trip, with a lot less money and probably a few extra pounds, I slowly but surely tell stories. 

That seems pretty good to me.