Welcome to “Understanding the Art of Writing”! I am your humble host, A.M. Aaron, and I hope I can be the most gracious one can be. The purpose of this project is to explore the different facets, techniques, forms, and genres of writing in an effort to better know and appreciate the underlying meanings, purposes, and structures that inhabit all written works.
I made the conscious decision to become a writer and a historian a few years ago when I, finally, discovered that “Hey, I really like History and this writing thing. Maybe I should find a way to make a career of it?” I applied for History PhD programs soon after and… didn’t quite make the cut. While understandably disappointed, I was undeterred: I intended to make this newfound dream a reality.
And where did my enthusiasm lead me? Well… not far.
That’s not entirely true. I reapplied for those same PhD programs and found myself accepted into one (Yay!); however, aside from that, I hadn’t made many, if any, strides in the writing department. The number of projects I had were innumerable (perhaps an exaggeration); add to that number its inverse and you’ll get the number of works I have completed. In other, less math-y terms, I have finished zero things.
You see, enthusiasm and intent without structure doesn’t go very far. While initially bright and powerful, it burns out and sputters very quickly, leaving any and all started projects and plans unfinished.
To illustrate this point, imagine constructing a campfire. You gather all the wood, the kindling, the tinder, lighting fluid, and matches/a lighter. You dump everything into a nice and well-organized pile of indeterminate shape, empty the bottle of lighter fluid on it, and drop a solitary match in the middle. The result? A massive fireball followed by a few minutes, if that, of brilliant glow capped off with creeping darkness as the life is choked out of the campfire. You can always try to dump more lighter fluid on it to keep it going, but if you want to do something else with it, like cook your food or keep the night chill away, you’re going to have a difficult time accomplishing anything.
If you want to maintain that fire, you need to plan out its structure ahead of time: construct a shape that best suits the firewood you have collected, place the kindling in a spot where it will be able to light the wood, and make sure that oxygen can reach the center. Once that is done, then you may light the fire. While it will require a few minutes of constant care in order to make sure it doesn’t go out, pretty soon it will be able to sustain itself with only occasional tending.
Motivation, for better or worse, is a lot like a campfire. Structure and care will keep it going; otherwise, it’s going to brilliantly burn itself out time and again until there is nothing left to keep it going.
My hope for this blog, this project I am undertaking, is to help me create that structure that I need in order to preserve my motivation to lead the life of a writer. It’s as much a tool to help me as it is content to hopefully entertain and, more importantly, educate a wider audience on the finer points and forms of writing (at least, my limited understanding of) that I also want to know more about.
This is why I am laying out a schedule so you know when to expect posts as well as what kind they will be. I’ll even give some alliterative names to help you remember.
Wednesday will Narrative Nuisance. Here, I will mostly talk about History, as an academic pursuit and what it I think it should mean for a wider audience, and storytelling, deconstructing meaning and structure of stories that I happen to be reading or engaged with at the time. It won’t be limited to strictly History or literature; I plan to include the narrative devices used in video games, movies, and television shows, as well. It’s an effort on my own part to understand the different components that make up writings and narratives of all sorts, so the format will be pseudo-academic.
Friday with both be Film Friday and Free Talk Friday. Film Friday is where I’ll take a movie or show that I enjoyed on some level and either a) gush about how great it is or b) attempt to understand its shortfalls as well as rewrite it into something relative passable. This will be different than Narrative Nuisance because I plan to view the film as a whole rather than specific tropes and conventions that it used. Free Talk Friday is where I’ll talk about topics of more anecdotal nature, usually the concern of the week or such, or items that do not necessarily neatly fit into any of the other categories but I feel is important regardless. They will undoubtedly be about writing in some way, shape, or form, but more on my personal relationship with it.
Today should be the only time I post something on a Tuesday. Call it… Trailblazing Tuesday!
And, yes, before anyone asks, I have been heavily inspired by certain YouTubers that talk about stories and films in a quasi-academic manner. Such channels include Lindsay Ellis, Belated Media, Patrick (H) Willems, Overly Sarcastic Productions, and Mother’s Basement. If you’re unfamiliar with them, go check their channels out: they’re worth supporting.
I look forward to embarking on this new adventure and what lies ahead. I hope it is as enjoyable for you to see unfold as it will be for me to experience it.
Until next time…