Friday Five: Pet Peeves Edition

This week’s Friday Five is going to be of a different nature. Instead of links, I’m going to address some of my pet peeves…mainly because they’ve all come up one time too many this week.

1. This one has actually come up one time too many over the last few months, but that may be because I’m starting to hang out around more writers who are either convinced they’re revolutionizing the writing world by serializing their stories, or who hate those who are jumping on this newfangled serialization bandwagon. (I’ve seen some polarized discussions in my time, but this one… Whoa.) Serial writing in not new. Not by a long shot. This shouldn’t seem like such a revelation, given the long-time existence of literary magazines, but apparently it is.

2. We live in a world where marketers are trying to make everything “go viral”. I guess they all missed the part where our society tends to react to viruses by trying to eradicate them with antibiotics and such. But this need to make sure everyone sees everything leads to people being exposed to the same ideas, the same news, the same everything. Many of us have our own mix of interests that we pursue, which helps us differentiate our own experiences and knowledge from others, but at the end of the day, being exposed to that much sameness can lead to an apparent hive mindset. Among writers, this can look like someone has stolen your work, when really they’ve just drawn similar inspirations from the same source material and produced their own take on it. And honestly, everything’s a remix anyway.

This is not to say there aren’t legitimate cases of plagiarism, but it’s not quite as rampant as some would have you believe. This is part of why I’m writing the Copyright Primer. The more you know, the better you can respond appropriately to things.

3. In that same vein of trying to produce same experiences, your way onto a path is not necessarily the One True Path. This is especially true in creative endeavors. And again, it comes back to that whole “we each have our own interests which leads to a differentiation in experience and knowledge” thing. And it’s good. It’s how we get a diversity of perspectives on a set of ideas, knowledge, and experiences. It’s fine to offer your origin story or advice based on your own experiences, but to behave as if your way is the only way says a lot about you as a person and as a creator.

4. Fairy tales were never meant to entertain children. In fact, they were never meant for young children. They developed as part of the oral tradition, providing education through warnings to older children preparing to face adulthood. So, the originals can be a bit…scary…and definitely inappropriate for your average seven year old. However, one of the signposts that a child is shifting into their next phase of development (known to educators and psychologists as their second sensitive period) is the child seeking out stories that scare them. Children in this phase are realizing that there’s a big world beyond their front yard, and they’re scared of what that might mean. So stories that show other people, especially kids closer to them in age, meeting something scary and moving past it brings them a bit of comfort as they level up.

There isn’t a fifth point this week, but I will offer this advice. Consume what you want in terms of entertainment. Create what makes you happy. Develop your own goals, and your own steps, and your own learning path. Consult everyone from beginners to masters, and then take what resonates with you and use that to strengthen your own path. Don’t worry about what someone else is doing unless you’re collaborating and trying to make sure your parts intersect well. And don’t worry too much about being “original” because it’s all been done before. Find your own voice, and don’t hurt others in the process.

See you next week!

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