As I am scoping out the work I’ll be doing for this 2019 Novel – a thirty-day period at Eville Medical in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story” – some of the elements seemed clear. There are Sammohini and her coworkers, building out the set-pieces of Eville Medical, and throwing out pitches for story ideas. There was one missing element. It’s what resonates most with me, rather than cool character aesthetics, interesting set-pieces, or well-written prose: So what?
We only have so much time.
I can only read so many books like Dracula, brimming with expositionary filler, lacking in overall purpose. I can only watch so many vapid episodes of television shows where they show something cool once between commercial breaks. I can only listen to so much music that fails to inspire any sort of emotion in me, whether that’s expressing anger or joy. I can only play so many videogames where I need to pass a jump at a certain angle, precisely and mechanically, before I start to wonder if the purpose was just a display of masochism.
I don’t want to write without a purpose.
Even if I state the obvious throughout all these many essays I’ve written, and as I approach these short stories, I want at least to establish a baseline of meaning. I’ve written essays on what I call Applied Self-Confidence and Applied Psychology as a means to explore deep-rooted issues in my life, air out those frustrations, and come to terms with them. They’ve been helpful for me to write and so I can assume they’d be helpful for some to read. Although I’ll meander and sometimes write without knowing the conclusion, I always try to write with a sense of purpose in mind, even if it is to express a frustrating moment so I don’t have it lodged in my mind anymore.
The more formal the work, the more rigid the definitions should be for the work.
With these essays, I can meander around points to arrive at greater meanings. With these upcoming short stories, I can still do some meandering, however, I should have more structure. I couldn’t write about Sammohini without knowing her character. I could probably wing writing about Sammohini in Eville Medical without knowing that setting well enough. I could probably even write some short stories without really much more than a premise, but those would just be mechanical exercises in writing about characters than anything with any sort of deeper resonance.
I don’t want you to give up reading because you’re thinking: “So what?!”
That doesn’t mean the purpose has to be some kind of life-changing element. It could be as simple as saying “a character is forced to develop the resolve to say no to a difficult situation.” I like stories like that. I would describe Shield Hero as a character being forced into a bad situation and learning to overcome that situation. While the nuances of that story may be steeped in late 2010s anime trends, it may have some controversial themes, and it may have story arcs that are terrible, its purpose is universal. That’s why I remember it over, say, Goblin Slayer, whose purpose is to show that the world is a raw and unfiltered place. I can appreciate and empathize with that purpose, because yes life is unfair and tragic, but that flounders for me because it doesn’t inspire me to action.
That might be why I haven’t watched The IT Crowd.
I don’t watch many comedies, even steeped in a culture I know too well, because their purposes tend to be a light-hearted exploration of life. Someone says something silly, someone else says something sillier, then cut to the next scene. There is certainly comedy with purpose and not everything in life needs a grandiose purpose. The paint drip technique of Jackson Pollock doesn’t interest me much, nor does the surreal imagery of Salvador Dalí, though I can appreciate the surrealism of both without needing to have a need for an extensive exploration of purpose in either painter’s works. It’s similar to how SUNN O))) albums tend to just be expressions of tones and mood. They’re nice for certain situations, but I don’t often listen to them, look at the aforementioned painters’s works, or watch comedies where I could just watch while someone shows me a highlight reel at work, or something.
I’ll consume these but they won’t nourish me.
What nourishes me are works that inspire me to approach life in a way that enables me to be more iconoclastic. I will always remember the scene from the movie Naked where Johnny walks with a security guard and rants about his perspectives of life and the universe. Here are a violent homeless man and a humble security guard, walking around the hallways of a dark building, Johnny looking for a place to stay and the security guard looking to not get in trouble, and the purpose is complex. It’s a soapbox for Johnny, an acting platform for David Thewlis, and a moment to add some gravity to the movie. Years later, when I would walk around with a security guard on lunch breaks where we’d talk as he marked off security checkpoints, the movie felt even more realistic than it had when it was just monologue that resonated with me.
Fiction should strive to tell greater truths.
When we write fiction, sure, the characters are fake, the scenes and summary might borrow from reality just enough to where we don’t need to plan out the precise physics of this universe, but the purpose – for me – is to talk about greater issues. If we can learn to empathize with anti-heroes in fiction, then we can learn to empathize with our friends that might make minor mistakes. If we see a character learn to overcome an obstacle, that can give us the courage to tackle our next obstacle. These are my “so what” moments.
Your “so what” moments might ask: Did it make me laugh?
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: As I was coming up with plot summaries, I began to realize, well, wait, I should also define the purpose, so then I meandered through a thousand words about my thoughts on purpose in entertainment, media, and art.|
|Related: Other 2019 Novel writings.|
|Picture: The purpose of this picture is just a placeholder with relevant information.|
|Written On: October 27th, 2019 [45 minutes, from 7:14pm to 7:59pm, WordPress]|
|Last Edited: October 27th, 2019 [First draft; final draft for the Internet]|