In the League of Extraordinary Matrix Hulks

I just spent the weekend in the hospital. There was no internet. I did not have my computer, or even a book. So, I watched TV. To be specific, I watched the following: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, all three Matrix movies, the Hulk (Jennifer Connelly and Eric Bana), and an encore presentation of The Hulk because I missed half of it running between my bed and the bathroom.

I'm mad, confused, and about to rip my shorts.even a book. So, I watched TV. To be specific, I watched the following: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, all three Matrix movies, the Hulk (Jennifer Connelly and Eric Bana), and an encore presentation of The Hulk because I missed half of it running between my bed and the bathroom.

Why this relates to writing is because I got a chance to study story structure, character development, and writing of dialogue in an intense boot camp laced with orange jello and intravenous drugs. What I discovered is that many Hollywood stories have very predictable dialogue, conflict, and even laughable conflict and complications. Oddly, the Hulk was the best of this batch of movies, probably because Ang Lee directed it and at least it had pretty jazzy cinematography. The other three largely featured stuff blowing up and people dodging bullets.

I’m at sort of a crossroads in my writing life. At the moment, this blog is the only thing that I really, really want to write. I had convinced myself the YA was my genre, because I work with high school students and I know them well. But I don’t feel connected to that writing…I feel that I’m doing it simply because it makes sense to do it. I do feel proud of the books I’ve produced, but there is a lack of spark there, no real fire to continue. And I think that fire is essential for a writer. The fire drives all explorers, whether it be Neo looking for Zion, or the Hulk looking for a  better-fitting speedo (and right now I will just say that this detail bothered me to no end. How can a normal-sized man go from being 5′ 8 to being 20 feet tall, and his underwear doesn’t rip? What the hell is he wearing? Sorry. I digress.)

Back to the fire thing. I really have zero fire right now for YA. I have some excitement for another project I’m doing, but I’m not working on it. I just don’t feel like it. So what does this mean? All I want to write about is writing.

I feel like the Hulk. He was a normal dude with green-tinged rage issues. When he was truly himself, and true to himself, nobody liked him. He was a threat, an outcast, a monster. I feel like that in my writing life. My shorts have not expanded properly, and my complexion is mossy. I’m busting to get out, to change, but I don’t know what I’d even change into.

I need to relight my fire. Someone sent me an email the other day that said when things become uncomfortable or unpleasant, it’s God (or the universe, or the aliens) pushing you in a new direction. I feel pushed, I surely do. I just don’t know which direction to go.

If you have a map, or a super-stretchy speedo for a 20-foot Hulk, please contact me. I’d love to move forward without ripping my shorts.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ron Goetz
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 10:23:50

    “…very predictable dialogue, conflict, and even laughable conflict and complications.”

    So, these are tolerable in hit movies. Interesting.

    Here are a few books that were not outstanding in terms of writing, but made/are making a definite social impact: Ragged Dick (Alger), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe), The Turner Diaries (Pierce).

    Each one made a definite statement. Each book reflected a powerful ideology or sentiment. Each book was ground-breaking, and tapped into an preexisting need. Preexisting but unfilled.

    I remember when “Star Wars” came out in 1977. I was finishing college, and had been married a little over a year.

    Before “Star Wars,” the big buzz in cinema had been anti-heroes and dark comedies. I am reminded of movies like Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Little Murders (1971), Harold and Maude (1971), Dog Day Afternoon (1975).

    When “Star Wars” came out, it seemed to me like it had been a long time since a good-old-fashioned good guys vs. bad guys movie had been released. They had been out of vogue for some time. Vietnam had aroused a lot of negative sentiment, and Luke Skywalker was a very cool, positive hero who did reflect the rebellion against government that permeated the decade.

    After “Star Wars,” it was okay to have squeaky clean heroes again.

    Remember “Forrest Gump”? I think I know one reason why it was so successful. It totally, absolutely contradicted the zeitgeist, which emphasizes independent thinking, non-conformity, standing out through exceptional personal qualities.

    But Forrest never thought independently, always conformed, always followed orders. He was naive, and did exactly what he was ordered to do. And the universe rewarded him handsomely. Jenny on the other hand, followed the counter-cultural currents and lived a life of despair. (Lt. Dan is another case…)

    My point: writing can be, but doesn’t have to be, brilliant. It does have to be, somehow, new and fresh.

    I know I’m speaking in generalities, but I have given this a little thought. I don’t have any advice, but I do have some ideas.

    Have you re-explored your personal ideology or philosophy of life? People like Ayn Rand and William Luther Pierce (boo hiss) write with a hard ideological edge that appeals to certain audiences. Are there traditional virtues that absolutely do not resonate for you? Exploring that has been very interesting for me. The words describing many necessary virtues (e.g. duty and loyalty) have been systematically denigrated and devalued, even though they remain essential, even for dissenting rebels and their tribes.

    What do you really live by, Laura? What really drives you? I have found the Enneagram to be helpful in determining what REALLY motivates me.

    I don’t know if any of this will help, but one of my personal mottoes is, “It’s better to produce culture than to consume it.”


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