Writer's Commentary: Week 2

Welcome to Week 2, a week of some very good one and some really disappointing ones. Let’s take a look.

On Post: Cross My Mind

Date: January 8, 2018

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I blew this one. No way around it, I just…screwed this one up bad.

I think I changed what I was doing like four times in the middle of writing and nothing works. It’s supposed to be emotional and it feels so…well, not. Ugh. The first total dog of the January Project.

The idea of the phone call came early, but the rest of it changed repeatedly. First it was just going to be a phone message but that felt too close to the actual lyrics. Then it was going to be a woman reaching out to an ex but I thought that felt stalkery, same in the other direction, and then I hit on the dad idea. And just utterly fumbled the ball.


On Post: Seconds

Date: January 9, 2018

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I’m not sure what it is about me and dancing. I blame it on THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY? I guess. There’s just something deeply disconcerting, to me, about people dancing not for fun or for art but because they are compelled by some outside force (psychic power, as part of a cult like a piece from 2016’s January Project, or in protest of the end of the world as in here). And the more people involved, the more arresting and disconcerting it gets.

Obviously, the inspiration is that “Seconds” is a Cold War song about nuclear war and the present day North Korea/US “tough” guy off. The reference to “Russians” by Sting is a two-fer. One, it is another Cold War era song about the possibility of the US and Russia destroying the planet in nuclear fire and two, I use it all the time as my joke song for a range of things.


On Post: You Are Free

Date: January 10, 2018

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Sometime during the day before I sat down to write this one, I heard a true crime podcast that discussed a case where a woman killed her co-worker and attempted, badly, to cover it up as a robbery gone wrong.

As I listened to this song, it linked to that ‘cast in the jumble of my brain and I started to imagine someone promising the convicted woman an escape. But what if he was lying? What if, actually, the victim’s parents hated the thought of this woman alive and were unconvinced that she wouldn’t find some kind of loophole to exploit to get out of jail and decided they had to end her? And this guy was the kind of person who could create a situation where they could do that?

I didn’t want to just tell the story linearly though—in part to avoid just being a really blood drenched affair, so I came to the fragmented past and present storytelling pretty quickly which let me fill-in the backstory without it feeling like (I hope) a formless info dump.

I did struggle with keeping the circumstances the same. Should it be a man who was the killer? A man who was the victim? Both men? I eventually decided to keep it both women, but I spent a lot of time debating that.

Similarly, I struggled with how sexual or flirty to make the “she” of the story. In real life, the killer was using sugar daddy websites to fund her lifestyle and I wanted to kind of nod towards that but I felt weird really diving into it because the optics felt funny to me and also how to bring it into the story without it feeling super awkward seemed difficult. So I just kept the nod and didn’t worry about making it more blatant.

This is probably the first of the Project this year that I really like.


On Post: Daysleeper

Date: January 11, 2018

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And this would be the second.

Sometimes during the January Project, I make a choice even before the song that I have to do something different. That happened here. I was too grounded, too much in now, so I decided that, whatever the song, I was going to take a sci-fi approach.

Thankfully, “Daysleeper” lends itself really well to a science fiction story. Lucky me!

As for the rest, it just kind of fell into place as I wrote. I wanted it to feel lived in. Human nature has changed with technology but nearly to the extent that tech has changed so I figured even a man in the future would feel a lot like a man now so he’d be thinking about a lot of the same things—a sexual past that wasn’t without bad choices, loud neighbors, people getting it when you aren’t, food, the ability to goof off at work and still get paid, a mixed of pride and embarrassment about where he lived, and so on.

I suspect I overdid it a touch on future terminology as I went but otherwise, I like this one quite a bit.


On Post: You Belong with Me

Date: January 12, 2018

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This one bummed me out. Because I think I used to be able to write people talking. But between this one and “Cross My Mind” earlier in the week, I’m not so much good at it lately.

This is another “the outside world provided me inspiration” piece as there is such an app and I watched people get all sorts of sweet notes through it and then tried to use it to get writing feedback and received ZERO messages, good or bad, about my writing. The secret admirer piece obviously came from the song itself and Taylor’s desire to be with someone who already has a girlfriend. I really like the first message because it feels sweet and little bad all at once, but, as noted above, I think the words drop in a hurry after that.

I really like the idea. I like the elements. I think monologue is a good approach to it. My execution though? Bad bad bad.


On Post: Heat Dies Down

Date: January 13, 2018

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Since the song is about the breakdown of love after the flush of excitement, I wanted to write about how love is, in a word, work. Putting it in poetry made sense to me because no other artform is as dedicated to the beauty of love, I would argue, than poetry.

The problem is, I needed to establish love as not fun but hard but I wanted to close on a “but it’s worth it,” point and it took me forever to close the wound. Maybe I should’ve just made it a negative take on love so it didn’t linger so long? I’m not sure. In present form though, it is definitely overlong.


On Post: If You Don’t Know Me By Now

Date: January 14, 2018

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Still really like the idea, but was writing it under a hard time limit and was very sleepy. If had another 20 minutes or was awake, I think I really could’ve done something funny and mean with it. As it is now, it just kind of sits on the page.

I didn’t want to do another thing about love so I started to think about other relationships people might have. Politician and newspaper just clicked for me, especially our ongoing saga of how women are treated as politicians (pretty badly, typically) and the upcoming midterms.

Again, the idea is sound but the flesh was weak.