The last status report I posted featuring a new Bad Fairy chapter was at the beginning of April. I have not been actively writing anything fictional since then, though I've revamped some short stories and finished the edits on my nonfiction book and done a bunch of other creative things like running two webcomics, producing a new video for each of my two channels at least once a month (plus a couple silly music videos that were extra), and blogging a lot. Oh, and reading a book a week, most of the time. But it's pretty weird for me to not be working on my book when it is in progress.
I'm distracted. About half of it is continued engagement and upkeep for my nonfiction career--the New York trip, the Canada trip, the media interviews, the interaction with the asexual community surrounding the topic of my book--but about half of it is absolutely unrelated to that and has involved me voluntarily throwing myself headfirst into a storm of cartoon obsession. I do that sometimes. The last time was about eight years ago with Eyeshield 21, and that ran its course when I ran out of material. This time it's the Steven Universe cartoon, and I fill a lot of my free time these days with checking out fan content like blog posts and reaction videos and creative music videos made with footage from the show and discussion online. It's a TON of fun and I'm really really enjoying it, but whenever I'm away from making new content for a long time, I get sort of--what's a good word for it? Homesick for it? Heartsick? Not sure.
I'm wondering, though, what the motivation behind it is. Am I "being distracted by" this cartoon because it's so great and it's stealing most of my waking thoughts for collection in an insidious black hole from which there is no escape? Or was I just looking for something to help me avoid engagement with my own material? And if it's the latter, is it because I am doing something damaging--avoiding it, procrastinating, sabotaging myself--or is it because I am doing something I needed to do? Something that allows me to take a break or infuse myself with a really invigorating dose of what fiction is supposed to be so I can remember why I do it?
This animated show is deceptively cute for something so awash in feels (as Internet dorks like me refer to it). It is so incredible how it tricks you into becoming emotionally invested and then you can't escape. I'm wondering if I'm enjoying it so much partly because I'm learning from it--learning more about character development and analyzing with my writer brain how exactly the storytelling style resulted in such a successful reception . . . and not just for me, but for so many people. I guess it's pretty typical for me to try to make something "productive" out of enjoying a cartoon, but if I don't, the amount of time I've spent "distracting" myself with it is pretty unforgivable, so maybe it's best that I think of it that way.
That said, maybe I really shouldn't be trying to justify it, even if it's just to myself. Most people have hobbies that don't "do" anything except make them happy, and most people spend a really significant amount of time on those hobbies. Much of the time, said hobbies are television shows or maybe following athletic events or musical events. They enjoy those things with others sometimes, or just by themselves, and feel more relaxed or stimulated or engaged or emotional or uplifted or educated or excited by connecting themselves to these stories others wrote or experiences others are having. Unlike most other people who just consume and enjoy a thing, I tend to get really into mine, and have to drag a few other people into my enjoyment/misery while probably making other people who are close to me roll their eyes if they don't understand or don't want to participate. (They're probably used to it by now if they've known me a long time, but still.)
|Success. Thanks, Jeaux!|
I kinda hate when this happens because I know how important it is that I keep writing my stuff, but I also kinda love when it happens because it's so special when you find something you really connect with in fiction, and this show in particular is such a great thing to have that with because there are so many objectively positive things about it. I remember when I was in high school and was super obsessive about Animaniacs and my mom would say stuff like "At least those songs are teaching you about state capitals and US presidents." Yeah, at least. Sure, it's a fringe benefit. That wasn't why I was watching it--again, CHARACTERS--but the thing was definitely educational. Same with SU--not educational in such an explicit sense, but there are a lot of life lessons and demonstrations of unusual family structures and non-heteronormative messages and advice about love and complicated interpersonal relationships being modeled and discussed in ways I've never ever seen before. If someone wanted to know why it was so important, I would invoke those elements (and have done so). But none of those things describe why it's important to me.
The characters are goofy and cartoony and are in impossible situations but they are important to me and I'm invested because I care about the people. I want my fiction-writing skills to benefit from this; I want other people to care about my characters the way I care about these ones. I've seen it happen here and there with test readers who have talked at length about stuff under the surface in my work, and that's what I'd love to see happen on a large scale if my writing gets out there the way I want it to. Despite cartoon obsessions being a distraction, I think I can translate my (sometimes excessive) involvement with fiction into better storytelling skills and character development, and come out on the other side better for it.
But to be perfectly honest . . . I think it's time I backed away a little and got some work done over here. ;)
The show is currently on a hiatus after hitting us with five new episodes last week. It is coming back on July 13 with another five new episodes. Maybe I can motivate myself to finish my novel before that happens?
Hmmmm. I think that might be a really good idea. What say you, blog readers? ;)