Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Definitely Distressingly Dismissive, Dude

As I was sitting in the pseudo-dark of a morning where the sun has yet to fully rise, chomping cheerfully on a bowl of Cap'n Crunch, my thoughts turned to my writing and how I absolutely need to start doing it again instead of watching awesome people on YouTube because I'm quickly sliding into being a lazy asshole again (or maybe I just have guilt for spending the last two hours in the Ruins of Alph catching Unown and matching authors to their letter—Applegate, Berenstain, Carroll, Dostoevsky, Edgar, and Grimm so far.)

Like any other sadistic fellow I was going over in my head the way I used to write, back when it made me happy, compared to how I write now which has this habit of only making me happy sometimes. Well, I came to this memory about a specific section in the first Elfin Warfare book where Freya is leaping from a wall and I count the feet of her descent, spelling each number out as a word and putting it off in its own sentence. Then I got to thinking about how numbers are handled in books, and somewhere along the way I picked up this "rule."

"You only spell out the first ninety-nine numbers. Everything from one-hundred onward is displayed as a number."

Well, that made some sense. After all, who wants to take the time to read "four-hundred-eighty-nine-thousand-six-hundred-fifty-seven-point-zero-four?" Not most people that I know of. Hell, if you were to write it out like that, the audience would probably get all kinds of confused about what number you're actually trying to use.

But in the quest to find my own grammatical style (something which is plaguing me in this post, even. I haven't quite figured out how I want to handle punctuation at the end of parentheticals or quotes. Right now I'm going with "only end-of-sentence punctuation inside of sentence-modifiers, because ending with a comma looks weird. Allow quotes or parentheses to be the last character in a sentence if the end of the parenthetical or quoted thought is also the end of the primary sentence." Still a work in progress.) I had taken a certain liking to spelling numbers out in that manner (as full words with letters, if my other aside had distracted you.)

Then I thought: "But that doesn't really work as well when using time. "2:00 PM" is better than "Two PM." Right? Well, maybe sometimes. I realized that it was all dependent on the unique style that particular story—and that particular portion of that particular story—needed. Sometimes it needed to be spelled out, as in the case of Freya in Elfin Warfare: Guardian Angel I mentioned above, and sometimes it needed to be shown as a plain old number. All for the overall atmosphere of the story. All for the style.

I used to have style, it dawned on me then. That's what happened to my writing. The fun I was having came from creating the style of the story telling. I'd let so many of "The Rules" cram into my brain from all the disparagers of "bad writing" that I had forgotten what the hell style actually was. I mean to an extent. With the Brrda stories I have a very definite style. It isn't as much of a fun, hopping style as I tend to write, but it's an intentional style. But outside of Brrda I had kind of gotten so brainwashed that I forgot what it was that people liked about my writing. Style. Class.

And then I laughed at myself. How could I have class? Me? Nathan DiYorio? The dweeb who can't even fit in among the other dweebs on video game chat forums? The guy who gets bitched at about his opinions on Poke'mon? When the hell did I ever have style? Style is something that people with respect tend to have, people who are popular and well-liked. Will Smith has style. Gotye has style. Boogie has style. Me? I've got this boring-box monotone and a demeanor which is best described as "greasy." If nobody likes me, how on Earth dare I believe that I once had style?

Back to Elfin Warfare. Back to reading it for the first time in Write Club, Sophomore year, seventeen-years-old. The audience was small. Me, a sorta-friend (at the time), some chick I didn't know who kind of scared me by how militantly intellectual she was. She's the important part of this thought, by the way, so I think I'll take a minute to describe her as best I can with what vague interpretation of her I can conjure. She was one of those people who you can tell is going to be a tough audience attendee, who might rip you to shreds for mispronouncing one little thing. And she was the one who commented on my use of numbers. The comment? She loved it.

Praise! Bring on the praise! And she did. About a whole straight minute of "Most engrossing scene I've read in a long time." I couldn't ask for anything more. Yet all I could muster was a feeble "Heh. Thanks." while staring down over the thin frames of my dorky-ass glasses but avoiding ever even remotely making eye contact.

"Good lord," I realized back in the present, dropping my spoon and dribbling milk down my chin. Actually, since my mouth was full of cereal it was more like: "Gubler blorbed." but I digress. "It wasn't because I had no style that everyone hated and/or hates me! It was/is because I'm a big fucking douche!"

I realized then why that person never talked to me again except to once ask if I had seen Ultraviolet, but now that I think about it, that might have been the exact same conversation so lol. You see, I am apparently one of those people who comes off as dismissive, snooty, and nose-in-the-air better-than-you-pathetic-insects. I mean, who I am couldn't be further from the truth. I'm a quiet, weak, self-destructive mouse of a man (except when I need to be a rhinoceros, which I am wholly capable of becoming. Also, Gollum. So y'know. Don't take my Precious.) If I hold myself above anybody in this world, it is exclusively the people who have in some way destroyed the life of some other human being. I have not and don't plan on doing that, therefore I am better than serial killers.

But because of the way I carried myself, apparently acting like I was the hottest shit to be shat, people automatically didn't like me. Which, now that I think about it, is really okay, because I went to high school with a bunch of lumberjacks. However, this is apparently still how I carry myself. And I never even realized it! I mean, I know I was a judgmental jerkwad, but I never knew I was a dismissive douche.

Then I slowed down. I realized I wasn't a dismissive douche. I just came off as one because I clam right the hell up in social situations and lose any meaningful thing I was going to say. One word responses and incoherent mumbles aren't what leave my lips because I don't think people are worth the breath it takes to talk (unless you're my immediate family), but because I have absolutely terrible ways of dealing with stresses of being social.

So there's two lessons to take away from this post. One for me, and one for you. The one for me is that I really need to work on socializing and how I present myself and not absolutely shutting down in a situation with other human beings. The one for you is to consider that maybe the moron you're talking to who doesn't seem to want to give you the time of day doesn't really look down on you at all, but maybe they're just awful at talking and don't want you to hate them any more than you're already starting to.

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