A Writing Lesson from a Cartoon
Bojack Horseman is one of the best TV shows ever. It’s clever and silly and deep, too. It’s like the writers followed Joss Whedon’s advice to, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”
Season 6, the last season of the series, has an episode called “Good Damage.” It’s about the writer Diane, who struggles with writing, which she’s good at. Writing is her passion. But writing about her trauma is too hard and she ends up writing a fun young adult novel about a teenager who solves mysteries at a food court mall. Diane says that she doesn’t want to write this type of fluff because, “That means all the damage I got isn’t ‘good damage.’ It’s just damage.’”
This resonated with me because even though I say I like writing and am good at it, I have a hard time actually doing it. I struggle and struggle as I force myself to write scripts and stories. I stopped blogging because it was too difficult for me to articulate my convoluted feelings. I got caught up trying to convey everything going on inside my brain. And as a result, the creative tap ran dry.
But after watching a cartoon writer struggle with writing, I decided to just write. I vowed to leave behind the complicated semantics tangling up my writing process and write about things that are interesting to me. It doesn’t have to be witty or insightful. This attitude lets me off the hook. I can express myself without the pressure of being deep or whatever.
Not writing for fun makes me feel sad because I’m not using my self-perceived talent to enlighten the world. So this year, I’m experimenting. I’m writing for myself. No expectations, no self-sabotage. Just me. And hopefully that’s enough.
Welcome to the Roaring Twenties
When I was a kid, I pictured the future in two ways: 1) The fun utopia of the Jetsons, or 2) The frightening dystopia ruled by Skynet.
But here we are in 2020. Things have definitely changed since the 80s and I guess we live in a kind of the middle ground between flying cards and robot overlords. Things change, life goes on.
I think the technological breakthrough I appreciate the most is streaming and on-demand services. Even when I was a child, I hated having to tune into Saturday morning cartoons on Saturday. I complained about the TGIF lineup as constricting to my adolescent schedule. I wished that we could choose what to watch and when to watch it.
This belief was further reinforced later in life by the TV show, Lost. At first, my friend and I would be excited to get together and watch it every week. But as the years went on and the storylines because more convoluted, watching Lost became a chore. Yet we didn’t want to stop as we’d been doing it for so long. And there was no way we’d wait for the DVD to come out a year later. So, we became Lost addicts, wanting to quit but not having the fortitude to follow through.
I think of Netflix had been around back then, I would’ve skipped the show all together until it ended and binge watched the entire thing in a month. That’s my favorite way to consume TV shows.
In fact, I used to do something similar when I lived in Japan in the early 2000s. I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer so much but I they didn’t show it in Japan. So when the DVD of the season became available in the US, my friend would it to me. And then I’d watch it in one glorious weekend while eating andagi and soki soba.
Anyway, it’s exciting to see all that’s changed in the past 30 years and I wonder what the next 30 years has in store! What a time to be alive!
My Problem with Gen-X
I was born at the tail-end of what’s known as Generation-X, or Gen-X, for short. Gen-Xers were born between 1965 and 1980. It’s no surprise that I relate more to a Millennial born in 1982 than a member of my own generation born in 1967.
I didn't really care about the categories of birth generations until I was older and trying to launch a career as a writer in the 2000s. Being a writer is all about branding, right? Well, at that time, people weren’t interested in reading what a Gen-Xer had to say. They were (and still are) obsessed with Millennials. The young, new voices deemed as fresh and must-read were the Millennial writers. Where does that leave a tail-end Gen-Xer? Unpublished. Sad. Bitter. Oh! Like a typical Gen-Xer! What have I become?
But now with the awkward war raging between Boomers and Millennials/Gen Z, I guess Gen-X is not so bad. So where’s my book deal?