I have a few bits of advice I keep coming across that have begun to increasingly irk me, and I find myself compelled to rant about. First, we have some job-search related items.
1. “Find your passion,” “do what you love and the money will follow,” etc.
Quite frankly, this is bullshit. An activity will make you money only if it creates sufficient economic value for someone else. What if everything you love doing is something that nobody wants to pay for? By definition, your labor is worth what the market is willing to pay you for it. The world is full of starving artists.
2. “Everyone has marketable/transferable skills,” “no one is unemployable”
And what job here in Anchorage uses my familiarity with Schrödingers equation? Or my experience performing the Stern-Gerlach experience? So far, my B.S. in Physics has been more of a hinderance than a help, thanks to that dread word: “overqualified.” And since the tutoring market dried up, my math and science skills have meant diddly squat. The petroleum engineering firms around here weren’t interested in anyone whose degree wasn’t specifically in engineering, and that was before the economic downturn and BP’s problems.
3. “Use your network!” “Everyone has a network!”
Sure, but not much of one. I’m an extreme introvert; I’ve known all my friends since elementary school or junior high. My “network” found me a total of one job opening in the past six years; and as for how that interview went, see my comment about engineering in point #2.
Next, I’ve recently begun another (masochistic) attempt at creative writing. The problem: characters. As at least one of my high school english teachers noted, my only non-flat, believable characters are robots or aliens; beings utterly distant from the usual human condition. The advice:
1. Character sheets
Again and again, the advice is to develop a character by filling in a page full of physical traits, family background, likes and dislikes, etc. (see here for example). What I don’t see is how to go from all these little factoids to determining how this hypothetical individual will act in a given situation; to what they might say in responce to a given question. How does any of this help determine the crucial part: behavior?
2. “Write what you know”
When it comes to what I know, people are not it. I’m an extreme introvert. My tiny circle of friends consists of people I’ve known for at least a decade and a half, and I still don’t understand much of their behavior.
As a child, my most favorite movies included Short Circuit, about a prototype military robot that accidentally gains sentience, and D.A.R.Y.L., about a strange-but-gifted young boy who turns out to be a computer brain in a human body. In both cases, I empathised with the machine characters. I also enjoyed the TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun for much the same reason; I could identify with the aliens, attempting to study the bizarre, illogical, incomprehensible behaviors of the naked apes around them.
So, how does one add romance to a story when one has never felt any attraction toward another human being? How do you determine every reaction of a fictional character when you can’t even predict the behavior of your own friends or family very well?
Okay. Rant done.