knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
It was a strange night for dreams lemme tell you. Full emotional spectrum.

At one point, I was a disenfranchised citizen of a corrupt police state and an old woman who had agreed to wash my clothes for some money was trying to steal them from me by threatening to call the police (who would be on her side). I took just a couple of my things (a bed sheet and a miniature car in a shopping basket) and ran. A cop stopped me and told me I had to give the stuff back. In straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back state of mind, I hit him. Then, knowing what would happen to me if I hit a cop and stopped there, I strangled him to death.

At another, I stood staring into a large hat box full of clothes (no hats), and the clothes were squirming all over the place. After a brief investigation, I said, "Why is our lunch full of ferrets?" One of the girls who was with me said defensively, "I didn't know what to pack!" I picked up one of the ferrets and said, "Hey, squirmy." It nuzzled me in the face.

I'm thinking about converting The Effluvian Heresy into a novel. I don't necessarily think it needs to be a novel, but I am blocked for new ideas. And it would mean having something to work on.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
So I've been wrestling with the old writer's crisis of "Am I good enough or just fooling myself?" bullshit again. This time, it may actually be fairly constructive. As I was telling Ciro awhile back, I'm confident that I could become a professional writer given enough time and effort (the former, I still have, barring freak accidents) because perfect strangers have told me they enjoyed certain stories I've written when they have no reason to lie about it. The problem right now is one of scope maybe? I know it's going to take a long time to get where I want to go. I've always known that, which maybe be a contributing factor to the last decade of unmitigated faffing about. I went rooting around in an old folder my computer inherited from its predecessor and found a critique Val did of an old story of mine ("Cricket Season"), and at the end was a wonderful paragraph of her rhetorically beating me up for not reading and writing enough. She wrote that critique seven and a half years ago. So basically, it's bullshit how little I've progressed since then.

The weird thing is that I have progressed. I've got more life experience to draw from (though still not the sort of experience in the amounts that I might like). I've written more than I had then, which is a cop out. One thing I've steadfastly tried not to think about over the past couple years is how STARTLINGLY LITTLE I've written since I dropped out of college to "pursue my dream". I'm referring specifically to fiction. I've done a fair amount of blogging in that time, some of it constructive, some of it not. There's no denying that I'm still at a stage in my development as a writer where I need to write things as much for practice as production. The novella was a start, what I need to do now is write short fiction in spades and maybe some extensive outlining for some of the novels I have on the backburner. That's nothing new. What is new is the list I'm about to draw up of my actual body of "completed" works because it's about time I had something to slap myself in the face with so I can SEE how conactive (I declare thee a word!) I've been:

Closest I can get to chronological order:

0: "The Cleric Rod" - A "novel" I started trying to write when I was in my early teens? Somewhere around there. I include it solely in the interest of full disclosure, though now I'm wondering if the draft is still around somewhere in my mom's house.

1: "Eternal Damnation and Other Things That Go Bump In the Night" - Short story. First I ever wrote. Assignment for my Fiction Writing class in Iowa. Absolutely teeming with cliches.

2: "George Was Curious" - Short Story. Hahaha! Might actually be fun to bring back though I'd have to find out if Curious George is public domain, which it probably isn't.

3: "The Day the Dragons Fell" - Short Story. The first thing I ever submitted to a market: "Realms of Fantasy" back before it closed. Premise was fun enough I suppose, and there was one scene that I still think back on fondly, but the story as a whole was very indicative of my age when I wrote it.

4. "Cricket Season" - Short Story. Surprisingly upstart in my current personal zeitgeist, but that's really just because I'm back working at a gas station. On the whole, way too autobiographical.

5. "On the Fly" - Short Story. And here's where the wheels start to come off the wagon. "On the Fly" came maybe three? Years after "Cricket Season". I think back on it, and I still think the story has merit. It's just never a piece I was able to get going satisfactorily. It's also the only thing I've ever written (or in this case attempted to write) that felt less pulpy and more meaty, literature wise. That's probably the wrong way to put it, but I can't think of a right one.

6. "Who Shapes the Shaper" - Short Story. Sigh. My only legitimate publication to date, and I still look back at the prose and shudder sometimes. That problem aside, I'm proud of the piece on the whole.

7. "Skies of Blues" - Short Story. Inspired by a typo I read once. Nice enough attempt I suppose, but it got preachy and went nowhere.

8. "Lady of Knives" - Short Story. Grarr. My only illegitimate publication to date, and the only one I will ever suffer if I have my way. I like the story. I can read it and go, "Yes, I am satisfied with this." The problem is that it's indicative of a crisis I've been going through for awhile concerning the possibility that my work is (and, horribly, might always be) too sophomoric to make me the writer that I want to be. That's crap though. That's something that can be overcome.

9. "Into the White" - Short Story. Sigh. Let's face it. This one is the monkey I'll probably never get off my back. If there was ever a point where I resolved to attack my problem with revisiting and retrying old pieces, this would be the story I started with. It got a personal rejection from Strange Horizons. That was pretty cool.

10. "The Test of Time" - Short Story. Meh. It was a fun attempt, but it didn't amount to much. Val hated it as I recall. Also the title's an unforgivable bit of flim-flammery.

11. "The Seventh Son" - Flash fiction. My first real attempt to write straight sci-fi, and it was awwwwwwwwfuuuuuuuuulllllllll. I submitted to Daily Science Fiction fooooorrrrr some reason. I might delete it. No, but posterity! Argh it's horrible! POSTERITY.

12. "His Face is in the Glass" - Short Story. It's hard for me to think about this one because I think there might be something there. It runs into the same problem I have with "The Battle that must Always Be" except that I finished "Face". Or finished a draft of it anyway. I'm just not sure what medium it wants to be: novel? short? graphic novel (ha! who am I kidding?)

13. "The Effluvian Heresy" - Novella. Wounds are still a bit too fresh.

So there it is. Fourteen pieces, at least two of which don't really merit the name. That's my fucking portfolio and THAT'S the reason I don't tell people I'm a writer when they ask me what I do.

Sometimes, you find yourself wishing you were flexible enough to kick yourself in the nuts. Can I get a "what what"?
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
When I opened the mailbox and saw the envelope, it went something like this:

Full-body wince

"Oh, that was WAY too fast."


The novella is now the proud recipient of a form rejection from F&SF. So that's that, I guess. I'll keep looking as I keep writing, but I don't think there's any other markets it'd make sense to sub it to. Well, to be clear: any other markets that offer at least token payment. Maybe I'll change my mind on that. Maybe I won't.

But trust me

On the sunscreen.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Alternative Titles:

"If You Love Something, Set it Free or Die With a Harness on Your Back"

"The Best Laid Pits Catch Mice and Chickenshits"


"The Effluvian Heresy" is away (as of Tuesday. I = lazy blogger). Tracking confirms it has been delivered to F&SF. My mental map of everything is all crosshairs and little pop-up menus in small-type. It's very Paul Greengrass. Or maybe Michael Bay. Meh and ugh respectively.

Of course I'm hoping for an acceptance, but at this point in my career, I'd probably frame a personal rejection and put it on my frakkin' wall. Tempered expectations. Tempered expectations.

It should have been away about four days earlier, but I decided to waste my own time for some reason. I don't know that I'm particularly mad about it. I suppose I'm a little upset at why it happened. The old fear doesn't exactly go away, it just roils down under the surface, baring its fangs and asking those valid unproductive questions it loves so much.

One part of the problem (in a "this is wrong with my process" sense) is my continued adherence to the belief that setting up straw-doll accountabilites will somehow motivate me. This is an Einstein's-definition-of-insanity sort of habit of mine, and it's annoying. Announcing to everyone in my general vicinity that I'm going to Get Something Done, doesn't actually make me feel like I need to do it. I don't feel accountable for that agenda. Blah.

The novella's away. No-blood-no-foul. Though there was blood involved. All sorts of blood went into that thing. That's part of the reason I had to just cut ties with the revision process and submit it. It's not as polished as I might have hoped, but it was close enough that continuing to poke at it was becoming a new fangled form of procrastination. "Can't submit it yet. Needs just a little more work." is the new "I am afraid of what it says about my life decisions if I try and fail."

Self-doubt is the new stupidity.

Doesn't really matter if I'm not good enough. If I do not try, then I HAVE FAILED. This actually parallels a debate I've been having with myself about the logistics of getting into a battle of wits with an omniscient or quasi-omniscient being (also, an idea I've been mentally gnawing at about time travel and precognition, but I digress). Possibly, I need to go ahead and toss off "Go Starward, Young Octopus", which is the working title of a short I haven't mentioned here because it's weird and has no plot (also? maybe a little pervy).

More likely I need to READ EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Actually, on that note, shorts would be a good way to go right now as I can break with them to read more or less at will. The novella was ... exhausting. Took FOREVER by my standards: four and a half months, very possibly a week cumulative. The argument in favor of a novel attempt (yuk yuk yuk) is that "Allwhere Anchorage" isn't a project I'm invested enough in emotionally or artistically for it to be that stressful to write, but considering the revision process I went through with "Heresy", it's daunting to think of immediately tackling another project three times longer.

Reading isn't an undaunting prospect at the moment either. Lots of books on my table. Lots more out there, and the one at the fore is more than half of "A Dance with Dragons". That's a fairly large time investment, though I could knock it out in a couple of days if I wanted to go full-on tunnel vision. I probably need to.

Mostly, I'm trying to find a way to motivate myself not to use this exhalation of relief as an excuse to lapse back into a depressive state wherein momentum is the sort of mystical whirlygig they only talk about in fairy tales.

Oooooo. Fairy tales ... ... ...

"Nope. Nothing's there. Nothing's happening."
-Josh, "The West Wing"
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Revisions proceed ... well not exactly apace, but as close as I ever get so far. I have come close to fixing one of the major issues re: character's making a decision driven by the plot and it's WRITTEN THAT WAY AAAAARGH. It's not fully fixed, but I've gotten down a skeleton of the section that I can rework into something that isn't quite so florid (it's florid btw, or didn't you know?).

I really feel like I'm close. I've reached a point where I can identify problems without having to do read-throughs to "get the feel" of the piece. For instance, after I finished the initial retooling of the aforementioned problem section, I skipped ahead to another similar section thinking it had a similar issue and shuddered. Familiarity breeds contempt, I suppose. That section is probably an easier fix though. No biggie.

I also identified a cutable section while I was at work this afternoon just by thinking, "Hey I could switch that conversation to indirect dialogue and cut words all over the place." Doing so would thin out one of the story's minor (almost subtextual actually) motifs, but the thing barely merits the name anyway.

Current draft is just under 25,000 words.

Boo-yah.

Revision!*

Mar. 27th, 2012 12:38 am
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Gah! I'm not going to make my April "deadline" for subbing the novella. That's fine. It was kind of a long shot anyway. Read-throughs keep slapping me in the face with problems, but word count's getting more manageable. I've been going line by line and spot editing to tighten the writing before considering any major cuts, but I still have eight hundred, eighty words to cut before the damn thing's even down to 25k. I'm only up to page eighty-eight out of a current one twenty-three, but I'm not sure the last thirty-five are going to offer up nine hundred frakkin' cuts. You never know, though. It could happen.

Other problems left over from the rough draft are still in evidence. One major pacing problem re: decisions remains largely unfixed even though I thought I'd begun to address it, and I haven't even looked at the new ending yet.

The new ending actually contributed to the word count problem because it tacked on maybe as much as a thousand words to the piece. That may be an exaggeration but not by much.

Argh. I hate this shit, and I love it. It's a very bipolar feeling hacking apart your own work and then putting it back together again. At times, I'm like, "ha ha ha!" At others, I'm like, "ah ah ah!"

"[Revision] is a three edged sword."
-Ambassador Kosh

EDIT: Just woke up and another damn problem occurred to me. I let part of my knowledge of the world infiltrate the protagonist's decision making process! Rarr. Easy fix, but it'll add words.

*In the style of "Tradition" from "Fiddler"
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Grarrrr. I may have resolved the new, come-out-of-nowhere moral dilemma at the end of the novella, but the ending I've written at the moment starts to feel a little preachy. Also, it's very "MESSAGE" in a way that turns me off a bit. I'll have to read it when I've got some emotional distance from it, but there's certainly a framework that I can work with if it needs more tweaking.

The real question is whether I've reached the right conclusion to the dilemma, which I believe I have. It felt very ... elate ... ifying (grarr) when I thought of it, so it has promise at least.

There's still a lot more to be done though, and I'm not sure if I can make my April deadline for submission with this week's work schedule. Whatever. I'm getting a whole lot closer.

Wuh-Oh

Mar. 24th, 2012 08:05 am
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Oh CRAP. I've been working on revisions for the past few hours, and specifically have been tweaking the final few paragraphs to get the proper emotional tone and a fucking moral dilemma just coalesced for the protagonist. Shit could change the whole flavor of the ending. Do you know how much trouble I have writing moral dilemmas?

DO YOU?????
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I have had an uncharacteristically productive day today, which is nice, considering my most recent regression into my old bad habits of malaise and procrastination. Mostly, I walked around doing some errands and getting generally about as much exercise as I get in several days' time. One of the errands was purchasing a new printer, which I'm very excited about because it's another step on the road to becoming an active aspiring writer.

Used the printer to make myself a hard copy of "The Effluvian Heresy", which I've just finished reading from start to finish. I'm a slow reader, and the process apparently takes about three hours considering the story's length, though part of that was me jotting notes down on the pages in red pen as I went along (great fun). The read-through was very productive though, so I can be satisfied it was three hours well spent.

Mostly, I identified the areas that are going to need a lot of work and caught some of the word usage problems that arise from the premise. I also noticed several pacing problems I'll need to fix in transitional scenes where characters are making landmark decisions. Apparently, I'm not very good at writing those sorts of decisions yet, most likely because I suck at making them. Transitional scenes in general are hard for me to write because they bore me, but they're very necessary in this project because I need to limit paragraph breaks, which I'm essentially using as chapter breaks. That's another thing, actually. I may need to just go ahead and add chapter numbers, because the distinct sections are definitely chapters. Something to think on.

On the whole, I'm happy with where the draft is at at this point in its development. I feel like the first attempt was fairly strong. As many of the high events already work fine as don't, and the diction problems are easy fixes. Some of the dialogue, especially late in the piece when I was rushing to finish the draft, needs a lot of reworking though, and at least two of the description-driven (as opposed to dialogue driven? what?) high events need almost total overhauls. There's also the word count problem. The current draft is a little over 26,000 words, so I'll need to cut about fifteen hundred or so to get it within acceptable limits. I did pick out one motif that could be cut from the work without hurting it, so I may be able to get most of the word count problem fixed with that if I need to. There's much work to be done, and I'm feeling a lot of pressure and excitement to get to it.

I've set as my goal the end of march to mail the story out on its first submission. A week may not be enough to get it to be what I want it to be, and if it isn't, that'll be fine. I'm still chomping at the bit to see if I can do it.

'bout now though, I need to wind down and then do that whole "sleep" thing someone, somewhere thought would be a good addition to this whole "being" business.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
*waffle waffle waffle*

Argh.

I blame lack of discipline in my sleep routine. Whatever it is, productivity has taken a major downturn since I finished "The Effluvian Heresy". It's not so much that I haven't worked on revising the novella, though I haven't. I actually feel like I need a full day off to get the ball rolling on revisions so that I can have a few hours to devote to doing nothing but read the story through once without thinking too hard about changes that need to be made. I always do that with stories I'm workshopping (even my own), and it always helps. The real problem where productivity is concerned is an all too predictable hesitation when it comes to committing to the next project. I have a respectable number to choose from.

That's comforting in and of its own self. In my inferiority complex driven need to come up with reasons to worry about my "writing career", I'm often anxious that I might run out of things to write about. If that's not deserving of a big, gut-shaking LOL, I don't know what is. It's nice, though, to find that I've got plenty on the back burner at the moment.

Prospective projects are:

"Allwhere Anchorage" [working title, currently 7800 words]
This is the novel I started back in September? August? Whatever. It's probably the project I need to take up for awhile for various reasons. It doesn't feel like it's going to be particularly difficult to write, partially because I don't have a lot of intellectual investment in it. It's my first attempt at straight Sci-fi, though, as I've said, the premise is so very "She's got magic!" that it might actually be more accurate to call it science fantasy.

"At Last, Adept" [currently 615 words]
First in what I plan to be a cycle of shorts called "The Tower of Ten Dreams", this has been on the aforementioned burner for some time now. Problem here is that I don't have a clear plot progression worked out in my head, so the story would have to tell me where its going as I wrote it. Not exactly a horrible prospect. "The Effluvian Heresy" did it several times. The other advantage is that its probably the only project I have in my head write now that I plan to serialize. If the first story gets published, the ones to follow get a better shot at seeing print. I suppose. Maybe the world works like that.

"Into the White" [currently 5900 words]
Ah, "Into the White". How do I labor under the pressure of thee? It's a good setting. It's a good premise. At heart, it was a good attempt, but I doubt that at this stage in my development as a writer the story could get published in its current form. It was an attempt to tell a non-epic story in an epic setting. A couple different editors pointed out that that bothered them about it. I did recently have a flash of inspiration about the plot that could make it more epic while possibly still preserving the more personal plot points, so it might be something to think about. The problem there is that I finished a draft of the story, and I have a lot of trouble going back to works that I think of as "done". Arguably, that would make "Into the White" a very productive exercise in getting over that. If I can't do rewrites ... ... I can't play in the NBA.

"Puzzler's Lament" [working title, currently 1000 words]
Bleh. I know where this one is headed, and I like the plot point that presents itself to me when I think about the ending. The problem is that the story started out from a very meta bit of inspiration and it could easily suffer from that. Advantages here are that it's probably a lot shorter than any of my other prospects, making it a very small drain on my time before its ready to submit to various places. It's steampunk, which makes it different from most of my other works at the moment, so that's another plus.

"The Battle that Must Always Be" [working title, currently 250 words]
Bleh twice. This is the short story that I started writing, what? Last Spring? Somewhere around there. It's fantasy, or dark fantasy if you want to get really specific, and it's also the only story that I've ever started and decided I hated so much that I had to stop. There are aspects both of the premise and the fledgling plot progression that appeal to me, and there's a possibility that it has enough mainstream appeal to be publishable. The big hang-up here is that I'm not sure if I care about this one, artistically, intellectually, or emotionally.

"Good Eats" [currently 2500 words]
Basically the first time I ever set out to write horror, this one's fun every way I think about it. That's actually part of the problem. I can't bring myself to view it as overly original or interesting at an artistic level. That said, it might be "fun" enough to appeal to audiences, and name recognition, assuming I can climb out of the slush pile at this stage, is a bit more important than pushing boundaries. There's a philosophical debate of sorts that takes place at one point in the current plot progression that I'm kinda looking forward to writing, so there's something here maybe, but I really do have more important projects to pursue. Arguably.

"His Face is in the Glass" [currently 6000 words]
Oh lord, "His Face is in the Glass". This is another that's in the same boat as "Into the White". I have a finished draft that just fails to do what I was trying to do, but the overall concept is fairly strong. The draft actually did get a personal rejection from Cat Valente, which I'm quite happy about. Part of the problem with this project is that it might have to be a novel in order to fully explore what I'm trying to do with the world building. With three, and possibly four, novels on my inspirational plate right now, I just don't know if I have the time to undertake a rewrite of this story. I really like the opening sentences though. They are quite fun.

"Ray Sideway" [working title, currently 2700 words]
This is "The Book". It's my Everest at the moment. There are so many things tied up with what I want to do with this project. I just don't know ...

"The Impossible Journey of The Dogged Ought" [working title, currently 0 words]
Ha ha ha! "TIJoTDO" is a very tongue-in-cheek story that has a sense of humor about itself. Partially because the premise is very "look at me! I'm ridiculous!". Originally the concept was intended as part of a trilogy of worlds along with "The Tower of Ten Dreams" and an as yet unknown project which is nevertheless necessary because three is a more powerful number than two. The trilogy's working title is "Fundamentally Weird Universe" or somesuch.

"Genetic City Jazz" [working title, currently 300 words]
This is a new project which, sadly, is the entirety of my production since finishing "The Effluvian Heresy". I went ahead and got some of it down to cement the ... "inspiration event" *snicker* I had while reading one of my accumulated back issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction at work. The working title really doesn't have much to do with the story other than texturally, but there's a lot I could get behind as regards working on this project. It has a color palette drawn from what I remember of Myst III: Exile and a textural quality inspired by "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds". There's a lot of other mish-mashery going into the initial world building, but the most telling aspect of this one is that I'm still talking about it in terms of "color" and "texture". There's no plot to speak of yet, and very little character. The good news is that I have a clear idea of the themes, which makes it a slightly more tantalizing prospect than some of the others. It's a novel though, and if I'm going to be focusing on one of those right now, my instincts tell me to make it "Allwhere Anchorage".

"Hologram Universe Psychics and the Mystery of the Pulp Fiction suitcase" [working title, currently 0 words]
Would be so easy to write if I had a PLOT in MIND for it instead of just a plot structure. That's about as useful as a screen door on a battleship.

There are others, but they lack the same oomph. "Things of Power" is a novel that's been on my back burner for several years now, but I'm kind of falling out of love with post-apocalyptic fiction. Some of that's the "that's so last week" reflex, I'll admit. The short of it is, I have things to write. I just need to get back into the rhythm of it.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Thousand words.

Sing it with me!

Thousand woooooords!

Holy crap, today got away from me. Today's words were largely concerned with the story's first real high event so there were a lot of fits and starts, furious typing followed by furious thinking followed by more furious typing ad rabidum.

This is the sort of section that gets away from me in first drafts. That's what revision is for obviously, but I still had to physically make myself call it a night. Yanked myself right out of a paragraph I was spot editing in point of fact. Spot editing is for later, when the actual first draft is actually done.

Another thing I'm looking forward to when the revision phase comes along is addressing the story's unique challenges regarding pronoun/antecedent agreement. The premise limits the pronouns I'm allowed to use to ... well ... basically one and change. It's fun and frustrating at the same time.

So anyway. Sense of accomplishment. It's one of the major benefits of the current paradigm. I do my thousand words and then bask in that knowledge for the rest of the day, even when I actually write the words near the end of the day. Booyah.

I like the way my hand bones move under my skin.

What?
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Thousand words on the day. Bam. Done.

It's a bit of a comfort today, actually, because I didn't write yesterday. I had actually been planning not to because I had plans with my mother. They got moved to today though, and I ended up not writing anyway. It's brought one of my issues with the current phase of the Self Actualization Project to the fore, in that I'm not sure what precedent to pursue as regards productivity. I'm writing on a regular basis for the moment,

(Bells. Imagine bells. It feels really, really good. Like, ray of sunlight meets cacophonous major chord good.)

but I'm not sure how exactly to address the limitations I've begun working with. I write a thousand (or in most cases so far, between a thousand and eleven hundred) words and then stop at the end of the current paragraph. Is that good or bad? It's hard to say. One thing I'm finding, is that it sort of keeps the iron hot between days in that I come back in the middle of some scene or other instead of the stopping place way that I've tried in the past. That didn't work, and at least so far this is. Presumably, some of that is that psychological thing that Romie told me about that I can never remember the name of where productivity goes up when you change your work environment, but some of its genuine enthusiasm for the current project. So yay, and all.

I've also been debating with myself about whether to hold myself to a quota mentality. What I'm trying for the immediate present is not holding myself accountable for missed days. I don't intend to make up yesterday's thousand words. The idea I'm working with here is that I'm accountable, not for individual parts, but for the entire piece. If it gets finished more or less on schedule, I don't really care if I miss a few days here and there. If I'm not falling back on the old patterns, I'm winning. Take that ... ... ... me. So, for the moment, we see what happens when I cut myself some slack.

Try to run with it, character flaws.

I dare you.

In other news, my dreams are starting to get all weird and interesting again, when I can remember them anyway. I blame a spate of me delving back into geek television. I've been very into The Big Bang Theory lately, and I've also been gradually watching all of Farscape on Netflix for awhile now. I'm really in love with Farscape by now. Some episodes end up being fairly lackluster, but I like the way it's willing to take itself seriously and not in equal measures. I don't know if it really has anything to do with stimulating my inner geek more often, or if it's related to pursuing creativity more actively, or if it's all just a big post hoc ergo propter hoc clusterfuck. Whatever it is, I'm heartened by the idea that I might be getting closer to the sort of emotional space where stuff like this happens in my brain.

"Minds are jagged jails
For hearts that perjure themselves
In cold rooms at dawn"
-Me, #45. Found it looking through the old journal. Had forgotten. Quite like it.

Y'know, I just looked back at this entry's title, and there's a way to interpret it that makes it kinda gross. Whatever. I stand by the original sentiment. That woman's profile could ... ... slice a cheese? Why is that the first thing that popped into my head? I'm a romantic and a writer. I should have poetry coming out of my ears.

And running for its life.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I don't know if it's a momentary lapse in lack of judgment or what, but I resisted the urge to buy another pack of cigarettes tonight. Admittedly, I'm broke until tomorrow night, but that's never really stopped me in the past. It does mean having to distract myself when the craving (yes, one big long one) gets particularly bad, so I've been dancing to Daft Punk and wondering if my lamp casts a well defined silhouette of me on my blinds for those outside to point at. Dancing ain't so much my thing, dawg. I can't tell if I'm tutting, popping, or botting, but whatever it is, I'm doing it badly.

'nother two thousand or words in the last two days. Tonight, some of what I wrote got away from me in this exciting way that happens sometimes where my analytical half is going, "Edit! Edit!" the way perturbed sailors go, "Mayday! Mayday!" But my creative half is going, "Shut up, I have to concentrate or it might slip out of my hands and burn a hole through YOUR BRAIN." Or somesuch. Also, for reasons of characterization, I'm got my own inability to come up with a satisfactory substitute for the word "kid" or "kiddo", which I don't think I can use for weird premise related reasons, all kinds of stuck in my craw. I've been considering "newbie" (bleaagh), "tot", and "bob" so far, but nothing's jumping on that front yet. Ah well. I'll fix it in post.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
So.

I've started a new day job as 'twere, working at a gas station not far from my house. The convenience of living a five minute walk from where I work has got me just all kinds of excited. If my commute were less of an issue, I'd be working from home.

Which was my first choice, but that job fell through so I'll let sleeping bygones lie on that one.

I've just written another thousand words of "The Effluvian Heresy", a veritable breath of fresh air after my most recent relapse of malaise and other assorted character flaws. Tomorrow I write another thousand in what I intend to be the latest experiment in my long running quest for productivity.

Whatever's wrong with my work ethic clearly isn't environmental as I did basically nothing with my time off. It actually feels kind of good to eliminate that excuse from my vast repertoire. At some point, if I can get down to the bare bones of the ugliness I perpetuate against myself, I might actually be able to accomplish something. Though, I actually feel it would be healthier to just find a shortcut through the morass of my own bullshit and make the frakking attempt already.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Things have not been going ... ... yeah. At all. I suppose neglecting my blog would be the first symptom of succumbing to depression. I'll be beginning the requisite job search soon, a forgone conclusion I am less than excited about.

The novel manuscript is in limbo. I haven't lost interest in the project. Truth be told, I lost interest in myself there for awhile, letting the old patterns of laziness, procrastination, depression and general bullshit get the better of me. Blah blah blah.

I've started what I think is a novella. I'm very excited about this new project (at least at the moment if I want to be perfectly honest with myself). I'm having a lot of fun writing it, and it's fairly easy to write since it's one of those fractured worlds I'm inexplicably fond of. I've got a bit of caught-a-tiger-by-the-tail syndrome with it though. I'm calling it "The Effluvian Heresy", and it's like riding a really weird wave to see where I'm going with it. The big problem is that, where fiction is obviously about making shit up, I've really cranked the making shit up to eleven with this one. I may or may not be creating a world and writing six or seven different slangs at the same time. It's hard to tell. It's also a threat to both the project's readability and its assessability. I tell myself that premise is secondary to character and story as though that will protect me from the looming possibility of bad writing. You are my talisman, o truism. Do right by me.

I like the project thematically, and if I could accomplish the tenth of want I want to do in that arena, I think I'd be happy, though not necessarily satisfied.

"Faded dead headspace
And I am in a bad place
I can escape from"
-Me, once upon a time
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Only about 1700 words today. It's a bit harder in chapter 3. Chapter 2 was an extended action sequence, which is what I was writing yesterday. Today it's all: transition to the next high event without infodumping like a bull in a china closet and watch your pacing so it doesn't get boring and lets try to keep the dialogue from getting too cutesy alright there, pal? It does present a bit of novelty though. "Hey! Look at me! I'm writing something that has chapters!"

I'm also starting to really confront myself with some of the inconsistencies of the premise, which is kind of scary because the central premise might actually just boil down to, "She's got magic!"

Good for a lark I suppose. I'll fix it in post!

I'm having a lot of fun with the dialogue for the moment. This is probably the first work where I've really been making myself pay attention to the necessity of giving the characters (all two of them) unique voices. Cuts down on the need to tag it, which I like. I may not be succeeding where the unique voices thing is concerned, but at least I'm thinking about it. That shows growth.

And I'll fix it in post.

What's with mantras anyway?

It's been striking me as I work on this project how much I'm laboring under the NaNoWriMo work ethic. I mean, it's not specific to November really. If I can ever get this damn career whatsit off the ground, I'd consider writing one to two thousand words a day a triumph. That's like three novels a year, baby! Well it is if you're intent on poo-pooing the book bloat thing.

Which I am.

And I'm just about as afraid as I've ever been in my life. It's a good feeling because I'm confronting it for once, even if I am still making a point of distracting myself with chess and baseball and fantasy football ('bout two of which I really care about).

Fear's been this thing for the last ten years or so. Sort of looking over my shoulder and making tsking noises. I only first acknowledged it within the past few years. Only first articulated it recently. I suppose at some point you get tired of running away from yourself or you die.

I prefer the former.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Slowly.

But go it does.

'Bout 2700 words today, which brings me up to a little over six thousand. I'm not exactly tearing up track, but it still feels good to sit here having written something. For once.

I really am getting excited about this project even if I'm not sure whether it's a novella or a full novel. Even if I'm not sure whether the excitement simply stems from being able to say, "Look at me! I'm trying!"

A lot of it is also very rough so I'm constantly scrolling up and then growling, "We'll fix it in post!" and then scrolling back down.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
My short story "Into the White" has now received a form rejection from Apex Magazine. It's kind of refreshing actually. I'm submitting again, albeit at a snail's pace. I also was surprised when Duotrope told me the story had been out for eighteen days. It didn't feel that long.

Look at me, all "professional mentality" and shit.

Well I'm off to write the wizards.

Because because because because because ...

... because of the horrible things they does.

Horror story humor.

Just finished Wizard and Glass: tres bien.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Reading's been fairly good to me lately, what with it actually happening and all. I'm maybe not getting through books as quickly as I like, but that's mostly a result of most of my reading time being the twenty to thirty minutes I spend on the bus on either side of my work nights.

I had to abandon Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell about a fifth of the way through the book. Mostly, I feel that if I'm a hundred and forty-ish pages in to an eight hundred page book I should actually be interested in what I'm reading. Crazy, I know. I took a brief stroll through Discworld with The Light Fantastic, which was rollicking good fun in typical Pratchett fashion, before tackling On Stranger Tides, which I picked up at Barnes & Noble because it was both there and a Powers novel I haven't read yet.

Disappointed as hell.

Powers is one of my three favorite authors beside Lethem and Brin. He exhibits an imagination I don't see much in the fantasy I read anymore (notable exceptions being Bas-Lag and The Dark Tower). There's a viscerality to the magic in his works that appeals to me, much the same way that I'll never get over the image of the man in black leaping back and forth over the dead man in The Gunslinger. Good lord, that shit was freaky.

Powers' biggest flaws though are painstakingly highlighted in Tides. Love him as I do, I'm always struck by the way the majority of his female characters get a bit shafted. As a friend once commented about Sorkin, "His women tend to be girlfriends." Tides contains only two women that get much screentime. One of these two is instantly forgettable and has no affect on the book other than to provide a brief (and quickly frustrated) outlet for the protagonist's libido. The other is Beth Hurwood, the female lead, whose role in the plot is more as a set piece than an actual character, and whose primary effect on the story comes at the end by way of symbolically marrying the protagonist so that the female aspects of magic might be available to him and of use in - to fall back on gamer parlance - defeating the final boss. It's unfortunate to see this happening to so many Powers women. The problem isn't evident in Declare, The Anubis Gates, or Three Days to Never (which on some level is a romance), and is of a significantly less pronounced stature in Last Call where the female lead is actually more of a secondary character and has her own stuff going on. I suppose that's why I tend to forgive it in his lesser works.

Tides also exhibits another problem with some of Powers' works in that many of his protagonists possess an almost Gaiman-esque everyman quality. It's seen most strongly in Tides and The Stress of Her Regard, wherein the protagonists more closely resemble punching bags to whom plot happens rather than full participants in the story. Again, this problem is absent in Powers' stronger works, but it really does hurt Tides a lot. I'm a sucker for a pirate story, yes, just as I'm a sucker for a hitman story, but it still has to be good for me to like it. Simon West, I'm looking at you. As a smattering of high events interspersed with some interesting magic, Tides delivers. As a tour de force it sits, becalmed.

Next up, I think, is Wizard and Glass with Decoding the Universe in the on-deck circle.

So I've finally created a Dropbox account to keep all my writing endeavors in, which I'm very excited about. Most notably, a new short story I started recently whose working title is "Puzzler's Lament". As far as this new project goes, I really don't know what the hell. I don't feel like it's going to be very good in the end as it's not as thematically ambitious as stuff I've written before, but I'm having a lot of fun writing it. I suppose it's sort of like a steampunk Hindenburg. The comparison is really appropriate as, artistically, the project is willfully looking to crash into the ground, and I'm really just holding it up through sheer force of will.

"Martha's polishing the brass on the Titanic, man. It's all goin' down."
-Tyler Durden

I actually had another short story/novella idea jump into my head at work last night, but that one's a bit more daunting. I'm not a big fan of stories that don't include someone to root for and the protoplot that coalesced in my head resembles an "evil triumphs over evil" story. It might be doable, but it'd be hard as hell.

Perhaps that's a mark in its favor where craft is concerned.
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