crows: (caw)
That moment when you have given yourself a lot of writing homework and you haven't totally bombed out on it but you're not as far as you should be so you spend a lot of time reading about binomial nomenclature so you can give an accurate-sounding name to a fictional species of incidental bird which will probably not appear outside of this scene that you're not writing.
crows: (red)


First, this is happening. I've babbled a little here over the last year about the comic project I'm undertaking with co- author and illustrator, [personal profile] thiefofvoices. It's been some time in development, but we have the site up and an official launch date now for when pages will start going up. We'll be updating once weekly. I'm really, really excited about this.

http://www.mortalmachine.com
April 7 2013

Second, after finding a late-night text from Thief that Psyclon Nine was going to be playing in SF in May, I came to the snap decision to buy myself a ticket out there as a present-to-myself for my also-in-May birthday, so I'm looking forward to that for a plethora of reasons. Not least of which is P9. But not most of which either ;) (sorry, Nero).

Till then I'm mainly just hanging on. Working 6 8-10 hour days per week is kind of a drag, and while I can put up with the physical exhaustion okay, the difficult part is the frustration about finding ways to tuck non-work things that are important to me into the cracks. I'm managing okay, though. Hey. The comic is going up in a month and I have three submissions out. And I got to spend last Sunday out in the countryside hunting for jank, which is always good for the spirit.

Lately.

Feb. 24th, 2013 09:07 am
crows: (black raven)
So, this weekend has been tough. I'm still trying to balance the exhaustion of working 6 8-10 hour days per week. The bookshop, my last two days, is a good wind-down and doesn't require me to be on my feet quite as much but it still doesn't leave much time for me to take care of myself. Friday night descended into awful, into some hard but necessary conversations with one of the people I'm in love with, a lot of anxiety. Topped off by the neighbor downstairs cranking the music up at 2AM, right as I was getting myself close to wound down enough to get some sleep. Less than four hours later, I woke up, still in the thick of the migraine I'd cried myself into the night before.

I got up, cleaned up, got ready for work, messaged my boss that I wasn't feeling well and was going to be a little bit late but was determined to go in anyway. Trying to make something to eat to put down with the 800mg of ibuprofen I'd just swallowed was interrupted by several intervals of just having to stand still and cringe. Walking out of the house into the bright sunlight off the fresh snow almost made me throw up. I went back inside, called in to work, pounded on the neighbor's door so hard I hurt my hand, yelled at her about the music (which was still going on, loud enough to vibrate my floor upstairs), got cussed at by her boyfriend inside, went upstairs and spent 2 hours in the fetal position under my covers, about half of which sobbing hysterically cause I hurt so much.

When I came out of that, I emailed my-aunt-the-landlady about the downstairs neighbor issue (I've hinted lately that I haven't been talking to my family, so I've been resistant to call them about house-related issues - it's a major point of anxiety for me). She replied quickly and quite kindly, and is going to look into doing something about my neighbor to make sure this stops. I don't know how promptly that will occur but at least someone else knows about it other than Delia and I. I then commenced to completely lose yesterday, cause moving around a lot made me too nauseous to do much even inside the house and my brain was too gelatinous to address any of my intellectual needs of the moment.

ALSO Friday night, coming at the worst possible time, the decline on two stories that were approaching the end of the reading period for where I'd submitted them. I had rather foolishly allowed myself to be a bit hopeful about them since I felt like they'd been kept for a little bit, and they turned up right in the middle of that tense time I mentioned earlier talking with my SO, where I'd already felt a little broken open and pretty vulnerable and just... not well.

Updating my submission spreadsheet made me realize I received those rejections on the 3 year anniversary of starting to submit work at all. Nothing's been printed. Which basically started off the resounding chorus of you're not good enough and you're not working hard enough in my head, which I've been trying to quiet down since then. Today is a little better. I was still woken up at 4AM by music downstairs (called the police; this isn't the first time and I'm not the only person who's called).

What I did have my head on straight enough to do Friday night when I was still miserable and couldn't stop crying is send out everything again. Both the stories I got back plus a flash fiction piece that I've sent out before but hadn't had out recently, but still really like. I also spent some more time reading about other markets and picked out the next ones for the two longer pieces if they come back to me again. I don't have enough time in my current existence to let things grid me to a complete halt if I can avoid it. So no matter how worthless I've felt about my work the last couple of days, uh... other people have it to read and I think that's what matters at the moment.

Rewind a bit. Thursday I took my kitchen back from the entropy gods. The inertia of stress from the last several months, which I've touched on here, and my own struggle against the weight of life inside my brain has meant it had fallen into a place where I basically couldn't use it. It's not totally put back together, but I can at least cook at home again, and have a responsible amount of groceries with which to do so. I even bought coffee and treated myself to a brand new pour-over cone (it's red!). I haven't owned one of those for a while, and while I like my press, I'm more likely to use the pour-over/keep it clean.

Today, I think I'm excusing myself from more cleaning in order to focus on creative work. I'd like to have some more short pieces that are ready to go out. I haven't been focusing at all on short work lately, most of my energy has gone to the One for Silence and Dark Energy, which is fine, because I'm liking the work I've done on those, slow though it has been. But still. Theoretically, publication credits will eventually serve those projects, too. So today I'm going to go through the fragments and the old pieces and see what is waiting to be finished/rewritten/revised.

I also want to do some work on the comic, because that is a very good project (co- authoring and illustrating with [personal profile] thiefofvoices) that is moving forward.

I also need to sing. I have the music for the piece I'll be singing solo at my choir's fundraiser in a week (from yesterday >.>) but I haven't sat down with it yet. So, uh, better get on that, so tonight I can arrange some practice time with the gentleman who will be accompanying me.

So that's that! Fuck you depression and harpy-chorus of misery. I've got shit to do.

PS:

Oct. 7th, 2012 12:58 pm
crows: (flying raven)
I wrote a small handful of paragraphs yesterday and promptly got distracted staring a pictures of Nero Bellum.

Sorry, writer-self. That man's just so... distracting.
crows: (Default)
So, [personal profile] auto_destruct and I are doing an ART SLAM! We're slamming some art, man. That art over there? Sucks.

Actually, we're doing the one-drawing-per-day-come-hell-or-highwater deal as prep for drawing the comic affectionately working-titled Linger. There's some other news about that, as well. As we race toward the first panels, here, and develop the stories critical to and surrounding the primary material, the project is making its home on Tumblr and Twitter and we'd love for you to join us over there.

Two Fold::Silence on Tumblr
Two Fold::Silence on Twitter

My goal was actually to announce it yesterday but, uh, I was le tired. It was hot, okay. And I'm sick.

Anyway, the first week of art slam is done (we started a week early; the official slam month is July). I'm one notch behind, and a couple of drawings are still in progress because I'd like to do more finished work on them, so there are four scans that are ready for the eyes of the public.

Here they are! )
crows: (Default)
For NaNoWriMo 2010, I wrote the almost complete manuscript (through the climax; there are a couple scenes of wrap-up that aren't written but I generally know what's in them) of a mystery(?) novel called Ghost Stories. It clocks in at about 75k, and in its original form was the conjectured future story of a side character in Phantom of the Opera, who's mother took her away from France after the fire in the theater (she was a teen). Fifteen years later, she's returned to France after her mother's death and the subsequent inheritance of a small property back home. She commences to try to sort out her life and events surrounding the fire, which she's almost totally blocked from memory, especially where it concerns the unreported death of a girl who was, at the time, a few years younger than her.

Writing it, I defaulted to Paris but realized a bit of the way through that the story I was telling was clearly happening in a much smaller town with a much more intimate community. I'm pretty happy with the story, events-wise, but it occurred to me in my ramblings through back-country Iowa of the last months that... reversing the locations featured in the story could work a lot better for me. Whisking an American-born Megan away to France when she's 15, her frightened mother unwilling to talk about the life they left behind in the Midwest. Returning to a decaying house in a decaying town after an education and the beginning of a career in Avignon because it's all she has left of a family.

Also, I live here, I can visit these fading coal-towns and look up into their broken windows. And I do. Sounds like more direct research than trying to figure out what the life of an existentially-confused 30 year old is like in Europe. Also, that way, the loss is more acute, and I think it will bring the central conflicts of the story into sharper relief. I'm really excited. I start re-writing today.


crows: (red)
I dislike this day of the week. I have for a lot of years. Anyway, that's not really the point of this post.

Today, I wrote a bunch then walked in the rain until my boots were heavy and it was starting to soak through my hoodie. I didn't really want to come in but my hip has been stiff the last couple of weeks and it would be nice to start my workweek tomorrow less locked up than I ended it on Friday. (Last week, while I haven't been having a lot of pain, Thu and Fri provided me with several strange, rotating pops of the joint that made it almost feel like it was going to give out. That's a new development. Thought about buying a chiro package off Groupon yesterday but even at an extreme discount I can't really afford it so... I'm not going to push my luck that way. Also, don't like breaking the ice with unknown medical professionals of any stripe, so... it's a really easy thing to excuse myself from. Whee!)

My head is still full of Dark Energy. I made some structural headway on it, some events fell into place that I'm hoping, as I follow them, will shed light on a major upset that's coming up in the early phase of the story which has baffled me for some time. I've been gnawing and gnawing on it, and while it hasn't coughed up its own secrets to me yet, it is at least yielding more of the surrounding circumstances.

I'm calling off sick from choir tonight, too. Which I really oughtn't do, but... I'm just not up for it right now, and I know the music, and... the drumming, well. Mostly that will be me working on my own anyway, so I just really have to do it. I'm hoping to get some more writing done tonight, and get a little of my French presentation out of the way, too. (One of these things is more likely to occur than the other). >.<

One more week of school, plus two days of finals the week after. I am honestly aching for summer, to buy myself a little more time and space for my brain. There is a lot of stuff I'd like to be doing, there are a lot of ways in which I feel a little creatively cramped right now, and I don't dig it very much.

Now that my stomach is settling, maybe I can actually finish this scene. That would be nice.
crows: (red)
In the space of my education, which is taking up some space in terms of time I have to actually devote to it and time it takes from my ability to make money to do shit with, I am not doing anything creative.

I have not been doing anything creative for a year and a half. More.

It's gen eds. I know. It's part of the process. There's nothing to be done for it. I'm closer to the end of all that than I am the beginning, and hoping that the latter two years of undergrad will be at least marginally better.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not expecting to transfer into the university and spend the next two years frolicking through rainbowsparkle flocks of the butterflies of enlightenment where my peers and instructors alike line up to suck the wonderwang of my heretofore unmatched genius. But it would be nice to be writing, in at least one or two of my classes at any given time. And it would be nice if, occasionally, some of that writing was allowed to be something that, generally speaking, I wanted to write. Even within guidelines. That's fine. Maybe some fiction? Just a little? I'm not even asking to write science fiction. I just want to be given a little chunk of my school-allotted time to make shit up.

It's not like that's what I'd like to be doing with my education, and my life, in the long run, or anything.
crows: (red)
Woke up this morning with a small, distant voice drifting through my head, singing, singing. Here, the sad lilt of an aria, a little Italian that I know and she knows better, hummed idly at half voice that still shimmers from the influence of her aborted training. She was good. I bet she could have had a career.

I'm coaxing a few more sketches, too, and god damn, she looks so young on the page. It seems a shame, to have not even two decades on the face of this planet when the civilization that raised you collapses overnight and the monsters are suddenly worse than you've even imagined.

I do terrible things in fiction. ([personal profile] auto_destruct is equally culpable, here. To be fair.)

Need to get some fixative for these sketches so they don't smear all over the bloody place like they are already doing.

And then.

Feb. 27th, 2012 08:27 pm
crows: (caw)
Today ended up being something of a mental health day. I worked, but I didn't go to class, and frankly didn't do much else that wasn't related to the kind of self-care that usually, to me, feels like trying to push all the sand of my consciousness back into a pile. I read a little tarot. I remembered how much better my life is when I'm keeping a god damn paper journal that nobody else is allowed to touch (oh, yeah! Number one tenant of life among the unseen! WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN YO!)

I'm stressing a little about Things that I should have used this time to do. And last night. And Saturday when I had a migraine. But really... I will be all right. I can fake through French tomorrow before class, and if I work on Nonfiction in my breaks between classes I'll be ready for Wednesday. For now, breathing, and words. Mostly I feel the way I do right at this moment because I haven't had enough sleep and a lot of things are terribly exciting right now.

Entire.

Oct. 30th, 2009 01:43 pm
crows: (flying raven)
I cannot reiterate how much more enjoyable my free time is when I have a job. I'm enjoying work; it's nice to get out, nice not to be alone with my thoughts all twenty four hours of the day, nice to have a strong and reasonable impetus to put aside all of those other things (however pressing they are to my personal psyche) to focus on something that is simple, totally without drama or complication. I know how to do my job; I know how to do my job well. It's very, very black and white, and there are answers readily at hand when I have questions. This is a good world to live in, forty or so hours out of the week.

I'm completely exhausted, this afternoon, having started walking to work at a little after 445 AM for my first opening shift. My feet ache. I'm very glad to be off of them. That I have this evening in, private, quiet is a good thing. Mental preparation for tomorrow, the NaNoWriMo kickoff at midnight (oh, also Halloween but I don't have any related plans). I'm going to retouch my henna, do my nails, spend some time taking care of my skin (which I haven't been, shamefully, and it's showing). All this amid the comfortable weight of quite a bit of writing, and writing-related work. I need to edit for BF, there are bits and pieces bubbling up to my brain for Athlacarta, and I can feel myself reserving flashes of insight into the new novel (for next month, for November: it's called Sounding). These are all good things.

So, that is all. I'm home in the quiet, anxiously awaiting my date with several very dangerous muses once I've concluded the other work that awaits me this evening (job number 2 requires some attention this afternoon).
crows: (Default)
Hmm. So, I have Children of Men on loan from Netflix this week. I watched (and enjoyed) most of it the other night. But I sortof... wandered away and didn't watch the end. It was playing for a while in the background after I had wandered away... so I have a pretty good idea of what was happening through most of the end of the flick. I haven't seen (or heard) the very end, so maybe there's a magnificent plot twist (don't tell me, I may watch it yet tonight) that I'm just not aware of. But that brings me to an interesting observation.

When the movie's action 'intensified', I got bored, and was no longer engaged enough to be glued to the screen, or pausing the film when I got up to get more cider so that I didn't miss anything. I got up to just glance at my email and ended up more engaged in doing nothing on the computer. It ceased being important. They lost my interest. I stopped caring. The struggle against the war setting was going on, there was lots of shouting and gunfire. Action for the sake of action bores me very quickly, and has no tension whatsoever to keep me engaged. I'm not totally sure where I fell off the attention-train on this one, or what caused me to, but I'm thinking about it, because I want to know what not to do in my writing.

PS:

Oct. 12th, 2009 11:04 am
crows: (Default)
“It has often been said
there’s so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.

That’s why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader’s relief is.”
- Dr. Seuss
crows: (Default)
http://alisialeavitt.blogspot.com/2009/10/10-rules-of-writing.html

This is one of the best articles I've read in a long time. Devoid of flippant 'tricks' designed with no more content than is necessary to make the author sound pithy, Alisia Leavitt's rules are the same things that I've been advised directly by quite a few people in the last few years. They are not gimmicks that claim to be able to 'make you write', or ways to tap into this or that fad style or genre. They are aspects of craft that even a writer with obvious talent could, and does, easily miss.

I read a lot of advice on writing and the industry, people's experiences in the publishing world, query letter faux pas, articles from the angle of an agent or publisher on what things about writers make them insane. Some of it is very basic, things that make me have to remind myself that, yes, some people don't get this. Don't submit a manuscript full of typos and technical errors even if you know an editor is going to go over it before publication (of course this does not absolve you of doing the bulk of the work yourself!). Be prepared for rejection letters (the only person who thinks everything you do is perfect, that you're the smartest person in the world, the way it is and the best thing they've ever seen is your grandmother. Not even your mom, people). That sort of thing. Still others are focused on tips and techniques that I frankly don't agree with, but more often than not are coming from authors who are doing a very different kind of business than I want to do. The gentleman who wrote a very well thought-out blog post on how he believes revising/rewriting is actually an extremely bad thing for authors to do had published 90 novels. None of which, frankly, I thought I would enjoy reading. It's a different animal.

So, here they are. Ten very solid, very tough pieces of advice that, if followed well, should help to keep your manuscript from becoming a gargantuan, unwieldy beast of high-minded over-description and vocabulary flaunting. Being a writer is not about proving how well you can use words. It's about communication.
crows: (Default)
"A publisher suggests there are two kinds of writers." http://behlerblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/hobbyists-and-serious-sts/

Reader beware: this could potentially be offensive, if you find yourself exhibiting traits that put you in the one category and you feel like you ought to be in the other.

That said, this is a very good article and one that I'm saving to keep myself firmly in perspective as I continue in my pursuit of publication. The business of being a writer has to do with a lot more than simply talent and skill at the craft of writing. No matter how profound your talent and skill at the craft of writing are, you're not above that. You can look out across any industry, any trade, and see that. You can be as good as anything - you can be the best in the world - at doing any particular thing. But if you are not a good business person, then you will not be able to make it your business.

Now, this doesn't mean that - as a writer - I need to go off to business school. I don't think I need to know everything there is to know about marketing, promotion, etc and etc. But I do need to know how they apply to what I want for my own success, how to find them, and how to be a tool for them in the hands of people whose direct business it is (editors, agents, etc). Feeling above the process is only a method of standing in my own way. I intend to avoid that as much as possible.

Part of being a 'serious' writer, and I'd daresay a good writer, frankly, has to do with being able to exercise a certain degree of humility. Much as we'd like to hole up, unwashed and unshaven with our typewriters and coffee, to be alone with our work, this is not a hermit's craft, and in this day and age the industry requires a great deal of interaction and networking. A degree of humility goes a really long way in relationships of any kind, with any body (though god knows nobody manages an appropriate degree of humility all the time - but it's something to shoot for). This extends not only to taking yourself 'too seriously' and thinking that you exist outside the lines drawn for mere mortals, but also being able to receive and work with critique, even being able to edit your own work without external feedback. Critical, I say! Some people tell you that 'revision' and 'rewriting' and 'editing' is actually useless nonsense designed to keep the new writer down, but I think that's mumbo jumbo. I'm a fan of editing.

Just... try to stay out of your own way. There's such a thing as overdoing it; all of it. Confidence, humility, adjectives...
crows: (Default)
Dear everyone: I'm thinking about submitting a short story to a science fiction magazine some time in the next week or so. It's done, about 2500 words long (7 pages double spaced), and I could use someone to give it a look over and give me some feedback (real feedback - I need to know what's weak, what doesn't make sense, and where the story is strong so that I can tighten the rest of it up to par). As always, if you want to swap now or in the future I am more than happy to return the favor in kind. Drop me an email if you're interested, I'll send you the .doc (unless you can' open those, in which case let me know).

Thanks <3
crows: (Default)


Halflit.net's October Writing Challenge begins TODAY. This month, it is taking place in the public Rookery forum. The information post for the challenge is here: http://halflit.net/rookery/forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=42

Everyone is invited to join.

If you are not interested in a writing challenge or do not have time this month, please drop in anyway. We will be hosting challenges as an ongoing thing and I would love to hear new ideas of different things we can do to stretch people out into avenues they haven't explored.

See you!
crows: (Default)
We'll be having a fun little writing challenge at the Halflit Rookery forum starting Thursday, October 1st.

We're still hashing out exactly how many prompts there will be and WHAT those prompts will be.

Everyone is invited to participate. For the contest rules, news on how to participate, and/or to have your say (input is encouraged) about the potential topics/prompts, check out http://halflit.net/rookery/forum/viewforum.php?f=16

Hope to see you!
crows: (red)
I went through all of the prior material for Black Swan today, skimmed the pages. One of the most inspiring things for me concerning the process of writing is how frequently, when I encounter questions about how something should be throughout the novel, or the eventual resolution of a particular situation, that when I look back in text I have already written the answer is there. The trick is only whether I can be true to my characters enough that their actions will guide the story. It's all here, I just have to figure out how to communicate it. That strikes me as a lot less daunting of a notion than pure invention out of void.

Now, that said, I'm not getting very much writing done. I'm behind on the goal I set for myself a few days ago, and this is the last day off I have before the sale at the toy store (this weekend is going to mean a lot of very, very busy hours for me down there).

I fly home to Iowa Monday evening. I'm looking forward to being back. As soon as I arrive, I not only need to arrange for work but also get in touch with the dental college. This cavity in my remaining lower wisdom tooth needs to be dealt with - the dentist I've seen up here recommended once again that I just have them taken out because it's a waste of money if I get the filling now and encounter problems with the teeth later (his general consensus is that wisdom teeth can only end in tears). He says the University of Iowa dental college is very good, and I can have a full exam and full xrays done there much more inexpensively than up here. Then, they can recommend the best course of action, the immediacy with which I need to take it, and an oral surgeon (also at the University) because I don't want to have the extractions done with local anesthetic (I'm very resistant to it). Hopefully, this will help ease the fact of my not having insurance. (Getting the other two out cost about $1000 at the end of the day; I had insurance at the time, which helpfully found reasons not to help cover all but about $200 of it).
crows: (caw)
As of yesterday, I'm setting a 1k words per day goal for myself at least for the short term on a novel-length story working-titled Black Swan that I started a while back and haven't been able to get into. I've been waiting for the material to 'gel' because I haven't had a good feel for the story, despite knowing the most major events beginning to end. I keep telling myself I don't know the tone, I don't know the voice to write this in. Then, of course, once I pull my head out and sit down and actually work on it I discover that I really do. It won't, of course, be perfect the first time... there will be issues with structure and consistency but that's obvious. In addition, that doesn't scare me. I wrote 1,088 last night before I went to sleep. We'll see what it looks like after a week or two of this and a review of the work I did a year and a half or two years ago or whenever.

Also, I've gotten to reading a little bit of writing advice every morning. There's an excellent Twitter feed (http://www.twitter.com/BubbleCow) that aggregates articles for writers on a variety of subjects including editing/revising, publishing, and marketing your work. The intentions are three fold. One, I'm new at this. I've never had to go beyond the process of simply finishing the story before. Not to any great depth, anyway; I've finished work so rarely. I'm getting better at that now, I've gathered enough understanding of my own process that I'm no longer daunted by the simple fact of having to get something written in the first place. There are so many steps after that, though, that I start to feel a little lost. Secondly, I'm hoping (and trust me when I say I know well enough not to take anything someone decided to throw up on a blog as gospel, no matter how successful they are) I can orient myself within my own workflow. All these things, all these steps. Some of them obviously have to be done before others but in general I aim to get a handle on a process that works for me, in the present. Thirdly, in the endeavor to make Halflit a more useful place for writers (and possibly artists of other breeds?), I'd like to start building a database of well-annotated resources that can be added to by the community.

Every little bit counts, I say. Now, off to work! It's Labor Day, right? Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?

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