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5am + 2 hours sleep

It seems I can now perhaps add my comic back to the list of writing projects. Years ago I did a webcomic that made it a year before crashing and burning. Someone has camped our website (curse you!). But my artist has decided that she can indeed fit comic back into her life despite a full plate of law-school and hunting down Harry Dresden for lunch. (To have lunch with, not eat. Important distinction. And yes, we both know he’s fictional. Geez). Past Dark will live again. Although perhaps not in web form. We, and by that I mean me, have a crazy plan to finish the thing into a nice 200 or so page graphic novel or three and try for publication. Her art is awesome, the story is beautifully improbably and steeped in mythology, and we share a brain cell.

This project will be separate from my novel project, but it’s still writing related, therefore, it gets mention. I may even post a few preview panels once we have some art going again. I’ve got to dig out my notebooks and re-acquaint myself with the characters and plan I had for the plot(s). I think it will also require doing a side story for a character I really liked, but that doesn’t have a place in the main story anymore.

Which segues nicely into my issues with stories sometimes. It’s funny how once I’m in the middle of something I realize that I’m more interested in a side character than the main ones. Like in my first novel, for example. One of the main characters and definitely the most developed of my flat sad peoples was a bit character I’d considered killing early on. But then a love story started to happen with chemistry between him and a main character. And then it ended up that he had two small children. I didn’t have the heart to off him. Also, he’s kind of funny in a stereotypical sarcastic manly way. I like him enough that I’ve considered trying to rewrite the novel from first person with his point of view, even though the structure I have for it won’t work at all without the omniscient perspective. It’d be a good exercise, however. I’m beginning to forgive authors like Robin McKinley for being so damn slow with writing novels. (Envy me, I have the reading copy of her latest because having a mother who works in a bookstore is superhandy.)

Sorry, tired. My point though, I think, is that characters always seem to rule my stories. And not the ones I necessarily think will do so. I have another story I’ve been working on for years, which began as being about a woman and is now looking like it’s going to be more about her husband. Or my new novel, which I had thought was mainly going to be about the twins, but will likely mostly involve the girl’s quest.

But this is my writing process. Disjointed. An investigation into my own headmeat more than a guided journey. Perhaps when I’m 50 I’ll have some sort of set way of creating. But I hope I won’t. Even if it means trashing a story and starting over. Even if it means trashing hundreds of pages and diving into a voice cries out over the others, “follow me. I’m the tale.”

Also, to be fair, Hex is the only character who doesn’t die or fall unconscious at any point in the novel. So he’s sort of the natural choice there. Or something. I just wrote my way into a whole huge project, didn’t I? I need to learn to sleep more. Seriously.

(Spell check hates superhandy and headmeat. I’m going to single-handedly bring kennings back into style. You’ll see.)

Decisions and Revisions

I’ve decided against busting my ass to apply to Clarion this year. My computer is hosed, which means most of my writing is currently unavailable on the hard drive at the moment. I’d be terrified of losing it all if I had less confidence in my friends to pull a magic computer trick and get my data back. Hopefully this weekend we can do some techno rituals and retrieve my novel (and my music collection, please?). One of these days I’ll learn not to name my computer after volatile entities. Last computer that died on me was called Venus. This one is called Gir. Oh well. (I guess it ran out of cupcakes).

For this week my projects are: Write review of Cooking Mama on the DS for Finish outline for novel project 1 (come up with better name for novel project 1?). Start novel project number 1, my goal is at least 5 hand written pages per day. (At which rate it will only take about 12 weeks to finish the rough draft. Which seems short until you know that it took me 19 days to do the rough draft of my first novel. Which is on the harddrive of deadness.)

I also really need to get cracking on the whole novel rewrite thing. Editing my own work is probably my least favorite thing to do in the world. But, only way the thing has a shot of being published is if I fix it up all pretty like. I had someone recently find out about the whole “editors at major publishing company liked it and want a rewrite” thing and they really got on my case. It’s easy for someone whose work it ain’t to say “if that was my novel, I’d be doing nothing else but that rewrite for a chance like that”. And technically, they are right. I’d have thought the same thing before it WAS my novel.

Which brings me to admitting some hard things to myself about that novel. I don’t really like it. I’m not that much of a fan of the characters, I don’t see how the plot requires the setting in any way, and the setting feels weak and flat to me. I’m more excited about writing the sequel than I am about editing the first one. I know some of the major problems and thanks to a livejournal post by Jim Butcher that I stumbled across, I think I know how to fix some of the issues with the characters. I’m not a cerebral writer. I don’t do things on purpose, with the exception of stupid nerd references that probably no one will ever get. (B13 is the building my protagonists live in, for example). I don’t sit and think about “what’s the motivation for this scene?” or “what does my character like to eat?”. I just sort of go by feel. Which works most of the time and fails spectacularly on occasion when I don’t have a solid picture of what I’m doing. This novel was my first. Like most firsts, I had no idea what I was doing. I was foremost winning a bet. I never intended for the draft to be seen by anyone except maybe a friend or two. I was going to let it die a tiny, inconsequential “good to know” sort of death. But then an author friend submitted it to his editor and they liked it, said it had promise but needed to be longer and to be rewritten/cleaned up. And I told a tiny sort of lie. I said, “oh, well, I’m working on the next draft now, a total rewrite.” Which I wasn’t. But guess what? I am now. Sigh.

Because of this connection, this first novel has a better than random chance of seeing publication. The problem is, I don’t really think this novel is representative of what I want to write. It was written as a joke, a dare. I’ve already won my 20 dollars. But on the other hand, I can’t really let this pass me by just because I hate my baby. I gave birth to this thing, I guess it is up to me to whip it into something I won’t be ashamed to see my name on.

So for the first rewrite, I think I’m going to go through every scene with the main chars in it and see how I can make their lives suck more. The book is almost afraid of the setting, so it’s time to make the setting into something to truly fear instead of just a green screen random backdrop. Aspiring writers would kill for this opportunity, right? But it’s up to me to turn this novel into something worth dying for. Go me. Or something.

Window Closed, Window Open

My application is in, and hopefully complete. Now I get to play the waiting game. (Insert epic scrabble game here, final scores 259 to 442, I win- ok, now back to the entry). I wish dearly there was some information on how many people apply and how many they accept. I couldn’t find any numbers. None. Grr. The only thing I have to go on is that the max number of people who can register for many of the graduate level writing courses is 10-15. Which says that they don’t have very many grad students. Now, most of those classes aren’t full either, which means even fewer people. I’m freaking out, just a little. Sigh. It’s always been very hard for me to let anyone read my stories, much less strangers who are deciding my academic fate. and yes, I know I’m being a tad dramatic. If I don’t get in, I have other options. But they are far less convenient and more expensive.

Speaking of expensive, it isn’t exactly going to be cheap if I do get in. But I have some ideas for how to offset the costs. One is applying for aid, obviously. But loans are loans, and I’ll have to pay the monies at some point. My other ideas are along the lines of trying to come up with some of the monies by self-printing a chapbook of my poetry and seeing if I can’t get people to buy it as a nice donation thing towards my schooling. Bel had the idea that I should do this and print out an expanation of what I’m doing and what this book is for the back cover and then leave some copies in places with a “Free” sticker on it to try to draw in strangers as well. A chapbook is fairly cheap to self-publish, and my poems are things people have liked in the past. It’s something I’m considering, since I have a pretty large body of poetic work. We’ll see. Like I said, I have ideas. First I have to get accepted. Which means waiting. Did I mention I hate wait?

Fortunately, I have a great novel idea I’m fleshing out to help tide me over. It’s going to be novel number 1 of the 10 novels in 10 years personal challenge I’m giving for myself. It’s a psuedo fairytale set in Ancient Wales (sort of). I have a degree in Medieval Studies, and I took medieval Welsh as a language during that time. So I already have some feel for the culture. I’m not going to make it historically accurate, however. It’s supposed to be fantasy. As long as I get it consistent, I’m not going to worry too much. I’m excited though. The plot is pretty much there, the characters are fairly defined in my head, and I have all kinds of ideas for things to research to give it that extra bit of credibility and sense of the fantastic. Plus Welsh fairytales are notoriously more gory and strange than the better known Irish ones. Which will be a blast to write, I’m sure.

The insane part of this is that I’ve decided to write the novel by hand. I used to do all my writing by hand pretty much right up until my last year of college. It was how I ever got around to editing anything. I’d write it up by hand and then the first rewrite would happen as an incidental part of typing the story/poem/academic paper. I’ve never written anything by hand that was more than 30 or so pages, however. I want to make this novel at least 400 hand-written pages, which will end up being around 250-300 typed pages. I bought a fresh pack of moleskine notebooks . And I bought a neat little book on early Medieval Wales which has some sweet maps. So I’m ready.

Application is Done

So grad school application goes in tomorrow.  Then I get to wait. And wait.  I have no idea when they’ll tell me if I’m in or not.  It could be months.  Sigh.

And in other fun time news, my computer fizzled.  I should know better than to ever shut down that ancient machine, because everytime I do it gives up the ghost and refuses to boot.  I’m never giving it a rest again.  It gets to run until the power goes out or the bloody thing implodes.  Also, I’m giving in and putting together a machine that hasn’t seen the rise and fall of sentient reptiles.   The only mildly scary part of this whole process is the fact that years of writing are stored on that damn computer.  I know, I know. One should save often.  And I keep meaning to get an external drive and back things up.  But we’re talking about a girl who buys new panties instead of doing laundry and has been pretending her car will work again if she just ignores the fact that its dead for a month or two.   Doing things the reasonable way isn’t very imaginative, now is it?

On the plus side, I do have copies of the things I need to work on for my other applications.  So there is grace in the small stuff (and in gmail which saves us all)

Nothing to see here, move along

I am Jack’s wilted inspiration.

Hopefully once the whole grad application process is over I’ll find the ability to sleep and maybe with that sleep will come a sweeping revival of the cognitive process.  It could happen.

I have a story to finish for the Clarion Writer’s West Workshop admission and less than a month now to finish that up and polish it.  And by polish it I mean force it down the proverbial throats of a few friends via email and nagging until I get feedback.

Hopefully by the end of this week I’ll have a more useful or insightful update.  Oh, and hi to my one reader, whoever you are.

Purpose! At Last!

I think I have something to blog about, finally.  It seems a shame to let this little corner of the vast interwebs rot away into wherever abandoned things go.

I got the 2008 Writer’s Short Story and Novel Market Guide.  In it one of the guest writers proposes that one should write a novel every year for ten years and then see where they are with the whole submission and publication thing.  This idea is offered as a way to see if one is cut out for the publishing world as well as a way to know when to let a particular written baby climb out of the nest and fly (or fall to its doom).

So I’m going to do that.  I’m going to write one novel per year for the next ten years. At the end of every year I’ll start the submission process and move on to the next novel. Considering I have at least 5 novel ideas in me already waiting, this won’t be too difficult to start.  I think I’m going to make Jan 1st the date, for the sake of simplicity.  However, this first year I have to finish editing my first novel, but I’m going to try to write and edit the second by the 1st of 2009.

So this journal will be for that process. I’m going to try to document ideas, ups, downs, and all the fun in between.  Hopefully in ten years I can read back through this and laugh because I’m a selling writer.  We’ll see.

Good luck to me.

Random Find of the Day

When I’m stuck at work, or home, or need to crawl outside my head, I use the internet.  Or a newspaper. Or a book.  But lately, the internet.

Nothing helps off-set a nice hearty bout of depression like people being oh so human.  Take, for example, this ad in the Barter section of my local craigslist:

“Slightly modified xbox comes with one controller. I’m looking for a rifle, hand gun, shotty, and am also open to offers. Let me know what you have. If you have a picture of your offer please include.”  (it had a pic of an xbox, highly modded, next to it).

I can imagine the stories that could come with that.  Maybe the guy has a really annoying wife.  Maybe I’m assuming it is a guy, and really it is a woman who desperately wants to trade in the xbox for a gun to protect herself from raving zombies.  Or, some teenager has decided to live up to the media stereotypes and graduate from videogames to the real thing and can’t get a gun.  Two things lead me to suspect the poster is male.  The first is the request.  Who would think to trade an xbox for a gun but a guy? I have a lot of male friends, this is exactly the kind of thing they might joke about.  Of course, it is the kind of thing I might joke about as well. So much for stereotyping.

The second thing is the word “shotty”.  I don’t think any woman on the planet (or at least my side of it) would use that word.  It reminds me of an ex boyfriend who called my clitoris a ‘clitty’.  This was not a turn on. It was, however, a very male sort of thing to do in my pigeonholing mindset.

The tone of the ad is very brusque and business-like.  I lean away from the teenager theory and more towards the man fed up with someone version.  It has been modified, which means some education or at least ability to use the internet to learn things.  Only one controller means single and likely not a social gamer.  So I put it as a male, most likely caucasian, age 20-40, single and lives alone, who is intelligent or at least technologically capable.  We have here the recipe for a serial killer.

Perhaps he’ll save and trade the games for a good shovel.

The other barters are mainly what one might expect.  Also, a crazy number of people trying to trade things like housework, yard work, childcare etc… for tattoos.  And one lone tattoo guy trying to get his truck painted.   Someone should hook that guy up.


Starting things without a clear purpose is something I am both terrible and adept at doing.  The space between I ‘will’ do something and I ‘am’ doing something is a vast ugly chasm in my world.  If I tell you I ‘will’ do something or that I want to do something, it might get done.  It means the decision is not made.  Between decision and action for me there is no space.  For me a decision isn’t the leap off the cliff, but the moment after. 

People who blog, far as I can tell, generally operate under the usually poor assumption that they have something to say that somebody else will give a damn about.   I don’t believe that I do.  I don’t believe that I don’t.  What I do know is that my view of the world, my experiences, my thoughts, are unique to me.  I’m different, just like everyone else as the old joke goes.  I surprise people, on occasion.  I’m told frequently that I have a “fresh perspective” or an “active mind” when they are being nice.  I’m told I have an “overactive imagination” and am “illogical and irrational” when they are not feeling so kind.  

When I was little I thought I was just different, that I must smell funny or talk weird or something, because I had a terrible time understanding my peers and getting along with them.  As I grew, I realized I was experiencing a very different reality than most people.  I have a mind that explores possibilities and associations to the point of obsessive imagining and occasionally near catatonic visual states.  I exist in a world that is rich with visuals I hardly understand on a cognitive, rational level.  I swim through this world, picking a path utilizing both habits and observation that allows me to function in the world that others around me dwell in.  I’m not in a different world, merely one that is the same and more.  For years I feared I was crazy.  I read about psychology and disorders and was unable to diagnose myself.  I finally ended up going to the professionals and they were unable to do any better.  I’ve got a lot of imagination, was basically the sum of the findings.  So I’ve come to what I feel is the only rational and human conclusion about my brain’s workings that I possibly can live with at this time.

It’s not me.  It’s you.  Yeah, you, i.e. the people who are not me.  It isn’t that my imagination is overly stimulated or that I live in some sort of freaky continual dreamstate.  No, it’s you.  You’re all underdeveloped, under-imaginative, under-stimulated.  You live in a world where your food doesn’t try to escape or change colors suddenly, where the tiny hole in the ceiling isn’t the eye of a roof-beast recording your every move.  (Stupid roof-beasts.)

That is the point of this blog.  It isn’t a conversation.  I’m not aiming for brilliance, merely communication.  Reading this won’t be a beam of light from my mind into your eye, painful and somehow effective.  No one ever opened their eyes wider to see better in the bright light anyway.  I’m imaginative.  You’re not.  Simple premise.  Welcome.

There aren’t any roof-beasts, by the way.  I’m sure if I went and got a chair I could prove it to myself.  I’d reach up and touch the white plaster, run my fingers around the dark spot above me.  Maybe if I pull on the edges until I can get my hand inside I’ll be able to keep going.  Maybe it isn’t an eye at all, but a portal.  I could pull it open until it was a gaping rift from my world to somewhere other.  A place dark and cool, smelling faintly of wet grass and salt.  I could easily find out where the passage leads.  All it will take is a chair, and a little imagination.