Friday, March 23, 2007

Digging out of a Rut

I know it's been a while since I've posted, but I just returned from a brief vacation to San Antonio to visit my aunt and her two massively fat cats. I've been editing my three short stories this week and hope that by the time I return to school, they may be ready to send out to various magazines.

As far as the "Hard Lessons" post is concerned I've been working on this as well. The problem, in brief, was that my narration style had gone very "anonymous." I couldn't tell my voice from the narrators in a few short stories, and I knew my critic-friend was right when she said that if I did not stop this habit now, I would probably never be able to stop it. And the fear for me was that I might find myself writing the same characters for the rest of my writing life - so the effort to get myself out of this rut has been tremendous. And needless to say, it has paid off in so many ways.

I'll let you know more about this as it progresses, but just know that whatever problems there was, I feel like I am steadily gaining ground on it. My posts may be scattered for the next few weeks, seeing as how the end of the term is rushing down on us with a mountain of tests, papers, book reports and short stories as well as portfolios. I will be posting links to various other writers' blog within this week, so be looking for that in the sidebar.

Last note: my Into Print professor recommended a book called Chapter by Chapter, and while I have only made my way through the first three exercises, I strongly (repeat, strongly) recommend it for anyone even interested in writing. What I have done so far as helped tremendously in my own work - so at least go check it out.

So say we all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On Hard Lessons

Tonight, I discussed one of my short stories with my very best friend and harshest critic (a very good thing to have in a best friend), and came to a startling and agonizing realization. I don't really want to expound on it here, but I will say that I discovered a very great weakness in my writing.

The thing is that my friend has read everything I've written for the past six years and while some less familiar readers probably would not have noticed it, she did. She pointed it out because she realized I needed to see it early in my writing career and not before I was so far into the rut of the problem that I could never get out. I offer my most humble thanks.

I will be gone to San Antonio for the next few days and I'll be working over three or four stories while I'm there. If you don't hear from me for a few days, that's why. I might be able to write up something tomorrow, but I need some time to think over what we talked about tonight. When I have a more coherent idea of exactly what I need to say, I'll let you know.

So say we all.

Monday, March 19, 2007 Space

Since the discussion in our Into Print class this morning, I am much more confident about my current path in the literary life and in the class. Other students have already submitted to publications and while that was a little intimidating, I was sort of inspired to send out my stuff sooner than later, to at least say that I had the courage to send out something. After Spring Break, the three stories previously mentioned will be ready, and that's when I will have to brace myself and send them out.

On another note, the science fiction story has grown several pages within the past few hours mainly because of an idea I had about distance and time that came while I was playing around with a program called Celestia. This setup allows you to start at Sol and move out into our solar system, covering vast distances to find Earth and the moon, then from there, the orbits of various other solar bodies. While I was looking around, I lost track of Earth and found myself wandering into strange space where I didn't know the constellations and I couldn't find a point of reference to find my way back .

When I closed the program, the thought stayed with me of how vast that distance was and how disoriented and frustrated I felt when I couldn't even find our sun or any of our constellations. I think I will definitely use that sense of detachment and disorientation in part of my science fiction piece, so thanks to my friend Charlie for passing the word to me about the program. If any of you are interested, definitely take a look - while sometimes disorienting, there is actually much fun to be had.

So say we all.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

In a Universe of Infinite Chaos

Tomorrow, I have to hand in a one page essay on what I've done so far this semester to get myself published/into the world of print for my Into Print class. At the moment, I've sent out no short stories to magazines other than The Vortex; the few short stories I do have are in drafts, most not nearly ready to be published.

But the one thing I would make note of is that this semester has been my most productive in terms of creativity, and actual completion of several drafts with which I am extremely pleased. So while I have not submitted to outside magazines for the Into Print course yet, I feel I have a substantial portfolio with Half-Made Men, When Otis Met Everlyse, The Promethean and Breaking the Bowl, along with a few other short-shorts, poems and edited chapters of my novel.

This weekend has been my very first experience of writing actual sci-fi. Before, I've played with the genre, but never ever taken it as seriously as I have in Breaking the Bowl. Needless to say, I have enjoyed myself thoroughly. I've picked up a spotty knowledge of our solar system and have a fistful of ideas for further stories involving the frontiers of space and the two characters of Demne Spartkoi and Lyric Meridian.

One of the things I think I would like to investigate in the stories of these two is how someone who has seen all things destroyed - God, culture, world, family - transplants himself into a new environment with no boundaries, in a universe that is both chaotic and infinite. We'll see how that falls.

So say we all.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Golden Ratio of Science Fiction

The past two days have been incredibly laid back and I have had more time than usual to write. The great thing about this is that I've also taken the chance to research various subjects concerning The Broken Bowl sci-fi story. Mainly galactic tidal patterns, the golden ratio, moons (chaotic and otherwise) as well as the nature of memory and how it is effected by supreme trauma and loss. I know these seem completely unrelated, but as I said yesterday, I'm trying to tie them together to form several powerful images in this short story.

The hard thing about the current story is when I should make the break between what what the reader knows as a the "reliable narrator" and have him slip into "unreliable mode." The question is whether or not the reader should be aware that he is unreliable before he does or not.

The other major thing I've been working on today is getting the sci-fi elements into my short story without overwhelming the story itself with solar system details. I think one of my friends put it best when he said, "Are you putting this stuff in there to say, Hey, I know enough so that you can take me seriously? Or are you putting it in there to say, Hey, I know a lot of stuff? I have all of these ideas about the moons of Saturn and Jupiter, how tidal patterns work on galaxies and whorls and sea shells, but I'm finding it difficult to find where those details should work in reference to the stories. Thanks for listening.

So say we all.

Friday, March 16, 2007

On Unreliable Narrators and Blog Posts

Today, I attended a craft lecture about "unreliable" narrators and while what the lecturer had to say about the craft of fiction irked some of my sensibilities, I found some of his ideas fascinating. One of the things that I have decided to do in the Breaking the Bowl short story is to play with the idea of an "unreliable" narrator and his constantly shifting memories. He relates his knowledge of combat and death to what he knows of love and the dark of space and loss. I think, once I articulate the ideas clearly on paper, the images will work exceptionally well together to come to a very powerful conclusion.

The other thing I was thinking on today was the idea of how religious an experience listening to music can be. I was listening to the soundtrack for 300 and The Fountain, and I found scenes for short stories and my novel coming to life in my head. Look for a sidebar tomorrow listing off some of my favorite mixes. The songs may be of benefit to those of you who want some listening suggestions, but will also be helpful to me in remembering some of the music that helps stir inspiration.

At the current time, I am working on the design of this site which will be changing drastically within the next few hours. Hopefully, what I'm doing will work well, but we'll have to see. What's done is done.

So say we all.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

On Various Short Stories and Movement

I've been writing more lately than I usually do, but I've found that when I have a limited amount of time with very few ideas, the stress level doubles, triples - explodes. I'm in a publication class this semester that demands I submit a handful of things within the next few weeks, but going into this class, I had no idea that this was one of the requirements. If I had known, I would have come with several short stories polished to perfection over the Christmas break; as it stands, I have several novel chapters in rough stages of revision and nothing to submit.

The stories I'm working on for that class and my other fiction class are as follows:

When Otis Met Everlyse
This is a short story about a young man named Otis d'Arcadie who falls madly in love with a strange girl named Everlyse Antissa. A traveling musician, Otis is not accustomed to staying in one place for more than a month or more; when Everlyse's fantastic world of passionate dancing and whimsical rituals bleeds into Otis's reality, he decides to stay and discover what sort of creature Everlyse truly is. The story is based off of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, and, so far, I'm fairly enjoying writing it.

The Promethean
I wrote this short story a few weeks ago and it centers around a young man named Light who travels the Edge of the World tending the shadows and keeping them in their proper places. Light is one of the last of the Promethi, a race of people who govern and manipulate fire, and he is being Hunted by a malevolent force from the ancient world. The story focuses, of course, on the myth of Prometheus and how he was brought low for bringing fire and enlightenment to mortals. This is on the third draft, so it's almost done.

Breaking the Bowl
This story isn't really a story yet, but it follows the crumbling lives of Demne Spartkoi and Ash Meridian, childhood friends turned enemies. The plot has something to do with Ash's younger sister drowning and Demne burying Ash's murdered wife and child. Gas masks, bowls and some mysticism play prominent roles in the story, but nothing is definite yet. I'll get back to you on this one.

On a last note, I heard someone read today and was almost physically moved by his words. Looking on what I write, I realized that I want everything I write - everything - to carry that much of a punch, that much power, that much movement. Movement, action, decision are all things that are admirable, that are desirable - sometimes, even if they are destructive. This may lead to a short story about such subjects, but for now, we'll let it sit. Thanks for reading. That's all for today.

So say we all.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On Beginnings

I'm never quite sure of what to say when I begin one of these, but here we go. I decided to start this blog because, while I enjoyed my previous online journal, it was not focused or professional in any way, shape, or form. I realize it was time for a change, especially when my writing was the subject. The other site will remain as a personal update for friends and family, but I need to use this to present myself as a writer and artist who hopes to one day be published.

The Wind and the Fury is the working title of a fantasy series which I am currently writing for my undergraduate thesis in Honors and the Writing department. This blog will act as a production journal of sorts for that venture as well as a collection of my thoughts on my short story escapades and art endeavors.

Updates will be widely spaced, in intervals of a week or more, and they will be, at first, for my benefit in working out my difficulties and stumbling blocks. Art will be posted when I have a lull in class work and my job and updates on the writing will be made regularly. That's all for now.