Writing Update!

Want a little snippet of info on what might be coming up? Watch THIS…

 

 

And if you’re interested in reading more, consider poking me about these projects once every week or two. Sometimes I need to know someone else is actually waiting for me to do the writing, and it’s not just me.

 

Last but not least, check back tomorrow morning for a Five Things Friday post. I’ll try to make it a really good one.

Have You Read Anything by China Mieville?

If you haven’t heard of China Mieville, he’s a current, very creative fantasy author. I’m not sure how his work is classified by others. I suppose they probably call it dystopic fantasy, or something along those lines. Certain books, such as Iron Council, which I am currently reading, also falls into the steampunk category – perhaps not for steampunk purists, but who would want to be one of those?

At this point I’m not even sure how I could summarize the plot of this book. I’m only about a third of the way through. Revolution/liberation/rebellion seems to be the major theme. I’m sure there are summaries that can be found in various online locations. If you are interested in reading more about it, a simple search will probably turn up quite a few things.

What I really like about Mieville is his incredibly unique vocabulary of images. He has quite the imagination and describes the characters and scenery rather vividly. Visually, his stories are not like any others I have read. In addition, his language is impressive. He creates concepts and words for his worlds, and does not explain them when they are introduced. The further you read, the clearer the picture becomes of these strange things.

Have you read any of his books? What do you think of them?

The February Challenge

Tomorrow begins a month exactly four weeks long. An entire month of 2011 has gone by and I’ve barely written at all. I have goals for this year. I have to set myself deadlines and ignore the fact that they have no significance whatsoever to anyone but me. (That’s my problem with deadlines. I can be very productive if I have a real deadline, but without any concrete reason to finish the project, it doesn’t feel like a real deadline.)

I’m hoping that I can power through that problem, because I’ve set myself a goal I very much hope I can stick to. I plan to devote the month of February to Sleeping Beauty As You’ve Never Known It. My plan involved a daily writing average of 5 pages per day. There will be some days during which I will have to write more than 5 pages, because there are likely to be days when I barely have time to write at all, either due to social plans or work.

Let’s say that the average, at the end of the month, actually did come out to exactly 5 pages a day for 28 days. That makes 140 pages, at which point I’ll probably be close to finishing the story. My somewhat arbitrary deadline for having my first draft finished is Tax Day.

Somewhere during that time, I will probably need to find an unofficial editor. I am quite capable of doing my own line editing, but I would benefit a lot from an extra pair of eyes to point out any plot holes or areas of unclarity, or spots where a little more detail would go a long way. It’s hard to spot such things in your own writing. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to pay anyone until I made some money from publishing the story, so they’d have to be willing to wait a while to receive what’s due to them.

And here’s the preliminary character lineup of the moment. Some do not yet have names.

The Sleeping Beauty

Ric – the main character (Sleeping Beauty’s ‘prince’)

Adra – Ric’s mother. Pronounced with short ‘a’ sounds.

Henry – the town inkeeper.

Elli – a fairy (this is a shortened version of her name)

A Bard

 

The story has not yet been titled, but its final title will not be “Sleeping Beauty”

Sweet Progress

The title of this post would have been so ridiculously appropriate if I had worked on “Creme Brulee: A Love Story.” I did not, although I’ve been planning on it for days.

 

HOWEVER!!! Happily, I managed to write a substantial chunk of the Helen story today – that is, a substantial chunk compared to what I usually get done, not in terms of the entire story. I wrote around two pages, which is more than I usually write in a week, these days…

As a result, I have enough to post the next section of Chapter 2, as soon as I’ve read it over. As I seem to be noting continuously, i.e. annoyingly, I’m only doing bare minimum editing, if that, at this time, so if things are far from perfect in these blog posts, that’s how I intend it to be.

I probably could have just posted the pages of the story, without this separate lead-in post, but I hope you appreciate the sense of anticipation when waiting for a promised story or part of a story. Look for another part of Chapter 2 before the end of the week!

Helen: Chapter 2, part 1

I know it’s been a while, but here’s more at long last! I haven’t written much more, but I have every intention of devoting much more time to this work, and then I will be able to post some more. For now, this section ends at a good place, and moves the story along just a little. As this is the first draft only, I don’t mind not being completely happy with the writing. Also, just to quell the theory before it arises – no, Helen isn’t crazy, but only she can see the things she’s seeing. As always, I welcome any feedback.

Chapter 2

Forty men had accompanied Tyndareus to Troy, but fifteen more came off the ship with him. These men were Trojans, Clytemnestra whispered to Helen, and while several were academics or servants, six were clearly experienced warriors. Immediately curious, Helen tugged the end of her father’s tunic a few times.

“Father, why did you bring Trojans back with you? Are they going to live here now?”

“I was about to explain that, my dear – “ as Tyndareus began his answer, a young boy began his descent from the ship’s deck. His clothes were fine, his bearing regal if a little haughty, and his features handsome. The Trojans – aside from the warriors, who maintained a strong, intimidating stance – bowed as he passed them.

Tyndareus gestured toward the boy. “Allow me to introduce Hector, prince of Troy. He has come to study the traditions and battle technique of the Spartans. In one year’s time, King Priam of Troy, will visit us here and Hector will return home with his father. Until then, I will view Hector as my own son, and I have no doubt that you, my beautiful daughters, will treat him as a brother.”

Hector had paused before them, looking carefully at both Helen and Clytemnestra. “I hope we’ll be friends,” he said, his expression quite serious.

In response, Helen quickly stepped forward and flung her arms around him. Hector let her, but did not return her embrace, while Clytemnestra clenched her teeth at her sister’s impropriety. Helen took no notice of this. She laughed and said, “I always wanted a brother.”

Tyndareus hailed a servant and ordered, “Show Prince Hector to his chambers, and show his attendants theirs as well. Make sure he settles in properly, and then escort him to the main hall for the return feast.”

The servant bowed, then addressed Hector. “Please follow me, Your Highness. Your rooms are all prepared for you.”

As Hector and his Trojan entourage trailed the servant into the palace, Helen realized that the messenger who ran ahead of the ship must have informed the servant staff that Hector came with Tyndareus. “Father, why did no one tell me the Prince of Troy would be here?”

Tyndareus touched Helen’s cheek affectionately. “Because everyone knows how you love surprises.”

Thunder grumbled directly above them. Tyndareus looked up, startled. His face suddenly grew much darker, eyes narrow, jaw firmly set. With an arm around each of his daughters, he ushered them inside, leaving the ocean behind him. The clouds above seemed to churn with anger, Helen thought. They had been inside for mere seconds when the rain began. No more than a few drops at first, it quickly became a downpour.

“That was lucky,” Helen said, giggling. “My prayer must have worked. It looks like Zeus smiled on us.”

She peered up into her father’s eyes. He looked down at her, somber and distant, and responded, “Zeus does nothing but frown at me, Helen. He has smiled on you.”

As he headed for his room, looking to change out of the seafaring clothes he had been wearing for weeks or months, he muttered, “As usual.”

Helen tilted her head as she took this in. “What does that mean?” she asked. But Tyndareus was out of hearing, and Clytemnestra just shook her head and she followed her father down the hall. Everyone else was merely passing her on their way to somewhere else.

After a time, Helen’s nurse came to usher her back to her bedroom. The feast would begin soon, but not until Tyndareus, the returning Spartans, Hector, and the Trojans had some time to refresh their bodies and spirits. The nurse, knowing that Helen would be most restless until she could be near her father, brought out a shining handful of colorful ribbons and helped her to braid them prettily together. Helen lost herself in the task. When they had finished, she asked if she could replace her golden rope belt with the new, more creative option. Nodding and smiling, the nurse took the ribbons from Helen and helped her to make the switch.

“These colors are very pretty with that dress,” the nurse said.

“They’re like the ocean,” Helen breathed, gazing with wonder down at the purples and blues and greens of her new accessory. “I saw something in the ocean today.”

“I’m sure you did.”

Of course the nurse did not believe her – but she felt sure that she had really seen those lights in the water. Thinking that, just maybe, if she saw them again now she could point them out to the nurse, Helen made her way onto the balcony. She peered hard, scanning every visible inch of the ocean, but saw no lights. Instead, she saw, far out from shore and just below the surface, a grand and horrible bearded face with eyes even stormier than the ocean. Helen gasped – but the face was smiling at her.

“You’ll be soaked, Helen, and then you’ll have to change your dress. Come back inside,” the nurse insisted. Helen obliged, looking anxiously over her shoulder, but the face had disappeared.

Write About Anything: “Insomnia”

In the night I lie in bed. Stars, invisible through ceilings and city air, burn through me, through the body of the earth and out the other side, until their light and life-force collides with the light from other stars. I am awake, but dreaming. My mind leads me to places fantastic and mundane, images of what will happen tomorrow and things that will never happen, specters I will never meet. Fairies chuckling and monsters shimmering. I suspect that if I saw such things in real life, I would be unable to look directly at them for fear of them disappearing, or of them being too real. And when at last I drift off, the dreams I have in sleep are fuzzy and unformed. I wake feeling unrefreshed, as if my lucid half-nightmares beckon to me, enticing me back into their world.

My Writing Won’t Shatter, It’s Not Made Of Glass

I had an idea that I think is a good one. Self-publishing in video! And what I mean by that is: I would record myself reading my writing and post it, most likely on youtube, for people to view. Specifically, I’m thinking of The Krishnaverse Through Their Mouths (which once again I feel needs a title change), my cross-cultural mythology work recounting important moments in Krishna’s life as he encounters characters from different mythologies, from Greek to Irish to Japanese. I want to publish this work so, so much, but I worry that its format will keep some publishers from wanting to publish it, even though it’s very well written and original, according to the feedback from professional writers Holly Robinson (The Gerbil Farmer’s Daughter) and Gregory Maguire (Wicked). You see, The Krishnaverse is a book of five stories, all written in the first person, each from the point of view of a different character. While all of the stories are interconnected, they can also stand alone – some more than others, in my opinion, but all can be read as individual stories. Although many publishers and agents say they want new, original, interesting, cross-genre work, I doubt most would be willing to take such a chance on an unknown writer. In order to get the work out there, I thought video publishing might be a way to do so. However, I wrote The Krishnaverse with the intention that it would be read. That is not to say that it shouldn’t be recorded – it’d be just like an audiobook. My biggest worry, of course, is that publishers might then refuse it on the grounds that it has been previously published, even though it would not be in written form. Any thoughts?

Incidentally, if anyone wants to help me write a synopsis for Krishnaverse, based on the information I provided here (or perhaps just give me suggestions?), I’d be grateful. I’m just having trouble getting started, but I know it’s the most logical next step for submitting for publication.

Reflections on a Piece in E-mails

I came across a piece I did last year that is written in the form of emails between a brother and sister. It was my response to an assignment for Recent Innovative Fiction, a writing class I took during my last semester at Bennington College. It was fun to write, and very very experimental in nature. The plot is built on a rather strange premise and developed only as much as I needed to write a few pages. I don’t intend to ever finish it, and it’s not exactly fit to post online, but I want to talk about it briefly, as it is out of the ordinary and, despite its roughness, I am proud of it.

Many interesting considerations go into writing a piece like this. A skeleton of a plot is necessary to begin writing, but the main consideration was form. We concentrated a lot on form in RIF. It’s not enough to simply write a story in an interesting form – if you don’t take advantage of the form you decide to use, you’re missing an opportunity. So I asked myself: what can I do to play with email form? Of course I decided to create a parody of those ridiculous chain letters people send each other. In terms of language, I mostly stuck to the type of language people typically use in email. It makes the more poetic sentences really stand out. And what else? I could have given the characters interesting emails, but I never got around to assigning them email addresses.

The one thing I came up with that would have made this piece very interesting, if it were finished and published, was to get creative with the time stamps. You have to read them carefully in order to spot it. One character’s emails always originate from the same time on the same day, while the other’s are sent at random times, often weeks later than their last. The conversation progresses as if they were talking in real time, but the information they share about their lives indicates that he is stuck in time, while she’s speeding forward. They also relate strange occurrences in their lives, which is meant to be connected to the weird time paradox they seem to be stuck in. I suppose that makes it a sci-fi/fantasy type story. As I wrote I imagined that most people would interpret the weirdness as indications of end-times.

I think that this story could turn out well, but if I do return to it to write more, create a complete piece, it won’t be for a long time. I’d love to hear that people are intrigued by the idea.

The End

One night the stars fell into the lake. Side by side we watched, wondering if the world was ending. I thought: if this is the end, at least I’m holding your hand.

Note: This is one of my favorite microfictions that I have written. If I ever publish a collection, I plan to put this one first.