Monday, March 30, 2015

What if nobody slept anymore? fiction prompt

The writing workshop continues to be fun. The group wants to consider having a theme for "homework" so we can come back with pieces and see what we've all come up with. Like a prompt, but perhaps larger/more open ended. And definitely meant to be something more complete than what you do in ten minutes!

But this past Saturday (on March 28) one of the prompts we did was "What if nobody slept anymore"? I read a book last year, Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun, which I guess stuck with me more than I thought. It was about an insomnia epidemic. It influenced my piece, I'd be lying if I said it didn't, but I think my as yet undetermined cause, and the progression of events, would differ considerably.

But. Nobody can sleep. Here's what I wrote:

Friday, March 27, 2015

When starting over....isn't starting over?

So on Monday, in Holding Pattern, I wrote about how I wasn't really writing. And I tossed out, at the end, how maybe I'd mash up one of my camp novels and a prior NaNoWriMo novel, both of which reached 50k but neither of which were finished.

Of course, I've been thinking about it ever since.

This isn't as simple as alternating paragraphs and seeing what happens, or whatever. I'm sure there are some scraps of the manuscripts that can exist as such, but overall, we're talking a clean slate, Page One Chapter One bottom up project here, almost as though I'd never written any of it in the first place. I think the serial killer bits need to go. An I think a tremendous flaw in my take on Hamlet was leaving out the supernatural. I think a tremendous flaw in my Asbury Park project was that I did not make it modern, and took too long to get to the fucking point. I can probably still keep the title of the Hamlet project, Esto Quod Es, at least as a placeholder (and I haven't quite solved my Plot Cliff problem, though my subconscious insists it's working).

I haven't written anything yet. But I'm getting a mental sense of the shape of it, the arc, how it all hangs together. I've been listening to about the right music it seems, Bruce Springsteen but also much of what Pandora thinks is like Bruce Springsteen (Protip: sometimes Pandora is wrong. Do not hesitate to tell Pandora when Pandora is wrong).

But I've already spent time with all of these characters. I've got a sense of their wants and their needs, and most importantly their goals. I'm not starting from scratch, not quite. I've been reading both of the novels (finished Asbury Park, working on Esto Quod Es) and have been pleased several times with what already exists. I just need to isolate those pleasing islands and string tem with other beads of appropriately matching size, shape, and coloration.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Branching Interests

Sometimes, there are topics I gain interest in seemingly out of nowhere. Space was kind of gestured at me (I met an astronaut, Pete Conrad, when I was very young) but not really supported in any kind of long reaching way. Nobody influenced my interest in things like shamans and cave paintings, for example (and I still need to finish Mircea Eliade's book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, which I only read about half of and put down. So really, I need to restart it and read the whole way through.)

But, whatever the source, I am interested in shamans and cave paintings, and so was stoked to see this article from the Smithsonian about a full scale replica of Chauvet Cave that they've constructed in France (where the original Chauvet is, natch). If you don't yet know why this is amazingly cool, get thee to Netflix or your library and find The Cave of Forgotten Dreams to watch. It's incomprehensible just how amazing a space it is. It also amazes me that Chauvet Cave was discovered in 1994, but I didn't hear about it at the time.

But there are a lot of things I didn't know about at the time. For instance, the International Space Station, which captivates a lot of my interest now, was built while I was in high school. Piece by piece constructed in orbit, and I had no idea. I wish I'd become a space nerd far earlier, really I do. But a thing my dad would have thought was really cool is there's an intersect of space and beer coming out on April 13; namely, Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon is releasing Ground Control, which is an imperial stout they've brewed from yeast they launched into space.

That I can tell, the yeast wasn't left in space, but rather was launched (encapsulated in vials), reached a certain space altitude, and returned to earth. So, kind of gimmicky sure, but it was yeast that went into space and survived, remaining healthy enough to be used for brewing. Yeast can be kind of sensitive, so this does hold some real interest beyond "fuck yeah, space beer." They don't seem to have t-shirts or hats or anything, which is disappointing. It's also going to be a limited release, so I don't know if it'll come to my area or not. There are a couple places here in town which have fairly good beer selections.

Of course, I'm not particularly into beer, though I am inclined to be a beer snob on principle. But I dislike dark beers far less than I dislike light beers, and as I mentioned last week, I did drink an Irish Car Bomb on St. Patrick's day, which was interesting. The Guiness on its own tasted all right, it wasn't aversive to me when I sipped it before taking the plunge (to make sure I could). The hard alcohol (it's half a shot of whiskey and half a shot of Bailey's, essentially) was all right as well, probably because of the Bailey's. And the two together? Cancelled out the things I dislike about each other. So that was kind of cool. I'm not saying it's My Drink™ now or anything like that (I don't really have one of those. Whiskey Sours are....okay anyway. Rum and Coke might be the closest, I guess, if it's the dark spiced rum like Kraken or Cockspur).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Holding Pattern

So no, I haven't been writing much lately.

Or, more correctly, I have. But it isn't anything...cogent? Useful? Ultimately publishably productive beyond the exercise of putting electronic words to the electronic page?

The writing workshop is going well, but none of my writing prompts have, for me, taken off into what will become a larger work. Maybe some of them will. But there's still steeping in the subconscious brain soup, and having bubbled to the surface yet.

here's some Elka for your troubles

Friday, March 20, 2015

There is no party like a Goldberg party

Me: Have you heard of Resting Bitch Face? I pretty much definitely have that.
Newest Coworker: I haven't heard of that. I feel like I have resting Morose face, but I'm not a morose person.
Me: Well, on Tuesday, a friend accused me of having Resting Judgement Face.
Newest Coworker: Oh, I see it now. I think what you have is Judging Bitch Face

(oh, apparently it's actually "Bitchy Resting Face", not Resting Bitch Face. Fucking whatever.)

"Look honey, we came to the Barrens to choke a bitch." ~ From the Shadowrun game

Me: I had my first Irish Car Bomb on St. Patrick's Day!
Coworker: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you. I thought you said car bomb?
Me: I....I did. It's a drink.

Coworker: Oh watch, now you get to see Jen go be mean, you haven't seen this yet.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Finding those random story notes (illustrated with Supernatural gifs)

Sometimes I find notes I've written to myself, clearly while at work, on scraps of the sort of paper we have on hand at the library. These notes are less "hey, remember to do this" (though there are times I could certainly use that) but more of "this would make a good story" or "this would go well in that story you're working on."

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Another Wendig flash fiction challenge: Ten Sentences

I don't have a title for this one (not a terrible surprise, to me anyway), but I've (for once, after awhile) done Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge. This week, it's pick from Ten Random Sentences. Extra points if you include more than one, which I did; I used "The memory we used to share is no longer coherent" and "a glittering gem is not enough". Also, I wrote it as a....companion? Answer? to "Scarlett Promise", a previous Wendig challenge.
I ran spellcheck and shifted some stuff around after writing it, but otherwise it isn't edited. I wonder if the two together will eventually turn into a larger piece. As always, we'll see, right? I also came in under the 1000 word limit, at 989 or so.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More flash from the Writing Workshop

The library workshop continues to go well (...I think...?)  We've got three male members this time, which is cool. About the same 7-8 people have come each time, which is very cool. We're settling into a comfortable rhythm of writing and sharing, or not sharing. I've been very clear that if you don't wanna, you don't have to, and nothing we say should make one feel otherwise.

Last week at home, we ordered Chinese food twice, an unusual occurrence. I'm pretty much the only one who eats fortune cookies, so we had 8 of them. I looked at the pile of fortune cookies and thought "Well there's a writing prompt." I asked around with my coworkers, and somebody else brought me 3 more, so I'd have enough just in case.

There was a bit of hilarity when we got down to business at the workshop. I had the cookies in a Wal-Mart bag, and I went around, giving each person one. Then I said "This is your writing prompt. Use the fortune. Use the lucky numbers. Use the cookie itself, I don't care. Open 'em, eat 'em, whatever. Write for fifteen minutes." And we got down to business.

Monday, March 2, 2015

6 queries sent! (plus, how I'm NOT querying)

As of now, I've queried 6 literary agents for THE LAST SONG. Haven't heard back from one yet (except the couple who have auto replies on the query email address, which stops my heart each time, I tell you whut).

Some I've had to remove from my "initial pass" list of 13 or so, because they're just gone. M-O-O-N. Quit or retired or something, I don't know. Some I have to wait on, because they're closed to queries just now.

My query letter is....good enough, I think? I've had a couple of eyes on it, with no major criticisms. Plus, I've read all of Query Shark, and keep up on Janet Reid's day to day blog, in addition to reading things like the Rejectionist, the New Leaf Literary blog, etc. etc. I had a brief "clever" idea to write an invocation of the muse as a query, since THE LAST SONG is the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, but clever queries only work if they work, and sometimes you burn bridges before realizing they're a total fail. So I didn't do that. I'm also not saying things like "OMG, if you sign this book with me, we can totally get Dave Grohl to do an album for the book, right? He's so cool and will totally be into that! And then when we sign the movie rights, we can get Alexander Skarsgård to star!"

The book....well, I'm pretty sure the book is good enough. I still like it. I've got at least one person who read it in its entirety and asked what else I had that they could read. I've got a couple folks making gestures at it when they can, in the midst of their own busy lives (And I'm VERY THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL TO THEM).

I still haven't settled in to a new writing project. Again, this isn't unusual for me. And I saw on Facebook today that CampNaNoWriMo is going to be starting up again. Maybe I should use it to finish my girl-Hamlet novel? Or work on my fantasy novel from last summer? Or finish The Wolf You Feed, which needs a lot of editing but needs to be DONE first so I should stop fucking around and write it first, fix it later, which is I know a principle which works well with me if I could just actually do it for crying out loud. Part of it is I have the luxury of time, I guess. No real deadlines. No real consequence to not finishing or writing any of these things, because I have no contractual obligations. Of course, that's a two-edged sword; I can write what I want, when I want. I don't have to do any of it. I want to. So sometimes I don't.