Two Things.

First this:

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You have to know your story and – if they’re separate – your concept. Otherwise, yes, belabored, it will be. So I’m finding that if I’m writing in short 50 to 100 word spurts (if you can call it that) and then needing space, there aren’t very many words allotted. As in, each one counts and the story is trying to be captured in few. Which is happening with the new story, which means adjusting the expectations and because I’m me and excel is my lifeblood, noting the day and change in tracking. What once I gauged at 4k is looking more and more like 1200, 1500 at the most. Feels right. And to this point, never have I thought a story would be shorter and it ended up longer.

Pretend that’s the first time I’ve posted that. Because GAH.

Second thiiiiiing.

What if there were a movie… for real fans?

[Distant stadium cheers]

What if – finally – it wasn’t just about the love of the game? But the love…of the people in the office, on the phone, talking about the people who might potentially play the game?

[Distant, slight confusion]

Now there is.

It’s not about playing or watching or even commentating on the game …anymore.

*Totally gonna watch it.

 

Title This After Reading

So I’m listening to Hammock’s Oblivion Hymns over a 10 hour rain track and every time I do this, I just feel like a genius. You know? Like…in some very real way…it’s because of me that this is awesome.

I’m amazing.

And I’m also something else. It’s funny how I don’t trust my writing that isn’t speculative now? Which is easier to feel properly than to relay to you. I have to feel a purpose, which I have considered that I may simply be conflating with texture. Or voice. Something that takes this beyond something that happened that I am relaying to you like minutes. And when I say, why does this matter, I’m really only speaking to myself because I think this is an author-end consideration. I don’t assume the technique will “matter” to a reader, or need to. So anyway, what is communicated by speculative elements brings purpose for me.

All of which is to say, the short story I’m writing at the moment is not speculative. I had to ask myself “why would I write this” for a couple hours before I found an element that provided a “reason”. Geez, this isn’t making sense, is it? L’abort.

Anywho. I have no mixed feelings about returning to my non-speculative-writing soundtrack. It is glorious, altogether. Have some.

 

That and. I just. I need to go to Iceland. I need it. I cannot explain how I know this. But I need to write in a dome-shaped house of glass in the middle of a void.

 

I Keep Saying I’ll Blog

Three Things Which Are True:

(1) I’ll never stop badmouthing George Orwell. *

(2) Never.**

(3) I’ve got work to do. (Wonderful, wonderful work.)

*I’m not saying my sentiments are new to you or this blog. I’m not even saying that’s the best article on the matter, it’s just the easiest one to find that refers to Orwell having reviewed Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. And I’m still indignant.

**As long as 1984 is on required reading lists and any list of well-received, impacting novels, I will continue to do so.

 

Bring Me A Dream

Everything I want to do right now requires energy and a level of brain function I’m not sure I have. Which is a euphemism for “I’m about to collapse face first onto the gentle mattress of my hardwood floor.” Like that, right there, was a pretty unimpressive sentence. Believe me, I’m on your side. I’d abort this post if it weren’t just easier now to keep typing. You can’t change horses in the middle of dinner.

I started the new short, saw the protag once I started writing, which I looove. Like you have an idea of the person around whom the story will revolve but you don’t know everything, particularly what her relationship to her world and therefore (not necessarily but in this case) to other people around her might be. And then also, her title gives me the impression of where to end up. So, even though I just started (literally writing it down) yesterday, I have her title, her song, her concept, her first look (which could’ve been one of at least three different starting points, actually, and that’s a first for me – getting multiple first points before writing one…and I’ll admit I just sort of chose one because any of them could work). I don’t have the fifth bit, the query. But (a) I wrote the last short story without ever doing one, (b) I’m not sure I need one for these sort of straight-shot, 5-7k stories and (c) the title in this case actually prompted me the way the query usually does. So.

That’s what that wants to be about.

Another Op’nin, Another Show

Which is a title befitting both the video and the fact that I’ve mentally begun a new story.

And so, my little boy’s life has gone back to normal. What a wonderful blessing that whole thing was. Precious. I love my Ezra more than [insert every valuable thing]. I wrote him a letter for the future, for some moment in his life when he’s not doing a hundred fun and exciting things, for when he’s not sure what he wants to do. To remind him God has blessed him, that he himself is a blessing and all the ordinary reasons his father and I are so proud of him. Gushgushgush.

And then because of the above and the fact that I am a memory hoarder or as I like to call it, a historian, I ran away and made the following for my little lovebug. (And before you ask, yes, my husband’s eyes are naturally red. Or fixing them makes him look like a vampire to me. So there.)

And so I’m inclined to make a projection about 2014, which is totally unnecessary and impossible to do but shut up. I am – less than two months on – dubbing it the year of the short story. I mean, of me writing them by the bowlful. This might be because I wrote Jigsaw at the end of last year, then Caroline, and am heading into #3 and am loving it.

I have a rather adolescent response to word count, or at least I did. I never understood people who wrote to a word count or complained about it or worried about it. Of course, when you’re writing toward publication, word count matters and there are guidelines for certain formats for which word count is almost a deciding factor. Or at least is taken into consideration. For myself, I’m also a data hoarder which is completely normal and fulfilling and makes me all swoony sometimes, which like I said is normal – so I document my word count as I’m writing. Moreso because I want to know exactly where I was at any given time when reminiscing about a particular project. When I came up with what, etc. It’s also why I have a hard time not saving every iteration of a project. I want to keep all the pieces. Anyway, I was going somewhere with that rebellious/defiant approach to word count…

Without inflating the inherent importance of the word count, I do have to admit what I love about the varying lengths of short stories, for me. What I find is accomplished in the varying lengths and how many words that tends to be for me. (Always for me. I have no idea what it is for anyone else.) And I’m totally basing this only on stories I have written to this point.

Novellas (I’m personally capping at 30k) I love writing because they’re closer studies of a particular, sort of uninterrupted storyline and character arc. There’s room for the world as well, to a point. With Keepsake, it came together perfectly. With Imogen-Who-Has-No-Name (please do not misunderstand that as being the actual title), what became difficult for a moment was the world getting too grand. Too wide a view of the political system, too intricate a ruling class and family trees. That for me isn’t fit for a novella. It’s why I kept stopping and eventually moved on to something else until I could get back to the snapshot I’d intended to capture.

Long short stories (I’m putting that at around 7-10k) are wonderful because in that space of words, I feel able to close in on a character and how the world she inhabits impacts her life.

Short stories (I’d say 5k – which obviously leaves a 2k no man’s land between short stories and long short stories) are like any mini dessert. Something you can pop into your mouth but it reminds you of a fuller dish. For me, this is the length of story where you introduce a character and only the world as it impacts her life at this moment. This is the difference between Jigsaw and Caroline. The former has space to investigate what she will do from now on, the latter only what she will do today.

And then, of course, I’ll next write a short story that is 3k and deals with a whole family and make myself a liar. (Right. All the rires.)

Thoughts? Condemnations?

Oh, Scipiooooooo!

So all of my world right now is my latest short story, my submissions and my sugar-butt Ezzie’s out-of-nowhere stint with the Montreal Opera. And since I don’t really discuss the former in detail, that last bit is all I can actually talk about of the subjects mentioned.  ::tosses rose petals::

I can’t even. A few years ago, I introduced my little boy – who already inherited my love of MGM classics, much to my delight – to Porgy & Bess. Well. To Sammy Davis Jr. singing selected tunes from P&B. And he loooooved it. We spent a ridiculous number of hours watching various duets of Bess You Is My Woman, some opera, some not, and then choosing our favorites. J’adore. So for him to suddenly (and I do mean suddenly – we found out the same day he started rehearsals) get cast was, in his words, mind-blowing. And we’ve just been having the best time.

As far as he knows, Ezzie plans to be a voice-acting zoologist when he grows up. I have no idea whether he’ll ever do anything like this again or when the opportunity would even arise. This seriously dropped in our laps (very, very short story) and we’re not actively pursuing but either way. The point is THIS is fun and exciting and my little boy is on cloud 9. I almost wish there were more than four performances left – including tonight’s! Have some pictures!

Aaaaand that’s pretty much it. I am so happy for him.

All The Droids You’re Looking For

For most of 2014 I’ve been sick in a brand new way but who cares! Because I just wrote 1400 words of my new story and I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!

I have that obnoxious desire to talk to errybody about it and so OH, BLOG!

No, seriously, it’s a pretty nice change of pace from hacking up blood-tinged phlegm. O_O And before you go all psycho in the comments, I’m kidding (except for those few occasions about which I’m not kidding).

So yes, I have the song, the title, the concept, the opening (obviously) but I don’t have the query. (This makes more sense if you read that post about the things I need to write the things. But that post was also sorta about Christmas, too, so don’t get lost.) And the thing about the query is I write it when I’ve got already gotten the first thousand or so words out, I’ve found, so it should be coming up here. And the reason I do it is that up until then, often, I haven’t known how the story will end, nor do I need to. But also the thing is that once I’ve written it, I may start over, if I learn something new about the character or the tone or the central focus because of writing it. Which brings me to why (I think) I started this blog, really.

I wanna say I love something and not have to make the disclaimer that it might not survive. Right? Or does that matter, at all. Help me out here, ether. Because I genuinely am adoring this opening and this tone – which is sooper out of left field and possibly more like my blog voice than anything I’ve written in fiction, which is to say it might be like my blog voice and that nothing I’ve ever written is in any way similar to my blog voice. Where was I. Oh, so j’adore, right, but it might not stay the same. Which is fine by me! Hmm. Now I’m wondering if that exclamation point is misleading.

It’s nice to have me back, izit?

The other thing is that the title might change, given that unexpected tone. So I can’t even update my writing page because the present one might be too ___. Right?

You’re awful quiet for a supposedly innocent party.

Sigh.

So, to summarize. New short story. Love it. Rewriting is what I do so that might happen but I love what’s written and I can’t wait to write the query.

Peace.

Oh and because of the tone the playlist (which I love) seemed almost not to match especially the opening but then I was like, wait for it, but so I can’t post a song because then it’ll be kinda misleading almost? BREAK!

Talkin’ It Up!

Talkin’ bout issues. Talkin’ bout – crazy cool medallions.

So two things on which I wanna remark and let’s just make that three because the first – and the foremost – is that I have had to edit this singular sentence four times already and that in itself should have convinced me to leave serious talking points for the post-congested-head Bethany, but EQUALITY NOW. I deserve just as much stage time as any levelheaded person whose sinuses aren’t pooling and then draining and making me think things are good things to say but then I lose my train of thought.

Me too, Corrina.

Thing the 1st: You know how to ruin what is possibly the current pinnacle of someone’s career? Don’t allow them entry until your lack of diversity has become a headline. That way whomever is chosen will be the New Black Cast Member for Saturday Night Live, as opposed to a deserved comedienne. That way her basking moment will be significantly dampened by the claims of unfairness (“She only got the job because she’s Black!”) and overzealous criticisms (“She’s not even funny! Lemme pool all of the unfunniest things she’s ever done so I can prove to you how unfunny she is!”) that make life on Earth decidedly unfunny and occasionally disgusting.

Sasheer Zamata: 1

It’s A Hard Knock Life For People of Color: A Grillion

Luckily, she’s been Black for a while now so she’s primed for this. Congratulations, Ms. Zamata!

And you know what, that’s it. I’d rather not bury the story by talking about anything else. And I love you, The Choir, but the only thing that should make us feel any better about this rampant ridiculousness is an actual self-reflection and conversion of someone who didn’t get this before now. I WANNA BELIEVE PEOPLE CAN CHANGE.

This Is A Trap

excerpted from an interview with Michael Ray, Editor of Zoetrope: All-Story

Something I talk to writers about during the editorial process is reserving room in the story for the reader to participate in its understanding. As a writer, if you immerse yourself too much in the story, you risk standing between your story and your reader. The best stories stand outside their authorship, becoming interesting and powerful to people who don’t know the author, or really care about the author—or the fact that the author wrote this.

With the present educational system for writers—workshops, M.F.A.s—stories can get too worked over. In that environment, writers can become disproportionately focused on one particular impact they intend for a story to have upon a reader; they work the story to have that impact. They workshop it; other people give them advice; and they work it over and over and over.

These stories can be really polished but ultimately unsatisfying, as they lack any true sense of discovery. As a reader, you can watch the story’s various mechanisms working toward one end; and I think you then instinctively resist that end, or that feeling the writer is working so hard to create. And you know you can read the story again and its only potential is to affect you in exactly the same way. It’s been so sharpened to a single point, and that’s not the way life happens.

I mean.

Verklemption. By Calvin Klein.

Get out of my head, sir. Actually, don’t. I love that feeling of finding words from a stranger that so precisely reflect my own. I wanna reward him with seventeen minutes of uninterrupted eye contact with a bonus of continuous gentle nodding. Like, for real. Because while I was writing Jigsaw and especially in the tiny gap between writing and rewriting it, THIS. So much this. Even so far as not assigning a hard-and-fast aha! moment. (Belated warning: I’m going to do a terrible job of translating how much I love this excerpt and why. As a longtime journaler, I have transitioned – slowly – from NEEDING to be precise enough to give you exactly what I’ve received to appreciating that some gifts cannot be regifted and you have to take the portion that can be translated and let the recipient adorn it themselves.)

Whatever, I quit. Just know that I love.

And also, this ended with me musing about Melancholia.

WHAT IS LIFE!*

FYI: Johnny has his hand. Johnny has his bride.

Which, of course, brings us back….to Community.

#NoApologies

*No apologies but maybe a smidge of explanation. I *was* thinking of Melancholia and that made me think, “What is life?!” – yes, with an interrobang intonation – which of course, led to Moonstruck. Okay. We’re gonna move forward, sorry to slow ya down. (Which of course….is Emperor’s New Groove.)

Yeah. I’m starting to see it, too.

So Music Be The Fruit Of Love

It be. No “if”s. So I thought, seeing as the other day I explained how it’s one of my five components of making a project happen – which is super misleading because it makes me sound like I’m in control like I can just make those things come together – I should/want to post one of the songs from a couple of said projects! #YoureWelcome

Jigsaw – this most recent project was a bit different in that the soundtrack (which was robust and loverly) was much more world/tone-setting than my usual while-writing soundtrack. (As in, while writing, I typically have more of a score – heavily Hans Zimmer/Antonio Pinto/etc – and then during revision, I have a soundtrack.)

So there are a couple of songs that reeeealllly impressed upon me while working on this project but I shall choose one. ::TEARS::

It’s always between this song and “The Last Stand” by Koda, but I don’t trust you guys to listen to an 8 minute song based solely on my guarantee that IT WRECKED ME. (Like, I get that we all have different musical responses and experiences but I don’t totally get it because I will never understand someone not understanding how I feel about this song. You know?)

Seriously, writing Jigsaw had several hidden gifts, one of which was discovering Koda. I can’t. I cannot. You know what, sucks to your asmar, I’m posting it again. Because this was a huge part of writing that project.

***

The Last Life of Avrilis – Avrilis was first written in 2010 so it’s had a long history of musical accompaniment, starting with “A Small Measure of Peace” by Hans Zimmer. Gah. So good – but more about meeting the emotional tone of a character than finding a sound that matched the world. During revision, I found several songs that were – promise! – written for this book. O_O Unbeknownst to the artists who wrote them. The first such song was “Blinding” by Florence & the Machine, then Ellie Goulding’s “Holding On”, and most recently (and epically) Röyksopp’s “Running To The Sea” feat. Susanne Sundfør, remixed by Seven Lions – DO.NOT. get me started on Seven Lions.

But let’s hear the throwback anthem.

***

Imogen’s Stupid Untitled Story - @_@ Not that she’s stupid but isn’t it stupid to not tell me the story’s name? Exactly. Jigsaw and What’s-her-name aren’t set in similar worlds basically at all – Jigsaw is more traditionally, albeit sort of immediate futuristic; Imogen’s story is what I call Antiquated Futurism, or more specifically Greco-Roman Futurism – but their music has a little bit of overlap. I definitely use both the above Jigsaw songs to muse on Imogen, but then the songs with more prominent vocals don’t match.

My primary Imogen song at the moment is “Red Eyes” by Thomas Azier. If I tell you to ignore the video, it’s gonna call your attention to the video, right?

 

And together, we started Imogen’s rewrite last night. The funny thing is I used to feel tethered to the words I wrote down, years ago. It was so uncomfortable to revise (it felt so messy it made me anxious) and it was painstaking to discard (what can I say, I’m a hoarder) and starting over was a non-starter. This reads laughably to me now and I’m too far removed from it to take my former feelings seriously, but I know it was true. Now rewriting amazes me. It’s startling satisfying that you can rewind, throw away and breathe new life into a concept. Because what I wrote starting more than a year ago was boring me to tears when I tried to get re-acclimated to the story. Except there were all these elements I loved, tho getting through to them was seriously draining the life out of me. LITERALLY. O_O Literally figuratively.

Sometimes I worry that I’ll forget a turn of phrase that I really liked, which I think is where Thinking About Writing comes in. After sort of meditating on the story as a whole, rewriting it can still capture those elements – yes sometimes differently and calm down, little obsessive – and all of a sudden the project is exciting again.