Lightning Crashes

 

Let me tell you about the most frustratingest two days of my June life. (Because, let’s be real. I can’t rightly remember what happened in May. That was May’s problem; none of my business.)

So I have a bucket of projects from novel to flash fiction length out and about, looking for a home. (Does anyone else do this thing where they have several submission lists, in various visual iterations – like each particular project has its own excel workbook and then there’s the linear list of each project and where it’s subbed but then there’s this other thing which is shapes and just a different presentation of the same information because sometimes that’s how my brain needs to ingest information. You do, right? I should mention I am not soliciting diagnoses at this time.)

I tell you about this murder of organizational/administrative/brain-pressure-relieving documents because sometimes dealing with this aspect of the writer life suffices for a day or week while I wait on the next Must Write story/character/scene.

But not this past week. I was/am in the middling stretch with basically all aforementioned projects and I was like, okay, the next step in the thought-it-would-be-a-collection-of-flash-stories story might be transitioning into novellette or novella territory (dude, I wish I could tell you why) and simultaneously wanting to write a new novel for the adult market, but no. Seriously, not a single thought or concept was coming. By which I mean, not a single thought or concept that made sense.

It’s about a killer robot driving instructor, who travels back in time for some reason.

And then as it does, magic happened via the mundanity that is something I experience all the time and BOOM. Scene in my head. So, even though it was a simple scene, I wrote it down. As per yoosh, in the writing, more was revealed, but it was still vague in a way that surprised me. It could be more than one genre, part of more than one story.

So I made a two column list. This is how the story would proceed if it were this genre, this is how the story would proceed if it were this genre. And ho.my.gosh. One of those columns got long and extravagant and the concept turned into a world and ojsdopfjpdogkpdkfophhpodjfg and

It’s not ready to be written but WOW. I can’t. It’s one of those I have no idea how to write this projects and I can.not.wait.

That’s all.

 

‘Cause We Can’t Stop

 

TheNewBelovedYou ain’t even know.

This marvel of marvels, this tastiest of things? Is my new journal. Now, the first observation should rightly be: this is not a Roma Lussa, to which I desired greatly to return after two years of writing in a lined, non-marbelized-edged, decidedly un-handwoven-paged, sans leather not to mention wrap-adverse covered tome. Which I ended up very much enjoying for its delightful thickness.

So the thing is, I am very near the end of a journal and I cannot handle that being the case without knowing where I will write next. Mentally. I can’t handle that mentally. And finding my beloved Roma Lussa has been a challenge (no, the cost of shipping was not acceptable) so I went to Renaud-Bray to see if there was anything I could love. And immediately, no. NO. on all “leather” journals. I put that in quotes because I don’t know what these things are made of but it is not the supple buttery delectability to which I am accustomed, friends. It is not.

But then, I move a journal aside on a top shelf – I feel it’s important for you to accurately picture me on tiptoe here – and there is this. This flabbergasting cover with two glorious hooks, containing larger unlined pages than I have ever journaled on. But it wasn’t what I was looking for so I put it back. And then I came back and picked it up. And I put it down and went about my business. And then, as I was preparing to leave, I came rushing back and picked it up again. And then, darlings, I knew. I could not be without it.

I’ve begun my goodbye to the current journal. The obligatory flipping back to the beginning, seeing where I was, where it began. September 2012.

Le sigh eternal, you guys.

Have I mentioned I love journaling? (Ever?) (At all?)

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.

 

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.

So Music Be The Food 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.

 

You Christmas, You!

Regarding the title: If you’re unfamiliar with Linda Belcher’s Christmas poem….you are truly missing out.

Look what I can do!

CenterChristmas_Morrow

The lighting’s not perfect but stop being so negative, you guys. Because who knew this sweater that is so old I can’t even would still be rocking my world? Our marriage has been – literally – perfect. Mine and the sweater’s. I can’t imagine my life without it. I guess this time of year just really makes ya think.

And then, anyway. I’m trying – no, I’m *going* to get back into this WiP. The thing is, she’s already chopped liver because I left her around 12k back in March to do the first of two R&Rs…and then didn’t return to her because Jigsaw happened. And it was more her fault than mine because her world got all strong-arm-y and tried to overtake what I’d intended to be a novella, and despite being really interesting to me, I did not and do not want to write about the political intrigue of her society. Sorry, Imogen. (That’s the character’s name. Did I mention this so-and-so hasn’t even told me her title? It’s like she doesn’t want me to write her.) But I’m really into rewrites, so bye-bye 12k. I doubt much of you’ll make it to the finish.

All of which brought me to the topic of What It Takes For Me To Write A Project. I’d say in no particular order, but that’s probably not true since I typically come up with the first one first. I’d also say, some combination of these but honestly, I feel like I need all five. So maybe I’ll just stop talking and list them.

a) Concept – Obviously this is pretty important for speculative literary fiction. Jigsaw was a dream, Keepsake came out of my brain trying not to let me fall asleep, etc. This is one of the most AHA! moments – or at least, the first.

b) First look – This is either the first line of the story/book or a mental movie of the first scene. This one’s interesting because it’s not tethered to a particular point in the process. Sometimes the first line happens several times. Like in the case of rewriting. The thing is, it has to feel like “the one” every time for me to move forward. The first look might also come before or after the Thinking About Writing phases, which aren’t listed because duh. That’d be like listing “writing” as part of my writing process.

c) Music - Yeeees. This is a big one. Again, this one isn’t set in stone, in terms of when this happens. With Jigsaw, I think it was right after concept, to set up the world, because often the only way to properly translate it before literally translating it to paper is to find music that does it for me. I do not understand people for whom music is not everything. I do not. With the WiP, I sort of lit up yesterday when I realized I had a song for the soundtrack. This is especially exciting because this is the WiP that tried to change shape and ended up getting relegated to the corner for the rest of the year. O_O So, yes, finding a song that matches what she’s meant to be is a good sign.

d) First query - This has become increasingly important to me over the last several projects. First of all, I love queries. I do. Writing them. Revising them. Nom. So I’ve found that when I’m really serious about a project, I have to write a query for it, sort of flesh out not just the crux of the story but also the character and sometimes the actual tone of the voice. I could get reeeeal inaccessibly in-my-head on this one. But I won’t. Because it’s Christmas and that’s your present.

e) Title – Man, this is another one that has become sort of paramount. Because titles come quickly to me, when one doesn’t, I’m missing something very important to my process. The title is everything. First of all, I keep a lot of “administrative” documents and I HATE them being titled after the main character, unless of course it’s also the title, which has only ever been the case with Keepsake, and even then, it’s not her given name.

I need these things.

And then there’s Semantics. Mostly having to do with the question of how it needs to be presented. What makes the most sense for the world/character/story being told? Vignettes like Keepsake, single stream of events like Jigsaw, chapters like Avrilis? That needs to be woven into an element of the story itself, which is why Jigsaw had to be immediately rewritten. Don’t even get me started. Nom.

These things, these are my lil’ babies.

 

You Are Hearing Me Talk

I have for a long time been consumed (hyperbole) by the consideration of writing separate characters. I think that would be my nightmare as a writer, to wake up one day and realize I’d just written the same person over and over again. Mustn’t it be the same for other artists? Would it not be humiliating to write the same song again and again? Unless you’re Thomas Kincaid and that’s your platform, who wants to paint the same thing over and over? And really, isn’t that the basis on which people dichotomize artists and people who make a living from making art? (Which is to say, on which I?) One of the criterion, at least?  Do I have a declarative thought to share in this piece?

Not that I have to point this out since I’m fairly sure you all know where you are, but these are just my thoughts. Possibly just my “this season” thoughts, of which I’ll someday be disabused, but I doubt it. I wonder sometimes if people think concept and world are the only things that matter, if that’s where creativity is proved. And then, the assumption that the concept or world and how it bears on the MC will ensure the MC’s distinctiveness. But unless it’s a conscious consideration – how was this character socialized by this reality – it’s still possible to put a cookie cutter MC in a thousand different (even speculative) worlds. Actually, it’s in speculative fiction that I’m most concerned about the oversight. I don’t want my characters to be interchangeable. Slash will not allow.

To be fair…none of my characters are that happy…

So as I have two WiPs, one active, one to which I’ll return, I’m thinking back on the last three MCs and really trying to imagine them in the other worlds. They’re all women, they’re all the equivalent of Black American – but these aren’t character traits. Doy. Yes, why they are who they are has always had to do with the society in which they grew up, the circumstances, and the best part is when you’re writing and the character informs you of how they would naturally respond to some stimuli. As in, that’s been my desire and attempt. But I still have to try to envision them in one of the other societies, because – in my mind – they shouldn’t be able to fit. (Obviously, we’re talking about my rules and parameters for my work – but I can tell you the times I’ve seen a writer/creator’s cast in two separate shows be the same basic archetypes, I’ve wanted to rip my hair out. And theirs, too. So it’s not entirely just about self-regulation.)

And yet, sometimes I think a writer is purposely or at least permissively fixated on a type of person, or a group of people, to great success. I might say Toni Morrison’s casts and her musings on this community in Ohio allows for fluctuation – she is a master of never writing a minor character – but also similarities. Maybe I just need to read all her books again (challenge accepted. again.) but I couldn’t say the lead character is always distinctly different from another one because their predicament tends to be the same. Or related. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean. Let’s take a moment of silent reverence for ToMo and then move on.

So. Standing Avrilis next to Dolores/Elsie next to Imogen next to Eva. Making sure their similarities are only skin-deep. (Well, not only. I’m not trying to rewrite the human spirit. Always.) I can remove one immediately. One is in process, so she’s the one in danger. Her circumstance could result in a self-consciousness not unlike another MCs, but how she responds or how it manifests should continue the conversation her world/concept began, I think.

I think…I may be entirely in my head right now. My apologies.

Additionally:

::Looks back at all the above words:: So you know. Do something with that.

The Enemy’s Gate Is Down

I’m a writer. (Doy. But there’s always a reason when I state the obvious – because everything I write here or speak in real life is measured and precise. …. Just kidding, I’m an idiot.)

Okay, so I’m a writer, and I write projects I intend to present through various mediums. I also started as a film major in college, which we’ve already talked about somewhere and also, who cares. More to the point, I made a film while there, based on my own short story. Moral: Things change in the translation. They have to. I won’t bore you with the details (suffice it to say my favorite part of the movie is the title…and the fact that we did it). So I said all that to say, I do not consider a novel and a film based on a novel to be the same thing, nor do I expect the film to attempt plastering book pages to the screen.

And I honestly, genuinely, consistently feel that way.

Unless Ender’s Game forces me to give up that religion. O_O

….and of course, I can’t really say what concerns me about that trailer in any sort of detail because I’m trying not to help the editor do what s/he was clearly trying to do which is RUIN THE GREATEST SCI-FI STORY EVER BEGUN. (Begun because – come on. Speaker For The Dead. I will seriously die next to that book.)

I mean, seriously, this looks like a pretty (aesthetically speaking) rendition of the “He’s our greatest hope because he’s just a military/warrior god” Independence Day dealie but with a kid. AND NO. IT IS NOT. So that’s *one* reason I’m concerned.

Another would be the glaring error in what I hope is just the approach taken by the trailer team. WHICH I CAN’T COMMENT ON BECAUSE OISJDJOFJLDIJDFGL;DFG.

I just. No. I get that a film is not a book. BUT WHY ADAPT THIS PARTICULAR BOOK IF NOT BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT GUTS YOU AND IF YOU’RE GOING TO DO THAT WHY RUIN THAT FROM THE GET?!

You’re making it really hard to keep my faith, Trailer.

…Get it together, Trailer.

In The Meantime

A new Frinterview! is on the way, my friends, I promise. But since I am overwhelmed with the general cool and awesomeness of the subject, I’m not sure when precisely that shall be. And so I want to give you something in the meantime. And I don’t have a video of myself doing Tina’s body roll.

…not sure why someone made that gif go so fast. Aaaanyway.

No, but for real. My friend described this meme – not showed it to me, described it – and I laughed.out.loud. This has nothing to do with growing up listening to old timey radio skits from the likes of Abbott and Costello. (Isn’t there an episode of the Simpsons where Smithers describes the comic strips to Mr. Burns?) Upon actually seeing it and laughing harder still, I knew I could use it as a divining rod to find all of my soul mates. O_O I shall test it here:

i.<3.

You Take The Good, You Take The Bad

This is the true story (TRUE STORY!) of eleven strangers picked to be on a Tyler Perry soap opera, half of whom have clearly acted before, half of whom have presumably damaged their frontal lobes in the recent past. And dear hammer of Thor, I can’t even keep this up because what was THAT. Like, for real. It’s not like I’m saying soap operas are quality or anything but tritest of the trite Savannah south storylines? For true? I mean, honey drizzled corn muffins, friends! What! Was! That!

And as the somewhat lean stories were playing out, did I see an advert for a new TP *comedy* for the network as well? Should we have Oprah checked out? HALP HER! ::fanning self:: Mercy.

But that’s not what we’re here for. I have some linguistic bequeathings, I’d like to perform. Because in recently looking up untranslatable words, I was struck by how amazing many of these are! And here I thought German was my favorite language for untranslatable words! French has been holding *out* on me!

To my dear twin, Jen. I giveth: L’esprit d’escalier. Yes, the spirit of the staircase, which means: the feeling you get when you leave a conversation and think of all the things you should’ve said. RITE?!!? JNFR. This.

To the late Zora Neale Hurston, who gave us the greatest first line in the history of literature: Qarrtsiluni. From…some language, meaning: sitting together in the darkness, waiting for something to burst. I feel this is what she was getting at in that famous God-watching storm.

And to myself – YES, I am bequeathing to myself! Twice! – I give validation. Because I knew I wasn’t crazy! Iknewit! I give myself, L’appel du vide.

Wait for it.

The urge some people get to jump from high places when they encounter them, for example when close to the edge of cliffs.

THE INTERNET HAS PROVED ITS WORTH!

I can’t even. All this time, I’ve been calling it Physical Tourette syndrome – like an ANIMAL! (An animal, Neal!) Of course the answer was always in french! OF COURSE!

And because they understand the meaning of the phrase, justify my love! – my beloved leave us with one more. (FINE, I’ll share my second self-bequeathment.) As true today as when it was written. Rire dans sa barbe. To laugh in your beard, or: to laugh to oneself quietly while thinking about something that happened in the past. (Who doesn’t do this like thrice a day? Really?)