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.

 

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?

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!

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.

 

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.

 

Rings and Things and Finery

Nothing brings us back together like things I bought that I adore, amirite?!

One Ring

Sure, I was in the Aldo Outlet looking for holiday shoes – only to have hubby decide he likes a pair I already have – but are we *kidding* with this?! I mean. I can’t. Jointed ring?! Super the exact kind of rings I want?! Gratuitous and lovely?! Yes? Okay, because, I bought two.

One Ring_steampunk

See, I get that this one’s “broken”. OR. It’s steampunk-y goodness. You be the judge. ::Stuffs the ballot box:: I’m so beyond excited about these rings that I will gladly forgo gloves in a Montreal winter. (Before you call Adult and Family Services, my parka pockets are extra cozy, swear!)

Things that make me happy as the year winds to a close:

(1) Rewatching Happy Endings. Okay, this makes me both happy and sad because WHO decided we were done with that?! Like, f’real. So much good. #BradAndJaneForever

(2) Jigsaw. My newest finished project, my short story of delight.

(3) Having teaching aids succeed! Yay for me and Ezzie!

And there’s more, but we’re done now. Let us end with this stupidly beautiful rendition of O Come, Emmanuel. Srsly. The perfect tone for this gorgeous song.

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.