And for real, that is hilariously accurate. And the new year has come and the revision is done. It’s about to go down.
And for real, that is hilariously accurate. And the new year has come and the revision is done. It’s about to go down.
We cannot be together right now. I am with my novel. It’s gotten serious. Forgive me.
^I can’t even.
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.
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.
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.
Nothing brings us back together like things I bought that I adore, amirite?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
::Looks back at all the above words:: So you know. Do something with that.
Things I Do (As A Writer)
1) I muse while I write. I listen to a piece that reflects the emotion of the scene itself.
Ways This Can “Backfire” (Or: Why You Can’t Muse Too Hard)
A) It has occurred on occasion – read: more often than not – that I have taken myself on a journey, girl. Got all up in those feels and expressed an entire process of emotion-ism-ality and just experienced this entire narrative that’s rich and intense and lengthy. Because…I was feeling between the words.
Things To Know So That You Don’t Come Off Like A Noob, Bethany
I) [Like the Roman numeral, not like the letter.] It takes longer to write a scene than to read it. ….Read it. With or without the muse (music). Actually, I prefer with. Because then it’s really super abrupt when I realize how much did not make it to the page. The read doesn’t match the muse, so to speak. I got down a sketch, a skeleton – but not the meat. So I go, whoops, maybe let’s try that again.
We’re hanging out with the talented Steph again, this time to hear about her life on the other side of the literary desk.
So you recently became a Reading Intern for World Weaver Press. What made you want to take part in that process, as a writer seeking rep and publication?
My number one motivation was the prospect of reading something out of my inbox that would make me go “Yes…YES YES YES!” Discovering exciting stories, and being part of the journey that would bring those stories to publication, has always been a very exciting prospect for me. A great book is contagious, whether or not it is my own work.
Since I’ve been in the query trenches myself, I can definitely relate to being nameless in an inbox and I believe it to be one of my strengths. I should also confess that I’ve always expected reading slush would teach me a lot about what works and what doesn’t, but also about subjectivity. Any writer has heard just how subjective the business of publishing is and I believe, within reason, they knows what that means, but believe me when I say reading tons of queries and submissions will put that notion in perspective that much more.
It takes but a couple of minutes browsing websites such as QueryTracker or Absolute Write to find threads where authors wonder what happens behind the scenes, on the publishers’ side, or who blatantly express their frustration and impatience about the whole publishing process. I’m of the mind that unless you’ve been in someone’s shoes, you can hypothesize all day long as to what’s happening – but you may be completely wrong. So part of it was also curiosity and the knowledge that as a writer, I would be able to say truthfully I know a little bit about what happens on both sides of the track.
And as a writer who’s received offers of pub from other small presses, what made WWP so attractive that you wanted to actually work for them!
First, there is the name “World Weaver”. Really, how awesome is that?! I liked the fact that they were a young press, and dare I say, not jaded. I’ve encountered some small presses who seem to live by a “the more the merrier” motto, where anything and everything is being published, stamped with Windows Paint covers and thrown in the world to hopefully sell. Being accessible although selective is something I admire in WWP. They’re about great stories filled with emotions, plot twists and amazing characters but also about developing a partnership with authors.
A welcome breath of honesty, that answer. For writers looking to indie publish, credibility is key. Now that you’re a mistress of the slush, what do you see too much and what do you want more of?
I’m only the humble reader after all and I feel I should put a disclaimer up front saying the following statements are mine only, not WWP’s.
I know you’re asking in terms of subs and I’ll get to that in a minute, but let me say out right I see more unprofessionalism than I had expected to. With so many blogs/website/social media outlets, there is no reason an author should be misinformed as to what is expected in terms of query and professionalism. Authors need to realize that regardless of the person on the other end of the email (from a CP to a big 5 publisher), being courteous and professional is the best first impression to convey.
I can’t say that I see too much of one genre because I love them all! Instead, I’ll say I see too many flat characters. A story can have intricate prose, a great concept, a crafted pace…etc. but if I don’t care about the character, then why should I care about what happens to him/her? Why should I care your character is going on a journey to discover the biggest chocolate pyramid on Earth? (This was obviously made up but in the unlikely event that this relates to someone’s story, it is purely coincidental).
Now in terms of what I want to see. I am a very eclectic reader but I would be lying if I didn’t say my forte was science-fiction – so yes, I’ll say it – I want to see more SF, ALL SF, but in particular character-driven SF!! (Although make sure it follows the guidelines of the WWP website! –> CLICK TO SEE! <–)
Psst. One sec.
Did you notice there’s a link there?
Just checking. Carry on.
I’ll also mention that WWP has an annual ghost story anthology, Specter Spectacular II: 13 Deathly tales, which is open for submissions until June 15. Mediums, grim reapers, psychopomps…etc. Send it all!
We love us some fairy tale retellings and urban fantasy. Check the WWP sub page for the extensive list. :-)
Would you ever consider crossing the desk permanently? As in giving up your own works of fiction to champion the works of others?
You’re a tough interviewer, my dear. ;-) Never say never, right? It’s all about fulfillment. If reading other people’s stories and carrying “la crosse et la banniere” (the cross and the banner) for them fulfills me completely then so be it, but as of now, I’m not there yet. Maybe I haven’t found the diamond in the rough just yet, so send me some diamonds.
That question was harder for me, I promise. I have a vested interest in you continuing to produce awesome sci-fi! (NIRVANA. NOW.) Ahem.
I hope you guys’ve enjoyed my first Frinterview! I, for one, might be hooked. I’m prepping to accost another friend with questions and song requests as we speak! Excelsior!
So I have this friend and she’s awesome and I’ve mentioned her on several occasions before. We met on the QT forums (where friendships have been known to bloom) and started swapping work. From the outside, we looked pretty different. She, a hardcore sci-fi writer specializing in cyber and biopunk. Me, a speculative literary writer who went through a good ten years of reading literary fiction exclusively. But, no. Kismet. We found we’re both expats (she’s from France, living it up in Louisiana; I’m from the US, basking in the awesome that is Montreal); we both love music and could not write without it – in fact, I’m gonna splice in some of her favorite songs of the moment; we both love literature (of course!); and, yes, we both love sci-fi.
So, I decided it’s time you know her, too! And Frinterviews are born! So much more fun than a cold interview, everything I already know about Steph made it really easy to think of questions I really wanted her to answer. And go!
Stephanie still remembers the face of her middle school librarian when she returned Dune after reading it in one day. She wanted to be an archeologist for a long time just so she could find the Stargate but settled for being an adult/YA science-fiction writer instead. If only she could click her heels three times and materialize in a cyberpunk world, she would live there forever. (From her Pen Punks bio)
Thanks for letting me grill you, Stephanie-Dahling. I’ve had the pleasure of reading your amazing cyperpunk/biopunk – and you opened my eyes to the fact that I have always been drawn to punk fiction/film; what made you want to start the Pen Punks? And can you tell us a bit about what it is?
The Pen Punks is a group blog focused on everything relating to Punk fiction, and a little more. I wanted to start the Pen Punks because of my love for the punk genres and my wish to spread that passion to others. Steampunk has been mainstream for a while now but most of the other punk genres (such as cyberpunk, biopunk…) have been niches, often completely unknown to the general public. Most people have had a glimpse of those genres (who hasn’t seen The Matrix or Tron?) while still having no idea that they actually follow specific science-fiction subgenres. I wanted to give readers the opportunity to discover those genres, learn about them and who knows, maybe even become as passionate as I am.
And it’s not just an awesome place to read about the varying genres or find out about forthcoming or classic punk novels, it even boasts a database of agents and publishers interested in the genre. Because Stephanie is lookin’ out, y’all. Click here to check it out!
In your other life, you’re a nurse – how intimately do these passions intertwine, if at all?
As different as both passions are, they seem to be bound to affect each other. Being a nurse has helped me tremendously in my writing as I have seen quite a lot of personalities and reactions from patients and families. Add to that the fact that I am an oncology nurse and the notion of grief and death are definitely put in perspective. All experiences have been a gold mine in terms of emotions in my writing.
My passion for writing and reading have helped me reach patients in a way (at least I would like to think so). 99% of the time patients in the hospital hear about their diagnosis, treatment plan, symptoms…etc. Noticing a book on a patient’s bedside table and asking about it can break the bubble of sickness and make them think about something else for a moment.
I love this answer for so many reasons, particularly transferring the emotional resonance from your unique work life to your characters, even though the situations may be as different as night and day. YES.
As a writer whose native language is something other than English (but who writes in English), how has the process of CPing helped strengthen your own work?
Where should I start? As an ESL writer, I should probably say that everything in the CPing process has helped me. Having lived in the US for almost 10 years now, I’ve been facing the fact that I’ve adopted some bad habits and crutches within the English language, most invisible to me unless they are pointed out. I’ve also had the pleasure to CP literary pieces and that has probably helped me the most because it showed me just how refined prose can be. Something that I had experienced in French literature but never in English. It has encouraged me to learn to love line edits.
See, this is why we’re meant for each other, children.
You have to pick a planet other than Earth to spend the rest of your life: which do you choose?
Dune. There was no guess there. The ecosystem and the hardiness of its native people makes it a fascinating planet. The fact that it looks like a giant desert at first glance but reveals to be so much more is all the more part of its attraction.
Please, believe. I *did* know your answer to this. ::Scout’s honor::
Srsly. Her love of Dune is arguably one of the first things you find out about Steph! And there’s plenty more to find out when we finish our Frinterview tomorrie! ::glitter cannon:: For now, I leave you with the only thing almost as awesome as her biopunk work-in-progress, Nirvana – the jamazing mock cover. To find out how it came about and who is the talented artist behind its conception, click the image! (As if you could resist it.)
One of the best things about writings – the tangible things, I’ll say, otherwise I’ll be making all kinds of obnoxious inserts like this! – is starting over. Taking everything you know, all the things that didn’t make it on the page and going back to the beginning. Or the fact that the beginning can change, if you like!
I’m starting to wonder if anything feels as good as revising. It’s a love so much more mature than the first time you write something down. (I should probably stop universalizing since I have no idea whether it’s true for anyone else, no?)
And it’s a small thing I’m considering maybe working on right now. A short story from at least two and a half years ago, if not longer. The heart of which I still need to tell. It’s what I used to write and so it’s exciting to go back to it – if alarming how many of its one-time companion pieces I no longer “need”… and so they’ll be put away for good. But this one, yes. It still matters.
I’d say it’s a wonderful phenomena, the privilege to start over, knowing what you know now. Only that would be dishonest – in real life, I’d never want to start again. Even though I could have done much better, there are too many minutes, too many hours, too much space in between that I’m not passionate enough to live again. So it’s only in my work that the concept is so refreshing. In real life, you do better by proceeding forward, knowing what you know now. It’s better that way. The story is doing the same, come to think of it. You’re starting over but you’re doing more than just reliving it again.