Tuesday, May 30, 2006

my two struggles

(and neither of them are ethnic groups)

anyway, the first struggle is my work area. my chair sucks and i can't write from bed. i have no money, so buying a new chair is not really possible. this might not sound like much to you, but my creative focus is very weak and anything can throw it off.

the second struggle is working out plots. i can come up with oodles of situations, but no real middle or end. this isn't true, i can come up with the other bits, but they come out really hackneyed.

i'll give you an example: here's what i worked up for the introductory plot for my latest story.

"Administration begins investigation into member of Temerity to the point that they suspend him and are threatening to expel him if he doesn’t reveal cohorts. Temerity staff begin counter campaign. Ends with media outcry that fixes everything."

wow, i can't use any of that. so what am i going to do? well, i've started coming up with other ideas.

i'm up a certain type of creek now (not of the hygenic variety), so i'm going to go out and find something to eat for lunch.

Monday, May 29, 2006

dear writer,

I have been busy gathering ideas to make your story stick out from others. I think the easiest thing to do would be to vary the styles of the chapters. Obviously, changes in perspective have been explored to death, but what if you took it a step further? Change the genre. Have a chapter in stream of consciousness style. Have a chapter devoted to the main character doing laundry. Have a chapter in playwriting. Leave a chapter in its outline form. Throw in a chapter from a different story. Take risks.

Yours truly,

The Writer

getting a hold

as you've probably established, the last two posts have been letters to myself. i had heard somewhere that it's helpful to do this to establish an outline.

i'm no good at outlines, so i figured i would try this out. it seems to be working, and i'm figuring out more and more things that i want to write about.

i'll keep posting them.

form letters

Dear Writer,

As per your request, I have compiled as much information as I could about the publication, Temerity, without actually attaching past copies. Temerity is an unauthorized single page monthly paper that is distributed via a network of supporters. Its contents are defamation at worst and antiauthoritarian propaganda at best. Its manifesto (included on each copy) states, “Distributed for the upheaval of assumptions. As long as we are fair game, everything else is.” Its main features are straightforward. There are varying columns cropping up here and there, but nothing is very continuous. It has been known to reveal confidential or private information pertaining to professors, administrators, and students. As such, it is much loved or hated by the student body. The School Newspaper often addresses articles from Temerity in its editorials.

Yours truly,

The Writer

Sunday, May 28, 2006

here it is

Dear Writer,

As per your request, I have looked into information pertaining to Urban Sinclair. He is a junior studying journalism. His grades have been relatively good. He had been the “star” writer of The School Newspaper of The University until he quit last year. Information detailing why, exactly, he quit, has proven difficult to obtain. He is frequently at the Buy American Restrictions Bar where he meets and organizes with contributors to the controversial publication, “Temerity”. He is said to be one of the main editors, but the paper only publishes articles under pseudonyms. His personal relationships are not numerous. He has a small group of close friends but has been known to go for days without talking to anyone. His high school records are marred by disciplinary actions taken against his disruptive behavior. He is not well known at The University.

Yours truly,

The Writer

Friday, May 26, 2006

getting there

i'm going to get rolling soon. i'm moving tomorrow, so i'll have a completely new creative atmosphere. and hopefully, fewer distractions.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

the whos and hows of focus

i titled this like i was going to give my take on the subject. i'm not.

i'm going to try to work it out, though.

i've always been of the opinion that you need a main character. i see why this might not apply to what i want to write, but it might cover my tracks if i only focus on one character because i fear all my characters will come out the same.

my bigger fear is that i can only make simple, boring characters. in that case, i might as well make an army of them and pop from one to the other as i push the story forward through mechanical methods.

i did determine one thing, though. i'm going to write in third person semi-omniscient.

see, i'm almost half-way there.

conflict

most stories boil down to it, but is that what i want to celebrate in a story? i have enough of that in real life.

it's true, conflict can make life enjoyable, but should it be the focus?

i don't know, so i took a nap and decided i would try to let it happen but take as little part in it as possible.

it will probably take quite a few more naps to figure out what that means or how to apply it, but i don't want to go down the same path everyone else does. art is art, but i want to take cranberries and stew them like applesauce so that they taste like prunes.

those testy aliens

They came to Earth one day. From all reports, they were just like humans, but their appearance was a complete absence of light. They were walking, multi-dimensional shadows. They could speak our language, too. They carried weapons that held the same aesthetic properties as themselves. When they first made contact, it was as if a flood of darkness spilled out of the doors of their craft. Everyone was shouting orders. Us. Them. It was a wonder nobody opened fire.

still in the mood of cliched sci-fi

“Don’t shoot the keypad,” he pleaded. “There’s a chance we’ll get out if you let me work on it. It would be a senseless act of aggression that will get us all killed."

The terminal shattered as the bullet made impact. The door quickly slid open.

"It would appear as if my senseless act of aggression just saved all of our lives."

on that note

And it was there, off in the distance. It was unmistakable, even through the billowing sand. The tip hovered a few meters above the rest, just like in the pictures. The team hesitated, not sure whether to advance.
“It doesn't matter. He’s kicking us out.”

okay, i have given up

but this is because i'm going to do it right. i'm going to make an outline.

the problem is that i'm horrible at figuring out what happens next. i'm a horrible writer, in that respect.

so what i'm going to do is keep throwing ideas out there until one catches with my fancy and i feel like i want to write more about it and come up with a serious outline.

from now on, if the posts make no sense, that's because they're snippets of possible stories or letters to myself.

Novus Ordo Seclorum

Sunday, May 21, 2006

not just yet

i was thinking about chapters when an idea struck me. (it has very little to do with chapters) i thought it would be interesting to have a single character go through absolutely random and frequent setting changes. i started working on this based on a few dreams i had last night.

it will offer me an opportunity to use a lot of material that i have lying around, already written.

i'll tell you if i give up.

(this doesn't mean i'm officially giving up on my sci-fi thing, but if the other concept works out, i'll probably mesh the two together.)

i also had another good idea.

but that involves acid.

Friday, May 19, 2006

and my hand

i have a habit of leaving little notes for myself. sometimes i find these notes.

i found one just now that i had written about my story and it fits in perfectly with my previous post. in my excitement of starting a new novel, i did what i have done many times before, which was list all my characters. i never use these lists. here's what i had written:

-Self-aware tragicomic cynical independent discontent bored asexual male. He’ll be your main character.
-Sentimental idealistic spiteful female. She’ll lead the plot.
-Diversion-seeker manipulative female. She’ll fuck up the plot.
-Frustrated strong-willed calculated megalomaniac male. He’ll make fucking up the plot enjoyable.
-Guilty secretly obsessed female. Throw this crap in.
-Meek witness witty male. This too.

i've already switched tracks about four times since writing this. i'm not sure if i'm going to make my narrator an asexual. think about how many subplots i would be denying. in fact, i think i even took the tragicomic bit out, too. and the discontent thing.

the spiteful female has turned into soul galore. her character is still in flux.

the second female was completely forgotten. maybe i'll add her in later.

the villian was going to make this story. unfortunately, i realized that most good books don't have villians.

that crap i threw in sounds better to me now. i'm not sure how witty i want any secondary characters to be, though. they should know their place.

okay, to be fair to me, i've just found a commentary i had written about those characters. the only thing you need to know is that the phrase, "less-than-inspired" came up.

right after that, i provided an excellent summary of the situation, or setting if you'd like, where my story starts:

The situation stems from the logical conclusion that, if we managed to make a spaceship (stay with me here) capable of traveling really long distances, the travel time would be far longer than the life expectancy of any crewmember. To work around this, you get the crewmembers to fuck the other crewmembers.

i then saw how silly this whole science fiction theme might seem to some people, so i went into a rant about dan brown and how people won't even need to trouble themselves with reading his book after the movie comes out.

my next note has remained very true throughout the starting process:

Anyway, my first problem is that I have no plot. It looks like I do, but I don’t. This is a big problem, but I’m going to ignore it for now.

yeah, so here's my spaceship:





Thursday, May 18, 2006

since i'm here

i'd like to talk about characters. this helps me avoid a world populated with people like me. i was about to write what sort of world that would be like, but that would take some introspection. maybe by the end of this post i'll be able to come up with something.

here are a few simple character profiles of some interesting people i have known:

-female who, as vonnegut would say, was "a fairly pretty girl, except she had legs like an edwardian grand piano." somehow, this ended up producing an insincere manipulative personality that has trouble holding multiple friendships. her femme fatale attitude is diluted by the lack of any real seductive backing or aesthetic superiority.

-male, whose odd upbringing has created a naive opposition to situations deemed dangerous or against implanted values. insecurities projected through perceived persecution.

-female who is quite attractive, and as such, employs a curious sort of passive arrogance. this can come across as awkward courtesy. outwardly rigid in terms of emotion. inwardly empty.

-male whose personality type is that of a follower yet has leadership status placed upon him in most group settings. as such, his actions and opinions are easily suggested. personality development will continue until he accepts his role as a leader.

so far, this list has guided me toward a concept that i notice in most people. we like to establish environments that make us confortable. this is probably obvious to most people, but the extent that this really affects us may be underestimated.

i do it, too. i find myself being stand-offish to people outside my group of friends. i'm an isolationist who longs for company. maybe it's just diversion. my beliefs aren't very strong, and i hold to them for the sake of having convictions at all. i think in a world populated solely by people with my personality, all actions would forfeit to apathy. without the stimuli of other personality types, my personality would hypothetically have no inclination to do anything.

i feel that my personality is a reflection of my environment. my true self doesn't exist.

how deep.

living is easy with eyes closed

this is horribly unorthodox of me, but i've decided to delve into a realm outside of writing.

this realm i'm about to enter is that of john mackay. if you don't know who he is, good. if you're interested, he's a big deal insofar as creationists go. that, and he's an idiot.

i'm not going to say he's an idiot because of the whole creationist thing, because that would be too presumptuous. i said it because i listened to him for over two hours today and if that was what creationists can put up against science, they don't really have a chance.

if any of you non-existent readers ever get a chance to go to one of mackay's speeches, don't. it's not worth it. he preaches unintelligible design.

his proof is in saying that science is a human construct, and as such, shouldn't be held above the bible. i'm not sure how he defended the bible, but he convinced himself, at least.

i got a chance to ask him a question. here's how i recall it:

"Hi, you talked about how people are sinners if they don't follow the ten commandments. What is your interpretation of the second commandment?"

"Well, what is your interpretation?"

"It says don't make graven images of-"

"Anything in the heaven above, the ground-"

"Or the sea, right? And a lot of people don't seem to follow that, like when you had pictures of people in your Power Point presentation. How can you follow Genesis so strongly yet disagree with the second commandment?"

"You have to look at the context-"

"Right, it is obvious that the intent was that you don't pray to these graven images. But it doesn't say it."

"Yes, but you have to look at the context. The context is 'don't worship anything other than God.'"

"Ok, sure. Absolutely. It's just like the context of Genesis. The idea is that God created everything. You don't need to take the six days literally."

"No, you do."

"Then surely you have to follow the second commandment to the letter."

"No, you have to look at the context-"

"Right, ok, well thanks for answering my question."


don't worry john mackay. i'm not going to judge you for your sins. that's somebody else's job.

i dig a pygmy

i'm debating something.

it's more just wasting time because i know i have to do something so i'd rather focus on something completely inconsequential and then write about it here.

the thing that i'm debating is whether to link to all my old writings here. it comes down to effort and my knowledge that nobody will stumble upon any of it.

in a way, it's secret. it's out in the open and nobody will find it. all of this.

anyway, here's a small fly:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

revised story graph

this title means nothing

it's working. i got a bit further, but due to time constraints, i had to call it an early night. i changed the line about killing soul galore (who could say that to soul galore?) to this:

“I’m from your time,” she told me.
“Uh huh,” I said. “Can I talk to a grownup now?”


Say what?

this is the moment

...of truth.

i would like to deny it, but this is the time when i have no idea what to write next. i'm coming up with vague ideas of stories i'd prefer to write. will i give up again?

no.

i'm not giving up on this one.

i've mixed cointreau with my stimulation drink, which could only mean two things:
i'm an alcoholic
or...
i'm preparing to get back on the writing bus, even if it has a flat and it's making that sputtering sound.

let's go.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

oh no dear

i sometimes fear that my different moods affect my writing way too much.

like now.

i got drunk in the afternoon. i took a nap. i smoked. and now i'm going to deprive myself of sleep, once again. in the morning, i'm going to walk to the store and buy cheap energy drinks.

how's that for self destruction?

...

dialogue is a shitty task for me, but when i've been up for this long, it comes out with a bit of a creativity. granted, it makes no sense, but it sounds like it's going somewhere.

My eyes opened for the first time in three hundred years and I saw a golden face.
“Hello,” she said. “I’m Soul Galore.”
“That’s super,” I said. “What year is it?”
I don’t remember exactly what year she told me it was. I’ve lost track of time. Some people go crazy without having a sense of time, but I find it’s the other way around.
“I’m from your time,” she told me.
“Uh huh,” I said. Then I became irate. “I think I’m going to kill you if you stay around me.” I think I meant it.
It was probably the effect of stasis that made me act that way. They’ve said it shouldn’t have had that effect, but I know they’ve been wrong about the side effects. I wasn’t supposed to go into stasis as a heterosexual and walk out as an asexual. But I did.
Go figure.


i guess i'll just have to wait. maybe something better will come to me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

a very small group of people

life is always the most hectic when i want to write.

i'm busy.

i would say that for just that reason, i won't be posting or working on my novel, but i'd be lying. once things calm down, i'll stop writing. i'm lazy. i'll do anything but work. i'll even write.

and now for something completely different: character naming is an arduous, pointless task. snowcrash proved the second part of that. the first part involves sifting through names for something that doesn't remind me of anyone i know.

in one of my early drafts, i had my main character, who is also the narrator, named nat. i'm not liking that anymore. since it is sci-fi, i can name him whatever the hell i want. i've written about someone named urban quite a lot, so i might just reuse that. all the main female characters in my stories always end up named gabby. i've decided to avoid that here. i have the perfect female name lined up. it's almost too good to share.

soul galore.

ok, so it might not strike you as the most practical, but it's going to be an affectation. i love affectations. i love reinvention, especially of the personal sort. i also love good old fashioned rhythm and blues. hence the name, soul galore.

soul galore, urban sinclair. they mesh in a very new-age sort of way. that said, i've been throwing around the idea of making my main character (we'll say urban) an asexual. it will remind me that i'm no good at writing romances. i'm sure freud would have something to say about that one. the following is the pinnacle of my romantic writing:

Maxwell bought the car with his own money. It was a Peugeot 202 that was made not long after the second big war, the one in which Maxwell’s grandfather had fought. He fought in the war, not the car.
“It’s so cute," she said.
“It doesn’t have any seatbelts.”
“Neither does life,” she said.
“Then what’s health insurance?”
“For people who don’t know how to take risks. Anyway, you couldn’t insure this, could you?”
“No, but I drive slowly.”
“I can’t imagine it going any other speed."

See?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

nevermind. say something

i really get a kick out of curious things. the title of this post is from "what in the world" by david bowie. it's damn good, in a pee-wee herman sort of way. i like pee-wee herman a lot more, in that respect. i can't really reproduce that sort of creativity, though. i'm actually quite self-conscious about it.

i've tried to fix this. i've tried writing after sleep depravation. i've tried to write while high. i've tried to write while drunk. i've tried to write after taking a gulp of absinthe.

i'll explain my findings for each of those experiments:

sleep depravation - lack of concentration, objectivity
high - lack of concentration, care
drunk - lack of being able to type, read, or stay awake
absinthe - gagging, nearly throwing up, burning sensation in my throat, regret

i also can't write in the morning. i'm a right idiot in the morning.

my story is very down to earth. even though very little of it takes place on earth. i get a kick out of the science fiction elements of the story. i love using the word earthling.

"Nobody hipped me to that, dude."

to whom it may concern

this title means something.

it's the first line of my novel. i like it. i'm sure it's been used before. it's unapologetic. if i could sum up the entire concept of my novel in one word, it would be unapologetic. i actually determined that before i wrote a single word of the first draft.

i don't recall exactly how i decided upon the idea, but i thought i would take something common and put my own personal twist to it. i fell upon science fiction. my story has been done a million times before, and as such, it cannot be deemed unoriginal. if i tried to write something completely different, it would, invariably, be done already.

we're all plagiarists. we've lived lives that have been lived a million times already. our ideas have already been thought. even those of us who are quite unique, like those thinking the government is reading our minds, are just joining a huge crowd of folks who all came to the individual conclusions that the government has a vested interest in our boring thoughts.

that would be the worst job i can imagine. government thought sifter.

back to my situation, though. i don't write science fiction. i never have. i've written some literary fiction, some stream of consciousness, some stuff i couldn't classify. this one, though, is unapologetically science fiction. it has spaceships.

it mainly ignores this, though. people are people, whether they're on a spaceship or bicycle.

i'm not sure how much i could write, though,

if it took place on a bicycle.

the next best thing

i'm telling you, the titles mean nothing.

i don't mind that i'm posting so many things in a row. i'm not using this as a journal (diary, whatever). i write, and one of the tools at my disposal is visual separations. it helps the reader a lot. believe me, reader. i know.

by now, i've usually moved onto a new train of thought, and the white space above this line would tell you that. unfortunately, i'm still on about visual separations.

enough of that. it would be pointless for me to go over the plot of my novel. the truth is, i don't really have one, and if i did, i'd be too embarrassed to share it. it would suck. that's why i didn't try to come up with one.

my favorite author (aside from myself) uses graphs to describe the action and mood of stories. this is the graph for mine:


look, it's like a cinderella story at the end. i just realized now that i made a silly mistake. that's not the graph for my novel. that's the graph for the entire series of novels under the same story if i ever finish the first one. the first one ends, you could say, at the first dip. the rest was just a bunch of random ups and downs. the end is all that matters, but, as i've said, it won't come up for quite a while and you don't have to worry about it. i'm sort of talking to myself, in that respect.

i'll tell you one thing, though. i've written a lot of stuff. i usually have fits of writing where i'll get about 5000 words down and never want to see the story i'd started ever again. this story, though, has about 1500 words, and i have yet to see anything too problematic with it. it's insanely short because it's been very difficult to write. usually, i find it quite easy to start out. i think it's a good sign that it's been this hard. i was on my fourth rewrite before i even got to the third page. it took me weeks.

baby steps.

ground rules

the titles mean nothing. i'm shit with titles. you should see the title of my novel in progress.

novel in progress. writing guides and amateur writers always call their stuff WIPs, for Work in Progress. they're really fucking right. it's work. real writers don't like writing. i'm a fake writer, and even i don't like writing. as of this date, i have finished no serious bit of writing, yet i keep plugging away, even though i hate it. the reason for this is that i'm not good at anything else.

i have a plan. i write a book, it becomes fabulously popular, i sell the movie rights, and i don't have to work a day in my life. from then on, i'll keep writing books but i'll release them for free because i'm idealistic and i think intellectual property should be free.

obviously, i have a back-up plan.

plan b: i get a job that requires very little thought and i write when i get home each day. (i'm still a lazy student, but i have worked before. no really.) if i get published, i get published. i probably won't, but it won't matter. as long as i finish a book, i'll be happy.

hopefully, i'll find the middle-ground between the two and finish my novel before i have to work. if i have to work after that (which i will), then i'll proceed to plan b.

i notice, now two posts into this time-waster, that i'm going on and on about writing, yet i haven't managed to properly capitalize a damn thing. this is how i write casually. i use capital letters with a bit more frequency in my real writing. this is how i distinguish.

get it?

the inevitable

the word blog gives me such negative feelings that it's sort of depressing taking any part in them. a while ago, i had a small blog that was well-liked by a few strangers because it chronicled my experience in an interesting setting. a lot of authors will tell you that this is all you need to write good stories. a decent character in a curious setting. this is not true. we'll get into these issues later.

the reason why, against my better judgment, i've decided to fall back into the fray of blogging is only for myself. it helps to consider that there is a possible audience. if it's just for me, i don't need to write it down. i'm one of those people who thinks they know what they're capable of, even though nobody really knows what they're capable of.

i'm not really here to vent my emotions or go on about my opinions. i'm here to arrange my ideas as i take on that pedestrian pass-time of novel-writing. i don't like telling people that i'm writing a novel. it's almost as bad as saying i blog. now i'm doing both and it's eating me up inside. anyway, i figure i can write all the stuff here that i shouldn't write in the book but will help me take the next step.

right, so to reiterate, the point of this whole mess is so that i can organize my thoughts about my novel. i also have cats. and sweaters for every day of the week. no, to be honest, i'm not really in any sort of stereotype, but i do try to be easily associated with in my writing style.

that's about it.