Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stand there shocked, watch the desolation

I've been listening to these two songs over and over again lately. They are just so evocative of the scene they are portraying. Neither are happy songs, but they both resonate in a way that grips my ribs and has nothing to do with the volume of the music. It's like a movie's turned on inside my head.




Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A story for a Tuesday

My current read has been the backlist of Kristin Cashore's blog. Her articles on writing are brilliant, eloquent, and simple. But what got me really hooked (as if I wasn't already from reading her wonderful books Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue) was seeing her photos of Martha's Vineyard, of the very beach where I sat and sunbathed and read amongst friends. But I also love her simple politics (read: stop hating people) and it's really refreshing to see a kind space in the internet. Because I get tired of people hating on the haters. Not because I don't agree, but because it's just more anger and I'm sick of reading about it.

In any case, I came across this short story she linked to on her blog. Drag Queen Astronaut by Sandra McDonald. She challenged readers to read the first two paragraphs of the story and see if they could keep themselves from reading the rest of it. I extend that dare to you.

And let's all stop hating people, yes?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Welcome to my brain

Do you know what I think about when I see cows? I wonder how their skins can hold all of their stomachs and the rest of their guts inside them. I worry that as I look at them, their stomachs are going to rip and everything is going to pour out of them, intestines in a long rope and organs like disgusting, warm water balloons. I don't want to go near a cow. I don't want any of their guts to get on me when they spontaneously explode. I have no idea when or how this happened, because I didn't feel this way as a kid. It only happened recently, possibly during one of the many long trips to college through acres of farmland. Or possibly slowly, through all of the trips.

So yeah, that first episode of Under the Dome pretty much made me want to die.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Uncomfortable

Writing is going to create a lot of uncomfortable feelings for you. In my experience, one of the most uncomfortable feelings is "I can't figure out how to fix this." I think one of the reasons that's so uncomfortable is that it's only the tiniest step away from "I'll never figure out how to fix this." But you will. If you keep facing it, then getting distance, then facing it, then getting distance, then facing it again, you'll figure it out. This unsettled feeling will not last forever, I promise.
- Kristin Cashore

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wonderful Things

Wonderful things make me happy.

All the sheetrock is out of the living room. We had the new carpet for about a week and a half before piling the mountain on top of it (and this was back in April), so it was really wonderful revealing it again. We may have sprawled out on it in our sheetrock- and spackle-dust covered glory. And then we may have fallen asleep for several hours, only to wake up cold in the middle of the night with all the lights still on. The goal for tonight is to just sand, sand, sand, and spackle for as long as I can stay awake.

A coworker told me about this interview with Neil Gaiman in Philadelphia Weekly, but I wasn't able to find a copy. I finally read it here. Neil Gaiman is just an all-around awesome person who says smart things. I'm still waiting for my turn with his new book from the library. In the meantime I'm reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore (again), Lexicon by Max Barry, and Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh. All are very good.

Love Interruption - Jack White. Who is the accompanying singer??? She is amazing. And listen to the clarinets in the backround! *so much love*

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Trying very hard not to freak out

A few years ago, when I was working on the Merfolk story, I allowed myself 30k to dally around in the setting and the characters and figure out what an underwater city would really be like. It consisted of a market that went up the face of a sea cliff, with stalls tucked into the nooks and crannies and caves; a castle made of coral; and kingdoms delineated by razorweed and schools of fish, and a giant squid that swam around being awesome, but hadn't found its purpose yet. Actually, it was all pretty cool, though terribly difficult. (Like playing the underwater levels in video games. NO ONE likes the underwater levels. It's hard enough to worry about up, down, left, and right without also thinking about forwards and backwards and upside-down and rightways-left.) But when I hit 30k I made myself stop and really try to figure out the political conflict. I had something vague, and it built up until I had a detailed conspiracy that just didn't fit together completely yet. Like a puzzle, I had this red section put together, and all this green over here put together, but the important parts wouldn't fit yet. Then, I had this flash of OMG THIS GUY IS A TRAITOR AND HE DID THIS AND THIS AND THIS AND SO AND SO FINDS OUT AND ZOMFG I AM A GENIUS!!! So I sat down to write everything out so I wouldn't forget it, and *poof* it was gone. GONE. It was worse than trying to remember a dream. I tried to get it back for a couple of weeks, then put it aside, disheartened, meaning to get back to it. I still haven't. Maybe someday, because that flash of brilliance was like a freaking drug and I want to find it again. (And yes, I realize that maybe my flash of brilliance wasn't as flashy or as brilliant as I think it was, and it was just an in-the-moment brain-high. I don't care. I remember it as awesome, and that makes it so.)

So where am I in my current story? That place with lots of pieces and lots of space in between them. I know point B, but point A keeps changing. Sometimes I feel like I'm thinking through vanilla pudding and sometimes I feel like a puppy chasing a biscuit that's dangling from a stick tied to my collar. I am slowly unearthing more about my characters, but each bit leads to five other bits I need to figure out. But I really really want to find that awesome thing that makes everything fit together. I'm sure it won't be that easy. In the meantime, I'm trying to keep everything straight in my head enough to keep writing. It's working somewhat. Too much time is devoted to the house. Granted, the house really needs to get done. But spending three hours a night going over the same areas over and over again with the freaking spackle knives, and then with the sanding block getting shit in your eyes and your nose because dust is everywhere and it's not nearly as fun as Dust it's just scratchy and dry... it makes you punchy really quick. Especially when I'm not giving myself time for the fun things, like writing or keeping up with tv shows or just taking a deep breath and enjoying the fact that I'm living in my own space.

I really want to write. Phil really wants to play Borderlands. It makes for two rankled people and slow-going with the spackle. We wanted to be finished by Monday, but not sure if that is still going to happen. I don't want to say we can't do it, because then I'll just give it up for a bad job and nothing will get done before then and now. So. MONDAY. FUCK YOU MORE THAN NORMAL.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Hum and the Shiver

I finished The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe last week, but haven't really been feeling a review. Which is a shame, because I really enjoyed this book. I heard about it for the first time on Seanan McGuires blog (I think, it was a long time ago), but I had also read several so-so reviews, so it put me off. I could see why some people would be turned off to the book, because it is a very quiet, character driven story, and it is a long time before you get any answers. But I really loved it. I took it out from the library when the mood struck to read it, since I've been trying harder to grab books following my whims instead of going down my TBR pile like a checklist.

Frankly, I thought all the mystery was awesome, and there was no way I was putting down the book until I figured out what the Tufa people are. And even after finishing the book, you still don't really know what they are. The characters are very vivid, and awesome. I'm super happy the second book, Wisp of a Thing is already out, and I already have it on hold at the library. (I just love it when I can get good books at the library!) I hope it's available sooner rather than later, because I really want to know what happens to everyone!

Alex Bledsoe ( blog | twitter )
The Hum and the Shiver ( GR | BN )
Wisp of a Thing ( GR | BN )

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Small woes

The story I'm working on right now is something I started in the beginning of the year, when my focus was on the house. It's still on the house, but we are SO CLOSE to finishing the upstairs—just a week away if everything goes as planned, and it WILL go as planned, dammit!—and that finish line is close enough that my focus is suffering from wanderlust and I'm getting back into the writing. (Which is a great thing.)

Anyway, back in the cold months (oh, how I wish for you again!), I'd scrawled a map on a piece of paper, complete with notes about the different people and characters and what the countries believed in and everything about this conflict that would drive the story. I'm working on that story now, but I can't find the map! It's not in my last notebook, and it's not in the pile of papers with various notes and story pieces on them. I don't think I would have thrown it away (as evidenced by the piles of crap, napkins, receipts, and pages with VERY IMPORTANT THINGS written on them), it has to just be lost in the mess-that-is-our-front-room right now. But it's so frustrating! I can remember the basic of it (it was a pretty simple map) but I had distilled everyone's beliefs very nicely on the original, and now I can't remember all of that. I still have the plot notes, since that was typed out on the computer, but I can't find the goddamn piece of paper.

Just one more lesson to SAVE EVERYTHING, FOLKS. This may also be a good time for me to have a back-up plan in place in case I ever lose my notebook. That is the one bad thing about handwriting everything, it only exists in one place. I guess I could take scans of the pages, but my writing is interspersed with my journal (and everything else I decide I need to remember for the rest of my life), and it just seems wrong to take scans of my journal. I know many writers keep their notebooks in the refrigerator in lieu of a fireproof safe (a la Stephen King?), but a) that doesn't protect it from my own stupidity, and b) our fridge has such a bad seal I don't think that would work anyway. A conundrum for another day, I suppose. Maybe I'll find it once we get a chance to sort through all the stuff in the front room. Hopefully.

Happy Fourth, everyone.

Update: Something completely different.
Twelve Tones - A very cool video on creativity, randomness, and a bunch of other stuff.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Love what you do

Someone has to do it. 
Someone has to take what they love 
and make a go of it.
- C. J. Omololu