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Where the inane meets the mundane

Writing from the shore of Quiddity

Sorry for the long radio silence. To say that real life (vs. this dream of a life we share online) has had to take precedence the last few months is to sell it short. Too much of life lately has been in dealing with the very tangible, leaving little room for thoughts and musings idylically shared online.

For long time readers of this blog, and I know I must have alienated most of you but surely there are a handful left, I _am_ still writing. I think Ramsey Campbell expressed it best in Where Nightmares Come From, a smaller press book on writing with a lot of hidden gems.

I once waited to continue work on a story until I felt inspired, only to burden myself with writer’s block that lasted six months.

Ramsey Campbell, The Process of a Tale, pg 100

I don’t want to be overly dramatic about it, but real life aside, writer’s block has been a huge factor. I’ve been struggling with understanding where my voice as a writer lives. For too long, I think, I’ve been trying to affect a type of writing because it’s what I enjoy reading. But when I break it down, I don’t enjoy writing it. I have beside my desk the first draft of The Mermaid’s Tears. It’s a beast, it’s rough, and there’s a lot about it I loved writing. There’s also bits that stick in my craw.

A month or so ago, I started a new short story. I’ve stumbled a bit the last few weeks on finishing it, though I intend to buckle down and get it out this weekend because I already have starter notes for a few more stories I want to write. It’s a change in direction for my writing, or rather a reversal back to how I used to write before I got it in my head I had to be a great fantasy or science fiction author (I will be neither). I’m writing this one largely by hand, because by hand is how I first started writing before I had laptops and portable technology that made digitizing everything easy. But I can share the first few lines of the first draft:

     In a house by the Sea, there lived a boy. It wasn’t the boy’s house, but it was empty, and it was dry, and for a time, it was safe.
     The boy had nothing in this world but the clothes on his back and a grey metal box. The box had eight sides – the six you can see, and the two you forget. It was covered in carving of ornate vines, cut from the surface of the box.

All of that is likely to change, but it’s the seed that started a story, and that felt good to accomplish. I don’t know how many words I’ve written – my handwriting shifts from tight and neat to sprawling and messy and back again over the course of the pages, making a rough per page count hard. I’ll know it’s done when I finish writing it, I suppose. It’s a gothic, I think, or maybe not. I’ll find out when I get closer to the end. 

Hopefully, I’ll have more to share soon. Just don’t be alarmed by long silences

Do Not Adjust Your Browser

Like an episode of the Outer Limits, you might be tempted to adjust your browser, assuming there must be some mistake at the sudden appearance of material on this blog.

To say I have been dealing with a malaise of the mind and spirit is to oversimplify. I have, for the last few months, been completely burned out, especially when it comes to coalescing words into sentences, or even words in general. I haven’t written more than a word or two of fiction in months. Months. It pains me to no end to admit that. I get a perverse sense of satisfaction from writing fiction; it’s therapeutic, invigorating, and fun. But between the stresses of work and the real world, the last few months I just haven’t had the energy to spare to create fiction. Or, for that matter, to blog. Or even read. I set out this year with some simple goals, but somewhere along the way I got slowed down.

But, finally, the weather outside is changing. Today is a cool, drizzly day here in the Pacific Northwest, and the beast within my mind stirs to embrace it. Sure, it could be the boost in vitamin D I’ve started taking, but I suspect it’s equally a seasonal response. This is the weather I yearn for. This is the weather I most associate with reading books and writing fiction. This is the start of the Writing Season.

So gather close, friends. The most glorious season of the year approaches!

Being a Reader

They say you can’t be a writer if you aren’t first a reader. On the one hand, I’ve been reading for most of my life. Writer, fan, and all around nice guy Jamie Rubin recently commented on his blog:

High school and college taught me how to learn. Reading has taught me nearly everything else.

These words really resonated with me. I’ve been trying to read more lately, carefully spreading the reach of my knowledge eating tendrils. I have a hard rule that it has to be interesting to me, even if that trumps other merits. At the start of the year, I tried to establish that I would read nonfiction in equal measures with fiction, switching back and forth. That didn’t survive the actual test of reading, though.

So what has qualified recently to make it to my active reading pile?

  • The Rise of Athens (fun)
  • Vampire Forensics (research)
  • Monsters Among Us (research)
  • Persian Fire (fun)
  • The Daily Stoic (fun/journal)
  • Paperbacks from Hell (fun)
  • In Joy Still Felt (fun)

Of that list, two notes. Paperbacks from Hell is an awesome journey, but it is very much a leisurely, almost coffee table setting journey I’ve been reading from it on and off again for months now, and can see it taking me another three or four months to finish. That’s ok – it’s not a race.

The Daily Stoic is, as you may have guessed, 365 daily stoic thoughts. I’ve been pairing it with my daily journal, partly to encourage me to journal more often (believe it or not, I journal daily even though I only blog once every few months), but also because it’s been nice to have some thoughts to chew on. Stoicism isn’t for everyone, but enough of it fits my world view to make it an interesting journey.

Two books in that list I marked as research. Scary stuff, that. I have a notion for a book I’d like to write (eventually – though maybe not right now), and I felt like I didn’t know enough on those subjects to write intelligently. I realize the subject matter isn’t exactly serious science, but they are a natural extension of the joy I’ve always had watching classic horror movies.

As for the Persians vs. the Greeks in that list – you should see some of the ancillary books I have lying around (who knew I had opinions on Iliad translations???). In some ways it was the first volume of Asimov’s autobiography, In Joy Still Felt, and his tales of walking around reading the Iliad that led me there.

My fiction TBR pile is actually larger, and equally chaotic. I’m still reading Stieg Larson’s books (Nordic mysteries), along with trying out Anthony Ryan (fantasy) and some classics I picked up on a recent trip to Powell’s (Pohl, Asimov, and Weber being the bulk of the pile).

And this is how I spend my summer 🙂

 

**EDIT – Added “In Joy Still Felt” to the list of books being read. Maybe my list is getting too long to manage…nah…

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