Sunday, August 31, 2008

Manifest Laboratory

Terri, my very cool wife, has a new blog. This one is about a passion of hers. One I'm both lucky and happy she has.

She's into bringing things into her reality by consciously willing them there.

It works.

She has a list of things that she's brought into being. It's an evergrowing list of good stuff.

Here's a bit from her first entry:

It's ALL a work in progress. As Neale Donald Walsch is fond of saying, "We're making it all up." That's why I decided to call this a "laboratory". Oddly, I always hated lab work in school. I think probably because we already were supposed to know what we were getting with experience. So why is a laboratory fun for me now? (Because if it ain't fun, I don't want to do it.) Well, first of all, I want to pronounce it La-BORE-a-tory. That makes it more fun. Of course, I still know what the end result is going to be. Perhaps it's fun now because seeing how it unfolds in real life is interesting and exciting. And because I actually want the object of my desire vs in chem class when I really could care less what those compounds did.

(She's funny, too.)

You can find her blog here: Manifest Laboratory

You go, Terri.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Resident Duties...

My flash story about the Fountain of Youth went live at Every Day Fiction today. Again, it's an experiment.

I love The Epic of Gilgamesh. I know, it's incomplete, and to a lot of people, boring. But I'm very interested in the surrounding history of the world's first "fiction". I have several stories, and story ideas, based in the most ancient of Ancient Worlds. Resident Duties is one.

I want to see what we've missed in those stories. I want to see who knows those stories, and what they've got to say about my interpretation of them. I want to see if I can get to the root of all tales, flesh out what makes them tales, and expound upon them.

So please stop by and give my Gilgamesh story a read. As always, please leave a comment, and click a star to tell me what you think.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I chatted with someone famous yesterday...

Famous and very successful in his field. Which happens to be my field.

Have you ever talked to someone who's made it, and gotten sound, unabashed advice that you just know will change your life forever?

That's what happened yesterday.

See, there's this writer who's books I love. He's hilarious and smart and crazy (good crazy). Lots of people love his books. That's why he's famous.

Anyway, yesterday I found that he and I had included in recent stories the same strange idea (Something that's not at all uncommon in this business of writing. Once you start talking to other writers, you find out that a lot of the time, you're working on very similar things.) And I off-handedly wrote him an email talking about it. I told him no one was buying my story and marveled at how his was most likely sold before he began writing it. I didn't expect him to answer me.

But he did.

He told me stuff that I needed to know about what I'm doing with my writing career. Really smart stuff. He basically told me how to go about becoming successful. He was totally cool about it, too. Not a single condescending word. He gave me succinct, direct advice. Something that, coming from him, I'll listen to.

And so.

I've decided to finish the novel I was working on two years ago when I thought I should start selling short stories to build up a fanbase and a platform and develop a name for myself and all that stuff I thought I should do. I'm going to give short stories a rest. I'm sure a flash or two will work their way into life, but the majority of my time will now go toward finishing that book.

I have some short stories out there in circulation.

I have some that never sold. I think I'll leave them alone for a while.

Here's what I plan to do now: Finish my humorous urban fantasy novel. Find an agent based on my novel's greatness. Get it published. (While that's happening, write another. Then another.) Make a living. Become famous. Make a fabulous living. No more small dreams.

Encouragement is welcome.

Discouragement will be ignored.

THANK YOU, famous, successful writer. You'll get a signed copy of my first novel. Hell, you'll be in the acknowledgements, for sure.

THANK YOU to the two years I spent honing my writing, getting my chops. Thank you to all the stories that sold, and all the ones that will stay saved until after I've got some books out there across the world.

THANK YOU to all the stories in my head that would have been shorts, but will now be novels, or at least bits of them.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Submission, Submission

I'm beginning to believe I'm actually an odd sort of writer. (have you all finished laughing?)

We all know I'm odd, stop already.

What I mean is this: I'm learning that a lot of writers really work at writing. I don't mean the business of writing, I work at that. I'm talking about the actual sitting down and writing part of it.

IF I have a day, or half a day, or a couple of minutes while water starts to boil, and I have something to write, I sit down and write it.

I honestly think most of my stories are written long before I write them. Like, they're all just swimming in my mind--written, edited just right, with all the characters developed, their worlds just tangible enough to convince us that it all just might be real.

A great deal of the time, when I have the beginning of a story--the first line or few--bubbling at my fingertips, I have absolutely no idea where it's going. Sometimes I don't know what's going to happen until the very end of writing it. I sit, and write, and most times I'm completely surprised. Sometimes I have a whole story in my head and I just have to type it out. But really, a lot of the time I don't know what the twist is, or where the characters are headed.

I'm learning that this isn't the case with a lot of writers. They plan, and deliberate, and plot.

I'm not at all knocking anyone's creative process. I think that if a writer is working really hard at telling their story, and they tell it, and sell it, then they must be doing something right. I'm not anti-plotting. I'm just noticing that I don't do that.

Here's the rub: Apparently, at a certain point in my pre-written tales, I go boring. I'm starting to think that that's the part I am thinking about. I wrote a novel a long time back. The stories were there, and they absolutely wrote themselves. But I know the beast needs editing. It needs 20,000 words worth of editing. Maybe 40. And I'm sure my writing has improved since I wrote it. And now, having learned, I'll bet that 20-40 thousand word edit is going to involve deleting all the boring stuff.

So I'm wondering: Is it because I don't start out knowing the whole story? Is it that whoever originally writes those stories and sticks them in my head is a bit tedious? Should I be plotting and planning more? Can I?

Another sort of example: I ran across an anthology being built by Permuted Press. I found the call for submissions on the third of August. Subs opened on the first and close on the thirty-first. I thought, "I can write a rad zombie story for that, I'm in the mood."

I opened a new document and the first line flew from my fingers. In a moment I knew all the characters, their day-to-day, and reasons to be. But it wasn't until the final scene that I knew the whole story. Once I wrote that, I went back to check and see if I'd done what my dear friend Gay told me needs to be done in a story. Mostly, I had. There's a few things missing from her list of what makes a story, but a lot is there. Without thinking about it.

So now I'm wondering, did I absorb the stuff Gay taught me about the mechanics of a story and apply them as I wrote unconsciously? Am I editing that astral writer with his touch of boring without thinking about it? Because I sent the story to a fellow writer (M.) who really loved it. And I think it's pdg myself. It's got the elements of a story, it's got a great deal of what the characters need to be characters. It's got misdirection, and justification, and all the stuff that will hopefully keep a reader's attention. I didn't try to do it as I wrote it. I just wrote it like I always do, but it came out without the boring exposition and philosophic meanderings. But all that stuff is still there.

I told you, I think I'm odd.

I'm on the edge about this submission. It's some sort of mutation. We'll see if it sticks.

I have another zombie story (I know, I'm late with the zombs, but that's what's coming out lately) that's searching for a home. It took a while to decide where to send it. It's been done for two weeks. I sent it yesterday. If this mag doesn't buy it, I'm not sure where I'll go with it. Who publishes funny zombie stories? (you're laughing again, aren't you?)

So, what do you think? Am I the odd writer? Do you all plot each scene as you go, develop characters manually, outline, and think ahead? Is it hurting me that I don't? Do I need to do more of that as I go, or can it be edited in later? I know firsthand how hard that is. I'm working on two stories with a big dose of boring in the middle, trying to add plot points and backstory without killing the action. Trying to rearrange sections, scenes, and subplots. It's a bitch.

Is that what I'm missing, though? Is writing a bitch and I'm just tra-la-la-typing a great mound of shlock that could otherwise be literature? Or at least a good shoot-em-up sci-fi-western-fantasy?

Sorry to involve you in all this.

Thanks for reading.

Have rad days.