I have a love / hate relationship with red ink. That seems really cliche, but the fact is that the red pen sits on the table in front me, and I imagine it is taunting me. See, the red pen is both critic and muse; a force for destruction and creation.
The pen sits on a stack of papers, themselves covered in red ink. Scribbles, symbols, lines, and words speak of the surgery I have performed on it. We don’t like tearing apart that which we
destroy create. When I was younger, I built castles made of legos, and I dreaded the time I had to take them down. But that force of destruction is also a way to build.
First drafts suck; there’s no way around that. Typically they are nothing more than idea vomit on paper, at least for me. Sometimes my stories go through several revisions (I label these by letter, and the furthest along I’ve ever gotten in the alphabet so far is “H”). I have binders full of drafts–or rather–the dry bones of drafts that are covered in crimson.
I keep them because they’re instructive. I can learn from them, and I can see how my writing evolves over time. And I come to see that the red ink isn’t my enemy, it’s my tutor. Learning isn’t always a fun process. Often we are asked to unlearn things we thought were true, and more often demanded that we venture outside of our comfort zones.
Creativity is fragile, and it must be nurtured. But it is also prone to stagnation, so it must be challenged, not just by others but by ourselves. Maybe the things we create have no value to anyone but ourselves, but the act of creation itself demands change and growth.
An artist refines her techniques, life evolves from generation to generation, and humans learn from their mistakes. Creation and change are on the same coin, and maybe even the same side of that coin.
I never really appreciated how sitting in a cafe can be conducive to the creative process before now. Before I saw them as loud, distracting things to avoid. But as I sit here, sipping Earl Grey and writing a book review, it strikes me how human it is. It seems to me that creative endeavors are human endeavors, and human endeavors are typically loud and annoying.
You could drown it all out by putting on headphones, but you miss isolated threads of conversation: “I was thinking…” and “That’s not how you…” What are they talking about, I wonder? The jazz music in the speakers overhead, the atonal beeps of the cash register, the whir of the cappuccino machine–the environment sings with activity, and the melody is alive and pulsing.
People talking, reading, studying–all with their own stories. So just look up and take it in from time to time.
First things first: I recently got hired at McLaren Greater Lansing as a Nurse Assistant. I am very excited about this job and I am eager to learn more skills. Everyone I’ve met so far at the hospital has been terrific, and I really believe that I’m going to enjoy my time there.
Second things second: I’ve been working for a while on internet stuff for the Clinton County Democratic Party as the IT Specialist. I’ve actually gotten a lot of work done, though by looking at the website you’d never guess it. Still, there are a lot of other factors that go into developing a decent internet presence for a political party than just the website, which is the next big thing to tackle on my seemingly ever-expanding agenda as IT Specialist.
And now, Ultimate Book Tag! I took this from Jackie Smith’s blog A Platform of Sorts. I haven’t written here in a while because life has been busy, so I thought I’d make this post fun.
1. Do you get sick while reading in the car?
Nope. I’ve read in cars for as long as I remember, and never had any problems with it. Even now, when I’m a passenger in a car and reading my Kindle, it doesn’t bother me.
2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?
Douglas Adams. Hands down. And it’s not just his writing style, but how turns my expectations on their head. For instance, when describing the Vogon ships in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he writes, “They hung in the air much the same way bricks don’t.” His writing style influences my fiction writing in ways too numerous to count.
My general rule of thumb, thanks to Adams, is “when in doubt, give everything an inner voice. Even composite board bookshelves.”
3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
a. It’s not Twilight.
b. It’s more original.
c. It’s not Twilight.
4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is it in (besides books…)?
I carry a book bag when I need to. I’ll either put my notebooks, folders, computer, or papers in it. I tend to keep all of the papers for my writing projects organized into folders or binders.
5. Do you smell your books?
Who doesn’t like the smell of wood pulp?
6. Books with or without little illustrations?
It really depends on the book, doesn’t it? Sometimes an illustration adds to the narrative in complex or unexpected ways, and that’s very refreshing.
7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
A Song of Ice and Fire–the entire series. The stories are engrossing, complex, original–but Martin’s prose is atrocious. He can spend three pages describing what someone is eating and I just want to tear those pages out to get on with the damn story. His saving graces are the realistic characters he invents and his willingness to go places most writers fear to tread.
8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
I used to build tunnels with my books so my model trains could go through them. That’s not really that funny, but it’s all I’ve got.
9. What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
The Trial and Death of Socrates, translated by G. M. A. Grube.
It was a close contest, but the winner was The Norton Shakespeare, Second Edition.
11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
Yes, I love to write, and I do see myself being a published author in the future. It might take a while, what this this life thing, but I do love writing. If you want to preview some of my short fiction, head on over to my other blog, Fictional Heuristics.
12. When did you get into reading?
I still have my copy of Itchy Itchy Chicken Pox from when I was a kid.
13. What is your favorite classic book?
Ofer-hyda ne gym, maere cempa!
14. In school was your best subject Language Arts/English?
Yes, actually. I won awards for my screenwriting, for being an outstanding writer, and I entered writing contests all of the time. It really wasn’t a surprise when I decided to major in English.
15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?
I would express my opinion of the book in a friendly way, but keep it in my collection. It’s why I haven’t thrown away Ayn Rand books.
16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to
Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
I don’t think I know of one. I haven’t actually read The Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series is pretty much a one-off for me in young adult fantasy.
17. What is your favorite word?
Queue. Look how funny it is. I want to pronounce it que-ue.
18. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
I’m a geek. I have models of the Enterprise and the time machine from Back to the Future. I have so much Isaac Asimov it poses a small fire hazard.
19. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
I’d go with vampires for no other reason than I think Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a good book.
20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Shapeshifters are more interesting. Plus, Odo.
Neither. Boring. Overdone. Next?
22. Zombies or Vampires? Why?
Zombies, because if you can make a zombie movie like George Romero that offers up a critique of consumerism in American culture, you can make on out of a book. Max Brooks comes close.
23. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Neither. Boring, cliche, just…come up with something more original.
24. AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
If a choice between the two? The latter. I can deal with love subplots if they’re done right. Romance isn’t my thing.
Well, that was fun! I hope that everyone has had a great International Women’s Day!
I almost decided not to participate in the National Novel Writing Month this year. I missed over a week of writing time due to the elections (I was very busy for the first few weeks of November taking care of campaign-related issues). At the last minute, I decided that I would give it a try.
I chose to write a fantasy story that I came up with by accident. I can’t remember the exact details, but I was playing some kind of game with a group of my friends, and due to my sloppy handwriting, they read the title of a fantasy novel I might write wrongly. Thus, Ser Darkthor’s Court was born; a novel about a Knight Errant who travels the realm and solves crimes. It was envisioned as sort of a Sword and Sorcery version of Sherlock Holmes.
Here’s the synopsis that I put up on NaNoWriMo when I started to write it:
Jesper is a class of Knight Errant called a Red Moon. They are tasked with policing the realm of Ser Darkthor, First of His Name, Honorable and Wise Leader of (Insert Name of Place Here). Jesper’s travels take him to a small village which appears peaceful on the surface, but hides a dark secret that could change the balance of power or something like that. Jesper begins an investigation in a Sherlock Holmes-meets-medieval fantasy novel, and uncovers a conspiracy that does something. I’ll flesh it out. It’ll be great. I promise.
The story, obviously, is much more developed now. Th good news is that I plugged away for the three weeks that I participated and I managed to win! Yay! It’s the third time in a row that I’ve won, and it always feels like I’ve climbed a mountain or explored a new planet.
I’m going to finish this story, clean it up, and probably serialize it on my fiction blog, Fictional Heuristics. Look out for that when it happens, because I happen to think it is an interesting story. It’s not the best fantasy, and I might have borrowed a teensy too much from Scott Lynch and George R.R. Martin, but I had a lot of fun writing it and I definitely think it is worth sharing.
I’ve actually thought about starting a patreon or something similar to that in case people wanted to chip in a few bucks if they like my fiction. I don’t have a lot of time to write, but if I can make some money doing it I’d carve out a niche for it. I think that’s something to think about for the future, if I can ever manage to get around to doing half the things that I say that I want to do.
Anyway, I hope that my fellow writers found success with NaNoWriMo last year, and I hope they continue to find success in the coming years.
I had a busy day so I just wanted to briefly touch on an idea I had to write a book on alien biology and anatomy as if it were a real book.
This idea first occurred to me when I was thinking of a realistic physiological explanation as to the green color of Spock’s blood. I want to write a kind of Grey’s Anatomy for aliens.
Anyway, that’s all I have tonight. Thanks for reading!
So what’s all this business about “Fictional Heuristics” and why should I care?
Well, gentle reader, I’ve decided to start a new blog that is separate from this one to post my fictional work. I thought about just posting it all here, but after consulting a few people I decided it would be wiser to create a different blog. I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a semi-regular fictional series just for the internet and I already have a rough plan about what that would be. I think with a new blog that would be easier to realize.
Of course, this just adds another layer of work on top of all of the other projects I’m doing. A little crazy and reckless, yes, but in the end I just want to dedicate as much time as I can to this work because I love doing it.
I hope that you take the time to check it out because the primary motivation behind this enterprise is to improve my writing ability. And, of course, the only way to do that is to stick your neck out and hope that you can find people willing to critique your writing and give constructive criticisms.
I’d really like to become part of a larger writing community as well, because I like to help people improve their writing and I’m a fairly decent editor (having a degree in English and all). So lets see how this whacky experiment works out on Fictional Heuristics and whether or not I’ll actually manage to make my posts here more regular.