Thursday, February 17, 2011

What I'll Miss

So, I had this big post all written out (in my mind) about how our careers seem to sum up "who we are" in the eyes of our peers these days, but I don't feel like writing about that anymore.

All I can think about right now is how much I'm going to miss my friend when I move to California at the end of next month. Despite all the nasty fights - big and small - that we've had over the years, she's been one of my best friends for so long... It's going to hurt when we can't hang out on a regular basis anymore, especially since we're roommates right now. We see each other just about every day. Leaving is going to be like going "cold turkey" on our hanging-out time.


I mean, when I'm in San Diego, who is going to join me in singing along (at full volume) with Sonata Arctica guitar solos?

Who is going to knit with me while we watch Dexter?

Who is going to get all geeky and squeal-y and fangirly with me about our Novel-characters?

Who is going to go to coffee shops and brainstorm/write with me?

I know this isn't much of an entry, but it really is all I can think about at the moment. It's going to be hard not to be sad the whole last month I'm here, knowing that I won't be able to spend time with my friend when I'm in California. It also makes me discouraged about making new friends, because I know that no other friend could ever compare. This is that once-in-a-lifetime friendship. You know, the kind that doesn't come along every day. The kind that should be cherished within an inch of its life? It's that kind.


Also, I am suuuper close to my older sister. We try to hang out at least once a week. We attend plays, concerts, movies, museum exhibits and the like together all the time. And we have fun just hanging out, playing Scrabble and talking. Now I'll never see her. That's really hard too. She and I have been having trouble not crying about it every time we see each other.

This is hard.

I'll stop being sappy for now. Sorry. I just needed to get that off of my chest.

San Diego is going to be a lonely place.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

O Children

When I'm writing, I have a tendency to do one of two things: I either write a very short (500 words or fewer) blurb about something, then never touch it again; or I get deeply invested in a story and spend years on it. I do have one or two story ideas that got to around 4-6 pages in length before I put them down indefinitely. I haven't finished much of anything. My short stories almost never get finished. In fact, I think the only story I have ever satisfactorily finished was the fanfiction I mentioned in entries previous.

That's quite a depressing thought.

The reason I mention any of this is that one of my incredibly short story "blurbs" has been on my mind recently. I called it "O Children," because it was inspired (vaguely) by the Nick Cave song of the same title. It's just something I sat down and wrote one evening out of sheer whimsy. I neither had nor have any back story for it, nor do I have any idea where I would continue on with it. Still, I can't stop thinking about it.

I'm guessing the reason it won't leave my head is that the content is somewhat different from what I usually gravitate towards. It feels urban and a little bit gritty. Dark. Not that I shy away from darkness, mind you. It's just that I'm usually firmly grounded in a "high fantasy" type setting. You know... cloaks, swords, forests. Sometimes pirates. Nerdy stuff. I'm not sure I could continue with the whole urban vibe - writing that way feels like wearing a jacket that doesn't fit quite right. It's a strange and hard-to-describe feeling. Despite that, I like the "O Children" scene very much. It makes me almost sad that I have no plans to finish it.

I'll let you see what I mean for yourself.

(Not that you'll necessarily like it as much as I do. I never can tell if I'm actually a decent writer, or if it's just wishful thinking.)

They were brought in single file, in silence, the children in their grubby undergarments. Jim watched them come dispassionately, silent as they. When the smallest of them - a dark-haired little pixie of a girl - fell, shivering, onto the concrete floor, he did not stir himself to lift her back onto her feet. What did it matter? These young things were but fodder for the beasts, already past hope, past saving. He could not bring himself to care for them.

The soles of their feet had already been cut. The pixie-girl - the last in line - had slipped in the trail of blood that her fellows left behind. The faded blue of her shabby bloomers was now stained crimson with it. Well and good. The smell of the blood would draw the beasts in faster; they could not resist fresh blood. Jim stared down at the line of tiny red footprints that stretched away across the pavement, at the redness seeping from the soles of the little girl's feet. It was all necessary, to draw the creatures in. The children with their mangled feet and drug-deadened eyes. Necessary evils. It was not his fault the job had fallen to him. It had to be done.

His fellows, the men who had brought the children to him, left now. They did not wish to be too near when the creatures arrived. Jim did not begrudge them their unease. He had been one of them, once. He, too, had wept for the childrens' fate. His own young son had been among the chosen only last year. A necessary evil. Other children could be had, had been produced. Would be sacrificed, if the need came. Anything to keep the creatures at bay.

It would not be long now before they scented the trail.

The little girl would not rise. She was still breathing - still living, sure enough - but she would not stand. The musty smell of urine hung about her now; she had wet herself in her fear. Blood and piss mingled together on the concrete, but she just laid there and shivered. Jim nudged her with the toe of his boot. She did not cry out, did not stir. The administered drugs had taken their hold.

He left her where she was, crossed the courtyard to climb into his usual place. His gun tapped against his hip as he ascended the ladder, reminded him why he was there as he climbed through the open shutters. They banged shut behind him, closing out the sickly green moonlight and the sound of the captive childrens' breathing. Only a sliver of the courtyard below remained within his sight, through the crack of crooked shutters. Enough to see the creatures come.

But they were already here.

And that is that.

When I read it, there are so many questions I know I could answer. What are the creatures? Where did they come from, and why? What's the setting? What is Jim's actual task - to feed the beasts? To observe? To kill? I know I could make a bigger story out of this little snippet, but... But what? I dunno. I feel like I already have One True Novel that I'm supposed to be writing, and to work on anything else would be plain old betrayal.

Also, the urban thing I mentioned earlier. I just don't like writing urban fantasy. I don't much like reading it either. No real clue why. Maybe I should just get over it?

Ah well. I should probably head off to sleep. It's late.

Comments/feedback on the writing would be welcome, if anyone is actually reading this.

EDIT: I did get a short, short review about the blurb, which I felt like sharing, despite the fact that it was not 100% positive (which I would have loved, lol):

Your excerpt is interesting. I like how it opens and the detail about the soles of the feet. For me, several lines in this passage are redundant, so I would trim it down. Good luck!

I re-read it and saw what he meant immediately. Some of the repetition was for emphasis, and some was just plain unnecessary. Even though I was unhappy to have done something "wrong," I was glad to have that outside view, to see things I maybe wouldn't have noticed myself. It'll help in the future. Hopefully.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Brain = Dedded

For some reason, I am having a TON of trouble keeping focused on anything today. I dunno exactly what's wrong, either. It could be the fact that I slept in until around 1pm (WAY later than I usually sleep.) It could be all the convoluted forum-debate I've been reading on Unreasonable Faith. It could be my dogs, who will not stop pacing around and whining, despite the fact that they were just outside and could not possibly need to potty again... I have no idea. It could be none of those things. It could be all of those things. It could be so many other things that I've not bothered to list.

All I know is that I was supposed to write something today, and I have yet to do that. I don't really see it happening, either, unless I can somehow get my brain back on track.

Coffee isn't working. Music isn't working. This blog is not really working.

What do I dooooooo!? My brain is done fractured and dedded. I canst not concentrato!

I also do not think I can, in good conscience, subject you to the nonsensical ramblings of my unfocused psyche. It would be too cruel.

I'll come back if I have something to say that makes any sense.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writing... maybe

I know I haven't mentioned it before (in the whole two posts that I've done thus far), but I am an aspiring writer. (Or did I mention it? God, now I can't remember... wait. Yes, I did mention it. Whoops.) As an aspiring writer, writing should take up most of my free time, right? I should want to do it as soon as I wake up, and all day long after that.

Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. While I do want to write, I just don't sit down and do it. I think about it, brainstorm, pine for it...but I don't actually write. Why? Because writing is damn hard. It requires so much thought and concentration. Also, I'm not really one of those writers that just sits down and vomits up a whole bunch of excellent prose (or even mediocre rambling) in one sitting. It's not that word-vomiting isn't an effective method - I'm sure it is for the people who can do it - it's just that it's impossible. For me, I mean. I pore over every sentence, edit it twelve times, and then end up deleting it because I just can't get it to sound the way I wanted it to. To get a single page done takes hours, if not days.

Also, there's the whole thing with being distracted by Dexter/Legolas. We've already discussed that.

It's frustrating, because - despite the compulsive editing - I know I can write more than I currently am. In November, I participated in a writer's program called National Novel-Writing Month. The goal of the program is to write 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th (otherwise known as "a month.") Since a friend of mine and I usually partner in writing, we took on the challenge together. And we succeeded. We even came away from it with a pretty solid 35-page prologue to the novel we've been trying to start for years.

But after November... I think I would be exaggerating if I said I wrote 10,000 words. It's probably nothing close to that. Meaning I've written basically nothing for two whole months, which is a HUGE WASTE. Sometimes that happens, though. I have a really good stretch of productivity, and then... nothing. I keep calling it writer's block, but I really don't think it's that. Writing is intimidating, but not impossible. It's probably just laziness.

Laziness wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't feel I was on a timeline. You see, I'm moving to California in two months' time. And that friend I write with? She'll be in Minnesota. I know the internet is a wonderful invention with the ability to connect people across vast distances with the click of a button, but... it's soo much easier to collaborate when you're face-to-face. And we won't have that anymore. It's kind of a scary thought. Combined with the laziness, the distance could slow down our writing to, well, whatever is slower than the love-child of molasses and a tortoise. (Cannot even imagine what that would look like.)

If you need a little perspective on how slow our progress is sometimes, here you go:

In 2003 (junior high, for us), we started a Pirates of the Caribbean fanfiction entitled "Two Captains." (Yes, I am aware fanfiction is uber-nerdy, but hey, we were young 'uns at the time, so give us a break.)

We just finished said fanfiction in March of last year (2010, for those of you who didn't know.)



(If I were going to give us some credit, I would tell you that said fanfiction is over 180,000 words long and actually becomes a decent piece of writing as you get to the later chapters. But you wouldn't listen to me anyway, would you? You're still focused on how nerdy fanfiction is.)

(You know what? I don't care what you think. I still like fanfiction. Sometimes.)

I am terrified that our novel (which we have been brainstorming on for over seven years already) will turn into that fanfiction: this thing that hovers over our heads for years and years, gets done at the rate of about a page a month, never gets written, and never goes away. I DO NOT WANT THAT. I want to be a writer. I cannot think of anything else I would rather be, or even kind of want to be. But I cannot be a writer if I never get anything done!

I guess the whole point of this point of this post (rambling as it was) was to say that I NEED TO WRITE.

Which probably means that I should stop blogging and get to it, right?