nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (if you're not careful)
I love Genreality. I don't follow a whole lot of writing blogs, but this one and Writer Unboxed are two favorites, particularly because they're so genre-focused. I realized a long time ago that literary fiction was not where I wanted to make my place, and it's lovely to find like-minded people who say such great things in the same vein on a consistent basis. (Part of me thinks that rebranding Unlined as some sort of writers collective with occasional issues of fiction might be really cool. It's worth investigating, I think.)

Anyway, moving back on target: today my Google Reader delivered not one but two gems from Genreality. The first is by a guest blogger named Shiloh Walker: like me, she does not truck with the idea of a muse. (Oh wow — and let me just say that that's the first time I've used Dreamwidth's journal search function, and ohmyheart I love it.) I think she nails something about this preference on the head when she says that, as an author, writing is mine. This creative process is my engagement with the world. Having what seems like a petulant, surly, passive-aggressive being turning a spigot on and off at will is so much less appealing that just interacting with ideas.

The next is about cutting back deadwood words. I've done editing on pieces where I've just tightened sentences and I'm gobsmacked by how much I lose in the process. It always makes me a little giddy, to be honest. This is the thing that I learned most about my time as a copyeditor, that so much of what we write the first time around is just us trying to get that idea down, the proverbial block of marble with the David lurking inside it. (Of course, with words it's less about stone and maybe more about something with wires and beads and found objects: you do a lot more rearranging than you do with sculpture, which has some limitations if you're working from a block of stone.)

It also teaches you a great deal about your own writing. I am fond to the point of absurdity of pointing out facial expressions, eye contact and what people are doing with their hands. Another part of editing has to be letting go somewhat of how much you're controlling what your reader imagines. It's worthwhile to craft a story; it's not always worthwhile to storyboard it.
Music:: "Untitled," Neutral Milk Hotel
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (horror is ordinary)
I am taking a break from a serious apartment-scouring, which is revealing two things to me: one, I have an inane number of weird little things that don't really go anywhere, and two, I cultivate dust bunnies like nobody's business. I have to do this now, not only because the marvelous [personal profile] oliviacirce is coming to visit in a few days, but this is essentially my last chance to do a thorough clean before December, because God knows when I'll make myself do it during NaNo.

I'm really enjoying ramping up into this endeavor: I find I've been doing a lot of notebook scribbling, and while I'm aware that I'm pretty firm on the beginning of the story and most of the end (though not the very end), there's still this big blank spot in the middle labeled "QUEST" in my outline. I like to think that if I world-build well enough, this will work itself out. (Or I can just fill it all in later: after all, I seriously doubt I'll have a satisfactory middle section on the first draft, when I want to write what I know.) Fingers crossed either way. I see this project as much bigger than 50,000 words.

Every so often, I'll be messing around and realize something. The ghosts, for instance, aren't traditional looks like the person in life but translucent. They're masked; they're disguised; they've been made into symbols. I got this because of happening on Betsy Walton's work on Etsy. Her prints look like something from a mindmeld between '50s and '60s surrealist animation (you know, like the hyper-abstract backgrounds from shorts about spacemen or Precambrian science) and William Blake.

See what I mean? )
Mood:: 'cold' cold
Music:: "Giants Orbiting," Ian Ballamy, Mirrormask soundtrack
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (if you're not careful)
posted by [personal profile] nightbird at 04:19pm on 29/09/2009 under
Child-rearing ghosts? Civil wars? Road trips with the ashes of a best friend? German folklore? Kids against Nazis? I want to read all of these!
Music:: "Gone 'Til November," Wyclef Jean
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (catfish blues)
posted by [personal profile] nightbird at 04:23pm on 16/09/2009 under ,
Dear Australia,

Never stop having strange and interesting birds.

I am beyond entranced. It's like an Edward Gorey drawing come to life!

Fondly,
Esther
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (in a city by the water)
Mr. K.I.A. He's not a prophet. Nobody told him a thing he didn't see for himself. War's over and the whole United States is all bombed out. Cities are pulsing, trains are running, women are working, but all those years this country poured and pushed and flooded into one thing and now it's not needed anymore, and the ones who are left don't know what to do yet. He sees it — he sees what came back from what was shipped overseas. Walking craters in uniforms and A-line dresses, that's what we've got. They're gonna want peace and quiet, but this country is due for some yelling time. Something's coming, something that knows this place can do big.

He has seen the future and he will be waiting for it with drinks.
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (in a city by the water)
I think I've realized what it is about apocalypses I love so much: protagonists are pared down to sheer human will and ingenuity against something too huge to comprehend.

In a way, it's what fascinates me about war too.

Who would have thought that ten months as a marketing copyeditor would have taught me that much about writing?

The Midwest is amazing today: the heat and the miles of thunderheads to the west and the weeds and the vines and the chain-link fences and the color palette before a storm.

I can't get the late 40's out of my head. Post-war.
Music:: "Jesus Gonna Be Here," Tom Waits
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (the fox confessor)
I'm at odds with a story I've been harboring for a long, long time and the kind of story I want to tell these days. The soundtracks don't match up: the story is old world, and all I can think is dusty American spaces, faded bricks and big skies and huge muddy rivers and rusting pick-up trucks and radio static and empty train tracks and tall grasses and people who love God in churches no one has heard of.

I'm trying to make the playlist for the novel I haven't found the shape of, and it's all Neko Case and Tom Waits and Kris Delmhorst and Iron & Wine. The other one is Lhasa de Sela and Trio Mediaeval.

I miss back roads and backwoods and violently alive greenery and the smell of the air. It's something in the light. There's nothing modern in the other story; the story I want to write is the scraps of modernity.

Maybe I'm trying to fix the wrong novel.
Music:: "The Pharaohs," Neko Case
Mood:: 'thirsty' thirsty
nightbird: Mucha illustration, young peasant holding scythe and grain (little boxes)
I recently discovered a trove of images I collected as visual references for an earlier incarnation of this novel, which needs a code name (I like your cunning plan, [personal profile] saramily). The world is strange and wonderful; I love this. I may end up posting an image every few days or something, once I figure out how I want to handle image hosting (or once Dreamwidth begins to offer it).

Query: have any of you ever tried the Snowflake Method? Has it worked for you? I like to think it's a good theory, and I'm a fan of fractals and parts-within-parts-within parts in general. Math may not be my strong suit, but I can admire the underlying principle at work. Personally I'm a fan of elaborate notebooks and intricate outlines with plenty of doodles and irregular use and non-use of lines, but I won't lie, I've always been secretly curious to try this. (I doubt I will, in the end: I understand that this is valuable especially for when you want to sell a story, to be able to sum it up in a fifteen-word sentence, but this may be in the same camp as trying to assign meaning to a story before it's written. We'll see.)

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