Friday, December 21, 2007

Ow my jaw-divot!

So I'm sitting here yawning my fool head off. Over and over and over. And then I get the yawning cramp. Anyone who's seen me get the yawning cramp can contest to its power over me. You see, the yawning cramp is incredibly painful and impossible to work out.

Poke your chin. Now go underneath to the underside of your jaw. You'll feel the place where your jaw ends and your fleshy bits begin. That divot in between the sides of your jawbone? That's where I get my yawning cramp. Poke it harder, and feel the muscle. Then yawn deeply. You feel a tenseness in there? Turn that into a knot of hot agony and you have the yawning cramp.

There's no cure other than to wait for it to let go. I've tried. Jaw stretches (these hurt worse) and massage (not helpful) and even punching the underside of my face with a knuckle (probably the most effective, and you can understand how little effective that is). And that makes me sad.

So I finished WTC. Much rejoycing. Just to offer some stats, it currently weighs in at 303 pages and 1039XX words, off the top of my head. It's decent, but kinda messy and I skipped over two key scenes because I'm not sure what to do with them.

Now I'm editing. Editing is interesting. Going back over MS is like looking into a fun house mirror. You know what you expect to see and what you are seeing, but the two kind of blur sloppily into each other like runny watercolors.

If I want to have the novel to my readers by March 1 (Feb 29th would be even better, I'd celebrate that mamma jamma hardcore) I need to sit down and do about 1900 words a day. Yesterday I went through 3000. So maybe I'll end up giving it a pass and a half before I kick it off. It's hard to know when something's good and when it can be better without agonizing over every word forever and ever. Right now I'm jiggering things around, and trying to clean up writing (I love my commas like they're oxygen and caffeine) and all. Sooooo, yeah. We'll see how that works out. Expect lots more about writing between now and then.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Rock Star Q and A Sessions, take one

Hello there. Wanted to do something a little different for tonight's piece. You see, I have some people here who wanted to ask me some questions. Or maybe I told them to ask me questions because I wasn't sure what to write about. But they wrote some questions, and they're very amusing. I'm going to answer them now. Askers are credited before their question the first time, then abbreviated.

If you too want to ask me a question, just send me an email at with the heading LRS Q&A or something like that. I'll assemble any and all questions I receive and answer them as fully as I feel comfortable with (and sometimes moreso) when I get enough to fill up another day's post. I guarantee that your question will be answered, even if it isn't the mostly timely response.

Tony: What was the first book you ever read, or the earliest you can remember?
Answer: There was one of the Choose Your Own Adventure series about these two kids who broke into this house and they found out the woman who lived there was a witch. Not only was that the first book I actively remember, but it was my first love affair with the written word.

I kind of want to track that book down, but I'm also kind of afraid to.

T: What is the one strength you maybe admire in others that you wish you were better at?
Answer: I always admired people who were able to shrug things off and put on a happy face when things are rough. I'm not good at hiding my emotions or not indulging them. The best I can do is just let them ride. The people who let things not bother them are like mystics, if you ask me.

Kris: Has your hair ALWAYS been supalong?
Answer: No, no it has not. The supalong thing started in 2002 or 2003. The supalong look was my foray into the world of hair growth after having my hair buzzed close to my head for my entire life. I decided to start growing it out, and I kind of never stopped.

Hoping to get a trim this weekend, though, and only be hellalong.

T: If you had to name three books that would be with on you a desert island, which three would they be and why?
Answer: The first would be Robinson Crusoe. Because of the obvious, and because it's a wonderful story. The second would probably be The Divine Comedy, because the better part of the useful bits of human experience are pretty well packed into that, and it's worth reading again and again. I'd try to commit it to memory. For the last one, I'd have to go for the entertaining and meaningful, and say Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa. That book makes me believe almost all things are possible.

Worth noting that two of those books are huge. I'll have free time.

T: What's one of your guiltiest pleasures?
Answer: I don't typically do guilt about most of the things I do. The one thing I do enjoy that I really shouldn't is ... hrm, causing unhappiness in people who are unprepared for what I can do. That's really fun, and it shouldn't be.

K: If someone paid you tre' fiddy to suck on a homeless guy's ear, would you?
Answer: Probably not. I wouldn't suck on most normal, clean people's ears. Unless tre' fiddy is some sort of slang for a number with at least three zeros behind the 3 and 5.

[ blogger's note: the original question was not about a homeless guy's ear, but about a banana. Kris asked I change it when I mentioned I had another question about a banana, though who knows if it'll make the cut this round.

In case you're curious, I have sucked on a banana for less than tre' fiddy. In fact, I've done it for free, just to amuse people with my slowly diminishing deep throating skills. Unless banana is euphamistic for something ... y'know, not grown on fruit trees. In which case, see answer to above.

What can I say, I'm poor. I can be bought. ]

T: Name the two greatest influences on your work--one positive and one negative.
Answer: The best positive influence I ever had on my work would have to be .. um ... whew, let's see ... there are a lot. Right now, I think my work most channels the sensibilities of someone like Murakami. Very boundary-pushing, forcing people to accept the absurd as part of everyday life. My novels definitely go for that kind of feel.

The worst influence, and I hate to say it because I love him, is Stephen King. I caught elephantitis from him. I'm very content to just sit back and shoot the breeze with my characters and just let them go on and on and on and on about nothing at all. I try to fix this.

Though, to be fair, I actually count King among my greatest influences, too, so ... yeah.

T: You are given a 30-second sound byte that is guaranteed to be transmitted and translated to every man, woman, and child on Earth. What would you say?
Answer: We can never be sure of anything save for what we believe, so believe what you want. Oh, and remember the secret to life. And then I would laugh and laugh until the time ran out.

K: "Don't you want me baby ... don't you want me, oohhhhhh, ooohhhhhh ..." ????
Answer: If you mean in a come-take-a-road-trip-on-thursday-evening kind of way, then I really don't have the resources. Sorry, sugar. I've also got plans this weekend.

Otherwise, you better believe it. ;)

T: Some say the eyes are the windows to the soul. What do you think when looking in someone else's eyes?
Answer: I actually try to avoid eye contact. Something I'm not comfortable with. I'm not sure why. When I do venture it, it's typically because I have already found some sort of affinity for that person, and I want to confirm it. The people I care most about have that look. When you get that look, you know you've won. Won what? Hard to say. But I don't want to look at people I don't care about. Too easy to get attached to someone's eyes.

T: A banana and a cucumber walk into a bar. What happens next?
Answer: The potato bounces them into the street. "No fruits" says the sign. The cucumber realizes that he's hanging with the wrong crowd and joins the lettuce and carrots over in the stodgy vegetable hang-outs.

[ when running my answer by Tony, the question came up of whether my social commentary was deliberate. I explained that I actually had an image pop into my head, and abbreviated it to be cute but short. The true answer is as follows (though don't tell the cucumber's parents, they'd be mortified their son was hanging out with that fruity crowd again):

"Hehe. the only thing I could think of was of them getting bounced by a potato, with the image of the sign. In all actuality, the cucumber argued that it wasn't a fruit and scored a victory for the strange and abysmal, and the banana ended up finding the tomato which blew the banana's mind and the banana's banana for tre' fiddy and they went off and had weirdly beautiful but violent adventures." ]

T: You are driving cross country on a vacation and can pick any one person, alive or dead, to join you on the week-long trip. Who would it be and why?
Answer: Hunter S Thompson. That would be an enlightening trip, my friend. In every sense of both words. I can't think of anyone else offhand or onhand who would provide a more engaging, challenging experience.

K: If you had your choice of writing one novel, having it be a smash success with riches and fame but you'd never be able to write again, or writing as many novels as you desired but only ever achieving minimal success and accolades, which would you choose and why?
Answer: I would choose to ... well, can I pick the novel? Ha. Yeah, nevermind. Screw that. I find that my reasons for writing change all the time. They're the same set, let me clarify, but I prioritize different things at different times. However, if I was guaranteed no success? I would still do it. And I'd do it with a crazy sort of half-mad gusto, since there would never a fanbase to support.

I can achieve my other goals in other methods, but I still want that writing high. Which leads us to...

T: Why do you write?
Answer: This answer deserves a book. I might actually write a book on writing someday, if I'm ever famous. I even have a title. But that's neither here or there. I need to answer this completely-ish (because I only half understand it, most of the time) but shortly. How about this, broken down into pieces that ARE NOT in order of importance.
1. I love to write. Seriously. Writing's a pain in the ass but it gets me higher than a kite when it goes well. Pure nirvannic bliss. Better than sex. Better than chocolate. Better than sushi. Better than sushi followed by chocolate-covered sex. No joke. It is my all.
2. I want to achieve a legacy. Something that should I meet an untimely demise, will mark my passing in the truest way. To me, novels are the answer. Better than kids or biographies or movies or art at large or anything else.
3. I need to indulge in creativity. I'm an artist at heart. I want to sing and dance and play and sculpt and paint and perform and poetize and all the othe things. But the one I'm best at? Writing, specifically long fiction. So that's what I do.
4. I want to affect people. Novels are the art form I respond to most. A good novel will get under your skin and explode your mind. It will cause the expansion of consciousness. It will make you a different person than you were when you started. I want to share that kind of experience with people. I want to cause it.
5. I want to bring about change. My philosophies are grand and full of madness. The best way to package madness is in fiction. Easy to believe in the Force when its in a galaxy far far away. It would be harder if George Lucas was some wandering priest spouting neo-mysticism. Wrap it up better, and people will digest it better. Show them examples, don't preach, and let them make up their own minds.

So there you have it. The first of potentially more Q&A sessions with I, the Literary Rock Star. If you have a question, or if you've asked one and have thought of another, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll add it to the list to be answered in the order I receive them on days when I have nothing better to blog about (or regularly should I some day become popular).

Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on editing for the first time plus randomness I think up then. Same bat channel, same bat writer, doubtful it'll be the same bat time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Wish List

This is what I would like for Christmas, from anyone who can give it to me:
1. Living stipend to explore art and writing all day, every day.
2. Every book ever written.
3. The ability to play piano.
4. A piano. (can go ahead of 3, I guess)
5. A nice shiny new computer.
6. A nice, shiny new scanner for said computer.
7. A nice, shiny new tablet for said computer.
8. A 150,000 sq. foot complex of random and learning and art that I can call my very own, at a place of my chosing (probably in North America, won't put it on the moon or anything [yet])
9. $100,000,000 in tax free contributions to the charity of the Coalition to Actually Do Something That Isn't A Circle Jerk (CADSTIACJ, I guess) run by yours truly.
10. The ability to live healthily as long as I want.

You can't be serious. Me?

So, I went off to a local writers meating last night. It was a group I had heard of, but have never met up with. They always met out of the way, and I only knew one of the people there, good old Mr. Joe Snakeskin with his leather coat and longish hair combed back like some sort of 50s rebel--or Bruce Campbell.

But I was bored, so I went. And I really miss the ability to 'talk shop' with people who struggle with the 'shop' every day. There's no replacement for people who at least, on some level, aspire to similar things as you.

We sat and talked randomness. We also each read a bit aloud. I wasn't expecting that, but I decided to share anyway, which was met with enough approval to give me a nice ego-stroking for a while yet. Especially as I rocket across the finish line and into my editing of MS.

Most of them are hobby writers, but a few of them are hobby writers mostly out of a lack of motivation than a lack of desire for being a working writer. And I was told, after the fact, by a certain fellow that he was 'glad that I was a part of the group, because I was a great inspiration. It's hard to find a writer with concrete goals and you have a lot of concrete goals.'


That's the idea. When this blog is unleashed upon the world at large, it's still going to be like this. I rant about my thoughts and issues, mostly about writing, and the world can take what they want from it. I get discouraged and motivate myself. I try really hard to motivate others. Writing isn't easy, but writers make it much harder than it ever needs to be.

If it falls upon me to help usher people towards a discovery of their own potential? Well, doing is the best way of showing, and I'll do it all the way down the merry road to whatever distant end is ahead of me. I'm looking forward to it, actually. I aim to help. I aim to inspire. Not just writers, but anyone with a dream that they aren't sure about. Go and do it. Make your future. Only you can decide that.

In the end, we're all free to make our choices, we just have to be aware of the consequences and sacrifices along the road.

I'll talk about it again sometime, probably countless sometimes in the future. But it's still so true. There's no future but what we make for ourselves. And that's not just true for the big dreams of dreamers, but for the everyday operation of our lives.

PS: Tony's been wonderful and found me someone who could probably make me the nice banner graphic that I just don't have the time, materials, or patience to make right now. So expect a possible go-live of the new design before too long. Tony's been wonderful about it, and I’m excited for how pretty it looks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Novel and Me readied to part, two lovers over an awkward breakfast

I'm nearing the end of WTC. The climax is done more or less. Now there's just the final wash of revelation. Not a climax in the strictest sense, but a poignant bit that the whole novel's been building towards. I'm looking to bring it to a close in about 10000 words, which will be two or three days, which is about what I predicted. It'll also push the novel into the 108,000 territory, but that's okay. It hurts me to write it, because it means a lot of things for me personally.

When it's done and all, I might talk about it, but I doubt it. The meanings in it are so very personal to the ghosts I've carried and still carry that it's hard to just throw it all out there. The only statement I ever really want to take on the issue for mass consumption will be the novel itself, in whatever form it will finally take. What do I mean? I mean that a lot of my past experiences, especially in the past three years, are expressed and explored in the novel.

Friends will know what that means. Those who don't will have to wait for some day when I'm feeling up to talking about it. But I've been carving away at my awareness of myself and those around me and our pasts for two months now. It's been hard. It's been painful. But I'm hitting upon very strange and strong truths that float up like bright balloons once they're freed.

I'll be happy to move on past this. I've been dwelling in my own head, transformed through magic and work power into the head of equally confused and much less optimistic Maxwell. Exploring a 'what if' of my own life hasn't always been full of laughs, but it's been an ultimately rewarding experience. I even had a lot of fun from time to time.

Now Maxwell's going to take his bow, and head off to where every other character goes (I don't know where it is, personally) until they wander back into the larger tale. And I'll be kind of sad to see him go. I'm comforted to know that unless my opinion greatly changes, Maxwell has one more story left in him, some years down the line when things have changed and I'm not who I am and he's not who he is and we look back and realize the consequences of our decisions.

I'm not going to post a big long retrospective when I finish WTC. That seems a little bit too much like writing its obituary, and it's not dead. It's just going to sit and ferment for a while as I move on to other things and wider pasteurs. This is my little ode to it when its still swimming in my heart and floating through my mind and I'm living and breathing it. I'd rather remember it like this, when it's not done and gone but still vibrant and changing.

Come next week, this blog is going to be much more focused on my editing efforts. And I'm sure I'll be throwing up excerpts left and right, revelling in the good bits and taking an axe to the woefully inadequate ones. My idea factory has built a nice new wing that's dedicated to refining the raw materials of previous novels. All the little robots of 'make this good' and 'make it make sense' and 'pace better' and those pistons of 'spelling' and 'grammar' all look nice and shiny sitting there waiting to be used. But I can't go in there yet, no sir, say the downstairs guys. It's a hard hat area, you see, and I don't wear hats. When its ready for me, I can go in and play Frankenstein all over MS. And I will. But for now I just look at all the various contraptions and wonder what kind of monster they're going to make when its all said and done.

I'm excited, actually. I get to make something of quality, and then unleash it onto the world. I'm sure plenty of mad scientists and weapon designers have all said the same thing. But then, so have a bunch of artists. So I'm okay. Lets hope that I inspire creation and not destruction. Pretty sure I do. I'm pretty sure that creation is, in the end, one of the things that I'm about.

One of an increasingly complex number.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I, Podius

I have an iPod. He's been a lovely companion for me. I call it by the pronoun 'he' only because of his personality. I named him MusicBob, which might imply male, but he is quick to remind me that I chose MusicBob as a the bob of the phrase 'thing-a-ma-bob' not the Bob that's derivative of Robert.

MusicBob has been with me a couple months now. Since April. He was my gift from the federal government. They sent me a piece of paper for paying them money, and that piece of paper was worth a certain amount, and I walked into a nice shiny Apple store. I handed the overly effeminite man a good share of the amount on that paper from my distant Uncle Sam, and he handed me a beautiful shiny box that held the unawakened thing that is now MusicBob.

MusicBob holds 80 GB. At the time, he was the biggest and the bestest. They've made the iPods hold more, but those new ones strike me as kind of … flimsy. Just the construction. So I'm pleased. And okay that I paid $100 than I would for something as big as MusicBob today.

MusicBob doesn't wear any sort of armor. He's exposed to the elements. His screen is still nice, and his white surface is beautiful. His metal back, however, is scratched and pitted and will never even remotely be reflective ever again. MusicBob is okay with that. MusicBob is hardcore.

How hardcore? MusicBob flaunts death at every turn. Normally he rides quite comfortably in my pocket, but whenever I take him out? Unless I'm sitting still, he's going to fall from some height or be flung into some hard surface. I've dropped him onto concrete, asphalt, dirt, snow, and ice. I've flung him into televisions, walls, ceramic tiles, and computers. He leaps off beds and tables at the least provocation, no parachute or safety line. He's just that kind of guy. My little adrenaline junkie.

Hasn't broken a thing yet! Good thing, too, since he's so quick to find something to smash into. For a while, after a particularly hard fall where I forgot I was wearing headphones and flung him nearly 10 feet, his Hold switch was a little loose for a while, but he's healed (by magic or something) and he's fine now. He just gets a little scratched on the back, and carries on.

He's a wonderful companion because he knows me so well. Maybe I've just imbued him with my spirit, or perhaps Apple have build iPods to be magically all-knowing, but MusicBob is very skillful. When I put him on random, invariably he suits music perfect to my mood. It's pretty scary how expertly he'll throw things together. He can even follow conversations, sometimes, bringing in the right song at the right time to perfectly underline or counterpoint the discussion.

And he keeps me sane. I drag him around, making him perform, like my own travelling bard. But he never complains (save once or twice when I didn't feed him and he put up a pretty big fuss by refusing to even talk to me) and he's always reliable. Worth every penny. A pittance for the current-tasties, and considering he's working at least 6 hours a day, every day? I'm in the free and clear, so far as I'm concerned.

I'm writing this mostly because he's awesome. And he deserves the acknowledgement. He fights the good fight, and he does it beautifully. Nobody else is going to thank him, so I'll have to do it.

MusicBob, you're the greatest!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just a little bit of stuff

So, this weekend's been pretty eventful-ish. On Friday I started reading new books, one about editing that I'm hoping will help me out a lot. I just mostly want it to get rid of my nervousness about editing for the first time. Terrifying prospect, all told. I know it shouldn't be, but it doesn't help anything.

Then it snowed all wonderfully pretty, just in time to celebrate Adam's birthday. There's nothing more enjoyable than bellowing The Beatles' Birthday in a semi-tipsy state with a great friend while you drive through four inches of freshly fallen movie-like snow. Talk about one of those warm fuzzy moments.

This weekend I've been doing work mostly on my music library. But I've been writing also. WTC is slowly reaching towards the end, I have maybe 10000 words left (if that). I'm glad. It's been so emotionally draining. I've never written anything that was so close to my own experience before. Its made me reevaluate a lot of things in my life.

This weekend's just been a sad weekend for motivation, though. I was moving last weekend, I've been writing hardcore the past ... god knows how long. And now that I have a stable internet connection, I'm content to play music video DJ on YouTube for hours on end. Scary stuff. But this post is being written to motivate me to work on WTC when I'm done. Let's hope it works.

Best event of this weekend? I DLed a better recording (the one I had was trash, and iTunes had a nice looking one in their store) of Carmina Burana. So that's what I'm listening to as I write this. I'm going to change it soon, just because Carmina Burana doesn't work for my novel, but it's altogether lovely.

So apparently blogger allows people to log in from multiple different user names now, according to their info page. So people with livejournal accounts or other things that don't necessarily have a blogger account can still log in with that LJ or other name and post and not have to worry about showing up anonymous (I have anonymous comments up anyway, for now, but I might not have them forever). Seems pretty spiffy to me.

Best event of the past week? Realizing I was ready to drive 400 miles just to make someone feel better, but just lacked the means.

For this coming week, goals for writing:
- finish WTC, writing at least 2000 words a day
- allowed Wednesday off, but that's it.
- if finish before the weekend, start plot-justification on MS

And there we go. More tomorrow, probably.