Monthly Archives: September 2012

Progress… or Lack Thereof

Chapter Eleven is being difficult.  I have an outline.  I know what needs to happen during Eleven, Twelve, and the first part of Thirteen.  I just don’t have the words to describe it yet.

This happens a lot, to be honest.  More often than I care to admit sometimes.  Action is fairly easy to figure out.  The path from Point A to Point B is easy enough to lay out in a chart or in rough descriptions of chapters.  But getting the actual words to show the action, the dialogue as the characters converse back and forth, and making sure that there is nothing that doesn’t help the story in some way… well, that’s more than a little difficult.  Particularly when my brain is already struggling because of the sapping nature of the Depression, or the distraction of my Ferret Syndrome.

As a general rule, I despise Red Herrings as lazy writing.  There’s a rule in playwriting that if you have a gun above the mantel in Act One, that gun had damned well go off during the climax of the story.  I learned a great deal of how to write from taking a Playwriting course in college.  To be honest, it helped more than both the Creative Writing classes did because it helped me learn how to show the story instead of just telling it through summary.  I might not edit out all objectionable material from my stories… but I am very careful to be certain that anything I do leave in serves a purpose as part of the larger narrative.

Most of the time when I’m struggling with a story, I find myself sitting that the computer for hours on end playing Chuzzle, or Bejeweled 3, or Solitaire, or with my DS in my hands playing one of the Pokemon games.  I find the distraction relaxing, calming, oddly meditative, to be honest.  I find it easiest to think when I’m losing my awareness in playing a game, or grinding for hours on end to level some character in an RPG.  It’s when I do my deepest thinking.

I’ll see in my mind flashes of scenes, hear scraps of conversation between characters, or have philosophy and grand statements about the nature of life and the human condition come rising up from the chaos in my mind as the distraction causes the swirling thoughts to slow and come together.  Sometimes I’m able to write the stuff down.  Most of the time I just talk to myself.  I’m not used to the idea that my thoughts and ideas might have a larger audience that would appreciate them.

I briefly considered starting up a separate blog just for the philosophy… but I write it down so rarely that it just didn’t seem to warrant something that large just for me rambling about the nature of Choice or the search for Human Meaning.  If no one objects, though, I might drop such treatises here since this blog is already made and goodness knows the philosophy shapes the fiction to a degree.

Additionally, since I’m going to be rather slow on Chapter Eleven of The Firebird’s Daughter, I thought that I’d go through my archives and see what other stories I’ve got that I can post up here.  I’ve got quite a few worthwhile projects that are unfinished and could use some interest to get them going again, and a few short pieces that are complete enough to stand on their own.

And I might start up a section just for the pixel art illustrations I make of the individual characters.  I can’t draw to save my life, but I can put together a decent microhero doll or build a doll using one of the flash games available on a few really good sites for such things.  I like being able to put a face to a character even with my limited skills.

We’ll see what I’m able to do.  Thank you for your time and interest.

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A Message in a Bottle

A message to Pola, the Afghani newborn girl whose life was saved by soldiers from Poland…

Pola, God has preserved your life.  As you, a fragile newborn child, lay in the desert sands, I have no doubt that you were watched over by angels until the ones that God has chosen could find you.

God has a purpose for you and through you the world will be blessed.  You are a gift to the world and all of God’s gifts are good ones, intended for blessing and not for cursing.

But Pola, the only ones who have the right to decide the nature of your purpose and how you will live it out are you and the God who made you.  It may be that you will lead your Afghani sisters to greater equality with each other and with men, because how a man treats those weaker than himself is how he treats God.  It may be that Poland needs you and the wisdom that God will give you in life.  It may be that you are intended to be a candle in the darkness of a very cruel and brutal wasteland.  It may simply be that God has a child He wishes to call you “Mother”.

Whatever your purpose is, it is a great and wonderful one.  But no one has the right to tell you what your purpose is, or how you will fulfill it.

The greatest gift of my life, next to the arrival of the four-footed angel who is my pet dog, was the day I realized what my purpose was.  I was born to influence people.  But even knowing that… the ways I could have gone about fulfilling that purpose are multitude.  I chose to use words.  I chose to educate myself in writing and storytelling as my medium of influence.

What you are here to do and how you choose to do it… deciding that is God’s gift to you and you alone, because you are precious to Him, precious and beautiful and wondrous to behold.

I pray for you, Pola.  I pray that you will be given the wisdom to know your path and the strength to follow it as you would choose to follow it.  And I thank God for the blessing that you are and will yet be.

I don’t normally post things like this, but I saw the story this morning through Yahoo and one of the comments made by readers was speculation about what little Pola might one day accomplish.  So that’s where this came from.  I know the chances that she or anyone associated with her might see this is infinitesimal… but so were her chances of survival in that desert.

And who knows?  Maybe someone else who needs to see this will do so.  The Internet is a very strange and wondrous place, like Wonderland in that way.  I throw this message in a bottle onto the Internet seas with the prayer that it will serve a purpose that is good and helpful.

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An Overdue Explanation

I believe that I owe those loyal few who offer their time to read my work something of an explanation for my long absence… and perhaps a glimpse into what I am trying to build.

I’ve always known that I had problems.  What creative soul doesn’t?  It’s part of what makes us creative, the brokenness in our hearts and minds and souls drive us to look for something else to make us whole again and our search is vitally important to those who simply do not need the search for their own sake, but who would be empty without the results of it.

Simply put, Normal Well-Adjusted Types do not need to fall through the looking glass because they do not have the same drive as someone who struggles with tragedy or eccentricity of the mind.  But because we need that Other World, we bring back something which keeps them alive.  Without us they would be zombies.

In any event, I always knew that I was broken, I just never quite knew how, or what to do to compensate.  I never wanted an excuse.  I never wanted to point at something and say “It’s not my fault because I’m…” whatever.  I just wanted to know the truth.  I wanted to know why I am the way I am, why I have the difficulties that I do, so that I can accurately identify my enemy.

The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy.  You can’t fight what you refuse to admit exists, or which you do not know exists.  If you are fighting the wrong enemy, then you will lose.

I have Depression.  I’ve known that for a long time, but I thought that it had ceased to be a factor years ago.  Unfortunately, it blew up in my face again in these past three years to the point that it has very nearly incapacitated me.  In point of fact, I was fairly incapacitated several times because of it.  When it explodes on me, I can’t write.  When I can’t write, I get depressed.  It’s a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to break.

I have “Attention Difficulties”.  I put that in quotes because the doctors hesitate to actually put the words Attention Deficit Disorder to it in my presence, but that’s what it amounts to.  My brain is severely choosy about what it wants to keep hold of and what it sloughs away, and what it chooses to ignore is all the stuff that most people would consider important.  Additionally, I have an incredibly difficult time actually finishing projects because something new always comes along and distracts me.

I call it “Ferret Syndrome”, or “a busy mind”, but it means that I’ve got a list of unfinished projects as long as my arm and sometimes I’ll have to let something sit for a very long time before I’m able to come back to it.

This is partially what has happened to Castellan Dreams.  I had to step away from it for a while because I got stuck.  Was Bastion going to be a Knight or a Prince?  How was the confrontation in the hallway going to work?  What did I want to do in terms of revisioning events far into the future of the story?  I needed to let it simmer in the back of my mind for a while.

And then The Mysterious Co-Writer decided to jump into the issue just as I was starting to get things figured out with a revisioning of his own.  The Aleister in the story now is not the Aleister that we had originally started working with.  So I needed to figure out how to make the changes work with what I had already written in the hopes that I wasn’t going to have to take all nine chapters down and start all over from the beginning.

We’ve had to do that more than once when his revisioning or mine caused a story to get turned on its ear.  For some reason we both really love to play with alternaverse.

Still, as of last night, and yes, it was actually last night that this happened, I finally managed to get everything squared away, more or less, so that I can get back to writing the story.  The chapters already posted do not need alteration, for which I am eternally grateful, and it doesn’t alter too much what was intended to happen later on, which makes things easier all around.  I found my notes on what I was going to do with Bastion and I’ve started work on Chapter Ten.

With luck, it should be posted sometime today.

This sort of writing is what I do best.  One chapter at a time, immediately offered to an audience from whom I can get responses just as quickly.  I discovered this writing fanfiction back during the mid to late 90’s on email discussion groups before the Internet was as omni-present as it currently is.  I had a fourteen year old boy addicted to what amounted to a romantic soap opera.  It was my proudest moment.

This is the sort of storytelling that Charles Dickens did.  This is the sort of writing that originally created our modern concept of the novel.  It’s a type of storytelling that has fallen to the wayside in later years as society and technology progressed, allowing for novels to be written as whole works and offered as such.  It’s a form whose time has come again.

We have the technology now to make the old new again.  I write best this way and now I can offer my stories to an audience as fast as I can write the chapters, and I can hope for responses just as quickly.  As time goes on I’ll add more stories-in-progress because I’ve got so many of them that it’s unbelievable.  The universe I’m building has been developing for more than twenty years inside my head.  It’s past time that it found an outlet and an audience.

Thank you for your patience, and your loyalty.  All responses gratefully accepted.

Edit: Chapter Ten has been posted for your reading enjoyment.  Thank you.

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