Tag Archive | writing

“A Ghost Can Only Take” at Reckoning

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My rambling gonzo* epic-mundane** essay “A Ghost Can Only Take” about walking the liminal zone inside an industrial city, ghosts, history, and landscape memory has been published over at Reckoning Magazine. While you’re there you should check out the rest of the magazine. There’s lots of good weird stuff in there.

One thing I wish to highlight about that essay is how much it’s unfinished as it can’t be finished, as it’s about where I live and the present moment in all it’s fluid, ever-changing glory.

Let me give you two examples. First, since I wrote that piece there’s been an earthquake on the north side of town that left a few hundred people homeless. Second, if Trump’s steel tariffs go through they’ll heavily impact where I live and work since the steel company in town is one of the leading steel companies in the world. If they start feeling the squeeze the whole city will. And that’s leaving aside any and all nonsense about a possible war on the peninsula.

Anyway, please give it a read if you’re inclined, or scroll through and look at all the pictures. (And if you like the pictures, there are plenty more where they came from.)

* What the editor called it.

** What I called it.

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Things Published in 2017

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Here are things I had published in 2017. Give them a read or listen if you have the inclination. I’m quite proud of them.

A Late Quintessence: a story about censorship, alchemy, and the regenerative power of ideas from the perspective of a villain coming to realize too late that he was on the wrong side of history. May it come to pass. (Link / Audio)

Behind the Sun: this is a faux travelogue about a weird civilization that exists in the center of our hollow earth. Witness the strange past-times of the inhabitants! Realize that struggle and communal effort have the power to rehabilitate us all! (Link)

This coming year should see a few more things published. Stay tuned!

A Late Quintessence

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I’ve a new short story “A Late Quintessence” available now at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s all about censorship, alchemy, and murder.

You can read it here.

Or you can listen to it here if you have twenty minutes to spare.

If you dig it please let your friends know.

Reckoning 1

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Artwork by Mona Robles

Reckoning is an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice. The first issue is out now and includes my people-riding-flying-bicycles-while-living-underground-and-fighting-smelly-worms story “Who Loves the Sun”… because nothing says environmental justice like fighting smelly worms.

You can read the full TOC here and for 5USD you can buy the ebook here. Or you can wait as the contents will be made available for free throughout the year.

Happy Solstice.

Some Links

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Do you like links? I like links. I like having neat and interesting stuff pointed out to me. I like being shown towards articles I would never have found otherwise.

The internet is a big place. Why not let other people read bits of it for you?

When I started this blog I thought of it being a bit of a scrapbook, a place to put down random ideas, pictures, and notes. Earlier this week I asked a friend to send me the link to an article he told me about over a year ago, and the thought occurred to me that maybe I should keep track of those. Plus sharing a note of such things might be worthwhile.

So here we are…

Teaching: Just Like Performing Magic: Teller (the silent half of the comedy team Penn & Teller) talks about his experiences teaching high school Latin. Things to crib here if you’re an ESL/EFL teacher and want or get to design your own curriculum.

The Significance of Plot Without Conflict: A bit about the kishōtenketsu style of story telling. I think there’s a critique of this style of story telling, just as there’s one of Campbellian heroes with a thousand faces, but knowing it’s out there is pretty helpful.

Return of the Mercenaries: Since I live overseas near a US military base, I’ve had a chance to hang around with contractors working for the Department of Defense. All of them have been tech guys, but the stories they tell of their friends who are involved in combat operation makes your average mercenary sound like a combination of a prima donna ballerina and a viking berserker.

Twitter Weird Science Facts: I’m glad these are back. I had my wife in stitches telling her about FDC Willard, the physicist cat. And we both agreed that badger/coyote hunting teams sounded like the scar-faced gangsters of the animal world. Beatrix Potter was right!

The Swincar E-Spider: “Ferdinand, I must ride.”

 

More About Fan Fiction

In my last post I talked slight crap about fan fiction. And after a few moment’s reflection I thought, “Well, shit, have I really even read much fan fiction?”

So I sought some out.

I did a Google search for Firefly fan fiction and came up with gold. That’s been my reading material for the past two days. And beside the Craiglist personal ad aspects of some of it (erotic pairings of Book & Wash, Mal & River, and Jane & everybody), I think I’m getting a better handle on what it is in fan fiction that grates on me. But before I tell you that, let me say that reading these stories has made me realize that the thing I don’t like about fan fiction is also the thing I need to learn how to do.

Back to what bothers me about it – it’s the immersion level of the work. And this is where I think it overlaps with a genre hang-up I have. I don’t enjoy being so deeply immersed in a story. Sure, I love when I’m immersed in the act of reading, but extreme moment to moment story immersion feels confining. I feel drowned by a writer that describes everything, every moment, every thought of a character’s life. Yeah, that’s hyperbole, but with some books it feels that way. It feels that the writer is holding my hand and directing what I can or can’t pay attention to while they monologue about the movie going on in their head.

But the thing is for fans of shows, fans that would want to write about their favorite show, and a good number of genre fans that level of immersion is what they’re after. They want to be deep in the paracosm on the moment to moment level. It’s not a bug, it’s a design feature. And that’s something I need to learn.

So today’s piece of writer enlightenment:

The thing you dislike in other books is the thing you need to learn for yours.

End of the Year

I’ve read a few of these End of the Year posts now and they’re all starting to resemble: “I had a great year, three dozen stories published, my collection came out and got translated into 800 languages, and two agents fought a duel over which of them got to accept me as a client…”

Mine resembles: “I wrote a lot but only finished five stories, got nearly three dozen rejection letters, and failed to write a new novel.”

And when I say resemble, I mean that’s it. That’s my end of the year update.

Five stories written. Three dozen rejection letters. An unfinished novel.

But you have to take the bad with the good. You can’t hide under a rock simply because you’ve had a shit year. I could pull my output apart some. Two of the stories are what I’m calling “promising failures”, pointing me towards better stories. Not better drafts of these same stories, but better new stories.

I had one story published, Last Rites For A Vagabond. I like that story quite a bit and am pleased with it in so much as one can be pleased with these things. It’s bitter-sweet, discordant, and has a nice random sketches feel to it. If you listen closely you can hear it expiring quietly from neglect. But so it goes. Some folks might wish they had even my level of success. Shit, complete strangers left comments on the story and appeared to like it, so no complaints.

The novel on the other hand…

I am finding novel writing to be like this Bill Nye clip describing how scientists plan on determining the nature of Jupiter’s core. Of course, I’ve launched myself into this story somewhat blindly, and as I write I find I keep “wobbling” each time I encounter pockets of dark matter AKA plot holes. This is probably because I’m making my life difficult by trying to write a secondary world fantasy that doesn’t involve too many “the rogues crept from shadow to shadow” type sentences. So that’s where the writing goes and will continue to go for the near future.