Rant and Prosetry (On Dimensions & Storm Clouds)


2D of 5D 

Dimensions. What do people mean when they talk about “dimensions”? Other dimensions? I know it’s connected to physical, geometrical spaces, up/down, forward/back, but it also has another physical place sort of sense like with the Atom or something really weird like dark matter. That’s the one that bugs me, can there be so called other “planes of existence”? There’s a heavy hand of rationalism, playing both ways here, skepticism denies untestable phenomena, but through the scientific method, proves and creates things that undermine rationality, say quantum computing, nuclear weapons. 

I stood in the field,

Warship cloud brigades to the left and right 

Directly in front of me, miles in the distance 

Was a column of grey

Indecipherable 

Only a rumble, rippling in its middle

Feel it like that, just the sound, 

A threat half known, so enjoyed 

Position here? Ant or Magus 

I worked more at watering, 

Get lost,

Realize it’s right above me now,

Black and purple, and I’m 

Terrified. Turn my back, keep watering,

Pray, but don’t go inside. 


All That Is 

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8-6-16 (Morning Transmission from the Writing Lab)

9AM in writing lab, after pancakes, coffee, walk with family on an Edenic morning. As we were walking, guy pulled up, shiny red buggy jeep type thingy, window down, smiled at me, said, “Great family walk!” I smiled and said thank you, gave him a thumbs up, and he drove off. I assume it was a friendly act. I think my kids put a spell on people. Everyone’s nicer, more vulnerable and open when they’re around. People start revealing things to me about their life, their kids, or about not having any, wanting some. I notice the difference when I’m by myself, people look at me less, smile less.

I think it’s more than that too. It’s the neighborhood I live in. My Dad grew up a block north of us, and during his time it was an idealistic slice of American pie. The eighties and nineties brought all the suburban sprawl, and typical exodus of resources and value from the city. The east-side got a reputation for being rougher, dirtier. I think people in the neighborhood see my family and I and it reminds them of this idyllic past they hold in their minds. Is it really such an exceptional sight, a Mom and Dad, a stroller, three kids, a dog, beautiful late summer Saturday morning, alive? Sort of scary if it is a novelty, but I remain proud my unit can inspire such a reaction.

Truth, it makes me a little suspicious. I can’t help but wonder what the nice man would think about the slush-pile or other subversive tendencies of the author. That I’m an apostate Catholic, anarchist, mystic, that likes to howl at the moon and spin in circles. That those boys he sees frolicking are, in the future, savage renaissance men, being pushed into the world armed with the licks of Hendrix, the words and rhythm of Tupac, the tutelage of Malcolm X and a black Jesus. That I’m a no-voter. That I believe a Dark Lord, Sauron type thing rules the world, and that most people, including the author, suffer under its web of illusion. I wonder what he would say about that?

Maybe he’d dig it, maybe he wouldn’t. The sky was so large, the white morning clouds cut across it, giving space and dimension. Big skies can make you feel like a giant, the world something you roll around on, teetering like a bear on a beach ball.

Got stuck on this debate between Cenk Uygur and Dinesh D’souza, don’t have will to summarize for you, watch yourself for curious and challenging social-political considerations. The world has gone mad, but we are waking up. Be gentle, kind, and Art. 11:18AM, time to edit.

Snippets #66

Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior-John Man

A young adventurer named Jing Ke is chosen for the task. He is a man with nerves of steel and high intelligence, who likes “to read books and practice swordsmanship”–in brief, the essence of the true ninja. He refuses to quarrel; if offended, he simply walks away. Jing Ke is too smart to agree at once, but his reluctance is overcome when he is made a minister and given a mansion. (11)

The Muse (On Writing & Editing)

We take certain things for granted, I think. Art especially, I guess. One reason art is criticized is because children seem to be so good at it, predisposed to it in even The force of shame is a remnant of the Industrial Age, where men were supposed to do man’s work and woman were supposed to stay home. Thinking about it, this may only apply to the rich folks; poor people have to work all the time.

Maybe it is this confused historical paradigm which has lead to Art being seen as such a base, sophomoric pursuit. All that is probably subject for another blog, what I want to write about is the figure of the Muse.

In Homer and other ancient works the muse is invoked at the beginning of the poem. This ritual has continued into the present if you look close enough. Read a bit of the writers talking about their process and the Muse will come up.

What is the Muse? It is this strange sense one gets when doing art, where you sort of turnover to this purely creative force, which can speak and act on its own. The writer can become possessed as it were, by the Muse, and stuff can sort of just bubble out?

Now as you play with this, you begin to realize the Muse is a lot like you! Whouda thunk it? So this means, it likes what you like, chocolate, coffee, music, good smelling incense and candles. So you realize quickly that if you share some of your goodies with the Muse that can kick your creative process into high gear.

Be cautious though. Don’t see the Muse as some hedonist that if you overdose on chocolate it’ll give you a masterpiece. The Muse does not like to be fucked with. That means it appreciates a tight, closely followed schedule. If you really want it to show up for you, you’re best to show up everyday.

I also believe it is the Muse that requires all the extracurricular reading as well,. for two points. One the pleasure principle we first discussed. Second though and more importantly it wants you to beware of certain works, so that you don’t go wasting its time trying to rehash the same old thing. The Muse is a critic, rational and right. Sloppy business will begin to agitate it. This is connected to writer’s block I imagine, and it is the Muse which is doing the blocking.

The Muse is a free agent, and the business is good. It is best to recognize this and be very considerate of your Muse. When proper order is maintained a healthy relationship can occur. If it’s not found, things can be dangerous. A runaway Muse can be deadly, no more evidence of that is needed than the deadly history of Rock and Roll. Breaking up with the Muse, or worse fighting the Muse, all can have disastrous ends. Therefore it is helpful to recognize what you’re dealing with, and don’t be demanding. Offer the gifts to the gods and then write it as it comes!

Source for Nine Muses: http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/nine-muses-in-greek-mythology/

What, in the Hell, Am I Doing? (On Writing & Editing)

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Photo Source: http://www.monicamccarthy.net/2014/04/15/true-and-false/

So it seems like my writing career is more of a hobby these days, happening about once a week. I’m not spending any where near enough time, sitting in the chair and writing, which is basically what writers do, I guess.

I am always happy to get back into the seat and put some focus in on the craft. The pump pad remains my savior, and I will hail its power all my days as a writer. If what you are pump padding matches up with the section you have to edit that day, this offers one of those magical moments of creation, where you can take the new material and in grafting it on to the preexisting material, get a running start at the editing of the whole section. Artists are addicts for this creative moment of self absolution, where we can turn over into the act and be immersed in the creation. It’s this mystical space, which can sometimes have me thinking, what in the hell am I doing?

I think that is one of the most difficult things starting out as a writer, is just answering the question, what does one actually DO as a writer? Like in Carpentry it is more obvious. Want to build a box? The size and purpose of said box will instruct you on how to build the box. Geometry and physical skills like making straight lines and operating tools are the prerequisites for constructing the box. You know you are going to have to be able to cut some wood, and maybe use a hammer or whatever. Now you may not be able to do these things yourself, but it is obvious what needs to be done, and when you see someone who really knows how to be a good carpenter, it can seem so simple and self explanatory.

Writing has parallels to this of course, especially when you decide to become a professional and develop your skills. But at first it can be very slippery and unclear, even more so since you are just some weirdo in your basement trying to be the next J.D. Salinger or whatever. So to save our collective face, let’s think what does a writer actually do? Like for real?

A writer is a crafter of language. Language like geometry has it’s own inherent, natural laws, which need to be worked through. This is actually the field of Logic, which is more akin to Mathematics. It’d probably behooves all writers to have at least a basic understanding of Logic. Logic is algebra for truth claims. Truth claims are basically any claims which can be proven, like I like doughnuts, or the sky is blue. Conjunctions like “and/or” are the plusses and minuses of mathematics. If/then formulations are crucial in constructing truth claims like, If I walk in the rain, then I will get wet. This is an objective truth claim and we can parse this out through the process of Logic and effectively prove it.

What does that have to do with writing your Harry Potter fan-fiction? Well a lot actually. Because the mind is built and trained in these logic relationships we have to use them when writing are own stories. Suspended disbelief exists in the if/then type process of the mind. When we violate the natural laws of Logic in a story, we rip giant holes through our creation. Enough of these rips the coherency of your thought experiment, the fictional work, will collapse and boredom will ensue, and the reader will go back to Netflix.

All this acknowledged, most people aren’t jamming out to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in their free time. Lord of the Rings is not Heidegger’s Being And Time (or is it?). So what makes great Fiction so stimulating and entertaining? Again we could turn to the study of Philosophy and Ethics, and take a scientific approach, and analyze how certain heroic tales stimulate certain innate passions in the hearts of man, and from this same heart spring all the love for drama flows, because it reflects back to ourselves our own inner dramas. That every book is like an oracle which can tell us about the past and future lives of ourself. But see how we have gone all flowery and mystical again. How does someone actually do this? How do you become so immersed in your imaginary world that it can actually function in this way?

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It starts to feel sometimes like all writers are Victor Frankenstiens in the making. That ultimately there is something dark in these goyim like creatures called books, who are just a shimmer of their creators. It’s ugly, but like Frodo, if you want your work to command the passion that haunt men’s heart, then you are gonna have to go cave diving. You are going to have to crawl around in the dark and do battle with the subconscious enemies of mankind, and somehow preserve yourself in these efforts, and pull an artifact out of these primordial fires.

Part of capturing this part of great fiction is observing it in the world around you. The Good Book says nothing new under the sun, now if we pushed that through the machine of Logic, we could come to some interesting conclusions, maybe that if there is infinite possibility, that anything that can be imagined could or maybe even does exist? It’s a fractal view of the world, where the seed contains the whole. So practically speaking, you are thinking of the villain of your character go to your local shopping center and observe your fellow man? Look for the physical mannerisms and behavior of evil people. Incorporate this knowledge into your work. You need to have clear leads and advisories, heroes and villains. There has to be the process of inherency, trouble, and resolution. You have to be stimulated as a human being in your own process in these things. This also coincidentally is a key to good book, it has to be a copy of you! If you are sort of a dark, wicked person, don’t be trying to write from the perspective of some pure Hero; it’ll never work. Again a mystical paradox of writing seems to be you can never fake your fiction.

To be a great writer, you have to see passed the details to the form of what makes great stories. I believe most people don’t read for the details, but for the experience. This doesn’t mean get wonky with the details though! Because discrepancies will stand out to all readers. But still people read to have an interesting experience. They want to be engaged. That’s what’s weird about good writing because you are basically just enjoying yourself, and this seems to offend some remnant of a Protestant work ethic that was engrained in me, and makes it all seem very ethereal and flakey…

Think of it like this, every Stephen King or Anne Rice, started out as some person just sitting somewhere going on these long excursions into imagination land, hunting for little jewels which they could bring back and commodify and exchange with the world. But for every Mark Twain, there are hundred of other people who will never be read. What is the difference between the two, that’s what I want to know?  Imagine if there were just theaters all over the place, filled by chubby people, surrounded by a bunch of dirty coffee cups, books, and their manuscripts. The show is not finished, but the materials are all there, three-quarters in completion. They just need the master craftsman to bring it all together and it could be great. But it’s not. The theaters rots. The roof leeks. There’s no more coffee. The artists is emaciated, mad. He hates the theater and the manuscript now. It mocks him, because he got stuck, Gollumed.

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Before I get lost in the trenches here, let me finish be recapping the point I thought I was making. The writer is attempting to better themselves and their world; they are trying to save themselves. This is actual work and involves specific skills. The skills involve shaping language and ideas, that encompass things like Logic and emotions. To be a writer is to be build thought experiments which deal with questions of morality and logic. The writer is reproducing their own inner drama and that is the well source of their fiction. To write then is to provoke your own inner drama and to relate that through artifice to the world. So next time you sit down trigger your relevant Mommy or Daddy issues and get some blood on the page! I hope your own efforts are a success!

Going With the Flow (On Writing & Editing)

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So this is gonna be another post extolling the virtue of the pump pad. I finally found myself back in my office with some time to focus on my writing. I have a busy weekend ahead, starting with a wedding today. I was feeling a little confused about how to start. Editing wise I am right to the chunky middle part, where things sort of jump off and get weird, and so with love and tradition in the air, it just didn’t feel right going all dark and crazy. So instead I decided to go with the flow and turn to the pump pad. I decided to write a random scene with my lead and her love interest. And again the pump pad came through. 

As usual I’m not sure if the thousand I put up will ever make the final draft, but what it does is help fill out are the details of my characters. They come alive by writing these scenes. And it’s interesting too because having the basic story in mind, I can sort of imagine the affect this is going to have on a reader, when they final get to the ending. It’s like I can actually feel the layers being added; it’s a very cool sensation. 

It made me think of other Arts which are obviously more mechanical, like painting or playing and instrument. And somehow getting that perfect line you want in a figure is analogous to finding that perfect feel for a character, when that success is achieved only then does the figure begin to jump off the page. That’s what’s loved in something like the Mona Lisa, or The Old Man in the Sea, the ability of the artist to create a real world out of artificial techniques. The more we focus on these real, tangible methods of our the art the better we will become. Art is not about being inspired and sort of vomiting out a finished project, but it is the slow march forward that wins the day. 

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Going with the mood of the day, dictated by agenda, was a success as well. I reflected on why people feel the need to marry, why I myself have desperately needed monogamy and companionship. The scene I wrote brought out all kinds of ideas. It is because we need to communicate, and be understood, recognized in our personhood, by another. It is because we are on an adventure, and it is perilous and having a dedicated companion gives you strength. It is because the world is confusing, and getting simpatico with someone makes it less confusing. It’s because we don’t have all the answers, and we are obsessed with that mystery of the other, and we know if we can just understand one other person fully, than maybe we have moved forward. It’s is because we are pack animals, whose skin was built to give and receive pleasure, and sometimes it can be so cold and then a warm body next to you can mean survival. 

This is what I think is meant by write what you know. You need to work with the emotions and experiences that interest you. And though you can be writing some crazy distant world, it needs to come from your own heart and mind; there is no other way. 

All Hail the Pump Pad! (On Writing and Editing)

So I wrote last time about priming the pump, the idea that when editing a writer should still “prime the pump”, by pounding out a thousand or so new words before jumping into any editing. With the business of Summer afoot, the writing side of of my life is sort of being neglected, but finally today I got after it. Thinking about the big picture of my story though, especially after like a week or more of not really working at it, had me feeling confused and overwhelmed. But then I remembered the pump pad.

Coincidentally, I had also have also been experiencing a little bit of domestic discourse with my Wife and so I was feeling bit litigious, and so that prompted  me to turn to the climax scene of my book, which is a sort of mock trial event. Then bam, an hour later, the thousand words are out, and we have ended up with a couple juicy tidbits which might actually make the final draft. 

The pump pad is awesome. I really like writing new stuff, that main is the reason I do it. And if that’s all it is, just me banging on the keyboard, making stuff up, having a little fun, that’ll be enough. But the thing is sometimes I also dream about other people enjoying what I have written. And something like hopeless stirs in my heart. It’s futile, a dark mind says. No one will ever read your story. And there’s truth in that dark voice right now, because readers could never happen until we have a finished product, and can’t have finished project without the massive edit, but don’t like to edit? Despair. Solution? The pump pad!

Honestly, if you’re like me, stupid, lazy, and careless, the pump pad is for you! Some people say anything worth doing is worth doing right. My motto is anything worth doing is worth doing twice! So get out there and just rewrite the same scene a hundred times, sooner or later one of those will have to not suck, right? 

There’s this philosophical thought experiment called the infinite monkey theorem. The idea is how long would it take a infinitely supplied room of monkeys banging on a typewriter, for them to write Shakespeare. Now the point of thought experiment is about the results of infinity and randomness. It wants to indicate that if there is an infinite amount time and randomness, then there is an infinite amount of possibilities. And this provides me some strange hope, that maybe one day if I just keep banging away on this keyboard, out might pop a master piece! 

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Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem

Draft 3 (On Writing and Editing)

I’m finally back at it. I spoke of a first brief bit of hope in my last post a few weeks back. I had intended to let my current WIP rest until April 1st, but then it didn’t really rest and there was much existential angst and study, and before I know it another month had progressed. 

In the mean time, I did start a new work, and now I’m almost up to 5k words on that. And to be honest I still really was never able to let the WIP rest to any great degree. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the changes that needed to be made, but for some reason I’m having trouble doing the work. I’m working through that limbo, self-doubt phase though for real. What has happened is that I have thought about the WIP enough where now it is easier to just make it less crappy and do the work, than continue to muddle over it and not move forward. 

I got my spring garden planted, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, arugula, in the extra month. My garlic from last October is looking great. I also built a large raised bed to hold all my plants. So again the rest period is not all that restful, but doing other things definitely helps the writing. Writing is a lot like gardening, or cooking, or even raising kids. It is a process, that has to be taken step by step, and though you work towards some imagined end, there is no real end and you just got to keep at it. 

I’ve been reading a lot during these last two months. I think I am at like 8-9 book so far this year. I am a little behind the pace I wanted to be, but I have been reading more overall, so it’s nice to have the challenge in mind. I’m just about to the end of Stephen King’s newer book “Doctor Sleep”, a sequel to the “The Shining”.

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I’m really enjoying it. It’s fun not just because of the interesting story, but also because I am paying extra-attention to how the story is set up, and what works. I am looking at it more as a writer, as an editor. I also recently finished the Western “Rider of the Purple Sage”, by Zane Grey. It was another great lesson in what makes a book exciting  and keeps the pages turning.   

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Stephen King is one of my heroes. I have definitely been influenced by his writing and love how he tells a story. It is all about story. Good ideas and good characters are important, but there has to be a story; Stephen King gets that. He makes you pay attention to a character, and then before you know it you’re empathizing with that character, and mad as hell at another, and then problems start popping, and you just got to keep reading for some resolution, and before you know it’s over, and you’re just out on your ass from the whirlwind. That’s what I like in books and life, getting messy in the whirlwind. 

So I started Chapter 1 today. I basically took three chapters, sixteen sum pages and smashed it into six. I probably wrote another new 1k words, reincorporating chunks of details which I felt were key from Draft 2. I also took the advice I was given and started at a point of action, and worked some backstory in flashbacks and the scene. And you know what it’s better. Not perfect, but it is a better first chapter than Draft 2’s first chapter.More than the good chapter I am comfortable and aware of how the changes looks, how to make it better, and that is my goal, steadily getting better. I was also able to go through the kept stuff from Draft 2, and edit it again, tightening up some of make dialogue tags, clarifying/rewriting bad sentences, eliminating unnecessary or incorrect details. 

It’s a weird feeling watching it coalesce, and evolve into something which feels more like the real thing. I am able to take pieces of the earlier drafts and then graph them on to a tighter narrative. It is almost as if the earlier drafts become cheat sheets that I can than plagiarize to make a better story. Anyways, I could go on all day. I hope you out there are progressing in your efforts. Do the work! 

 

Limbo (On Writing & Editing)

ImageFrom the film “What Dreams May Come”

 

I would love to be writing. I would, really. I would also love to be editing, really. I can’t write because I have to finish the book, and the next project requires preparation, which I don’t want to commit to before I finish the book. The month “resting period” I described in previous posts is over, and that means I should be back to editing but I can’t get to it. The scare quotes are because the story never rested, like they all said it would.

So the obvious answer becomes well let it rest more, but seeing as it didn’t rest in the first place, how much sense is there in letting it rest more? Instead the draft haunts everything else; I see it in my personal conversations; I see it in my dreams; I see it in other television shows; I think about it when I’m awake; I think about it when I try to sleep.

The limbo has brought me to a choice, perhaps a false dichotomy, but it seems I have to love it or leave it. And I mean leave it, like on the side of the road and peel off. I need to love it also, like fully commit, take me to the alter, and let’s get busy. I need commit to the book by giving up this limbo and make the changes to make it work, and move on. I need to get in there and do a major rewrite. Easier said than done, says my bruised little ego.

The changes are abstract though, that’s the problem. For instance I am told to start the book at the point of the first big conflict, but I also feel the first chapter is crucial to character development and roping the reader in. The book is focused on one character, so it’s important for the reader to really connect, and what better way then to see her as a baby? Her lifehis abbreviated, dictated by circumstance, and I feel that seeing her as baby, handled by the robots arms, is essential to the mood and story.

But I also stated one of my rules was, “the reader” is god”. I can see why starting in the action is a good idea, and I also know I can work the robotic arms and early years into a chunky little bits of flashback…but that all seems hard for some reason…like really hard, because it involves major cuts. For me it feels like chewing gums twice or something; I just get the urge to spit it out and start over.

But ya know, as I think about it, right now, it doesn’t seem so bad. This action, smashing and smoothing, thinking like an editor, it starts to feel like work, then enters the problem of LIFE. It’s pressing in on all sides. I got five raging balls of consciousness, who depend on my involvement, love and patience. I got a household to maintain. I got a garden. It’s Spring…

But I love it, the writing and the editing. I imagine stories whether or not I want to. And with editing, I’m developing a sadmasochestic relationship with that too. I am reading this great book on editing, “Self-Editing For Fiction Writers”, by Brown and King, and it is just wonderful.

It is helping me to think like an editor, beyond just language and grammar things. It gets me thinking like a story teller. Self development and skill development have this transitory, unsettling process, were you practice until your bored and then you practice some more, and the thing which was difficult becomes easy, but then there is always a new difficulty, and the process just continues. You have to perpetually learn.

The book is teaching me how rhythm for the reader is formed through paragraphs, dialogue, and white space. How conflict is something that needs to be followed and charted, and how that connects to overall pace. It had taught me a lot about beginner pit-falls, like having too many characters that are doing the same thing, or getting focused in on my personal interests and not the story itself. It’s making me think like an editor, and that is a unique set of skills that you need in addition to creative writing. It means you have to exercise the skill over and over again. Until it hurts, and it seems like stopping would be better anyways, but you don’t stop, you just keeping going on.

I think I’m almost there. There’s probably why I wrote this…I am going to commit; I am past the point of turning back. Everyone, please pray.

 

 

Have Fun! (On Writing And Editing)

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http://www.slv.vic.gov.au/latrobejournal/issue/latrobe-79/fig-latrobe-79-004a.html

 

You want to know how I know I am a writer? Because I am having fun doing it! Like, a lot of fun. It’s that simple. Writing isn’t something that drains me of energy, but something that gives me energy. Though I rarely meet my highest expectations, I always make a little forward progress and get closer to being my best as a writer.

I finished the first draft of a new short story today, and it has me very excited. Like, I like the story. There’s some good elements there. It made me laugh and cheer, maybe even tear up a little bit, I don’t know. The work is a step towards a larger imaginary space I am working at creating and it is exploring themes that are important to me. And I’m excited to let my wife read it!

This is what people mean by they “can’t not” do something, the urge aspect of certain behaviors. Once you have experienced a joy like that, you have to keep going; it directs you. This mindset allow you to come at your art from a pure, healthy place. Have fun at your art; it shouldn’t be a struggle or hard, through you will definitely struggle and it is hard! Joy in the struggle; that’s the transcendent goal in art. Make a meal more than a meal. Make a book more than just a book. Make a painting more beautiful than life.

Editing looms like a mountain before me. I have got to start finishing these projects. The books sits in the basement, getting hungry. I want to let it loose, but I got to let it germinate for at least 2-1/2 weeks or something…just ignore it…So yes, instead I’m going to focus now on editing another old short story, and get that finished!  Keep an attainable goal in the front of your mind. 

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