Personal Life Update: Graduation, Grad School, and Humor (but not mine)

img_2180

Cthulhu Flower needs a hug.

I’m going to try and continue writing in this, consistently, until I finish my studies at UIS.

I have four research projects, 10+ pages each. I have been running crazy for over a month. In many ways, time moves so slow. So very slow: only a month? In many other ways, my life passes me by. Thirty three years old. I won’t go down the list my mother has engrained in my head since I was a child. The shadow CV, as Bella calls it. The things I should have done. The things I could have done. The things I didn’t do. Couldn’t, under circumstances. I’m in a place of processing, revisiting old experiences, old lessons in my large book of life.
Continue reading

It Might be Time for a Reboot

This is a writing blog. I haven’t written (much) in the past few years, so this blog has fallen by the wayside. And I’m about to pick it back up. It only makes sense that I don’t load a new pic for the post, since it’s a writing blog and not a mullet (Business in the front. Party in the back). I want it all to be a party, and bangs would just look emo.

I’ll start by greasing my rusty writing hinges; Hello, World! I’m ready to shaaare myself again!

The primary focus for this blog is professional updates on how I understand writing to be, in all its forms: literary and artistic reviews, updates on my work, and helpful hints along the way. I grew away from this professional blog due to (excuses) and now that I’m able to focus more on the often complex and changing needs of novel writing, I can also step back into this place.

Continue reading

Writing Retreat: or, How to Avoid Writing

This week marks the first time I actively took a break from my 8-630 job to pursue writing. And, as expected, I spent most of that time putzing around, re-reading old works to get caught up to where I COULD write, and essentially removing myself from the world to continue doing what I do worst. Continue reading

Writing Insecurities

I’m writing on a novel I haven’t touched in nearly two years. Its only 20 pages (with seven added today). It’s about a character I created, who came to reside in the apartment above me, in my actual apartment. Oddly enough a year and a half ago a woman actually moved in upstairs, and she was nothing like the character I created.

Which has nothing to do with the story, really. I didn’t stop writing because of her. I stopped writing because the silly story required a kind of melancholy, a kind of vulnerable insecurity, where my chest is open and bared to the screen. No adventure. No thrill of the hunt. No meeting new people. This book is about an intimate relationship with a woman I’ve never met, who doesn’t exist, to a man I’ve come to see as a lofty ideal so distant from humanity he isn’t even human. He is the Overman, the Great Observer, and while she fights to find transcendence, he fights to find his humanity. Through their similar pursuit of “purpose,” she walks in the steps of a god. Continue reading

Who is in My Back Pocket?

In an effort to organize the craziness that is my writing/reading/professional editing career, I tried to stack my unfinished books in a pile to figure out how to get through them. My current reading list is As Follows:

Silentium by Greg Bear (Yes. It is a Halo book. It is the first fluff novel I’ve read in a long while. Don’t Judge!!! haha)
*Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore
*The Long War by Baxter and Pratchett
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
*Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
*Wise Man’s Fear by Rothfuss
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
*Ilium by Dan Simmons
*Olympos by Dan Simmons
The Terror by Dan Simmons
*The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Legend of Sleepy Hollow and other Short Stories by Washington Irving
*The Reincarnationist (Maybe)
Liber Novus by Carl Jung
along with several re-reads of books like
The Angel of Darkness
Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Lovecraft stories (I’ll never stop re-reading them, I think)

(* Denotes I haven’t started reading yet)

While I find most of this of high literary value (with a few, um, exceptions), I’ve spent a lot of time recognizing my interest, and love, of reading scifi/fantasy. Which is good, and important, given my love for writing it. My favorite cyberpunk novel is Starfish by Peter Watts. My favorite Scifi is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (even though I’ve read none of the subsequent novels written in the same universe). My favorite novel of all time is Drood by Simmons.

Yet.

It gets such a bad rap. Disinterest, perhaps, given this day of Science and Realism. Yet some of the biggest movies are scifi and fantasy, with superheroes thrown in to mix the two together. I’ve been in enough homes to know how important the murder/mystery genre is, how important the horror genre is. How important the romance genre is. But I also recognized how much of it is simply fluff. Something to do in the free time. A hobby to fill the space with silence.

I don’t know where my tangent is going, but everything I do goes back to my writing, what I pursue, how I pursue it. People like Simmons are so few and far between. People like Card, as well. I’m torn between reading and writing, mostly because reading takes up so much time. Writing takes up three times as much. Or, it should.

The single piece of advice I hear from other writers is to read read read. It doesn’t help me. Real life stuff, people being people interacting with each other, works a little. Dreaming at night, surprisingly (or not), alters everything about the day after. Living like this blooms my writing to great heights. When I was younger? High school to younger? I read everything I could get my hands on. But now? Most of what I read? I know I can do much better.

Except for that damn Simmons. So good.

Studying the Greats

I always wonder what most people see a “great writer” to be. I’m always walking around, thinking about it, whether anyone else would find my authorly loves paralleled. I know authorly isn’t a word. I like to create them, from time to time, because sometimes the language doesn’t include my thought. Insert Inuit names for snow here.

I’d divide my favorite authors into two categories: modern and classic. By “classic,” of course, I mean they stand the test of time, and the author is not currently alive. Since I’ve seen so many readers posting their fav 15 on Facebook, with the blithe expectation that a “good” friend will pass it on, I’ve decided to do something similar here, although nobody’s expected to extend the “chain” past me.

If, by some chance, you do, link it to me so I can go check your preferences out. I’d love to see an overall consensus.

Classic:
1 Edgar Allan Poe (The Telltale Heart, The Raven, etc)
2 H. P. Lovecraft (The Color out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness, Thanatopsis)
3 Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote)
4 Dante (Inferno)
5 Milton (Paradise Lost)
6 Andre Dumas (3 Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo)
7 Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities)
8 T.S. Eliot (Four Quartets)
9 Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)
10 Washington Irving (Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip van Winkle)
11 Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden)
12 Ovid (Metamorphoses)
13 Jung (Archetypes, Liber Novus)
14 Mark Twain (Letters from Earth, Autobiography)
15 J. R. R. Tolkien (Penthouse Letters. Just kidding)

Modern:
1 Dan Simmons (Drood, Carrion Comfort, Hyperion)
2 Stephen King (The Shining, Dark Tower series)
3 Mark Z. Danielewski (House of Leaves)
4 Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game series)
5 Greg Bear (Legacy)
6 Peter Watts (Starfish series)
7 Toni Morrison (Sula, Jazz, Beloved)
8 Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind)
9 Susan Mitchell (Erotikon)
10 Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
11 Stephen Baxter (Evolution)
12 Guy Gavriel Kay (The Last Light of the Sun)
13 Thomas Moore (Dark Nights of the Soul)
14 Charles de Lint (Moonheart)
15 Dean Koontz (Frankenstein series, Phantoms)

 

What are YOUR favorites?

(I recommend reading any single author I have listed, although please recognize my penchant for horror, fantasy, supernatural.)

St. Louis Owns Me

Aaaah. I missed my SLPA (St. Louis Publishing Association) meeting this month, and it’s killin’ me! Stupid (insert excuse here)!

This place, this city, is a city of brick. I’ve said it before, but I’ve spent so much time driving around this city (and the surrounding… suburbs? Everything seems swallowed up by St. Louis), I can’t help but feel full-throttle awe about this place.

I started writing Of Salt and Wine four years before I moved here, and I had decided the MC lived in St. Louis (on Forest Park Avenue, no less. I made his parents Rich SOBs, in hindsight) with little experience, knowledge, or understanding of the place. Given it’s a paranormal-slanting, modern fantasy with ghosts and demons, I figured it fit pretty well with the somewhat Little Orleans feel to the city. So much abandoned (as I’d assume every city) space, so many stories buried beneath stories (did you know, near the intersection of Brentwood Blvd and Manchester, there’s a series of caves a-la Meramac that anyone wishing to dig has to take special care not to disturb, or else risk a sinkhole?), and so much heritage it’s a little overwhelming when I try to map it out.

I might move Soren from Forest Park Ave. He’s not that rich. He isn’t rich at all, actually. Up until the story starts, he was homeless (by choice). Maybe somewhere near Webster Groves…

I’m darn certain book two of the series, where before he went into Shawnee National Forest to find a deserted mineshaft and save some Ghost Hunters from monsters, WILL be moved to that Brentwood/Manchester location, in the carved-out basement of some untenanted home beside a church. I know that intersection so well I could drive there in my sleep. Maybe. It’s also near where the SLPA has its meetings.

And the architecture. Holy. Crap. This place is old. Old old old. ’60’s old. ’50’s old. Older still. And the new stuff doesn’t fit. Siding, in most areas, sticks out like a sore thumb. NON-brick homes seem strange. And don’t get me started on Balwin. Some of the most scenic locations I’ve ever seen (’round these parts).

Obsessively listening to Glitch Mob of late. Not the latest album–not cohesive enough for me to zone. But Drink the Sea? Yes. And Bastille. And MS MR. And Florence. And Silversun Pickups. MMMm-hmm.

I hope everyone has a great rest of their weekend. I’m ordering pizza.