Sunshine Awards

Something to soothe.

Something to soothe.

Hey I haven’t written much of late. If anyone’s still following me, I warned you a year ago this would happen. It’s the way of my job. I LOVE MY JOB. Not really. But I want to write, so I’m forcing myself to pander some inkling of a post to those who want to read of me. A little.

Anyway, Miss Vinegar over at (Piss, Coffee, and Vinegar) nominated, well, everyone she knows to do this. Since she (somewhat) knows me, I’ll dracula bite. I must:

1) Thank the Blog who nominated me
2) Answer the previous blogger’s eleven questions
3) Nominate bloggers to answer similar 11 questions. Usually writing-related. I think. I’ll make it so.

SO THANK YOU FOR NOT NOMINATING ME YET NOMINATING ME NONETHELESS, Emily.

HERE ARE YOUR ANSWERS. ENJOY!

1) If you had to survive on one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

An oddly complicated question, given the parameters. I’m sure the expected response is something like “Pizza” or “jerky,” but if I’m to answer truthfully, and with the greatest level of creativity, I’d say Stew. Given the vast array of ingredients that could go into stew, my palate boredom would be much less than something with pizza. Or jerky.

On the other hand, if I were to say my favorite food in the world to eat, I’d have to say salt and pepper squid from a delicious hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place in the middle of nowhere. I love food…

2) What’s more important in a story: character, plot, or voice? 

Voice. Hands down. I can stomach weak characters. I can stomach cliche plot. I can’t stomach a weak voice. I love this question. Voice introduces so much to the story that would leave everything else tone-deaf. I have often set down books with strong characters, strong plot, and an uncertain, or meandering, or inconsistent voice.

Books with (my idea of) a weak voice:
First three (3) Harry Potter books,
Twilight books,
Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk (DISCLAIMER! I LOVE THIS MAN’S WRITING!) (Also note: italicizing all book titles for this post due to the use of Bold for question headings)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggars

I hope I didn’t just make a bunch of enemies.

3) What’s the first book you remember being deeply affected by?

Windchaser, a Dinotopia series book. The first one in the series, in fact. It cemented a very antiqued interest in complex emotional characters while simultaneously kindling a love for adventure books and exploration reminiscent of 18th century seafaring journeys. Plus the idea of arriving on an undiscovered island full of sentient dinosaurs via dolphin back seemed quite fantastical, without the magic, a vein of the fantasy genre I still write in (mostly) today.

4) How important is good grammar in a novel to you?

As important as a strong voice. If you don’t write with skill, even if it is simple and direct and without flourish, you lose me as a reader. The ONLY exception I see to this is a writer so skilled at writing he knows how to bend, or break, the rules of grammar. Take Finnegan’s Wake, for example. Read two sentences into that and you know you aren’t in Kansas anymore. And it’s brilliant.

5) Would you rather get blackout drunk in front of
A) Your mother-in-law, or
B) Your boss?

Boss. My boss is a laid back, carefree cowboy. He’d shake his head, all embarrassed-like, and give me shit for the rest of my days working. My mom, on the other hand, wouldn’t ever let me live it down. I’d suddenly be a danger to myself, needing observation, and quite possibly suicidal. Nope. B, please.

6) In honor of the season, tell me one good memory you have about Halloween as a child. (The first year I was diabetic for Halloween, my dad traded me my candy for a guitar. My dad is, obviously, very cool.)

I don’t remember much, but when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I built my own Halloween costume out of Constructs, an (at the time) futuristic type of lincoln logs. I spent hours on it, and I managed to make a praying mantis headpiece (really difficult to wear) and a pair of splayed wings in the back. I finished it up with a bit of construction paper taped on the wings to achieve a “rainbow” effect, and viola. I was a praying mantis. None of my classmates understood or cared about it, but the teachers were impressed. I was happy as can be to have done it. I wonder where that can-do attitude is nowadays…

7) One word or phrase that really annoys you.

“It is what it is.” No kidding, it is. It’s pointless filler for a completely different meaning intended. “I can’t change it” works SO MUCH BETTER, and it conveys the exact thing you wish to communicate. I recently caught myself mid-twitch when someone said it. And on top of that, it isn’t even true half the time. You CAN change it, but you don’t want the responsibility of doing so, therefore use passive voice to push off the idea that you can actually affect a change. “It is what it is.” “Yeah, but you can change that.” “I guess you’re right. Whatever.” Blah.

8) Give me five single words that describe your writing style.

Florid, divergent (from definition 2 of dictionary.com), complex, introspective, FUN!

9) What’s the best part of an average day for you?

There’s a little someone I love talking to. It doesn’t happen terribly often–usually we just text throughout the day–but talking to her elevates my day to a new level. I love being outside, even in the rain. I’m strange like that. Mostly talking to her.

10) If you’re writing, somebody somewhere encouraged you to do it. Who?

I hated to write when growing up. I was terrible at it (third grade), and it drove me nuts I couldn’t write as fast as my parents. My father had one of the first commercially available computers, and he wrote on it quite quickly. Nobody ever encouraged me to write, though. By fifth grade I wrote at a decent speed, home row keys and everything, and I dreamed vivid dreams. So being able to write them down became a kind of therapeutic way to handle them. That being said, even though I won an award in 8th grade for a short story (best in all the city), nobody’s ever encouraged me to write. In fact, both my parents preferred I wouldn’t. Even college professors told me to give up that dream and work on something more income-worthy. Being grounded frequently for my sharp mouth, confined to my room quite often and unable to talk to people about things led me to simply sit down and write things down. My first book was written entirely on a yellow pad of paper. Page after page. A fanfic of Dinotopia, in fact. Haha

11) What makes you decide a story is bad?

Poorly researched details usually slow me to a stop. Poorly thought-out characters also hurt a lot. If a writer posits his MC is “brilliant,” that character better damn well be brilliant. If the setting is a bustling desert city, that city better be dry, people better be dressed right, and I better feel the desert. Also. Writers who cut corners because a bunch of writing may be difficult irks me to no end. A novel I tried to read involved a courtesan who became advisor to the king, from nothing. She walked into a city on one page, opened a bakery the next, and sold sweetbreads to royalty on the third. The writer literally cut out all the meatiest parts of the story. Why? Because she doesn’t have the writing chops. Bad story. Bad!

And pace. I have a lot of opinions on this question. Haha Poor pace, poor momentum really hurt a story. Five pages of intricate set-up for a character and setting, all detailed and perfected and descriptive, and page six switches perspective to the girl he just met, leaving all that info behind for three chapters.

I don’t know if anyone still reads my stuff, so I can’t really nominate anyone. I’ve kept up on several bloggers throughout the past year, and they’ve provided me with a lot of enjoyment and entertainment (and insight). ScifiFantasyLitChick, for one, doggedly reviews and discusses her favorite writing/TV/Movies with SPUNK and an awkward vulnerability I’ve grown to love. In particular I enjoyed her Gotham reviews (and since I recently started watching the series on Netflix, I went back and reread her insights. SPOT ON). Confessions of a Broccoli Addict for two: lighter, shorter posts usually adorn this blogger’s page, with a mix of insight and discussion. This blog is a warm teacup full of words, meant to be sipped. A new blogger and personal RL friend of mine decided to start up a small project here on wordpress, Soccer Parent Etiquette. A Guide. Current exploits include rocking out, sucking up as much politics as he can, and a brand of sarcasm that makes you laugh if it isn’t directed at you. Finally, I’m a bit of a fanboy for this writer: S. Zainab Williams dominates the ethereal comic/graphic novel scene with finesse and gothic skill. She also knows the importance of the business side more than most I’ve found, and she’s living her dream.

Anyway! Me 11 questions:

  1. Are you more of an Early Bird Coffee or Night Owl Energy Drink person? AND WHY!?
  2. What is your favorite genre of music to listen to while driving? What is your favorite band and song within that genre?
  3. A lot of people nowadays get creative inspiration from movies/tv shows. What’s yours and, of course, why?
  4. You’re self-sufficient on a deserted island. Ample food, shelter, water. No interest in being saved. What are the three books you want to accompany you? Go.
  5. Do you prefer a male or female protagonist? Why? Who is your favorite?
  6. What makes you decide a story is bad? (reused from previous survey. Love the question)
  7. NaNoWriMO: do you speak it?
  8. What is your greatest single memory of writing/creative success?
  9. What is your totem animal/creature? Why?
  10. Would you be willing to beta read for me? (pandering, I know)
  11. Spin on number 4: All the same parameters, but, you have a typewriter with reams of paper. What story would you write? Why?

Thanks for everyone who read. Given this is the kickoff day for NaNoWriMo, and I rarely do it (because work), I posted this in part to inspire (perhaps) someone to write, and in part to try and inspire myself to write. Good luck to everyone out there. And  keep the words flowing! May you all find yourselves on deserted islands with chocolate-covered bananas as far as the eye can see.

Chris

The Differences Between Podcasts and Audiobooks

Let me tell you a little story. I grew up in the midwest. I grew up in a medium-sized industry town in the middle of Illinois. It was a place where the majority of people worked blue collar at the plant or were businesspeople or whatnot. The writing scene–the creativity scene–practically didn’t exist. Granted, we had a great liberal arts college with all sorts of brilliant professors, but those doors were closed to me growing up.

Despite coming from a long line of engineers and farmers and accountants, I found my niche in writing. I needed a way to communicate my creativity, so I wrote my thoughts down. In seventh grade, I wrote a story that involved all my friends. Five friends doing awesome things. Kinda like Animorphs (if anyone remembers them). In 8th, I won the city competition for two-page story. In high school, the relationship with my first girlfriend suffered due to my love of writing.

I also played every sport you could imagine, was heavily involved in Boy Scouts, and acted in plays: all of which attributed to my well-roundedness. Being extroverted also helped me connect with just about everyone. I’m an unconventional writer in many ways.

Enter podcasting. Enter video blogging. Enter audiobooking. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when I looked at the possibility of reading my own stuff–or creating a storytelling podcast–and said, “Hell yeah. I can do that.”

Continue reading

All Jacks of All Trades…

Yet it seems, none are masters.

This blog might seem odd: I don’t exactly know where I’m going with it, except all the social media explosive SuperSites like Twitter and Facebook and even this site, WordPress, is diluting information at an incredible rate. I am officially inundated, and have come to a crossroads. A Hecate of the mind. A Genius Loci…

…Forsake actual research and dive into the humdrum of posting three times weekly, constantly retweeting or reposting or updating barely-thought information like some ADD child on Pixie Stix? Or keep things simple enough to speak about what I truly understand, and what I find as truth, beneath all this craziness?

I want to be published. In fact, I want to be published more than anything else in the world. More than getting married. More than winning the lottery. I want it so bad that I’ve been biting at the bit since fifth grade. Advice says (as they say in the Stock world): Diversify. Diversify diversify diversify. But the masters of the Market don’t. They play the market. I’m no master at the writing market, but I know enough not to diversify in areas I know little.

I could tweet ten times aday, re-posting writings from other bloggers that I found pertinent or poignent, filling the CHeisserer airwaves with… stuff… while trying to garner respect and support from the masses. I could burn out. Or I could continue writing and branch out only when I feel ready for it. I could be a jack of all trades, having a little experience here/a little there. I could, but I wonder if it’ll get me anywhere.

This might seem strange given my previous entry on Inventing Yourself. This entry goes hand-in-hand: a living resume is one thing, and preaching about things you know little about is another entirely. I am no master. I have no PhD, nor Masters from college. (Not that these titles seem to mean anything anymore: masters in their fields are often marginalized by the general populace for the inflammatory extremist, no? Or the florid exaggerator. Or the study that says Big Business Cured Cancer But Are Hiding The Truth, instead of the much more mundane truth of… no. The experiment failed, but it held promise.)

Wag the Dog or Research?

I feel you can go too far in this play at extending knowledge and be absorbed into a pingpong game where you’re a spectator who wants to win the game by himself: it’ll never happen. The truly successful people are those who step out of the established norm and create a market, or bring the market to them.

I personally feel there is too little new knowledge, or insight, out there on the web, and too many people are passing it around. Too much Infotainment. Too much vivid exaggeration that tugs at heartstrings and rams invisible talking-points home.

This may be an exaggeration: I might just be overwhelmed and frustrated. I see no use in a lot of what I see on the airwaves: most of it is discussing self-help from people who say it works. And the help does work. For them. For us? The rest? It’s a work ethic issue: we work hard, hard hard, instead of working smart. We’re all inundated to saturated desensitization. Why work when you can watch pandas masturbate on YouTube? Why pursue being known online when the Internet Denizens are dancing around with every blip of a thought on their sleeves? The internet is a place of centric thought-gathering: how does one change that?

You’re popular for a moment, then the popularity dies. Then you fight to find that popularity again, then it dies again. It feels almost like an addiction. And I get a feeling this is what being a professional writer will be: the fight to show the world you’re important. Or the fight for the world to see you’re important, and place value on your ability. And then, the next day, ReInvent Yourself.

I just don’t know how to wade through the lovers of sleeve-knowledge and find the creators, inventors, masters–for one, I wish to be one. For two, I believe I’m there, in my own right. At least partially: I love writing about writing. But that’s not all. I’m a diabetic cook. But that’s not all. I’m… psychological, interested in the occult (and study/research it), very well-educated with some very well-educated friends. So should I have multiple blogs? One for writing, one for paranormal research, one for diabetic cooking? When do I spread myself too thin? In the end, what is the point?

This blog is an experiment. When I find my voice I’ll focus on a single topic and dive. I’m fairly certain this will be for writing: I need it. I have an obsessive need to connect with everyone. I want to be a part of the writer spiderweb; I want to connect; I want to grow. I just think I’m doing a disservice to anyone reading by posting a writing entry, then a wine entry, then a diabetic entry, then a religious one. It’s all important, of course: I’m certain I’m not any more multifaceted than anyone else out there. But simplification is key, here. Not diversification. Anyone can get a Twitter account. Not anyone can consistently focus on a single topic.

I don’t want a simulacrum. I don’t want a fetish. My father said, when I was young, that if I study half an hour a night on a single topic, at the end of two years I’d be a master at it. I’ve studied a lot more than that on certain topics. Now what?

I apologize if this was disjointed. I had a stream-of-thought I had to type.

 

~x