This and That

I feel like I tell and tell and tell that I’m actually doing something with myself, and yet offer no proof. So, let me share a bit about what I’m working on now – if you have projects you’re working on, please, shamelessly promote in the comments below!

At present, I am in the midst of editing the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2012 – Paper Moon on a Crystal Sea. I’m a horror at writing pitches, I’ve learned, so let me just offer you a little excerpt:

The place he was in was dark and empty, a great black void that threatened to swallow him entirely. He couldn’t feel his own presence, couldn’t make out whether he still had all his limbs, his breath, his being. He was utterly alone.

Somehow the sensation hit him that though he did not move, a cold breeze was blowing against his skin, raising goosebumps. His stomach was hot inside, roiling, ready to cast up it’s accounts. Dread rolled through him like a mighty wave, threatening to overcome him altogether.

A door opened somewhere. In the blackness, movement stirred about him and something burning and furiously painful was swallowing up his feet and ankles. He knew nothing, nothing at all, except that he was horribly, horribly afraid.

Padget sat up with a sharp cry, sweat pooled at his collar bones and on his temples. Cold white light washed over him through the open window, and beyond it he could hear the hooting of owls and the cries of a lone wolf. He was not a man given to nightmares. Why, then, did he wake each night to a sense of utter loneliness and despair?

Padgett said on the edge of his bed, the ice of the floor on his bare feet a welcome sensation of truth and the real world. His grandmother had had the Sight. He didn’t want to be burdened with such a thing, and yet the weight resting across his shoulders, invisible but bowing them all the same, told him that perhaps the thing he had feared most was true.

When he was just a lad, perhaps six or seven, before he’d come to Hamsberg House, he’d heard a young woman who came to his grandmother because she believed she’d been given the Sight. He remembered his grandmother as a tiny bird of a woman, hair white as ripe wheat, rocking in her wooden spindle rocking chair and staring into space through eyes blue and rheumy.

“You see, I see things sometimes, and sometimes they come true,” the girl had whispered hesitantly, sitting at his grandmother’s feet on a stool, pregnant belly straining her plain dress. “I think perhaps I have the Sight, because every time I see something in my mind and then it comes true, I have the strangest feeling.”

“Those things are mere coincidences,” his grandmother had said firmly. She didn’t believe in coddling, beating around the bush, or any other form of tenderness really. “If you had the Sight, you’d know it. It’d be weighing down your heart, you wouldn’t be able to escape it and you certainly wouldn’t doubt it.”

“But how come I can predict the futures?” the girl asked. “Have I got a bit of prophetess in me then?”

Padgett’s grandmother had laughed in the poor girl’s face. “You haven’t got anything but an imagination and a bit of wishful thinking, girl.” She leaned in close. “No mere man or woman can see the future. There is no future. There’s a thousand futures, and their all changing every moment. Suppose a great lord decides to have eggs for breakfast and not cakes. There’s a thousand futures changed in that one moment. Suppose you take the left fork not the right, suppose your child laughs instead of cries, suppose your husband works a half hour more in the fields instead of coming straight home. There’s a hundred thousand, maybe a million futures, all in it and all mixed around. Every decision made changes all the futures around it, you see. So no one can know what the future is, because there isn’t one.”

“What about your gift then? What is the Sight if it isn’t knowing the future?”

“The Sight is more of an inclination really. It’s an understanding about the present that might tell you something about a certain future, a future that grows more likely each time you See it. With every decision made that leads in that direction, that future gets more determined to be Seen. It’s something like the world’s way of trying to prevent that future from ever coming to be.” His grandmother had leaned down right in the girl’s face, touching the girl’s smooth, flushed cheek with her twisted hand. “The Sight is a terrible burden, girl. Don’t be sorry you haven’t gotten. Be grateful you’ve escaped.”

For sure and for certain, the heavy cloud hanging over him was the Sight and no mistaking it. The sheer horror of it, the agony of the flames as they licked up his legs, the sweat-soaked terror of being utterly alone and defenseless against a nameless evil – such a thing wasn’t common to man. So what in heaven’s name was Padgett supposed to be Seeing? For such a thing named so boldly, there was so very much of it that left him blind.

As you can see, it is quite clearly in need of dire editing, but it’s the novel I am most proud of and therefore would really like to edit and perhaps seek representation for.

I’m also writing a new novel, when editing gets too nitpicky. The  last excerpt was quite long, so I’ll just give you the pitch and a tiny bit of it:

Hannah Emery likes the middle of things – no terrifying heights and no devastating lows. The third of five kids, her weeknights are crammed with friends and studying stupid geometry proofs, and her weekends filled with show choir performances and cross country meets. When she runs, the world fades away and it’s all about the rush. What she doesn’t realize is the rush is about to end.
The day Hannah’s school is attacked is bad enough – but then the main attacker turns out to be a woman who claims to have a secret about Hannah’s past. And along with that secret, this dark woman brings a strange request. What may destroy Hannah, and those she loves most, is that no is not an option.

Wild hair – truly wild, enough hair for three people, blonde curls that bushed out around her like an obscene spiraling halo. Piercing eyes, fire and brilliant blue. The eyes did not blink, the gaze did not waver.

The corners of the woman’s rosebud mouth slid upwards.

“Hannah.”

Hannah shuddered. Her name slid from the woman’s lips like a blessing turned to curse, reeking of familiarity that didn’t belong.

“Ladies and gentleman, sit tight for a few minutes. The guest of honor has arrived. You can resume normal operations soon enough.” The man’s voice, at once light in the room and thundering through the speakers, stirred Hannah beyond the threshold. She moved like a puppet, knees weak and heart thundering in her ears, drawn towards the horror before her even as her mind screamed to run, run, run.

Then, to her surprise, the man left. When he brushed past her the leather of his jacket swished butter-like against her arm and Hannah felt faint.

The woman had still not blinked, nor turned her gaze from Hannah.

“Oh, Hannah. You’re almost exactly as I imagined you would be.”

It’s embarrassing to post unedited things, but I think it’s good, too – after all, we’re each only human, aren’t we?

Anyways, in between these two things I’m still writing some short stories and a few flash fiction pieces, just for fun. What are you working on these days?

 

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Platforms

No, not those shoes people used to wear. They were ugly. And I’m allowed to say that, because I had a pair of sandals that were in that style, and I regret it deeply to this day.

I mean, what platforms do you find serve you the best as you try to put yourself out into the wild, wonderful world of the internet?

There’s so many options to choose from and, at least at this point in my life, I couldn’t possibly manage more than three, and that would be stretching it.

Twitter I’m trying to use more, that’s a quick way of posting updates and offering comments, and the hashtags provide a great way of finding people with similar interests and pursuits – though I have noticed that it’s hard to find other people, like me, who are just getting started and get out there, instead of already famous people. Not that I don’t like famous people, I just don’t think they need me to build their network.

Facebook I haven’t even attempted to use as a platform, simply because I feel the maintenance would be unequal to the value. Unless, perhaps one of you can explain why you use it and how?

I like blogging, that’s my most natural mode of expression and has already been leading to some great opportunities to meet, network, and explore the creative community.  It also feeds my natural, writerly narcissistic self.

But on top of these three I’ve heard of people using Pinterest, Instagram, and various writing websites, and I know there’s many more out there that I don’t even know about. I just find it overwhelming, with all the options, and sometimes it seems like there’s so much networking to be done that there’s no time to actually write!

Also, how often do you update various things? When I’m at prime, no other things really going on, I can blog three-four times per week, send out tweets maybe three per night four to five nights per week, and participate moderately actively on one writing website. And yet I see people who have crazy numbers of tweets, a gazillion posts on their blogs, and still maintain active Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and actively work the forums on various sites.

I have no idea how they do it.

So tell me – what platforms work for you? How often do you use them? And most importantly, how do you balance marketing and building those platforms with the true nitty gritty of crafting and creating?

The Case for Day Jobs: Why Every Artist Needs One

Yes, you see that right. I’m saying it.

I think everyone who creates – artists of every style and form, writers, musicians, designers, dancers, all of us – should have another type of job.

No matter how successful: if you’re me, typing words as fast as you can and every once in a while when the moon is full and the river is high submitting a story to a journal and then cowering in the corner, or whether you’re famous for your work and quite wealthy – in which case, why are you here? – you need a day job.

I’ll tell you why, before you can even ask.

Because it connects you to the world around you. Creative expression should never be just about you, in my opinion. Mind, I’m not saying you should bow to popular influences, or crush something inside of you because it might be rejected. Never be less than honest in your work.

But people who can create have gifts the world wants, and the world needs.

Now, there’s a very funny episode on The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon decides he’s going to adopt menial labor to help him battle through solving some massively complicated something or other, and it works. It’s hilarious. But that’s not quite what I have in mind, although if that’s your thing, than go for it.

But any job – scientist, postal worker, teacher, nurse, secretary, social worker, office worker, accountant, label-maker…anything that forces you into the lives of other people and slams you up against the world as it really is.

Sometimes, particularly when the alarm goes off, I like to dream of living The Life, where I sit in lovely sunshine, sipping coffee to birdsong and classical music, my fingers tripping lightly across the keys of my computer. Or even throwing things, wearing scarves in a chilly room, and mumbling to myself in the madness of words not coming together.

But that’s not life. Life is the little old lady who used to tell me the same story every night, about how she met her husband on a blind date, wearing a leopard print jacket, and he said when he first saw her, “That’s the one for me” and handed her his fraternity pin.

Life is the mother grieving over her lost child, and not having a single word that would suffice to ease her pain.

Life is office gossip, mortgages, leaking oil, vacuuming, adding up a checkbook, and any other number of wonderful and random experiences that aren’t found locked away in your computer, dance studio, sketchpad, or instrument.

And unless you get out there and live it, I truly believe your words are nothing more than painted letters on an aging page.

Climbing Out of the Grave

And I’m back. Did you think I’d fallen off the face of the  earth?

Don’t worry, so did I.

If it makes you feel any better, I’m currently wearing things to work that I am ashamed to admit I still own. That’s because everything else I own is dirty.

There are mounds of undone dishes. I have to wash a fork if I want to use one for supper.

I haven’t even cleaned the bathroom counter in a week, and if there’s anything I loathe, it’s a dirty bathroom counter.

Somewhere in my admissions paperwork, there must have been a clause about signing my life away, because I got slammed with double fifteen page papers, one hard and the other a harrowing nightmare.

But, now they’re over.

The world is so, so beautiful. Even the snow is pretty.

And best of all, my words get to be my own again – not given to professors, not swapped for a letter grade, not exchanged for a step down the path to a higher level in my career.

Mine. All mine. Like a three year old hoarding chocolate chip cookies.

I love chocolate chip cookies.

Anyways, ridiculous childhood metaphors aside, it’s good to be back. I missed posting. I missed writing. I missed all that stuff.

I don’t believe that you have to create every single day, but I believe that when you’re a creator who cannot create for whatever reason, that desire sings in your veins with strength that’ll kill you if you don’t let it free eventually.

I’ve also had time – in between bouts of staring at my ceiling, bicycling out my aggression, and trying to keep my face from landing on the keyboard in exhaustion – to think up many questions and thoughts for you all to ponder and give me your opinions on.  Be excited! I’m finally free!