Who Is Invincible

Who Is Invincible

I have a very short story in the latest issue of Corium. It’s called “Werewolf”.

I finally sent out that Antarctica story. It’s one of the longer things I’ve worked on lately. I am crossing my fingers and toes that it finds a home.

Sometimes in my job I spend a lot of time playing with numbers and listening to music in a haunted mansion. I bought a notebook and started writing longhand again. I have more space in my life to write than I did when I was juggling three jobs, but I’m still learning how to carve out time for myself. I keep taking on freelance projects and side jobs. I spend some nights and weekends writing things for some people and teaching things to other people. It’s difficult to unlearn the perma-hustle.

In between work and work and running around Brooklyn, I’ve been thinking about comic books. I started listening to Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men on my way to and from work. The X-Men are one of my favorite superhero teams of all time, and I am a sucker for completely bonkers continuity. Comics are a huge influence on how I think about fiction, and I am itching to write some superhero fiction after I get done with the tiny haunted house piece I’m working on.

 

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The Unexpected Thing

Prospect Park

I started running last week. I am still running this week, so hopefully I will be running next week as well.

I am 25. I ran as a kid, but only in the context of games. I hated running for running’s sake. Like a lot of bookish kids, I was asthmatic.

I outgrew my asthma. So when a friend asked me to go running with her last week, I shrugged and put on my sneakers.

It’s weird, having a body that is in some ways more functional than the one I had as a child. I still associate running with the feeling of my lungs being squeezed in an enormous fist. This time, though, my legs moved and kept moving. My lungs took in air and sent oxygen to my blood. Everything worked.

I ran for half a mile before I had to stop. I am not good at running. But as I get older, I find that I am more likely to take on activities that I am not good at.

So, a few months ago I began working my way through Learn Python The Hard Way. I’m interested in the internet of/with things. I’m interested in reading and writing electronic text. It’s about time that I actually start learning how to make the things I want to make. I’m hoping to get a practice project or two up here soon.

I think that writing has made me braver and more stubborn. I know that you have to work at something to get better at it. I am used to the idea that valuable things are often difficult.

Right now I am writing and sending things out. I will let you know if anything finds a home.

In the meantime, I’ll keep working.

Clarion West Write-a-thon 2k13

It’s that time again. I’m participating in this year’s Clarion West Write-a-thon. The Write-a-thon runs for six weeks: June 23rd through August 3rd. My goal this year is the same modest goal I had last year: complete and polish a story. Maybe two, if I press my nose to the grindstone. In the spirit of Clarion West, I’m working on something science fictional. My secondary goal is to form some better writing habits. I’m going to try to work for an hour a day, five days a week. By the end of the six weeks, hopefully I’ll have made working on my own projects a solid part of my workweek.

I’ll be posting here about my progress and process.

You can sponsor me, if you like. Proceeds benefit the Clarion Foundation.

1Q84 and the End of the World

I started reading 1Q84 late last evening. I’d been putting it off. After Dark, Murakami’s last novel, was a slender thing that seemed to end too soon. I wanted to read 1Q84 slowly, carefully. I wanted to make it last.

I read the first two chapters last night before bed. Halfway through the second chapter, my fingers were eagerly drumming on the edges of the pages. As soon as I finished, I grabbed a notepad and ballpoint pen and began to write. I didn’t have the patience to go upstairs to get my laptop and wait for it to power up. I needed to immediately scrawl words across a page.

I first encountered Haruki Murakami when I was about 16 or 17. It was in the fiction section at the main branch of the Charleston Public Library. The main branch of that library system was a very good one, and I spent a lot of time there during the five years I lived in South Carolina, and afterwards when I would come down from Connecticut to visit my mother. My memories of that library are very vivid. I remember how it smelled: book glue, new shelving, highly conditioned air.

This was before Goodreads and literary social networking. I read novels voraciously, but with very little guidance. I enjoyed my English classes in school, but those classes usually didn’t put post-modern fiction, or foreign novels, or science fiction on the syllabus. I was on my own. I would discover an author I liked, and then methodically work my way through every single book by that author at my library’s particular branch. I read Philip K. Dick that way, and Kurt Vonnegut, and William Gibson. I had no one to talk to about those books. My friends liked books, but not always the same books that I did. I read in a vacuum. I don’t remember how Murakami’s name was first given to me. I think I read a sentence somewhere that compared him to Philip K. Dick. That was enough.

I went to the “M” section of the library. After reading through the jackets of the various Murakami novels, I picked out Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I read through the book in under a week. Afterwards, I was completely blasted. I felt like something had written something especially for me, directly to me.

Soon afterwards, I began writing fiction for the first time after years of writing poetry. My entire brain switched gears.

I then proceeded read every Murakami novel ever written. Later, in college, a writing professor introduced me to Murakami’s short fiction. I read all of those collections, too. I’m caught up now, so I have to wait years between new novels. Sometimes I go back and re-read. Every time I encounter Murakami, though, it always triggers a flurry of productivity in regards to my own projects.

Nowadays I have plenty of friends who are happy to talk about Murakami with me, but sometimes I still think about my teenage self wedged into a gap between the stacks at the CPL, reading her first Murakami novel, and feeling like she and he were the only two people left in the world.

The Spaces They Inhabit

Was it overly ambitious for me to set the goal of writing, finishing, and editing a science fictional yarn for the Clarion West Write-a-thon this year?

Probably. I’m spending July 3 – July 15 travelling across the country, and before that I packed my entire house into a relocation cube and shipped it off the rural Massachusetts, where I’ll be spending the next few months. Despite all this, or perhaps because of all this, I’ve actually been doing a quite a bit of writing. I have a 6,782 word skeletal draft of “Man of War”. It will probably get longer before it’s done, and then shorter as I edit it down.

I’ve never had much of an interest in writing hard science fiction, though I recently read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy and loved it to pieces. Usually, though, I like it when things get weird.

I like the Kirby sort of cosmic. As I visualize the people and places and things in this story I’m writing, I’m finding myself drawn repeatedly to animation and comics. Kirby, yes, but I’ve also been really enjoying the contemporary Prophet and Saga. I’m revisiting shows about sad kids in giant robots and machine ladies.

The nice thing about immersing myself in other mediums, as opposed to focusing on prose fiction, is that I don’t have to worry so much about voice creep. I also find that studying the visual language of comics is very helpful to me as a writer of prose. Good comics are lessons in economy: a single issue can convey reams of information in 20-30 pages. They build worlds, fantastic or otherwise, with incredible efficiency. Comics also remind me to think about physicality more often. What are people doing as they spit dialogue back and forth? Where are they in the spaces they inhabit? What are their bodies communicating that their words aren’t?

Comics are also great about zooming in about mundanities of the fantastic in a way that completely knocks my socks off. X-men has always been as much about interpersonal drama as it is about punching bad guys. Chadwick’s Concrete is certainly the most realistic story about an invulnerable rock man ever written. It always impresses me when a story manages to balance space aliens  and ray guns with unrequited crushes and empty afternoons. I like big ideas, but I like my big ideas mixed with small moments that tell me who these people are and why I’m supposed to care about them.

Anyway, I should really get back to working on this thing. Maybe I’ll just read a few issues of Before the Incal first?

Clarion West Write-a-thon

Thanks to the power of peer pressure, I’ve signed up for the Clarion West Write-a-thon. You can find my terrible author page here. If you like, you can donate some money to Clarion West and help keep this very wonderful workshop alive and kicking.

The Write-a-thon runs from June 18th to July 27th. My modest goal for the ‘thon is to finish and polish my current short fiction project, a story based on this short from my February Flash Fiction Fight to the Death. It’s my attempt at writing more tightly plotted science fiction, because that’s what the editors I’ve been in contact with lately have been asking for.

I’ll try to post updates, and perhaps excerpts, here. Maybe even some drafts, once I have one of those.

I hope you like squid ships, because you’re going to be hearing a lot about them over the next six weeks.