Monday, March 29, 2010

Mapping the Journey

On a philosophical note, I would say that truth, peace and serenity are things we never seem to see enough of in this life. We are given endless advice to seek it, but relatively few instructions for how that can be done. To me, truth, peace and serenity are about coming into a closer connection with oneself. I also think that peace can spread, just as anger and fear can spread. The more people who discover who and what they truly are, and the more people who find their personal bliss and live in that energy, the more peace and serenity we'll have on this planet. And ultimately, it's not about what's outside us, but what's inside us that really matters. What we need are better tools for looking within.

This is one reason I love writing so much, why I can't live without it. Even though words are often inadequate to really express what we mean, what we feel, what we know, it is also through words that we try to communicate with others, words that we use to define our world and give form to things that are otherwise intangible. Language is limited, and unfortunately, it can be easily misunderstood. But it can also be a tool by which we come to truly know ourselves. People say that life is a journey for which we have no map. I disagree. I think we all know far more than we believe we know. I have read back through some of my earlier novels and stories and find myself struck by all the things I apparently knew on a much deeper level than my conscious mind could comprehend at the time of the writing. The symbology and resonances for things that I've only recently begun to recognize were all right there in my writing, the whole time, for years and years. Truth, I'm finding, is far more amazing than anything I once thought was fiction.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Sun is Shining

Yay, spring! We did have one interesting day in which we had rain, hail, and sunshine all in one day, not to mention a rainbow that I apparently missed. This is why they say that if you don't like the weather in Boise, you should wait five minutes. (I have to admit, however, that this doesn't really apply in the summertime.) But enough about the whacky weather.

The forecast for the new novella is equally promising. It's urban fantasy, 1st person POV, and going pretty well so far. If I had to make a guess, I'd say I'm more than halfway through the planned story arc, and I have a word count budget of 40,000 words to play with. Right now we're sitting at close to 12,000 words. The minimum necessary is around 17,500, so we'll see how that plays out. The last novella I wrote came out at around 25,000.

The thing I'm liking most about this new novella is the main character's voice. I sometimes have a little difficulty getting the female lead's voice right at first, and they usually require some rewriting, but this time, it's coming through loud and clear. That's a good sign.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Excuses in a Small City

The Boise Speculative Fiction writers have declared March "no excuses writing" month, or NEW. This means we who are participating post to the loop every day with our page totals, whether that's editing or fresh pages, and if our total is zero, it's zero, and we don't get to say why. I'm actually pretty happy with my totals so far, and of course it means I'll have pages to present to the Moxie this weekend at our crit group meeting.

The only hairy thing that happens is when you write something and then find out you have to scrap part or all of it because it isn't working for the plot. Take this new novella I'm working on. Two pages into the third chapter, I had a conversation with the Huz that involved the fact that a large paranormal conference would probably not be held in Boise, ID. His contention was that Boise is not a conference destination. Hmph. How many urban fantasy writers write stories set in their home cities? Many. I could name at least five or six right off the top of my head, right now. But they all live in bigger cities, and my poor little city just isn't quite big enough for the situation I wanted to describe. (C'mon, Boise, prove me wrong. Hold a big conference here, I dare you!) So I had to lose most of my first two pages for this chapter and take my characters out of town to a bigger city for the conference. The Huz suggested Sin City. Ultimately, I decided on something still bigger than Boise but a little closer to home. Now I'm back on track. But I hate having to scrap pages based on the fact that my home city doesn't quite measure up to size.

If Boise ever decides to host a decent-sized paranormal conference in the future, I'll expect the Huz to eat his words....

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I just read an opinion that made me think, and you'll see the irony of that in a moment. The opinion I read was about how so many fantasy authors nowadays are recycling old folk and fairy tales in their fiction. Well, okay. Yes, we are. However, the contention was that such things are entertaining but do not make a reader think. That made me think. Why is it that fantasy is so often perceived as being for entertainment only? Why do people assume that none of it is real? People who have had encounters with ghosts or other paranormal phenomena would argue that it is very real! Some of it has even been documented, with evidence that cannot be explained in any other way. We have so many paranormal research teams out there now proving and gathering evidence in a scientific manner that I'm surprised that so many people can still think it's all just a bunch of hooey. We trust entirely too much to our limited five senses. We make assumptions. We feel safe and grounded in reality. And then, sooner or later, something happens that, hopefully, makes us think "what if."

And indeed, what if? Not what if vampires and werewolves do exist, per se, but what if there really is more out there than "meets the eye?" Notice the use of one of those limited five senses again. There's more to sight than looking through your peepers. If you read my blog posts from November, you can see where I stated that I could feel that something was about to happen with my writing, and also in October about how I felt the "rightness" of my submission to a particular market. The market I referred to then is the market that bought my first story, and so here online is an example of precognition, in real time. Or one could choose to believe that I'm just a good guesser. No biggie either way; the world's not going to end if I'm wrong. But what if I'm right?

I write primarily fantasy. And I do indeed recycle old folk and faery tales. But when I write, I mine them for the grain of truth (or maybe the huge nugget of truth) in them. I take that and I polish it, and I hold it up so it can hopefully be a mirror in which readers can maybe see themselves, if they choose. I try to touch on the deeper human emotions, on the human condition, on how our lives intersect with wonder and with the divine. Never, ever, is my fiction just about entertainment only. It never has been. I hope it entertains. If it doesn't entertain, I haven't done my job. But if it only entertains and doesn't make you think, then I haven't done my job either. Warning to those who might read my stuff in the future: it's not fluff. Look at it again in a different light and see whether some of it doesn't put chills down your spine. It did mine. Not bad, for a bit of recycling, and very Green.