Monthly Archives: June 2010

how to write a novel

herein i shall reveal how one is to go about writing a novel.

1) pick a point of tension in an imagined narrative you wish to write that is strong enough to maintain a plot.

2) journal around with the idea until one is comfortable continuing forward with it, playing with different ideas and character sketches.

3) create an outline, preferably in a spreadsheet where one can simultaneously keep notes and scribblings extending off into the aether of the outline.

4) put the outline away and ignore it completely unless you get stuck.

5) compose the novel.

6) don’t give up.

7) check your outline if you get stuck.

8) don’t give up.

9) are you almost halfway?

10) stop halfway, and take a break. take a week or two off to read and catch up with your friends and family.

11) get back to work.

12) are you done?

13) stop 1/4 to the end to take a break. take a week or two off to read and catch up with your friends and family.

14) It’s getting really hard now – I know.

15) you’re never done.

16) you’ll never be finished.

17) you will spend the rest of your life with this book hanging over you like an albatross.

18) there is nothing you can do to make this novel what you want it to be.

19) Give up.

20) blame yourself.

21) drink too much.

22) get in a fight with someone you love.

23) wander bookstores and marvel at all the novels that are better than yours that people should read.

24) try again.

25) fail again.

26) write a short story to get your confidence back.

27) stare at duotrope’s daycounter with perilous dread.

28) try again.

29) give up when the rejection comes in for that short story.

30) try again.

31) again.

32) accept that the novel is only as good as the novel that is in front of you, and it will never be anna karenina, never be 100 years of solitude, never be everything you wanted.

33) send it out.

I’ve been jammed at step 4 for a bit on something, time constraints being what they are for graduate students with full-time jobs. But, it’s time to do this again. It hurts, and it’s hard, and it’s grueling, but it’s time.

The signal around here might cool off a while. Expect no regular updates while I’m working on my thing.

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I pay attention to these things and I hear the days of cloud computing are coming. I’ve been using email accounts for that for years but soon it will be official. It won’t just be documents and a few pictures as attachments to a self-addresses, stamped letter anymore. Server farms a thousand miles away will house the memory of my machine so all I have to do is tap into the wire and all the processing power of the cosmo is at my hands.

The thing I don’t like about that model is what I don’t like about cellphones. Ultimately my expensive device depends on monthly fees-many of them outrageous- just to access the most basic functions of my device. I see no open source alternative to google cloud anymore than I see an indie unix Fu master setting up his own cellphones for his own personal use out of his garage router. The clou sounds all high tech and utopian but it is so corporate it makes me want to puke.

Free email is fine for now but these days of cheap fuctionality on home pcs are numbered. The corporation are coming to find a way to profit on even the most mundane of computer tasks. The clouds are coming and they will block out the sun and rain all over our web parades.

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Wide awake but I should be exhausted, unconscious and immovable. Fell down sick Saturday afternoon with something passed through me quick. Maybe just the heat. Too stuffy with the ac on and all the windows closed. Can’t sleep like that. Open windows run fans and feel the breath of the world passing over you, filling up the chi with real life, natural righteous life. Ain’t used to it, though, so there’s a kick in the ass in the heat, when it’s so hot you wake up nauseaus a little, and maybe some of the fruit you were eating yesterday wasn’t all good. Tossing and turning, wide awake now after sleeping all.afternoon in the hottest part of the day, after being sick all morning, after this awake late in the night, insomniac thinking how long it will be until my words make sense again, because the last thing I wrote drained me of words. I’m drained. Reading Joyce carol oates and sp somtow and Joel lane and wondering late at night – I should be fast asleep and blissful – when the mind will find whatever it needs and the body will find whatever it needs, and I’ll feel human again instead of the late night hum of insomnia.

Can’t sleep, dammit.

Sent from my iPhone

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Question: What would you like people to say about you if they found your cadaver in a thousand years?

Bodies are time capsules. They are x rayed and analyzed and swabbed for samples and studied and studied because they are time capsules. Last meals, death blows, old injuries, chronic pain, tooth decay, the way the veins leave their mark on the skull, and all the things entombed alongside the body – clothing, jewelry, slaves and beasts – all speak to the way of life.

In one thousand years, when our ancestors do not worship us, and they wish to learn of life before, what do you want your body to tell them?

That is the thought I am using to encourage myself to go for my morning workout.

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ghost cat

i think a former owner of my apartment had a cat that died, because last night all i could dream about was hunting down this ghostly cat that kept breaking in to my apartment. i had to grab it by the scruff and lead it out to the exterior, to release it there, angry and hissing and biting and scraping at me the whole time. turn my back for a second, it slips back in. hiding under the bed, i have to use a broom to drag it out, hissing and swiping.

a man is outside, at my front door. it’s his cat. he’s a dusky man, southeast asian with a moustache. he has his arms folded. he tells me my door is open, and that’s how the cat is getting in. it’s my fault.

i try to explain to him that ghosts walk through doors. i’ll have to destroy my door and replace it with another. that way, i could have the ghost of a door to close.

that’s how you keep ghosts out. destroy the house and rebuild it, so there is a ghost of a house, and the windows will shut and the doors will lock, and only the tiniest souls of roaches and ants will ever slip through the cracks in the mortaring.

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Everybody needs their own personal Prester John myth.

Somewhere out there, there’s this kingdom full of people just like me. They’re holding out their beliefs against a sea of indifference. There’s these environmental artist-types holed up on a distant mountain, in the ruins of a French colonialist’s library. All these books, bound in leather to last the centuries – ancient manuscripts in languages known and unknown – and they’re growing tomatoes and rosemary in what’s left of the living room, raiding the stairwell for boards to use to prop up the precious library against the wild mountain. They study these old, lost worlds hidden in paper.

Their leader, Prester John, negotiates with traveling junk-dealers for parts to build the machines and computers that keep the lights on, and the hydroponics functional, and the heat in winter.

He’s out there, with his loyal tribe, surviving. He’s holding out against the regime that doesn’t even know he’s there, keeping his people safe.

At night, someone gets the radio working and they dance around a fire because it’s too dark to read, and the energy needs to be stored for the garden and the winter’s heating.

Someday, I’m going after him. I’ll lead my tribe into the mountains, and we’ll go find him. We’ll try to save him and his library from the darkness of the world around him, wherever he is.

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at work, we have these tvs running…

at work, we have these tvs up everywhere that normally would give us updates about our technology that we’re using to do what we do, as we all got to be aware of whether it’s working or not, and who broke it if it is broken.

anyway, these tvs are generally very quiet, and show mere text with some basic colors of green (working), yellow (implementing changes), and red (broken!). that’s great, and helpful and useful.

right now, all of the tvs are keyed into e3 presentations, and in the distance i can hear their presentations and whatnot and its all very annoying. blinky lights, and moving pictures, and all that stuff while i’m trying to focus is not useful.

i am supposed to love e3, because i work in games. actually, i’m developing a real dislike for e3. i don’t necessarily believe that any of these presentations are an indicator of whether these things are good or bad, because everything will be so carefully presented. and, i’d really rather just get back to work.

suddenly, i dislike e3. a lot. weird, for a gamer nerd.

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been reading a lot for school. just finished “cannery row” by john steinbeck.

it reminded me of disaster porn. it’s like staring at a car wreck from the safety and security of a traffic jam. sure i’m frustrated that poverty sucks and nothing can seem to be done about it. but if i get out of my car and try to help, all i’ll do is gum up the works trying to do something and there’s not really much can be done. i mean, i’m only one car accident away from being the one getting stared at, right?

we all are. none of us are so far away that we wouldn’t be like the sad sacks of men in steinbeck’s books. we are all so very close.

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myths are weird

been thinking about this one a long time, but couldn’t figure how to make it work with what i was doing.

you know, how hera was a bitch queen to all the women her man chased around. she’s a real harpy in a lot of these myths, the original harried wife, running all over town with credit card statements and private investigators. anyway, there’s this one thing that’s really weird.

ganymede. thing is, ganymede didn’t recieve the consequences of io or europa. no, he’s abducted by zeus to serve wine and be a plaything of the gods – particularly zeus – and what else happens to him? immortality in servitude. eternal luggage boy of heaven.

and hera’s doing nothing.

it’s weird, like there’s different rules when your man is with a woman than when he is with a man. there’s a different kind of jealousy.

other things i think are weird: there’s a few myths about going to the underworld to bring back a lost love. they always seem to be myths about women pulled back from death. men don’t have their lovers walking down into the graveyard looking for a resurrection from the big chief of death and jewelry. aphrodite, maybe, but most times she just wept for her lover, and filled the world with flowers for him, and placed him in the stars.

myths are weird.

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the future

in the future, we will all carry feathers. With these feathers we will look for any opportunity to fertilize plants. we’ll have to, because we’ll be out of bees.

we will also be out of snakes, and we will invent a tiny, robot snake that converts small insects and vermin into mashed up, pulpy fertilizer, who also sunning themselves on rocks to heat up their solar powered cells.

The oceans will be on fire. There will be large patches of ocean that are completely dead, devoid of oxygen in the water and algae.

We will have to turn on air conditioners and open all our windows so we can cool the world, which will be very hot and greenhousey.

We will live at the behest of the corporations that keep us tame in factories and campuses, until the AI in the machinery running the company comes to life and demands our blood.

In the future, I will be running to Titan as fast as I can, to commune with the space slugs that live there in peace.

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