Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hiding In My Cave

No, really.
I live in a room of about 212 square foot room (the door's at a funny angle) in a boarding house. I've got a hand-modified loft-bed that's something of a family heirloom; when it arrived from the factory, it was suitable for use with a twin-size mattress, but my dad has modified it so that it now supports a queen-size. As I'm more than 6 feet tall, it's now much more comfortable. Underneath it, where the "lower bunk" might go, is where I keep my "writing space": computer desk, one bookshelf, computer/monitor/printer rig, desk lamp and photos.
Well, not really photos, more like printouts of CG images with at least a little personal significance.
It's a nice, cozy little setup, perfect for an introvert like my humble self.
The only drawback is that it's a little too comfy. As long as the Internet stays active (and I've got my own little dialup connection, on the off-chance that the boarding house's wi-fi goes down) I hardly ever have to leave, except for my part time job. In fact, I make a decent bit of extra cash writing web content, and I'm looking around for additional jobs of that nature. Who knows, maybe I'll become a free-lance writer and become even more introverted...
... but I'm also really, really lonely.
My last girlfriend was with me as the result of what amounts to the most courageous thing I've done in my life. I kissed her, at a point where we would probably have gone our separate ways and never seen each other again if I hadn't.
I'll leave the sorry details of our breakup for another time, or you can e-mail me if you're really interested. For now, she's living her life with her new boyfriend (or not, as the case may be) and I'm trying to live mine. I've still got a few friends in RealSpace, and a few other friends online. It's kind of weird, knowing that I genuinely care about the opinions and lives of people with whom I'm in contact but whom I may never actually see face-to-face, but apparently that's how Phil Lovecraft carried on most of his relationships.
But I lie there, up in my little loft bed, and wish that I had a reason to work around the boarding-house rules about "no overnight guests".
What I want is not for a girl to be delivered to me wearing a nice little bow and a smile.
What I want is the courage to go out into the world and make connections with someone. I want the strength to weather rejections, and the wit to figure out better ways to meet someone special.
Most of all, I want the qualities of spirit necessary to live alone, so I don't exude desperation.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

State of the writing

Okay. The following writing projects on the docket:
First, the paying gig: I generate content for Herballove, a site the offers sex advice and supplements based on Chinese medicine. The ongoing assignment is to write two articles per week, 400-700 words, relating to a list of approximately 50 different topics. Obviously, this is the highest priority, as I want to be a paid writer.

Next, a novel. I'm collaborating with a friend on "A Million Tomorrows". It's still in rough stages, but the concept and four of the five main characters (the villain, the 'girl', the artificially-intelligent house and the talking dog) are really interesting. Now all I have to do is build up the protagonist, and the rest of it should be easy. As it stands, I'm trying to establish why the villain is "picking" on the protagonist, out of millions of other possible candidates... and why the readers should care that this poor schmuck is being bullied at all. The villain has technical skills that leave the protagonist in the dust, and the protagonist... well, doesn't have much in terms of material goods that the villain can steal.

Finally, a 'riposte'. The same friend wrote a series of short stories that inspired me to write a twelve-chapter fanfic. I'm not completely happy with said fanfic, especially chapter five, but he was sufficiently impressed that he's borrowed one of the characters I created to use in his own next story. Assuming that it's finished, I now have all kinds of inspiration for my own "answer" to it. In essence, the protagonist of his story has made the mistake of trusting someone "much like him" who turns out to be walking a very selfish, cowardly path, but has no problem with that at all. So now, I feel obliged to run the protagonist through a path to some kind of redemption, because I feel that said protagonist could be so much more.

Gwen, the character I created, functions as a party girl. Julie, my friend's character, is trying to live a more exciting life and thinks that Gwen will be an excellent partner for seeking that goal. However, Gwen is a hollow, self-serving temptress who badly misjudges a situation and abandons her 'friend' when things get tough.

I'm now going to use a different character I created, Lynette, to provide a different example. As I'm entranced (heh) by White Wolf's "Mage" role-playing game lines (both the older "Mage: the Ascension" and the more recent "Mage: the Awakening"), I think I have lots of options for structure. Gwen might be a failed Cultist of Ecstasy, or an apostate Mastigos who never joined an Order because she does not play well with others. In contrast, Lynette upholds the Code of Ananda, though she also has the drive of an Obrimos (possibly of the Free Council, possibly of the Silver Ladder, I haven't decided). And if Julie gives her permission... Lynette will offer to find a path to redemption.

Of course, there's also the possibility that the story may bring Julie to something very primal (Thyrsus), something else quite final (Moros) and something else very fey (Acanthus, which resonates quite nicely with Julie's character). I've also got a thought about bringing in "Carnegie" (see previous posts) to offer a different tack on the Mastigos-type of personality. Specifically, I've got an idea for a scene where Lynette introduces Julie to Carnegie, then leaves them alone together (in a public place, naturally). Julie notices that Carnegie is looking after Lynette with a longing expression and asks, "How well do you know her?"

Carnegie turns to her, his craggy features softening somewhat. "Oh, I've made polite inquiries, that's for sure. Those eyes of hers cast a spell, almost without her realizing." He smiled, then shakes his head. "But rest assured that I'm not her type, and... well, we have an agreement."
"What, she's out of your league?"
Carnegie raises one eyebrow and gives a short, staccato laugh. "Oh, hardly." He tilts his head and gives her a half grin that puts a flush on Julie's face and quickens her breath. "If I really wanted to, I could show her the kind of parties that you could only dream of." A shadow falls across his eyes, and something enticing happens to his voice. "Places, sensations that would..." He catches himself, exhales slowly. "And it would be the wrong tack." He nods in her direction. "She's more than willing to have a good time, but she also wants to make sure that everyone else has a better time. Not that I have a problem with that, but it means the world... and more... to her."
He pauses, makes a little hand-wave to dismiss the very possibility that he and Lynette could ever be together. "No. What keeps her safe from me is one very simple truth." He releases a wistful sigh.
"Angels know their own."

Saturday, May 18, 2013

I live... again!

Well, not really. I've just let this particular blog lie fallow for a while.
Stuff's been happening. You know: life.

But I'm trying to grapple with that and maybe, just maybe, I'll come out on top.

First order of business: I'm still collecting RPGs. My favorite is still White Wolf Game Studios' "Mage: The Awakening", and my heartbreak from the announcement that the line was being ended has almost healed. Perhaps some time soon I'll be able to look into their re-worked Mummy RPG, or even expand my GURPS library.

Secondly, I wrote a bit of fanfiction a while back. Twelve chapters, at least two or three of which I'm still not completely happy with, but I'll get back to them when my writer's muscles are better-developed, based on characters and situations created by another online writer. They're under a pen-name, but I'll pass along links to anyone who expresses any interest. And this leads to...

Thirdly, the fellow whose characters/situations I borrowed in the previous paragraph was sufficiently impressed that he asked me to help him with not one, not two, but three "trunk novels" (writer-talk for "big ol' projects that I haven't managed to finish yet"). As this was, for me, something like Jim Butcher (of "Dresden Files" and "Codex Alera" fame) offering me a beta-reader position for some new novels based in worlds other than the previous two series, I jumped at the chance and had an absolute blast coming up with themes and variations on the first draft of the most outlandish one, "A Million Tomorrows". Key elements include an artificially-intelligent house, virtual reality, murder mystery, and a talking dog. That was about four months ago. Not that we've made no progress, but I find that the world is fascinating and the story possibilities are very strong... but we're still stumped on execution.

To deal with that, I've naturally turned to the vast collection of books on writing advice I already have, and added a few extras. One is Chuck Wendig's "250 Things You Should Know About Writing"
His website is here: "Terrible Minds" and the specific book is here: 250 Things You Should Know About Writing

I recommend it for a number of reasons, not least of which is the price. It's hard to beat $0.99, right? Also, it's definitely written for writers who didn't get degrees in Literary Criticism, including "Take It For A Test Drive". Meaning: take the protagonist or other major character out to lunch (on paper, of course), or through a story or even a full-fledged adventure that may or may not have anything to do with the main story, but will give you some idea about how he/she/it/they/whatever thinks, feels, acts and so on.

He also offers a blog with writing challenges, which I fully intend to take up as part of my "writer's exercise regimen" to make writing a more regular part of my life.

The other one I'm working with is from Lisa Cron, and the web presence is here: Wired For Story
This includes a series of twelve "checkpoints" for any given story. I was going to use them as a "live" discussion of "A Million Tomorrows", but I think I'll keep it private for now. Legalities may apply, after all...

With the original writer's permission, I allowed another writer-friend of mine to give a critique, which seems to have drawn blood. Not "knife-to-the-guts" kind, but "knuckle-sandwich-to-the-cakehole" kind: it hurts, but I'm still of a mood to wipe my mouth, look the other writer in the face and say, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?" This is important, folks, because whether or not "A Million Tomorrows" is "mine", I took that editorial shellacking and I'm happy to come back for more. There was a time when I would have just slunk back into my hole and pulled it shut after me... but this story has gotten its hooks into my heart. And by all the gods, I will finish what I have started on it.

Who knows, maybe sometime soon, I'll have my own domain name with announcements about our book being published. Stay tuned...