The Mythogenetic Grove

Thoughts on Writing

(Hopefully) Sparkly Goals for 2018

by on Jan.01, 2018, under Academic Writing, SFF, The Escritoire, Thoughts on Writing

Hello! It’s New Year’s Day so I thought I’d post in the escritoire instead of @ Growing Fins (my unofficial public author blog) about my writing (and reading) goals for the year. Good way to keep me honest!

 

I have a motto every year and this year is no different. My mottos for the past 2-3 years have been in tandem with my growing into my life as a professional SF author with all of the various challenges and travails that come with it. The same applies to academia.

This year, however — I wanted it to be a little different. When you’re being busy, whoosh, a decade can pass you by and you go, “Whoops, what happened to my life?”

So this year, because of my heart scare (still waiting to find out if I am okay and if it is just gas/anxiety/whatever) and because I’ve really NOT been listening to my heart, this year’s motto (as announced on twitter sometime in Nov/Dec 2017) is, Sparkle, and Listen to Your Heart.

The “Sparkle” bit comes because I tend to default to wanting to hide in the shadows because I don’t want people to think I am conceited or bragging or whatever. I still want to be lowkey, but I also want to glitter and sparkle enough. I want to bedazzle my life, and my year. Suffice it to say, I’m terrified my life is in a rut and — my living situation isn’t going to change because I’m staying put in my condominium, and in my job. So I will have to bedazzle my life in other ways. Lowkey make it exciting, sparkling, magical and adventurous. Can it be done? I hope so!

Onwards to my goals!

  1. Last year’s 12 for 12 in 2017 short story writing challenge (born @ the Codex Writers Group) served me very well indeed. I wound up with 14 short story drafts and I find the act of just committing to writing one short story a month helped to ground me. So I’m doing 12 for 12 in 2018 again. Onwards!
  2. I’d like to keep querying agents for Watermyth while working on Rosemirror. I’d like to be agented by year’s end and working towards a book deal (and hopefully acquiring one). I hope I shan’t be too disappointed by year’s end!
  3. In 2017 I had three fiction publications and four fiction acceptances. I’d like to aim for 6-8 fiction publications in 2018.
  4. I’d like to have at least a couple of reprints out this year.
  5. I’d like to write thirty new poems this year.
  6. Finish my Malaysian Genre monograph and have it accepted by an academic publishing house.
  7. Submit 6-7 academic articles this year with an average of one every two months. I have enough fairly advanced drafts that this is do-able.
  8. Write 3 book reviews and have them published. I don’t do hatchet job “I don’t like this” type of book reviews so I’ll only choose books I consider of merit and I’d like to do them real justice.
  9. I’ve committed to two blog posts for a certain site so that’s on my list, but I’d also like to write more blog posts for other people/sites as part of SFF community service. I want to give back a bit more to this community that has been so good to me.
  10. Work on two twine/IF/hypertext stories. I’m getting rusty and it is time to brush up my skills. My modest success with Bungalow Sari One on twitter has invigorated and excited me and I’d like to get back to work on it.
  11. Reading: I’d like to hit 100 books again this year 🙂

And that’s all!

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Tell It To Me, Baby: A Reprinted Process Post

by on Oct.22, 2017, under The Escritoire, Thoughts on Writing

Note: This is a post from the old Growing Fins blog, back in June 18 2009. It’s still relevant to my process so I thought I would share!

 

The problem with the generic, technical “Show, don’t tell” based advice dished out by writing workshops and writing books is this: it assumes all writing and storytelling must conform to one fictive model and one alone. Some of my best-loved storytellers are those who Tell, Tell, and Tell me some more. And I say yes, please Tell me more. And I say yes, dish me that info-feed, baby, if you’re dishing it the right way. Lay it on me.

It is within the resonance of their strong, individual voices that the “Show” element slowly resolves, without actually “Show”ing too much, just the faintest outline of a scene, letting the listener or individual flesh it out with their own minds. To me, this is the difference between technical aptitude as a writer and being a writer who allows a reader to dream. It’s the spaces in the mind. The Brontes understood this well, so did Tolkien. And so did other writers from non-canonical traditions. I think of the sparseness and the simplicity of Japanese verse, of the Malay pantun. I think of the storytellers of the old epics who gave us dizzying detail, but also a strong, resonant voice.

If I have to err on the technical nitty-gritty of my stories, I would. If my grammar falls by the wayside, if my pacing is not the best in the world. If, in starting my narrative in media res I have somehow disoriented my reader; if, I use run-on sentences in ways that dislocate them. If, I annoy you with a hanging participle. IF. I unforgivably dump an info feed halfway in my story. IF. I annoyingly, do not reveal what the story is about in my opening paragraphs because I am listening to the voice in my head that says Setting IS Character.

If, I do not write character-driven fiction that is obviously character driven because I am just that postmodern or capricious enough to want to hide my narrators in strange places. If I lay on too much philosophy that hurts your head. If. I commit unspeakable textual, grammatical errors but in doing so, still retain my voice. Would that make me a bad storyteller? Perhaps. But if I find my voice, who is to say? Even if it is buried, unheard. It is still a voice. Is a voice lost in a forest of slush still a voice or just unread text? Who is to say?

This is the battle I am fighting right now. And, I suspect, this is the battle I have been fighting all along.

Being the narratology geek that I am, I have my favorite storytellers. I also have, within that list, my favorite implied narrators, first or third person. I must admit to have inherited a narratological quirk or two from my days of writing my M.A. thesis on Angela Carter, but that is meant for another writerly wank. One of these days.

Angela Carter, Michael Ende, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Boccaccio, Dante, various unnamed and anonymous writers of ancient epics and fairytales, Wole Soyinka, Guy Gavriel Kay, Anais Nin, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, Isabel Allende, Gabriel García Márquez and I’m sure I’m forgetting half a dozen more. These are my mentors. These are my muses. And it’s been established that most of this would be casualties of the slush pile today. Which is not to say I have reached their level of narrative yet.

I’m just saying.

I’m tired of rules, period. I just want to write recklessly like I mean it. I want to write like it’s that fling with the guy you really shouldn’t be out with but here you are, at 5am, talking at breakneck speed and doing unwise things instead of keeping within the prescribed margins. Which, I never could stop myself from writing or drawing outside of the margins in school, either. Could you?

And now I go back to fighting with MY narrative.

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A Brief Personal Review of My Year in Writing

by on Dec.09, 2016, under The Escritoire, Thoughts on Writing

This year for me as an author has been quite a whirlwind. Publications nearly every month, reviews every now and then. I do miss being reviewed on Locus (I vastly enjoyed Lois Tilton’s reviews of my works even when she didn’t like it — I have a fondness for cantankerous readers) but my stories have been mentioned on Strange Horizons reviews twice. All in all, 2016 gave me decent amount of reviews, in particular the wonderfully thoughtful and literate reviews by Charles Payseur which serves as a panacea for certain places we shall not mention.

Books I have been in have also been reviewed in newspapers, even mentioned on BoingBoing but since I was not mentioned in those pieces I don’t feel I have any right to lay claim to those successes.

For me personally, it feels like 2015-2016 have been gamechanger years for me. Which leads to more, not less pressure as being me I have set the bar even higher for myself. But. Finish that novel and that historical fantasy novella first, I guess.

I don’t really feel sad that my Campbell eligibility period is drawing to a close. Instead I feel a sense of relief, and pride. I think I did well by my own standards this year and that is a rare thing indeed. I love the stories that were published. They were perhaps not as wildly popular as other authors in my position would hope but I am a bit of an elitist bastard so the idea that I am an acquired taste appeals to me. More importantly, I am really looking forward to the next stage of being a pro writer. If there are any more left for me, that is!

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