Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dream House

I checked out a book from the library on American Bungalows. The more I flipped through the pages, the more oppressed I felt. I think the cause was the dark interiors, even in the photographs of buildings with lots of windows, and the low, heavy ceilings.

With each new fabulous, honest bungalow I saw, I tried to tell myself how cool and cultured the interior would be. But I couldn't convince myself, and as I imagined myself living in the houses I saw pictured, I imagined myself rushing outside. I wondered if maybe I had some odd childhood experience in a bungalow, because my feeling of dread had a dejavu feel to it.

There are times when I wish we had a garret in our house. Maybe one of these years we can put one on top of our garage. Actually, if I were going to redo our garage, I'd put in a new roof that slants at a forty-five degree angle--it would let the sun in during the winter and provide shade during the summer.

A it would drive Mark crazy because he likes things plain, but I wish we could replace all the walls in our house with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. Filled with books books books books books!

No... it really would drive Mark crazy. But maybe we could pull off a reading nook for two. OK, and a throne with wide armrests for tea and a little pull-out desk for jotting down notes...

Writing and Dracula

It was a dark and stormy night.

I came across a children's science book that was badly edited. I'm not sure what was up with that. The tone was conversational, and I think that must have turned off the editor's editing abilities. I'm still shocked that they mixed up the word "subsumed" and "sublimated" to describe what dry ice does.

In different news, I have a manuscript pending with the Wordos. It's an idea and milieu story, so it feels a little slow to me. Or maybe it feels like a game campaign log. I like the setting, and I like my main character, but I'm not sure if I've made them shine enough to make the story work. I expect the manuscript will be torn to shreds, so that should make it easier to spot the weak spots.

I'm currently working on a manuscript that I'd run out of steam with. At the time of abandonment, I thought it was a horrible mess, but going back to it, it is not as confused and horrific as I thought it was. It's a vampire story in the same vein (heh) as Stoker; no sparkly vampires here. What had made me put it down for a while was making the vampire character seem real. The trick is to keep the Stoker aspects clear but not worn out. The challenge for me is to understand how Dracula's existence would have been a horrific inversion of the Christian Eucharist to Stoker's victorian readers, and translate that into something a modern reader can identify with while still keeping a fantasy victorian feel.

Maybe I can make my Dracula a poor editor of children's science books.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekend Updates

On the Blogging front: I still wanted to post about Smith Rock, but I haven't yet... Eastern Oregon last week was nice -- we managed to see Mercury over the Three Sisters.

The Blogger app I've been using seems to be losing entries that I leave in mid-edit. It's been a busy week, and I've been trying to blog between chores, errands, and other things. Oh well, on to ...

On the dreams front: I dreamed that our house was a larger than it really is. in the dream, we hadn't noticed that there was a much larger, highly peaked outer shell around the part of the house that we live in. Mark and I found a door that lead to a barn-like room. Lots of rough wooden beams and shadowy dark browns (In waking life, I'm reminded of the Eugene Bijou theatre, a converted church).

We thought it would be an excellent space to have a gathering, and the next thing I knew, there was a congregation of people. There was a professor type expounding on something (possibly Celtic culture, since I'm reading a archaeologic history book on Celts). The next thing I knew, we were shuffling in a kind of circle dance, singing and chanting something like "Dodie dodie, cu cu cu; dodie dodie, cu cu cu cu." (I remembered the words a little more clearly the other day, but I've lost that post).

Everyone but me and a youngish man, who was (un)dressed like a Faun, was circling clockwise. Mr. Faun was encouraging everyone to look into each others' eyes and I had the strongest feeling of being a stone in the middle of a small stream.

I guess I should look up "extra secret door in one's house." Usually when I dream about houses, they're someone else's or else they are (non-existant) family mansions (with a confusing number of oddly connected rooms).

In a different dream, my sister was keeping a pet sloth in a toilet. The poor thing was standing in the water and couldn't figure out how to get out of the bowl; its claws couldn't get a grip on the rim. I helped it out by giving it a wooden dowel to grab. Lately my sister has most definitely been doing dream time as a symbol, but I haven't figured that one out yet. At least the sloth wasn't a raccoon.

On the design front: I finally printed out a kind of shadow box for Julie's birthday. She's seen it over Skype, and now I need to mail it to her.

On the writing front: I submitted the re-write for a story that will appear in "On The Premises #19." The editors really like the world-building in the story. I'm glad that I found a home for it so quickly.

I've also put some finishing touches on a story I intend to submit to The Wordos. We'll see how it goes. I started writing it based on a photo of a partially submerged temple being visited by people in boats, so the manuscript has a strong milieu and idea-story feel to it.

I've also signed up for a one-day Clarion West workshop focusing on character development. I was looking at two of my short story sales, "Up" and "The Gear Master's Wife" and realized both main characters are flat-affect, late-20's men with recently dead family members. Since I don't want to fall into the dead-dogs-and-moms territory of Disney, I'm hoping the workshop will help expand my ability to write interesting characters.

I wish the workshop was in Eugene -- I'll easily spend twice as much time traveling to the workshop as I will participating in it. As soon as I receive confirmation that I'm in, I'll do a cost analysis on car versus train.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Charging Your Writing

This weekend we went to eastern Oregon. Mark had a good time skiing with some friends and I stayed off the mountain and wrote. We had a fun time visiting with our friends. Just to prove that I didn't stay in a cave the entire weekend, I'll post some photos of Monkey Face at Smith Rock.

I managed to finally finish (mostly) a short story I've been working on for a while. Then I went back to something I'd started a few months ago and set aside. To my astonishment, the beginning wasn't as slow and horrible as I thought ti was. Now, of course, I have to write the ending.

One funny thing that happened: I left my iPad charger at home by mistake. Which meant that my use of the device had to be rationed. It had a funny effect on how I checked e-mail and various social media -- it enforced a quick in-and-out strategy instead of a lingering browsing strategy. I probably got more done this weekend as a consequence.

In other writing news, I managed to sell another story to On The Premises. They liked the world-building quite a lot.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sleep and the Blog

The other day I re-formatted the blog. Nothing too big: I merged from three skinny-ish columns to two slightly fatter ones. This was done to accommodate some of the buttons from other social media sites in the side bar and to make the main articles' horizontal width larger for photos. I'll probably fiddle with the sidebar gizmo order a bit, and I might format the article headers to be larger.

On the sleeping front, my sleep-comfort number is negative-ten. That's right, the glorified air mattress I've been sleeping on has a problem staying inflated. The problem is that a flange on the mattress's spigot has cracked and no longer holds a rubber O-ring in place. The O-ring keeps the air in the mattress, but not if it slips.

Usually this isn't a problem. Unless too much force is applied to the mattress--say, if someone steps on it by mistake or if there are amorous activities--in which case it slowly leaks air. In that case I wake up around 2:43AM because I'm sleeping on the bed frame's slats.

This of course makes it difficult to get up early to write. On good mornings, I wake up and realize I'm only awake enough to critique. On bad mornings, I try to write and stare dumbly at Scrivener trying to write new scenes or make old scenes work better.

Oh! Nina just showed me, which looks like a fun resource for story settings.

Friday, February 08, 2013

New Moon and Time Management

It's the New Moon. New Moons are hard for me -- I usually feel a little low energy during them. I try to take a look at what structures I have in place during this time, and try to rely on them to carry me through. As I've written before, I try to be mystic, but end up only feeling tired.

On the writing front, one tool I've read about and thinking would be a good idea is a writing time journal. I was trying to figure out how much time I'd spent working on a 2000 word story and I realized that I wasn't sure if I'd spent 20 or 40 hours working on it. Assuming that I was paid $150 (five cents a word) for the story, that set an hourly rate of either $7.00 or $3.50.

Hmmm. Don't lose the Day Jobbe.

On the dream front, I had a pleasant flying dream. I also dreamed that Mark had whisked away the shelving in our bedroom and replaced it with my old oak desk.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Writing Prompts

For what it's worth, here are Neil Gaiman's writing prompts and my answers to them. I suppose this is a kind of literary equivalent to a FaceBook meme.

Why is January so dangerous?

Once the holiday lights dim, the season reminds us of the shadows behind our families.

What's the strangest thing that ever happened to you in February?

Two men spontaneously pick up wooden animal figurines & perform the *Litany of the Predator and the Prey*.

What historical figure does March remind you of?

The frantic mix of hail, sunsets, zipping clouds & triple-rainbows reminds me of Alberto Santos-Dumont.

What’s your happiest memory of April?

Skydiving over Arizona, I jump into my sky-mind. I back-flip in a perfect circle. Sun. Moon. Mountain. Me.

What is the weirdest gift you've ever been given in May?

One May Day, my black cat, Machka, awakened me by hacking up a hair-ball on my bed.

Where would you spend a perfect June?

All June, my husband and I toured museums and posed as the Bad Girls from all the works. Our son was mortified.

What is the most unusual thing you have ever seen in July?

In a cabin on an island in the Rhinelander river, I woke my friends at midnight to see an aurora borealis.

If August could speak, what would it say?

August would say "Soon you will know what you have chosen to sacrifice."

Tell me something you lost in September that meant a lot to you.

During sophomore calculus, I lost my belief that I would or could be Mr Spock--I didn't know how to be.

What mythical creature would you like to meet in October?

What Would Chiron Do? Hold Management Seminars? Run Men's Movement Workshops? Advise NASA? Sell cologne?

What would you burn in November, if you could?

I would burn letters that spelled "Make me a blessing unto others" on all the world's mirrors.

Who would you like to see again in December?

My dead relatives wouldn't appreciate being summoned so I could compare them to childhood memories.

Writing Progress?

The last few days have been both productive and not writing wise. I did manage to get a short story in before a contest deadline, and I've since learned that the story has been short-listed. And I've been having fun with Neil Gaiman's writing prompts. So that's good. What's not so good is that the early morning writing has slacked off.

I think some of the slacking has to do with going back and forth between east- and west-coast time zones. The other day I accidentally slept an hour later than I meant to. But some of it has been me staying up too late and being groggy the next morning. And speaking of which... I should go to sleep now.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Angels and Macro Lenses

The other day was sunny, so I went on a photo safari. I relearned that my camera takes much better macro-lens photographs than anything else. This is the best shot, I think, of a angel embossed on a tin sheet.

I also re-learned that I need to make a little chart of the relationships between F-stops, focal length, and shutter speeds....

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Winter Ides 2013

It's mid-winter, or the Ides of Winter. In my personal spiritual belief system, this is a time to prepare for renewal by releasing static, moribund structures. It's also when the first hints of buds appear on the trees and when the frogs start singing in the slough a few blocks from our house.

The personal issue in front of me the last year is a recognition that I don't have infinate amounts of time, that I've got some bad time-use and organizational habits, and that there's so much that I would like to do (if I weren't so tired). If I were doing a tarot reading right now, I'd be pulling the seven of cups, the card of airy-fairy diffused force. In tarot, the sevens have to do with making the best of limited resources. Part of the antidote to the flightiness of the seven of cups is to have the patience and strength to focus on one (or two, maybe three) things, even if the results don't appear right away. It also helps to make good choices.

I'm thinking that the best thing I can do is to gently remind myself of my yearly goals when I find myself thinking, "I'm too tired to do X, I'll just relax a little with Facebook/G-plus/Twitter/Pinterest." If I'm too tired to do X, then I should go to sleep (Mark would add, "Or eat some vegetables and take a walk!")

What are my goals? I want to have more stories in the mail, with the hope that more stories in the mail will result in more sales. I want to take more spiritual pauses to pay attention to the motion of the sun, moon and stars and the connections between me and not-me. And... I need to get into some sort of exercise routine because I want to not puff so much when I walk up the hill and I want to look good naked.

I think that last paragraph is a We Three song...