2017 Last Words

Well, I missed a lot of blogging this year.

I can’t promise next year will see me on this site more often, but that is the plan.

So, as for 2017, I’m spending a few minutes of the last hour typing these words.

2017 has been a pretty good year for me, though far from perfect.

My mother was diagnosed with a serious disease, however possible to treat.

I published three books, Tenlyres, Soul Art, and The Mangrove Suite. I’m happy with all three of these books, especially the last one on the list.

I talked a lot with a few of my friends, and almost none with most of the others. I started a podcast, Alive After Reading, and continued the other podcast with my cohost.

I figured out which of my medications are still valuable, but at a pretty high cost in time.

Anyway, I’m tired. It’s a late hour, the last one of the year. Happy new year.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to talk to you again soon.

2017
So long 2017.

Good night sweet prince.

Sayonara sucker!

Now we can’t pretend the whole thing didn’t happen, but we can try to do better next time.

Good luck, everyone.

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Friday Morning Rambling and NaNoWriMo

I don’t recall exactly what happened in my dream last night.

I wish I did because they left me feeling pretty cheerful when I woke up.

It’s been a pretty odd week. For one thing, early on, I stayed up for 30 consecutive hours, hoping I could focus to finish my current work in progress in one day and night. I got a lot of words, but the book is still in process. I should be able to finish the book sometime between now and next Tuesday.

And yes, it is NaNoWriMo this month. Many writers of all kinds and commitment levels go to the trenches to try to write 50,000 words in one month.

I have done word counts like this before, but I’m a bit out of practice at the moment. Last month I almost managed it. This year, I’m not signed up to participate, but make no mistake, my goal is to write as many words as I can this month. No staying up all night, though. I want to make this more sustainable than my past mentality of writing as a special occasion (Which is silly for a lot of reasons, not least because it’s over half my job right now).

So, as November begins, let me encourage those of you doing NaNo to keep in mind sustainability for the future. A burst of words is a good time, but words week in and week out is even better, in my opinion.

Good day and good luck.

Thanks for reading.

Today’s Goal

Hey everyone!

I missed posting last Friday, but today I’m warming up for a big day of writing by putting this brief post online.

Writing has been okay these past two weeks. I always want to go faster, and I’ve been feeling that lately.

Overall, though, life is pretty good.

So, today I’m planning to swing for the fences. For me, this means a goal of 5000 words. Should be doable, if a little difficult.

That’s it for now. Have a good day.

Thanks for reading.

Accountability for April 2017

Hey everyone. I plan to do weekly posts to keep me accountable for the work I’m doing.

This is the first of those, but I also want to look back at the year so far.

January and February I managed to write about 40,000 words and also edit Tenlyres into the complete version. I’m proud of Tenlyres, but I’m not proud of my slow word count.

In March I managed to start kicking it up a notch. I did almost 40,000 words in March, and that includes FINALLY finishing a draft of the sequel to Hunter and Seed, which now needs editing and beta comments before I release it.

April has been an up and down month for me, writing-wise. Big start, slow middle, decent finish. As of today, I have about the same number of words as March. So I’ve written just over 110,000 words so far this year. That may look or sound like a lot. I think its not enough for a third of a year.

So, here’s to a big push in May and June. I plan to increase the time I spend on writing again, moving to four hours on most days in May, then six hours in June.

Also, I am experimenting with writing sprints to increase my word count per minute for extended periods of time.

I have plans. Now its time to execute them.

Oh, and I want to get back here at least once a week for the near future. Thanks for reading.

Finally, happy post 800 to this blog!ac

Moments

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Yesterday I wrote four short scenes for current book I have in progress.

And when I write, short, I write SHORT. The longest scene in the group was around 650 words. The shortest, less than 200.

I always used to write pretty short, back in my high school days. Lately, I’m experimenting with my roots and trying to get the most beautiful moments I can make discrete from the ones before and after. I really enjoyed yesterday’s writing.

Related to this, when I walked into the coffee shop this morning, I recognized a favorite song by its fading notes.

That song? Porcupine Tree’s “Collapse the Light Into Earth.” Relevant, because it captures a single moment of emotion in sound and replays it consistently for the length of the song. It’s also one of the few Porcupine Tree songs from that era truly mellow enough to play in a coffee shop at 8 o’clock in the morning.

I guess the moment has got me interested.

Tenlyres (Check it out on Amazon and other ebook stores) is one of my more successful works to have long scenes as standard in it. But writing that book was difficult and took a long time compared to some of my other stories. Focusing on small moments is not easy when I am in the midst of a longer scene.

But I do love those little, near-vignettes that serve as the fulcrum to lever the story in a new direction or reinforce my earlier themes. One can build a story around moments such as these if the moment is strong enough.

I won’t claim to know how strong I make these sets of ~500 words, but I would suggest if you are a writer, try the short segments. They feel empowering, in part because if you have been writing for any amount of time you can probably get one written quickly without feeling as though you are hammering on stone.

And hammering is, in my opinion, a damaging way to look at storytelling. Because storytelling can be like excavation, as Steven King describes it in On Writing, but if one must know when to use the jackhammer, and when one needs but to brush the dust off the fossil.

I think those little moments require the brush all too often.

Thanks for reading.

Support this blog and help pay for my coffee habit! Buy Tenlyres, or any of my other books, today!

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Guest Post: Heisenberg Compensators

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Today I have a guest post for you, from an amazing writer I’ve been following for a few months. He has a style I can only dream of, and his crazy ideas are the sort I aspire to as well. If you ever wondered about genre, this is the guy to see. Everyone, Zig Zag Claybourne!

 

Heisenberg Compensators

 

“Tell me about the Before-Time, DiJonn,” says the waif.

“It was a time of repetitive wonders…” says the old man, eyes focusing on days he’ll never get back. “When only starship captains were allowed emotional arcs, and fans knew precisely at all times what they were buying…”

Low blow? Not too low. Let’s talk genre. Sci fi. Horror. Fantasy. Literary. Comedy. Erotic. What’d we leave out? (Tractor porn is not a genre. Ignore what Skeeter says.) Genre sets up expectations. From sci fi, we don’t expect deeply emotional romance. From horror, we get blindsided by the inclusion of robots (although we already live in a ghost world thanks to AI and “smart” tech). Fantasy? Get that socio-political layering out of my elven shire! We want what we want, and publishing has made sure we get that. Up till now.

Just this year I’ve read a book that features religion, damnation, time travel, horror, and a fair bit of comedy, not as incidentals but as the very fabric of the book; another where a witch and a technogeek have an on-again, off-again relationship that threatens to destroy the world; I wrote one myself (shameless frikking plug) merging science fiction, adventure, literary, satire and fantasy. It’s been described as “Buckaroo Banzai by way of James Baldwin and Blade”, and in my neck of the woods you mention any one of those three, you have my attention.

I freaking adore genre blending.

Frankenstein: gothic horror environmental philosophical treatise. The Bible: horror, sci fi, poetry, adventure, love story. Lucian of Greece’s True History: travel writing, sci fi, satire straight from the second century. Hell, even Peanuts counts as YA Dystopia (a world where even children need psychological counseling on a regular basis, and happiness is sought but never achieved). Creators have been dipping their chocolate into peanut butter since words became the rage. The blending of genre speaks not only to the sophistication of the world but of the reader herself. The Greek myths were huge soap operas against a backdrop of testosterone and estrogen of unimaginable levels. The African Orishas are sci fi, horror, fantasy, and romance all at the same time. There is no story that is a single thing unless we force it to be so. Unfortunately there’ve been lots of forced marriages in publishing. The world may never know how many writers have felt compelled to funnel what could have been grand ideas into narrow loveless couplings. Imagine The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy being pitched today.  It’d either be an indie effort or it’d be pared down to being a buddy comedy with a quick, easy payout. Which is sadness.

The argument against blending says readers will be confused, and an author can’t build a following off of confused readers. Let me throw some names out to Google at your discretion: Sam Delany, CSE Cooney, Harlan Ellison, Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Ursula Le Guin, Gene Wolfe, Frank Herbert, Julian May, Terry Pratchett. You can build audience by being intriguing, by being daring, and respecting that a reader’s sense of adventure knows no bounds. One of the best novellas I’ve read in years came out via Tor.com in 2015: Kelly Robson’s Waters of Versailles. It’s fantasy, it’s historical, it’s farce, it’s as much about class structures as Les Miz and it’s deeply emotional. I love it. Kelly is one of the best practitioners out there of blending not only genre but realism, and guess what? You’ll be seeing her name for years. We forget that before there was “genre” there was simply good story.

In the beginning was the word, remember? And the word was good?

Are we seeing an upsurge in people wanting their consumables to do more than comfort them? I think we are. There’s enough familiarity in innumerable aspects of life that people can enjoy the challenge of a many-flavored mental meal, and with indie artists experiencing a boom of reach and availability (check out the indie lighthouse-site Narazu.com) the walls of genre aren’t merely crumbling, suckers are vaporizing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have markers. But it’s also good to know that at any moment of your choosing you can screw the map and go off-road. I titled this little blog “Heisenberg Compensators.” Why? If you’re into Star Trek you know that’s a McGuffin they created for their transporter technology to overcome the principle that the position and the velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly, at the same time, even in theory. In theory we’re not supposed to be able to bounce about on a quantum level and have all kinds of resulting fun.

I give the human brain credit though. We take disparate bits, beam them into our imaginations, and reassemble them as paranormal detectives, mermaid orphans, mystic adventurers, or starship captains quite literally in love with their ships (hello AI-virtual reality world!). Genre-blending is not only fun to write and read, it leaves both the author and audience (wait for it) energized.

Surprised, even. Pleasantly.

Who doesn’t love that?

 

 

BIO STUFF

Zig Zag Claybourne (also known as Clarence Young) wishes he’d grown up with the powers of either Gary Mitchell or Charlie X but without the Kirk confrontations. (And anybody not getting that Star Trek reference gets their sci fi cred docked 3 points.) The author of The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan, Neon Lights, Historical Inaccuracies, By All Our Violent Guides, and In the Quiet Spaces (the last two under C.E. Young), he believes a writer can be like an actor, inhabiting a delightful variety of roles and genres, but his heart belongs to science fiction.

His fiction and essays have appeared in Vex Mosaic, Alt History 101, The Wayne Review, Flashshot, Reverie Journal, Stupefying Stories, The City (a cyberfunk anthology), UnCommon Origins, Extraordinary Rendition: American Writers on Palestine, and Rococoa (sword & soul/steamfunk anthology).

When not writing (or fiddling on Facebook) he loves promoting great art and posing the Great Questions, such as whether or not anybody will ever be funkier than Prince.

Find him on the web at www.WriteonRighton.com