A carefully considered replacement post

Happy Tuesday (said no one ever). I’m still in the middle of a day long headache-a-thon, which is really fun because it’s fulfilling my life-long dream of feeling like someone is playing the drums on the inside of my skull. That’s the power of positivity, people (says the guy who tried to cure a monstrous headache with a two-hour nap that failed miserably).

On the plus side, there’s a new episode of Face Off tonight, and I’m already quite emotionally invested in this season. It’s also Taco Tuesday, a statement which translates to me going to Taco Bell and buying a big order of spicy regret (it’s a guilty pleasure I just can’t quit, people, and also I love Baja Blast too much). Lastly, I worked up the nerve to write my first fan letter! I put words to paper in what I hope is the least crazy way possible to thank Amy Poehler for writing Yes Please, which isn’t a book so much as a reasonably-priced treasure chest filled with wonderful things. Also, since I’m taking forever to write this: there was an episode of Gravity Falls waiting on the DVR, which made tonight even better.

This post was supposed to be about something else, actually, but then I decided that idea would better serve me as a short story…which means I had to switch gears. The fan-letter thing got me thinking, too. Here’s a fun story about fan-mail.

Once upon a time, I binge-read a bunch of books by Kurt Vonnegut. Breakfast of Champions was the gateway to Cat’s CradleSirens of Titan, and A Man Without a Country (I’ve not finished that one yet). I feel like I’ve read more by Vonnegut, but I also confess that his prose, while delightful and entertaining, had the ability to put me into a particularly dark and gloomy mindset. Probably because there was more than a measure of uncomfortable truth to everything he wrote.

One night, in a moment of bravery, I decided I would write Kurt Vonnegut a fan-letter to tell him how much I loved his writing and how I hoped to one day be as wonderful and beloved a writer as he is. The anxiety was very real; I could feel my heart yo-yoing between my chest and my throat. The cursor in Microsoft Word remained lonely, a blank page staring back at me in mockery of the fool’s errand I had embarked on. Instead, perhaps, I thought I would look up the address I would need to send this hopeless letter off to. A quick Google search later gave me multiple options, all viable, and some suggestions and criticisms about fan letters.

There also happened to be a shitload of articles about the life of Kurt Vonnegut, citing how he had passed away earlier that very day. I stared at the screen, a mix of heartbroken and shocked. In hindsight, my knee-jerk reaction was probably entirely appropriate. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I asked my computer, fully expecting a response.

I have since interacted with two of my favorite authors on Twitter (on multiple occasions, actually), and that’s been fun. There’s something about interacting with the people who inspire me that is probably far more thrilling than it should be.

Who do you folks idolize so much that you’ve sent them fan-mail/tweets/whatever? Any luck with responses? Was it terrifying, thrilling, or both?

There should have been more to this post, but I have the most vicious goddamned headache I’ve experienced in a while so I’m going to throw in the towel for the night. Apologies there.

 

Losing track of time in the name of progress

Or “I could have slept last night, but I failed to realize I would end up staying awake until 5:30 in the morning to finish a short story”. That certainly makes the chosen title for this post look a lot more concise, doesn’t it?

Last night, having recovered from feeling moderately sick for most of the earlier portions of the day, I decided I needed to accomplish something in terms of my writing goals. Having decided to take a short break from working on A Princess, A Lich, and Some Murders (a break I am failing at, as I’m still sort of working on it though I said I would step back for a bit), I focused on giving attention to one of the short story ideas I had recently. I had already started working on Cordelia’s, which was based around the idea of a restaurant that had no menus and served exactly what its guests needed without having to question them, and so that seemed like the right route to follow.

I haven’t pulled an all-nighter in quite some time. I dare say such events haven’t happened since college, but I’m almost too certain I’m wrong in that statement. It’s a mystery. What I do know is that I started by deleting everything I wrote, which is the opposite of making actual progress, and I began anew. Two false starts and a lot of deleted words later, I was well into page four. There was a brief diversion involving last night’s blog post and some live-tweeting of The Bachelor (I detest that show, but it has so much value as a terrible comedy of sorts), and suddenly it was nearly midnight. Conveniently, I had today off and so I figured I would continue to plug away until I got tired.

And then I didn’t get tired until shortly after I finished writing, which was around 5:30 this morning. My internal clock doesn’t typically allow me to sleep later than 9:30 on my best days of sleeping in, so…I can’t exactly say I got my whole eight hours of rest.

Despite having a meeting I need to be at in about an hour, I’m still convinced this is the polar opposite of a bad thing. As it is now, I feel like Cordelia’s turned out to be a tremendous success, far better than I had hoped. I’ll have to wait to see what my wonderful, kind, typically-benevolent proofreading friends will have to say on the subject. Most importantly, it was some of the most fun I’ve had writing since the completion of Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King. It’s also one of the first short stories I’ve completed since summer of last year, which is a bit more embarrassing than it is a positive thing. Oh well.

My questions to other writers and creative types out there: when was your last all-nighter? Was it worth it, or did you end up feeling like you’d have better served yourself by getting more shut-eye? What inspiration struck to lead to such a creative spree?

And now for Music Mondays

Better known as day one of me deliberately finding ways to create horrible, cheesy alliterative titles for each day’s over-arching theme. That was the compromise I made with myself to help justify any sort of set organizational system. The more you know?

This is the first of many Mondays in One Hundred Days of Blogging 2.0, and the first of many Music Mondays. This was actually one of the first idea-bits that inspired me to revisit this horrible, painful experience.

Right. Moving along.

Jonathan Coulton is to thank or blame for the inspiration that gradually evolved into this first post. I found myself in need of a new CD in my car. I threw together an assortment of songs from my iTunes library, popped a CD in my laptop, and almost forgot to retrieve it before I left for work.

It turned out to be the antithesis of what I was hoping to end up with, so that’s unfortunate. At least that’s how I felt about it until I got to one track in particular. “Nobody Loves You Like Me” from Jonathan Coulton’s CD Artificial Heart. I’m one of many people who were introduced to Coulton’s music thanks to “Still Alive” at the ending of Portal. I could probably go on about why I think his music, overall, is spectacular, but I really want to focus on Artificial Heart. First: if you’ve not listened to Artificial Heart before, I’d suggest taking a moment to buy it, listen to it, and probably fall in love with it. Continue reading

Post-travel, pre-travel lull

I’m back in Carnegie after having a fantastic weekend at Intervention, and I’ve got enough down-time to prepare myself for the trip to Chicago. Sort of. I’m still screaming like Hell on the inside, as I’ve never driven that far before. Ever.

I consider it a great adventure, but I also know it’s probably going to be pretty taxing. What I do know is I have an abundance of hope for my time in Chicago in terms of how much creative stuff I’ll get accomplished. We’ll see how much I accomplish versus how much more self-loathing I’ve banked by the end of the week. Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day 42

I’m starting my morning off by enjoying a bowl of cereal while I read through the Spam comments that Phil’s Misadventures in Fiction has accrued recently. It’s oddly entertaining, although the spammers certainly do have nice things to say about my posts. Even if some of those kind words don’t really make a lot of sense from a grammatical standpoint.

Speaking of kind words: the professor I sent Joshua Harkin and the Wicked Nightmare King off to got back to me with his critique today. It’s not something I feel should be shared in its entirety on here, but I do have to say seeing the phrases “I thoroughly enjoyed it” and “you have great characters” really put a stupid grin on my face.

Meowiarty is hanging out with me while I type this, as he sat at my bedroom door and meowed until I let him in. He may be a touch spoiled, I’m willing to concede, but he behaves like a dog enough and I miss having dogs around…so by that reasoning it should be okay that he’s in here. Probably. I’ll remind myself of that when I’m cleaning cat hair out of my PC’s tower.

Naturally, today’s post will involve 42 in a way. Hopefully not too predictable a way, but we’ll see. Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Twenty-Seven

My laptop returned home today, and the actual problems were far worse than initially thought. Instead of my graphics card being dead, it was apparently a bad motherboard and hard drive disk. The BestBuy employee asked if I had an unexpected power outage or something, but it was just my laptop very suddenly and violently shitting the bed. Yikes.

Thanatos has been renamed Wheatley because 1) it better fits the Portal and Portal 2 themed names I have for my Surface 2 (Aperture Surface) and my desktop (GLADESKTOP) and 2) it’s a more fitting name given how derp my laptop has been so soon. I’m not looking forward to resurrecting all of the files from my external hard drive, and I’m fairly certain I lost a couple short stories and other projects forever. Like my forever-backburnered first episode of the Misadventures in Podcasting podcast.

As a quick aside: it’s very difficult to type when a small kitten keeps hopping onto the couch and dancing across my laptop keyboard. She wandered back into the living room just as I was typing that and did it again. Precious little bundle of mischief.

Anyway, time to get moving on this. I’ve got my standard Monday headache, like clockwork. Continue reading

One Hundred Days of Blogging – Day Three

Let me start this by saying how much I love my days off of my day job (like almost every other person alive, save for those detestable ones who do something they love). While I’m not particularly fond of my internal clock having deemed 8a.m. the point at which I’ve slept in, I’m glad to say it’s not even 10a.m. and I’ve already been semi-productive.

No need to sugar-coat it: I’m a slow-starter, and I’m okay with that. However, being awake this early and meandering through my morning, complete with moments of being hooked up to my iPod, also provided ample inspiration, between half-sleepy yawns, for today’s Day of Blogging. Continue reading

The horror of meeting your heroes

Or “This is a second post in less than a day because I feel guilty for putting these posts off”.

My last post may have been a little self-indulgent, and I’m okay with that. Now back to things to do with writing. I have my fair share of people I consider heroes. I’m not just talking celebrities, by the way, though there will be a fair few of those mentioned here (hence the title). The people who have succeeded in accomplishing things I fear I could only manage in my wildest dreams. Their works and success are driving factors in my own writing, as I want to eventually reach an audience through publication. I’m not saying, by any means, I think I’ll ever reach such tremendous audiences as, say, Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, or Douglas Adams (to name only a few).

However, as much as I love to read their works and enjoy them as these sorts of pillars of an art I hold in the highest regards, I think I would probably have a severe mental breakdown of sorts if I ever met one of them. It’s a very weird concept to me, and a very real fear with my occasional trips to conventions (far less now than when I was younger).

Meeting my heroes is terrifying to me because these are people who have done these amazing, fantastic things, and so I can’t help but feel like a mote of dust by comparison. I acknowledge, and accept, that this is a completely ridiculous line of thinking, and it’s worse because it’s not limited to the heroes I have who I’ve never met. People like Onezumi and Harknell, the founders of Interventioncon and personal heroes of mine, are easy to talk to and wonderful overall. I still get a bit anxious around them. Ridiculous! But it’s one of those things where it’s a matter of wanting to not look like such a failure by comparison, where these people are absolute rock stars of what they do.

And then there’s the fear of building them up so much only to be disappointed with what I meet. I realize that may be a bit shocking, especially after the last paragraph. This bit applies to the heroes I’ve not met as opposed to the ones I know. I can honestly say I would probably weep if I met Neil Gaiman (or Terry Pratchett or Christopher Moore). These are people whose books have treasured spots in my library and have made me want to become a better writer. I want to create amazing worlds, filled with all sorts of diverse and terrific characters, and it’s because of these authors. However, there’s always the small problem that the work doesn’t equal the person and so I could very well be setting myself up for disappointment.

Let me end with a couple questions: how do you, dear readers, feel about meeting your heroes? Who do you idolize, and why? How quickly would you melt into a puddle of fanatical goo if you met one of those heroes?

Thunderclouds of inspiration

Or “I came this close to writing a post about how George R.R. Martin may be writing eight books for A Song of Ice and Fire, but didn’t and you should all be remarkably thankful”.

When I was a child, thunderstorms scared the hell out of me. Not the lightning, nor the rain, but the thunder. In hindsight, after a tornado wrought havoc on much of my one childhood home (taking moving and such into consideration here), I may have been onto something.

As I sit here now, laptop positioned atop my crossed legs despite the discomfort such a combination makes for in this humidity, I can’t help but appreciate storms. What I’ve found, however, is the one thing I really love more than thunderstorms themselves is the last few minutes of anticipation before the storm strikes. Until the rain pours down, when it’s only the lights-and-sounds show made up of the approaching thunder and lightning, it’s nothing but a tremendous, sometimes terrifying, collection of potential. The potential for tremendous destruction and awe-inspiring force, as well as the potential for rejuvenation in cases where the rain is much-needed (California, I’d love to send some of this your way; I grow weary of the dreariness, certainly, but I don’t mind the all-natural light-show).

I’ve come to realize, in a perhaps cheesy-sounding way, thunderstorms and developing ideas for my writing hold a lot of similarities. From the moment inspiration first strikes, to the inevitable rolling, rumbling gathering of ideas, until suddenly it’s over. The storm subsides, having drifted elsewhere, and the first draft is safely tucked away in a Word document or in a notebook.

Yikes. That got a little hokey, didn’t it?

Beyond inspiration, I’ll always have memories of my grandmother, who liked to snack on potato chips while she would watch storms from the front porch of her house. She’s largely responsible for my getting over my fear of thunderstorms. She told me how the thunder was really angels bowling, and the really loud thunder-claps were when said angels got a strike. I imagine, going with the rather cheesy approach this post has taken (blaming the post, not myself, for this), that comforting little white lie may just inspire some short stories down the road. I’ve only got a backlog about a forest’s worth of paper long.

That’s for another time, though. For now, my attention will be devoted to watching Meowiarty look confused by the wind being just gusty enough to spit a little rain in through the screen door.

Recent short story shenanigans, and other news

Or “What I’ve been up to while I’m not working and sleeping, other than swearing and spending money.”

I really wanted to make this post from my Surface 2, which is a glorious piece of technology that I’ve become quite attached to already. Spoilers: I’ve only taken five pictures with it, and they’re all of my girlfriend and our cats. I live on the wilder side of life. However, the browser of choice on the Surface is (surprise) Internet Explorer. My love of updating my WordPress page clashed with my overwhelming dislike of IE (I accidentally opened it on my laptop recently and it had something about how I should use the best browser for Windows 8; I’m using Chrome, by the way). It did, however, come with a free copy of Office on it, and that’s a damn powerful selling point for me. Years and years of using Microsoft Word have transformed it into my word processor of choice, and I honestly don’t think I could go with anything else (yes, I realize there is plenty of other software out there that’s practically identical to Word in form and function; don’t ruin this for me). I’ve actually been writing on my Surface (using Word), saving it to my cloud storage, and then retrieving it on my laptop for when I send it off for proofreading and the likes. I didn’t mean to turn this into a shameless plug for the Microsoft Surface tablet, but I’m kind of okay that it happened that way. PS: if any kindly folks at Microsoft happen upon this and think, “You know what we like? Publicity and nice things about our products,” and you’re feeling generous, I’m not saying I’d accept a free Surface 3 Pro, but I’m also saying if one showed up in the mail that I wouldn’t reject it by any means.

Moving along.

My brain’s been fixated on normal situations with supernatural/abnormal things dropped into them. Think imaginary friends who can be heard by people other than the individual who imagined them into existence. That sort of thing. It started innocent enough with one short story idea on a rainy, dreary day, and branched off into two ideas. Those two ideas became three ideas, and then a forth one followed while I was at work today. Since I have tomorrow off, the plan is to write the rest of each of those drafts and send them off for proofreading. I’m not sharing those here, though. I don’t mean that in the I-won’t-share-my-toys-with-you-guys way so much as the I-want-to-try-getting-things-published way. Fingers, toes, and other appendages crossed there (if you’re a Lovecraftian horror, take a moment and cross some of your tendrils, tentacles, and other slimy, soul-maiming limbs for me, please; I’m a big supporter of your works, and would appreciate some reciprocity).

The other news: I applied to Screen Robot to be a contributing writer. They liked what they saw of my work and added me on. Now I’m just waiting to hear back before I start writing for them on an irregular basis. I kid, of course. We all know I’m super responsible and great at keeping a schedule. Stop laughing at that. It’s not funny, damn it.

The other other news that happened just today was a brainstorm of sorts while I was driving to an appointment. It’s also something I’ll probably share here, unless it turns out to be awful. I decided it would be fun to write a series of short stories (not necessarily interrelated or anything) around a CD. I’ve been listening to Lindsey Stirling’s new CD, Shatter Me, like it’s my second job. Brilliant, wonderful stuff. Apart from being great travel music, it’s also really easy to get into it and picture worlds forming out of the music notes. We’ll see how this pans out.

Mostly, though, I’ve hit a wall with all of my other projects, I’m still waiting to hear if “Death at Teatime” has been accepted or not (I’m willing to go out on a limb and guess no, but that’s my inner Negative Nancy being a jagoff again).

What sort of inspiration has sneaked up on, or violently struck, any of you lately?