Saturday, May 30, 2009


Yesterday, it rained so hard that the top popped on my rainbarrel. If you click on the photo on the left, you can see the water overflowing the spout and pushing up the lid. After several months of drought conditions, this is amazing to witness.

Garden is happy. Then it rained all afternoon again today.

Now, central Florida just needs, like, seventeen more inches to meet normal annual rainfall.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Flash Away!

Sent off a submission, finally. I hope Jordan and the other folks over at Every Day Fiction are nice to me (but not too nice). My thanks to Oso for pushing me forward in a better direction.

I thought flash fiction would be easier, but somehow it's not. If anything can be said to be "easy" about the form, it's the fact that word limitations force me (the wordy) to get to the point, advance the plot, and round out characters as much as possible in fewer words. These are NOT simple matters, obviously, but at least the form encourages me to make these things happen economically.

As an exercise, it teaches a useful lesson: if you don't know where the story is going, you can't get there. I'm considering writing "flash drafts" of longer pieces that are not coming together well.

Zombie Haiku Contest

Over 400 haiku written on the subject of zombies, over at Boing Boing.

One of my favorites (of course, I didn't read them all):

I have eaten of
The brains you left in the fridge
Forgive me: I hunger.

Even though the syllables are technically incorrect, it's clearly written in homage to the poem by William Carlos Williams entitled "This is Just to Say":

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I also like this one (#296), from "If Famous Poets Wrote Zombie Haiku":

Do not go gentle
into that zombie plagued night.
And take the shotgun.

Left to me, Thomas might instead write:

Grave men, after death
Their blind eyes seek only life
Rage, rage in the night

Edit: Thanks to Ben Blogged for the cool graphic.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Reason to Check One's Pockets

...before placing jeans in the dryer.

Check out the toasty color achieved, kinda like a perfectly roasted marshmallow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Writing

This is more of a personal reflection than a book review, for what it's worth.

I know I'm not the only person out there indulging in reading about writing rather than doing the work of writing (you know, some of the time). Classic procrastination disguised as progress. On the same note, there are plenty of writers who are penning "how-to" books instead of producing fiction. Most are not that worthwhile, and folks would be especially wise to avoid books that have big promises on the cover, like "Jumpstart your creativity!" and "Write your novel in three easy steps!" and so forth. This is probably self-evident.

However, a few decent books exist that are thoughtful, inspiring and actually helpful to my process. Right now, I'm reading Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Now, before you say "Eww, not that guy," just hang on a minute. I thought that, too, before I picked it up. King is one of those writers that people seem to love or hate. I used to love his stuff, but I was a ripe old seventeen years old. Then I moved on.

But this book is not (obviously) horror, and King is successful for a reason. Primarily, I think it's his astonishing output. I admire that kind of work ethic, and many people suggested the book to me. I was able to overcome my initial reluctance, and I'm very pleased that I did.

What I've enjoyed so far about the book is King's "memoir" bit, which is a brief description of events in his life that he believes "formed" him as a writer (he doesn't believe that writers are made, BTW; they either have what it takes, and do something with it, or they don't). I found it fresh and funny. I was thrilled by his descriptions of everyday encounters that later coalesced into story concepts and characters. Write what you know, right? For instance, an amalgamation of hapless girls he observed in school became Carrie (he always disliked her), the main character in his first successful book. He also engages the struggle that plagues many of us, balancing personal life with the demands of our writing ambition/addiction (are you listening, Oso?)

I found this so interesting that I sat down, and as an exercise, wrote an outline of my adolescence and filled in key memories from those times in my life. Nothing comprehensive, just random thoughts, really. I am shocked at how little I recall about my own life. King expresses his amazement at memoir writers who seem to recall every detail of their lives with clarity; he just doesn't have that, and neither do I. In fact, I question the authenticity of those tidy autobiographies.

Then in the second section, King launches into a pleasant discussion with the reader about his personal sense of wonder concerning writing as "telepathy," a method of communicating directly with another person on the page. The result is surprisingly intimate:
"I never opened my mouth and you never opened yours. We're not even in the same year together, let alone the same room... except we are together. We're close. We're having a meeting of the minds." (106)
In the next chapter, entitled "Toolbox," he discusses ways to develop oneself as a writer. No discussion so far about plotting, or character, or any of that although it may come. A pleasurable difference from other books I've read about writing.

Somewhere, I think in a Nebula volume, Ursula K. LeGuin made a statement about writing workshops that went something like this: If we teach everyone tried and true methods for fiction writing, then we'll probably get a lot of stories that sound pretty good. But they'll all sound the same. We have to work on ways to help emergent writers find their own unique voices, or there won't be any ground-breaking new work(s).

I'm enjoying the process of finding my own voice.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I've Made Nerd!

So, who can guess what this depicts? The talented artist is Mr. B.

A while back, I met a woman at an academic conference who told me all about her proposed dissertation topic concerning nerd culture. Apparently, her anthropology department was not amused. Her argument was "culture" is that which is transmitted from parent to child, and so on, down the generations. Nerds teach their children specific culture, hence, "nerd culture."

There's been a bit of talk about what constitutes "nerd" and "geek," how they may or may not be the same thing, and so on, with quite a few unexpected people getting their geek on. Supposedly, geeking is cool now, so someone has to spoil it by co-opting it.

Wil Wheaton, who is a very polite and smart person with reliable geek cred, says a bit about this.

Meanwhile, keep transmitting. Somebody has to.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Proud Pagan

I've spent the better part of the week trying to hold onto the sense of peace and purpose I gained from attending Florida Pagan Gathering this past weekend. It's a twice-annual festival which always inspires me to better my life and take action.

I attended great workshops with cool presenters. I learned some absolutely beautiful songs for groups from Margot Adler (yes, the journalist from NPR). With my family, I learned about incorporating spiritual practice into daily life as a "family coven" with Lydia Crabtree. I gathered a good amount of perspective on the future of paganism as a growing world-wide religious movement, with folks like Gavin and Yvonne Frost (who are, BTW, very anti-Christian while I am not) and T. Thorn Coyle. Best of all, I watched my husband and child jump the Beltane fires and dance around at the fire/drum circle. Amazing levels of joy.

It's hard to come home after that, although finding ticks in your clothes and scorpions in your campsite are enough encouragement to leave! I have a refreshed appreciation for creature comforts and a renewed spiritual bond with both family and friends who attended with us.