Friday, November 29, 2013

The return of The Quantum of the Past...

Over the past few months I've become aware of how horrible I am at completing my monthly goals. I won't even include my November goals here just because I know they didn't get done. I binged this past month on reading. But at least I got some work done.

Consider that I've almost finished the full novel version of The Quantum of the Past: A Fantasy. It's almost done. Almost is the operative word there.

Here is what the artwork for the full novel will look like:

Thanks Ravven for the artwork!

I'm still taking shots at my Wizards. And to be sure, I had a glorious burst of creativity aimed at Ascension.

With two jobs on the side, I have to make sure to put one foot in front of the other as I move. It has been a long time since I've felt a sense of well-being like this.

So, I've found three really good artists to work with. And with the projects I will finish next year I'll have a body of work available. I think it's time to put money aside for advertising.

For December, my goals are: None; nathan; nada. No goals. I always get too ambitious. I'll likely finish the Wizard story I'm working on now and for sure get the Quantum book proof done. But who knows?


PS: I'm desperately trying to finish Divergent. But I'm having a difficult time swallowing the basic premise of the book! I will review it since it reminds me so much of Pure.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Three jobs...

After much, much work, I finally cemented the basic plot of Ascension. Hooray!

Yes, I have been nibbling at that for a while now, but only now do I have a grasp on the plot. With a mystery, it's difficult to work out a plot that makes sense. You are basically creating a crime that ordinary detectives were unable to solve for whatever reasons. Those "reasons" have to be plausible. I think I laughed at the first book in the Kinsey Millhone series because its plot devices relied too much on luck (good luck is the same as bad luck).

After you create this crime that ordinary detectives weren't able to solve, then you have to lay out mistakes, believable mistakes. The assumption is that crimes are not committed perfectly, not even supernatural crimes. Therefore, there will be mistakes along the way. And these mistakes are one form of clues.

Along with mistakes, there are the deductions that the clever detective has to make with the information he/she is initially given. The best type of deductions are the ones that are initially wrong. Along the way, the detective creates an impression of the crime, which becomes refined as the tale progresses. This is, for me at least, the lure of reading and writing in this genre. And, for me again, the best types of deductions are the ones that seem the most correct, but end up the furthest from truth. Again, these deductions open the way for more clues, more information to feed the detective's mind.

That machine grinds the information and makes further deductions. The initial picture of the crime seems foolish now, things become more complex. Too simple mysteries are unsatisfying. If I can figure out who is responsible and why from the get-go, then it seems to destroy something in the novel. The tension in a mystery novel is between the detective and the reader, where the detective is either faster or slower than the reader at interpreting the information (a fiction orchestrated by the writer).

A well-executed mystery story provides a satisfying resolution.

And of course, all of the things I've mentioned do not complete the novel. A timeline is needed (unless you can keep track of events in your head really well). That timeline becomes more refined until finally, the timeline is the novel.

This isn't it though. What mystery novel would be complete without a double-cross or two? Without adding challenges to the detective (because he/she cannot be allowed to solve that crime with ease, not ever, no way).

So, my binging is done. I've read what I needed to read and can produce again. Yes, I started my second job this week. It's very exciting; I get to watch people give each other emotional goodbyes before they board their flights.

With the job I have at the library, the job at LAX will give me a new dimension of stimuli. I am uniquely placed to be able to observe human beings at their most emotional. Truly, it is a treat to write these days.

And the tally is three jobs: 1) Writing; 2) Library; 3) LAX.

Who needs a staff?

Art by Celairen


Monday, November 11, 2013

M. Butterfly Effect

I've spent most of my time reading lately. Sometimes, I binge on books to help me drown the large number of stories in my head; I wish they would just stop coming, but my imagination is such that ideas and scenarios play out continuously, brought about by the smallest stimuli.

It is not as bad as it sounds. The binging helps me get my ideas together about the fiction I'm writing. Also, this summer I didn't get to read as much as I would have liked. Reading short works like The Great Gatsby will help me get an appetite for longer works, like The Grapes of Wrath.

Plays are also short and thanks to the American Drama class I'm taking, I've been reading many plays. Before this season, I never read much contemporary drama. That was a mistake. I found this out recently.

M. Butterfly by D. Hwang is the kind of story that lets you see what can be done with the symbols we call language. It was like a fresh onion: Layer after layer of meaning; the deeper you peel away at those layers, the more you want to cry.

It helped me formulate a question that had been formless in my mind until after I finished reading that play: Why do we think we are either male or female if we come from males and females (together)?

Of course, you will say it is because of your penis and vagina. But if I were to suggest that our genitals are what make us male or female, then I think I would be missing something. And, you might say, angrily too I bet, that we are not animals--only wild beasts depend on their genitalia to define them.

What do cultures usually preach? There is more to being a man than just having male genitalia. We drive that message across in America and abroad; that is why there are rituals denoting manhood. It is never enough that we have the right equipment, so to speak. Certain behavior is expected. It is the same for women.

Other words come into the conversation, like masculinity and femininity. There is more involved. In the past, the female gender has been relegated to domestic duties, while the male gender has been out using their brawn and mind to carry on society, suspiciously keeping the mind of the female gender in the domestic sphere.

I think it was Virginia Woolf who first helped form these thoughts in my head, that what we call gender is an illusion. She rightly noted (as have many other female writers) that the female gender, the illusion, is the result of keeping them in the domestic sphere--a brash form of conditioning.

Unlike other female writers, however, Virginia Woolf considers the consequences of removing the conditioning. In, A Room of One's Own, she considers that the conditioning has given women certain characteristics--some of which she doesn't females ought to be rid of. What is the end, then? Androgyny. She weighs the options.

Hwang considers the male illusion in M. Butterfly. I want to keep going, but I won't spoil that for you, and I think I have rambled on enough for a Veteran's Day post.