Monday, May 30, 2011

Why I Need to Write My Novel

So, I have been writing lately. More than I was a month ago, that’s for sure. But, I still feel… discontent with my writing. I’m not sure what it is. I’m getting down good words, I like where the stories I am working on are going. But sometimes I find myself asking “why am I doing this again?”

And yesterday, I think I hit upon the answer.

I’m not writing my novel.

Let me explain. While I am enjoying the short stories I am writing, and am even enjoying writing some things specifically for contests or magazines, I’m not writing a novel. The novel, the one that I really want to write, that I started outlining back in January. The one that is still pounding at me in the back of my head.

See, the truth is simple. At some point, I started getting focused on getting published, so I’ve been submitting and I’ve been writing stuff specifically to submit. But I haven’t been writing what it is I really want to write. That story that I write because I enjoy it, because I really want to.

And not writing that is making me feel kind of depressed every time I go to write.

So, with that in mind, I am going to put some of these stories I’ve been writing on the back burner and focus once again on my novel. Not to say that all of my shorts will go away. No, there’s a couple that I’m working on with some friends that I wish to work with. But even that is going to take second place to my novel.

Because, I am a novelist, and that’s where I need to go back to. Writing novels.

So, until next time, I’m going to be working on my next novel.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Flash Fiction: The Cure

A knock came from the two massive solid oak doors that blocked everyone from entering Master Gaza’s private workshop. It reverberated through the stone chamber, a hollow kind of noise that one felt more than heard. Gaza sat up from his work bench and glared at the door, as if he could will the person on the other side to burst into flame. He could, of course, being a master wizard, but sometimes, burning other people for no other reason that they knocked at your door was seen as bad manners. He sighed, and waved his hand almost dismissively. The doors swung outwards on their own, creaking as they did so.

“Master Gaza?” came a timid voice.

Gaza sighed again. The voice belonged to Dimon, a skinny young man who always seemed on the verge of falling over from fright. Gaza had agreed to take him on as a student, as the University of White Magic would only agree to give him this workshop if he actually taught someone. Dimon was the first applicant at his door, and thus the first accepted. He was also the only one accepted, as Gaza was not about to teach a whole class.

“What is it, Dimon?” Gaza said, pulling up his glasses and squinting at his quavering apprentice.

“Well, M-master,” the younger man stuttered, “It’s time.. er.. for my… lesson. Master.”

Gaza blinked. Then, he looked at the fairy clock that lay on his desk. It was all crystals and rocks with, but a shadow cast by an invisible sun showed the time. A gift from Titania, from a younger, more passionate, time in his life. Sure enough, his apprentice was correct. Damnation. He was in the middle of some important research. He spared a regretful look at the book he was reading, and sighed again. Then, he picked up his short, thick pipe and rummaged around for his tobacco. After a few seconds of fruitless searching, he snapped his fingers and a small silver box flew across the room into his hand.

“Ah,” he said, stuffing his pipe and lighting it with a small burst of flame on his index finger. After a few long, slow drags, he reclined in his chair and studied young Dimon.

“You were working on an alchemy project, as I recall,” he said.

“Y-yes, Master,” the young man said. “Y-you said to f-find a cure for s-some common a-ailment.”

“And,” Gaza grumbled, “it is due today.”

“Yes, M-master,” Dimon said.

“Well, let’s go see what you have,” Gaza said, and stood, waving the boy towards the alchemy table.

The table was covered in tubes and glass bottles. Small magical flames burned under some, causing the liquid inside to bubble without burning the table it rested on. Boxes of herbs, roots and crystals lay scattered about, and in the small work bench next to it was a little leather covered book, quill and inkwell. The boy had been taking notes as we went along. Gaza nodded. He had taught the lad one thing, it seemed.

Dimon sat at the table and opened the book. Then, he pulled out several small vials and showed them to Gaza.

“T-these,” he said. “uh… these a-are the s-steps I took to r-reach the final product.”

Gaza stared at the vials. He would have to do something to stop the young man from stuttering if he was to continue to be his apprentice. Looking carefully, he saw some unusual looking combinations of herbs in there. He pulled the boy’s book of the table and examined it, then looked back at the vials.

“Those are some interesting mixtures you have there,” Gaza said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen some of these herbs used together before.”

“N-no, Master,” Dimon said. “I had to d-do a lot of re-research to figure out which ones to use.”

Gaza noted that the more the boy warmed up to his subject, the less he stuttered. It’s possible that Dimon’s fear of him was actually causing the issue.

“Go on,” Gaza said, not wanting to stop this progress.

“W-well, Master,” Dimon said, excitedly pointing to the book. “These notes indicate where I got my research, and these here indicate my initial tests. That’s these two vials here. This last vial is the one that succeeded in my tests. At least, on a dog.”

Gaza looked down again at the vials, specifically the last one. It was some kind of paste, a pale green in color, and had the smell of charcoal and sweet lemon leaf.

“A poultice?” he asked, and Dimon nodded.

“And where does one apply it?” he asked.

“To the scalp, Master,” Dimon said, pointing to his own cap covered head.

“The scalp?” Gaza said. “Exactly what ailment have you cured with a poultice that is placed on the scalp?”

“I think it’s best if you see it in action,” Dimon said. He stood up and started to reach for Gaza’s own long blue hat. “If I may, Master?”

Gaza glared at him, and the young man started to tremble slightly again. He sighed. He really did need to work on that.

“Very well,” he said.

Dimon took the cap of his master’s head and placed it on the table. Then, he grabbed the vial with the poultice in it, put a liberal amount in his hand, and started to rub it into the older man’s bald head. Gaza grimaced at the scrubbing, but after his apprentice was done admitted his head did feel better.

“I am not ill,” Gaza said. “Exactly what am I supposed to be feeling now.”

Dimon did not answer, but instead stared at Gaza’s head. The older man glowered. Apprentice’s should answer right away. What was he looking at anyway?

“Well?” he growled, but still Dimon did not answer.

Gaza had just decided to slap some since into Dimon when the boy’s eyes went wide, and then a smile crossed his face.

“Master, feel your head,” he said.

“What?” Gaza said, but put his hands up to feel his scalp. His own eyes flew wide open when he felt… hair. Actual hair. Not much, maybe a few inches growth, but his entire scalp, wherever the boy had rubbed that tonic, now had hair. Gaza quickly snapped his fingers, and a mirror flew across the room. Looking into it, he saw short, stiff white hair all over his head. He smiled. Then, he laughed.

“My boy,” he said, clasping Dimon on the shoulder. “I have seriously underestimated you. With work such as this, you will one day be a famous wizard.”

“Yes, Master,” Dimon said, his own smile getting bigger.

“Tell me, lad, “Gaza said, still looking into the mirror. “What made you think of baldness as an ailment in need of a cure?”

“Well,” Dimon said, then removed his cap to reveal a shiny scalp underneath.

Gaza laughed even harder.

The End

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm Back!

Wow, I’ve been away from this blog for two weeks now! I sincerely apologize. I don’t have a good excuse. Or even a bad one, to be honest. I just kind of fell off the wagon. Not just for blogging, but for writing in general. And I mean that, it really feels that way to me. We should start a support group.

Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m a writer that’s not writing.

*Hi, Chris.*

And I feel it when I’m not writing, too. I don’t know about you, but for me, the longer I don’t write, the more crazy I get. I start to feel irritable. I get tired and lethargic. It’s almost like not exercising. My body is getting some kind of high off writing, and when I stop, I go on a downer binge.

But then I have to remind myself of something very important.

I am a writer.

This is true even though I don’t have anything published. This was true even before I got my first rejection letter (an email that I still have). This was even true before I wrote my first novel. It’s true because at the core of my being, I write. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, and sometimes I wasn’t even aware of it. That’s how much a part of me being a writer is. It’s etched in my soul, burned there like a brand.

And it’s when I write that I am happiest. So, even though I slipped and stopped for a few weeks, I have returned to the fold, and once again, I am writing. Last night was the first night in two weeks that I put words down to paper for a story. It was only a few paragraphs, but even after that, I felt energized. I had the energy and clarity of mind to go in the kitchen and do the dishes. I know, that seems mundane, but when you’re down, even doing normal housework seems hard. But after writing, it seemed like something that just needed to be done, and so I did it.

So, I am back. And I am writing. And I’ll be posting new updates here every weekday as before. Thanks for bearing with me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sitcoms and Dialogue

So, tonight, I took a brief break from reality and sat down to watch some good, old fashioned sitcoms on TV. The two I watched was the Big Bang Theory and Rules of Engagement. I happen to love the Big Bang Theory, and Rules is pretty good as well. Plus, Rules has Patrick Warburten, and that’s always a plus in my book.

As I was watching, I started wondering what it is about these kinds of shows that we as TV viewing people like? What draws us to them, what makes them so funny?

About half way through Rules, I realized what it was. It’s the dialogue.

I realize that these are TV shows, but in both cases, most of the jokes were verbal. Sure, some of it was done through facial expressions, and there was also some real physical humor, but most of it was the dialogue.

And I started to wonder: as a writer, what can I learn about dialogue from sitcoms? Probably a lot.

I looked back at these episodes and wondered what it was about the dialogue that made me like these episodes. Well, being that they are comedies, timing plays a huge part. The dialogue is also often quick and sharp. As much as I love these shows, the truth is that most of us are not as quick and witty as people in sitcoms are. At the same time, I didn’t feel that the language used in either show was unrealistic. It sounded like things real people would say.

So, there’s something I want to take away from this and apply to my writing, I think. I want to make my dialogue sharp and not stuttered with all the odd pauses and “um’s” that punctuate real world conversations, but at the same time I want the language itself to sound natural, like something someone would actually say.

So, anyway, that’s my random musings about dialogue tonight. I hope you all got something out of that. I know I did.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Terrors of Mother’s Day

So, for those that don’t know, I work in the flower industry. This means that the two weeks before Mother’s Day and the week after Mother’s Day are pretty much wall-to-wall work for me. Before you jump to conclusions about that work, I need to specify that I work at the corporate headquarters of my company, at a nice cushy desk, away from the actual flower production. I work in excel all day long. But, still, during peak season (Mother’s Day, in this particular case) the workload increases. So much so that I don’t have the time to take my normal breaks.

This all leads to tired, grumpy, cranky Chris.

Thankfully, I have the most amazing wife in the world, and she’s pretty understanding about this. I’ve worked for this place for nearly ten years now, she and I have been married for just about six, and we’ve known each other for almost nine, so she’s had plenty of experience, but still. She’s amazing and understanding. And I appreciate it.

Another thing this means, however, is that I often come home drained and grumpy and with no desire to write. I missed a blog post on Monday because of this, and am writing this one pretty late at night for the same reason. I have trouble getting myself to sit at my computer to actually write any stories, because I just don’t have the energy. And that sucks. Somehow, I come up with the energy to do my job at work, but not to do my job as a writer.

Okay, I’m just complaining now, I’ll stop. The point here is that I am being unproductive in pursuit of my carrier as a writer, and I’m not fond of it. I need to either find a better way to balance job work with writer work, or just come to accept that for a few weeks a year, two or three times a year, I’m not going to get much writing done. Right now, I’m leaning towards the second option.

Anyway, I think I’ve wined at you enough. I’ll try to come up with a better topic for tomorrow, something that actually relates to writing rather than my day job.

For the record: I actually like my job. I like my company and the people I work for. It’s just a stressful time of year. Much like, I’m sure, Christmas is for other retail industries.

So, until tomorrow, keep on remembering the future!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tiny Tales Tuesday: Gravity

I just wanted to start this post by saying I'm sorry I missed my post yesterday. It's been crazy busy at work, and as my lunch break is where I normally write these posts, I kinda missed it yesterday. But, that's the danger of working in the flower industry during Mother's Day.

In the mean time, please enjoy today's Tiny Tales. Once again, it was my entry in Leah Petersen's Weekly 5 Minute Fiction contest. The prompt was Gravity, and I think this was pretty good myself.


Gravity. It’s not something you really think about, until you were pulled into a massive gravity well.

And, brother, that’s what was happening to me.

Oh, not a planetary gravity well, of course. I’m talking about the gravity of a woman. A very particular woman. Doctor Sandra Parks. She was the new resident at the facility where I worked. One of those rare specimens, a woman physicist. And the moment I first saw her, I was sucked into that gravity well she exerted, and have been unable to escape ever since.

At first, I tried to deny it. I was a professional, there was no way I could be pulled into a woman just like that. But then she blinked those amazing gray eyes, and I knew it was a lie.

Now, I admit it. I’m lost. I’m deeply and totally in love with this beautiful woman, this amazingly smart woman that is going to change the way the world looks at the universe. And every day I work hard to get the courage to go up to her, to talk to her, to ask her out.

But as trapped as I am in her gravity, I always hesitate. Because I can’t help but think.

Would a scientist like her ever go out with a janitor like me?