Are You There in My Imagination?

The time is now 6 days and change before the NaNo Madness kicks off, and I woke up this morning with strange thoughts bouncing about in my head.  No, they weren’t the thoughts I have about mayonnaise and spider gags–get your mind out of the gutter, people.

The thought I had deals with the characters in my novel.  The last couple of days I’ve been trying to get my mind in the right place with how I think they should talk, act, relate to each other.  I’ve been getting a feel for the world, how the city should look (Steampunk Gothic, if that makes any sense), all that jazz.

And then I woke up thinking about one of the main characters, and realized–I have no idea what she looks like.

Now normally this would be a big deal to me.  I finished up my last story (do you actually want me to whore this story, which can now be found at Barnes & Noble as well?) and did pretty well without doing a character description.  For one of the main characters I did mention that she liked color, represented by her choice of a colorful backpack, but as far as what she looked like–nada.

There was a comment that Norman Spinrad made on Facebook the other day (and if you don’t know who Norman Spinrad is, you need to start reading), where he said he doesn’t like to describe the characteristics of main characters because he wants the reader to fill in the blanks as to what they are like.  And to a certain extent I agree.  When I’m reading I fit in my mind an image of the main characters.  Even if there is a somewhat detailed description of a character–or, in some cases, a drawing–I still tend to play Fill in the Blanks for characters and develop my own interpretation.

And then I got me a curve ball thrown my way.

I’m helping out with a project involving some fetish fiction I wrote years ago.  Not only was I paid for the right to use my stories (which, believe it or not, makes them the first sales I’ve ever made), but someone is doing artwork, a series of 5 scenes from each story.  Of course when one draws scenes from a story there’s an important component that’s required–

Hence the question, “What do you characters look like?’  For no where in any of the stories did I describe any of the main characters.  Why is that?  Because when I write I usually develop an image of how my characters look.  Yes, it’s something only I see, but it does help when I’m writing.

So cut to this morning.  Why am I feeling like I need to lock down my characters for this NaNo Novel?  Because it bugs the hell out of me that a year after I first put notes together for this story, I have no frackin’ idea what anyone looks like.

And it’s not just in the context of the story of how I could describe them, but when I try to conjure up a mental image of, say, the main character, I got nothing.

And I don’t like that feeling.

It’s not an insurmountable situation, but when I start writing I want to at least have a good idea in that musty attic I call a brain that I know what the hell my characters look like to me before I start putting them down on paper.

And there’s one other things: my primary protagonist, she wears a very particular outfit full of protective enchantments.  Again, while I have a good idea what it should look like, I have no idea what it does look like.  And that’s bugging the hell out of me.

I know, it sounds like I’m being very anal about things that some people would find a minor point in terms of creating a story, but I want to get this right.  I want the feel to be real.

And if I’m not feeling the realness in my mind, then how do I expect the reads to do that same?

So, I have my project: get some looks down and design me an outfit.  Shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

After all, I’ve seen enough Project Runway to understand what it means to make it work.

Supper’s On

It’s a week to go before the insanity that is NaNoWriMo kicks off–and kicks a few of us in the groin.  Right now my Works in Progress are sort of on . . . well, they are done.  I don’t really, at this point, have a WiP in P.  I’m looking at my notes for my soon-to-be novel, more or less doing a Neo-style psych up before I have to jump off the building and write like a mad man.

You know where this is going, right?  I’m driving myself crazy with what I’m going to do, am I gonna be able to keep up, am I gonna create something that’s gonna be worth while?

Naw.

You know, I’m having very few of those thoughts.  Yes, I’m having bad thoughts off and on, but as far as the novel to be goes, very few of them are turned in that direction.  I know I have to do a little tweaking on the notes, but nothing major.  I’ll knock that off this week and be ready to go to down.

But I noticed something over the weekend.  When I wasn’t moping like a sick dog (yes, I was moping, what can I say?), I wondered why I wasn’t writing anything.  Something, anything.  I just had to do it.

But this was a strange weekend for me.  Beyond this little slice of writing paradise I seemed like I was floating about with little to do.  It made me feel just a little lost, because I really felt like I was wasting my time, which I was.

So what to do?

Game writing, what else?

I’ve talked about the online game I’ve done off and on since earlier in the year.  Of late it’s been more “off” than the other, mostly because I’ve been doing a lot more writing (like I did with my story Kuntilanak which, you will see if you just follow that link, is now being sold at Barnes & Noble for your Nook, so what are you waiting for?  Put some money in my pocket), but I still do it.  Why?  Because it’s good writing, because I love the characters, because I love the interaction my character has with my in-world girlfriend (yes, she is my character’s girlfriend; stop snickering), because I love the world I’ve helped create.

So I tried something different this last week.  My character and my girlfriend character were out on a field trip in the deep, dark woods of Maine, and while nothing really exciting happened to us like being attacked by bears–said likelihood of that happening goes way up if you are in the wild with another person and you’re having sex with them, just in case you wanted to know–I came up with the idea: hey, instead of us talking about walking through the forrests and finding all sort of plants and seeing the trees and oohing and ahhing when we find some unicorns (Team Unicorn, if we’re lucky), why not have the people who took us out talk about the trip with other instructors?  Get a little bit of an idea about what it was like from their point of view?

So since last Tuesday I’ve been writing.  And writing.  And I did a little more writing over the weekend–well, probably a lot more writing.  So far I’ve cranked out 4700 words since last week, and it’s probably that I did about 2000 words over the weekend alone.  It’s been a chore at times–you get that little niggling “Why are you doing this?” voice in the back of your head from time to time–but for the most part it’s been fun, and it’s been very engaging.  And it allows me to work on characters, to think like they think, to give their point of view on something that we, as playing characters, wouldn’t normally see.

Is it worthwhile to engage in something that, for the most part, is never going to see the light of day?  To spend all my time working on something that will never lead to any sort of financial benefit?

Sure.

Stephen King once stated in his book Danse Macabre (of which I have a First Edition printing, yes I do) something along the lines of, “If you write because you have to do it, then you’re a writer.  If you write because you are only trying to make money, then you’re a monkey”, and it’s a quote that I use a lot as well.  (He also said, “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”  While I haven’t yet made enough to pay the light bill, I’m close, therefore I be talented.)  So I’m writing and creating not so much because I know what I’m doing will turn into great, impression, wonderful masterpiece–I’m doing it because I want to, because I feel like it.

Because I feel like I need to do this.

If I didn’t, would I come out here every day and share my thoughts?

Welcome Back My Friends–

It’s been an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer weekend for me, if you can believe that.  Yesterday while I was roaming the Internet (which means I wasn’t doing anything), I discovered a live recording from one of my old records that they did of Tarkus, all 28 minutes and change.  It brought back a few memories (like what happened to all my records) . . . and not all of them good.

I grew up in a small town.  My graduating class had something like 170 people in it.  I was smart, but you wouldn’t know it from my grades, because I was always suffering from something: being bi-polar, inability to have a good relationship, afraid of just about everything–it was all there.

I’ve talked about how I used to read a lot, but I was also into a lot of music when I was in high school.  And, if you haven’t guessed, when most people were listing to Top 40 AM, I was getting into FM–

And then I found Pictures at an Exhibition.

I didn’t so much find it as someone gave me an 8-track (yes, those magical things!) and said, “This is probably something you’d like.”  Since most people knew me as “that strange kid”, I knew where they were going with that.  The thing was, I found the recording fascinating.  I loved the arrangement, and I’d always like organ and piano music, so I gravitated there.

(I didn’t like them enough to get good at playing, however.  I was sort of self taught throughout the later part of the 1960’s, and I remember sometime around 1969 going, “The hell with this; who makes a living playing piano?” not realizing that some guy in England named Reginald was going to show us just how that shit was done–)

So that was my first foray into “Progressive Rock”–or, as my friends liked to call it, “freak music”.  You know, because when you’re friends are getting into 3 minute songs and you’re jamming down to 18 minutes of Close to the Edge, you gotta be a freak.

It was around this time I started writing as well.

I would like to tell you that I wasn’t the sort of kid who sat in his room with the curtains drawn and his writing pad in his lap, his fancy pen taking down his every thought . . . but if I did that, I’d be lying.  In 1974 all I needed was a Neo trench coat and I’d have been ready to go on a rampage.  (It was also around this time that someone tried to sell me 5 pounds of C-4, blasting caps, and detonators for $250, but that’s another story.)

I never really got far with the writing thing then.  I did a few things here and there, had a couple of “good” ideas, but never really got far with anything.  One thing or another was always pulling me away, and that “thing” was usually depression brought about by whatever the hell was going on in my life at the time.

Now . . . it really all seems different.  Yes, there is depression–and by the buckets–but I still manage to get through that, and even when it seems the worst I find something to write about.  It seems like my mind is constantly going into “work in progress” mode, and with only a few days left before we writers find ourselves with a muse holding a Glock to our heads while mumbling, “I don’t give a shit how hard it is, gimme the fuckin’ story!” I’ve found my inner nutcase is pretty calm about the whole thing.

And I might have something with another story coming up . . . something very soon.  Just a matter of getting off my butt and doing it.  If you’ve been following this blog you might have an idea what I’m talking about–

In a way, being different, a purveyor of “freak music”, if you will, being someone on the outside didn’t hurt me that much, because when I get right into it I didn’t fit in with a lot of things as it was–I mean, my first story ideas weren’t “out there”, but they weren’t the sort of things my friends would have ever expected.  I could do without being bi-polar, but you take the good with the bad.

My dream the other night said I was going the wrong way.

It’s time to turn it around, and take it where I’ve never been before.

Infinitesimal Jesting

Yesterday was one of those days: it was filled with infinite sadness and not a lot of happiness.  Being bi-polar . . . yeah, it kicks you in the ass and tears you up at times, and when it does you want everything to be over.

I woke up with my head spinning and my mind in a real fog.  I had little, if any, motivation to do a damn thing.  If you read my post yesterday, you could tell there was no energy whatsoever flowing from my words.  They lay there like a dead fish smelling up a room, and the only thing that might make is smell better in comparison would be the scent waffling from the fish monger who delivered the damn thing.

It got to where I thought I might be coming down with a cold.  I’ve had that happen as well: your mood is such that it not only drags your mind down, it takes your body with it.  So I watch a little TV (Sanctuary, if you must know), drank a little Theraflu, because screw the cold, if I had one coming I was going to nail it, and that stuff does if it I get it right away, and then puttered around on the computer for a bit before heading off to bed.

Dreams were a little strange.  It seems of late that when I’m not having a crazy sex dream, I’m having ones where I seem to be back and school and dealing with stuff that I’m not handling well.  And at one point in my dream I was in a F-1 racing, going the wrong way on the track.  Yeah, I know what that means: that as far as my life is concerned, I’m going the wrong way.

Now, if only I can discover which way should I be going?

Today, though, I feel great.  Well, fairly great.  I mean, when you have mental illness you just deal with it.  Sometimes you deal with it well, and other times . . . not so well.  Yesterday was a not-so-well day, with a lot of moping and feeling bad and even a bit of crying here and there.  All part of the gauntlet, I assure you.

The worst part was not being able to write.  I couldn’t do anything.  I couldn’t look at my manuscripts.  I  couldn’t think about stories.  I began thinking about NaNoWriMo and was ready to say, “Fuck it,” and give up without even trying.  That seemed to be the part that hurt the worst, not being able to get into your words and imagination.  But, yesterday, the words meant nothing and the imagination only saw the worst.

Today, I’m looking forward to getting it done.  9 days and 16 hours before Hell Comes to Writing Town, and I’m about as ready as I’m going to be.  I’m looking forward to writing.  I want to write today: well, I’m writing now, to be honest.  But story telling, it’s what I want to do, and I need to be in the right mind in order to get there.

So today I find Trusty Editortm and get them to help me finish editing my little erotic story.  That sucker was never meant to be anything more than a test bed, something I’d put together to show someone else that I could write erotica without having to fall back on all the fetish tricks that I used to use, but now . . . now I feel it’s something with merit.  That it has a voice.  And that, after these edits, I’ll actually be able to sell it.

Is it that good?  I think so.  And someone else thinks so as well.  I mean, they like it enough to ask about bondage positions and the sort of sex toys used in the story, and even going so far as wondering what it all might feel like.

It gets the imagination going.  That’s what I’m going for, to have people feeling what my characters are feelings.  Though the question arrises: do they really want to know what an anal vibrator really feels like?

Yes, I’m back.  I’m feeling better.  And I have a little more hope today.

I want to write.  And I want to charge people with my imagination.

Maybe when this is over I won’t be racing in the wrong direction any longer.

It’s the End of the–Damn, Wrong Again

It’s suppose to be the end of the world today, but I have this feeling that things are going to keep on keeping just like they do every day.  But, see, when you have people follow these idiot religious geeks who go on about how one religious text or another sez today is the day some of us are gonna get out asses Raptured, then you have to pay attention because the news is making fun of said geek.  Which I don’t have a problem with because making fun of religious geeks is good sport for me–it’s right up there with pointing out how Pat Buchanan still loves him some awesome white supremacy and is only one GOP debate away from going full-on Mistah Kurtz and founding his own Sulaco.

Strangely, if memory serves me right (Thank you, Chairman Kaga), the world was suppose to end 4 days ago with the passing of Comet Elenin.  Said comet was, back in the spring, being hailed as everything from the rouge planet Nibiru to aliens coming for our water and wimmin.  (Note to aliens:  if you really want our water, you missed it a light year back in the Oort Cloud.)  Of course if one had bothered to do any reading, they’d have known by now that (1) it was a rather unassuming comet that, believe it or not, broke up as it rounded the Sun, and (2) every other idea put forward by waterheads was pure bullshit.

Yeah, it’s one of those days.  The crazy is out there for all to grab.

Since I’m doing NaNoWriMo in a few days (let me check the countdown . . . 10 days, 16 hours, 56 minutes as of right now), the few friends I have who are also doing it are starting to . . . well, some are beginning to fall into panic mode.  You know, when you think about it, doing a 50,000 words novel in 30 days is a daunting task; it takes a certain mind-set to sit down and crank out 1800 to 2000 words a day, and I can fully understand the panic.  You start thinking, “Can I really do this?”, or “Do I have a good idea?”, or lastly, “Is real life gonna get in the way?”, because this last is usually the thing that burns all aspiring writers.  It would be great if all of us who love to write could get that 2 years of government aid that would allow us the time to spend developing a story about some geeky kid in glasses who hooks up with a bunch of gingers at magical wizarding school and finds himself the object of hatred by Mr. Magical Nazi, but, hey: I live in the U.S., and I’m told that if I ain’t working three jobs I just ain’t American.

And not only am I dealing with the crazy and the end of the world (which, frankly, I think is gonna be late–again) but I got me some strange dreams to get through from last night.  Sure, any more I don’t think they’re that strange: I’ve been getting into a lot of things with my writing over the last few weeks, and since my brain was already twisted from jump, having strange dreams is not big deal any more.

Yeah, it’s one of those days.  I’ll do some writing, I’ll do some editing (just as soon as Trusty Editortm shows up), and I’ll probably find the time to talk about my dreams–

Oh, and I’ll miss the end of the world.  Again.

Damn it, when are these religious geeks gonna get it right?

The Safeword Is . . ..

I semi-told this story once when I did a post about calculating women’s menstrual cycles.  And because I woke up with this story semi-on my mind, I thought I would relate it again.

At one time I hung out on a political webpage and spent a lot of time chatting on all things political.  It wasn’t a bad place: I not only met a lot of good people, but for the few years I was there I was able to exchange a lot of ideas with people who wanted to see things “go forward”, so to speak.

However, as time went on, the board became less and less about politics and more and more about just hanging out and not doing a hell of a lot but comment on shit.  Of course you had your unmoderated trolls who came on and had the difficult job of setting up straw men for the few suckers to knock down.  There was our house environmentalism who berated everyone for not being as green as him, but who had a very strange habit on pissing on any technological efforts to create “clean” energy, and pretty much turned out to be another Luddite who loved his Internet while not thinking about how he had the Internet.

And there was this one guy . . . he never had anything to say.  Oh, sure, he posted, but he never said anything.  He’d throw out comments in 100 character strings like we were his own private Twitter feed.  I didn’t pay much attention to him, because he wasn’t worth the attention, but it was impossible to ignore him, because you’d try to follow a discussion on the 2008 Elections, and there he’d pop up, bitching about his lack of a love life.

But what this guy used to love to do is play what I call Citation Troll.

A Citation Troll has only one purpose: they find posts where, when you are stating a position and mention a person or article in said post, point out that you didn’t supply a link to said person or article, therefore your post is bullshit.  This guy was famous for jumping onto your comment and telling you, in no uncertain terms, that you didn’t supply a link to that article you quoted, which means your argument is completely irrelevant and spacious–haha, you got p0wned so you can go away now!

So there finally came the day when he was lambasting someone for not supplying a link, and me, being the loving and cuddly person I am, jumped in and said, “Hey, I’ve read that article, the guy you’re ripping apart knows what he’s saying”.  So now it was time for Citation Troll to jump on my back and lament, “Where’s the link?  Since you have no link your position has no merit.  Therefor you are wrong.”

Well, now . . . I just couldn’t let that go.

I was very polite in my response, which was something along the lines of, “Hey, there’s this great tool called Google, so why don’t you take the information given and look it up yourself, you lazy, worthless fucker?  Do something besides bitch and tell people they’re wrong because they won’t make your life easy and do a little work for yourself, you stupid assclown.  I’m not your monkey, so kindly piss off and die.”  See?  I’m really a sweetheart.  If I’d wanted, I could have been mean.

So what does Citation Troll have to do with today’s post?

It’s all about doing your research.  Again.

No, not really.  It’s about teaching, I think.  It’s about imparting knowledge to others and watching it stick.  For example:

Last night Trusty Editortm and I were going through my erotic story, and they had a few questions.  Trusty Editortm is a “visual person”; they like to be able to see what it is happening in the story, and while I’m good at doing descriptions, there are times when they need to “see” something in all it’s glory.  And Trusty Editortm loves to push me to get that visual out there, so much so that there have been times when found myself getting a bit frustrated because they just.have.to.see.it., and I gotta do something to let them “see” said thing.

So one of their questions had to do with a bondage position in which one of the characters found themselves.  Yes, Trusty Editortm had an image of how this character might have looked in the story, but . . . say no more, I know where you’re coming from.  With a quick Google search I managed to find a sit that, believe it or not, showed all sorts of different positions that a submissive could adopt, and right there: booyah!  I found the exact picture I needed.

And a little while later they asked about a type of vibrator one of the characters was using.  So time to fire up the Google search, and there you have it: the sort of vibrator I had in mind when I started writing.  Once more Trusty Editortm was happy, and trust me: I like keeping Trusty Editortm happy.

But it was their last question that I liked the best.  We were getting deeper into the action, so to speak (if you hadn’t figured out by now that said action involved someone being tied up and having a vibrator being used on them, you’re only skimming this post) and at this point the character in question had one more piece of “equipment” use on them–

And that was when Trusty Editortm asked, “Shouldn’t she be thinking about a safeword?”

See, this is where I’m kept honest.  This is where Trusty Editortm keeps me thinking and makes me realize I better not get lazy, ’cause sometimes they are seeing something in the story in a way I don’t see it.  And, of course, they are right: at that point in the story I should have had just a line, one little like, where the character in question should be thinking, “Do I need to drop the safeword right now?”, because, was was pointed out, the character in question was going through some mildly heavy shit.

But I had to comment, “I’m surprised you remembered that!” meaning they remembered the concept of safewords, which was something we’d once spoke about.  I was very happy when I saw the reply:  “I’m new at this, but I’m learning.”

Trusty Editortm isn’t a Citation Troll.  They like to listen, and they enjoy learning.  And they help me out considerably, because they keep me honest, sometimes taking what I’ve given them and giving it back to me.  They make me think and even look things up when I might not want to, because . . . well, that’s what you’re editor does.

They are your partner in this game calls story telling.

What more could one ask for?

In the Cold Kanvian Rain

It’s been raining here for most of the night.  Not one of those downpour-type rains where it’s pounding against the house, but rather one of those steady drizzles that maintain their constancy and volume through the day and night.

And it’s also chilly outside; it was down in the 40’s last night and it’s going to be like mid-50’s with a lot of wind today.  It’s dark, it’s crummy . . . so what else comes to mind but–

Gaming.

Oh, yeah.  I know you thought I was gonna say something else, but no: gaming came to mind.  In particular, the title of this point relates back to a game I ran so very long ago, and that makes me think about something else . . . no, not sex–

Writing.

Allow me to elucidate.

For the longest time I’ve been a gamer.  It really all started in 1974 with war gaming, but 12 years later I was getting into role playing.  It wasn’t long after that I started running games–or “GMing” for you non-gamer types–and I quickly discovered that if you wanna have a good game, you have to learn to get inventive and imaginative pretty damn fast.

I also learned that when you spend 6 hours with 4 or 5 other people, all of whom are coming up with all sorts of crack-pot shit about what they want their characters to do, and you’re trying to keep of that while remembering where you had their characters go and who their character ran into, I had to figure out a way to keep all this straight in my mind.

Thus began the creation of my game logs.

I needed these to keep my own sanity, because I knew somewhere along the line one of my players would say something like, “Oh, yeah, my character got that Warhammer from so-and-so, and it already came with that Ultimate Badness Weapon.”  And naturally, if I didn’t have any way to disprove his claim, I could find myself in a situation where I’d spend most of an hour arguing that fact.

With my log, however, I could just go to the computer, pull up the session where said player got the Warhammer (it’s a mech, Jim) and tell the player, “No, you’re wrong.  See?  You got the Normal Crappy Weapons, so sit down and be happy.”

My game logs became something more than just a way of seeing what happened.  Because I didn’t want bore myself with a lot of cold, hard facts, I tried to write my logs in a way that were, shall we say, entertaining?  Now, sure: I would be the only one looking at them, but why not be a little inventive when describing the sort of crazy hell that is a role playing session?  I mean, if you’re a writer, you gotta entertain yourself as well as your audience, right?

And while I was writing I decided to extend that into the world of the characters.  During the 2 1/2 year run of my MechWarrior game I wrote 6 articles by one Winslow Duke, who had a very unique outlook on life, politics, and war in that particular 31st Century universe.  When I ran Cyberpunk for nearly the same amount of time I was always doing little writeups for the players, giving their characters a bit of a personalized window the events of the world.

And when things started moving more onto the Internet, my logs went there as well.

Eventually I started running a couple of games based off 0f TV shows, Farscape and Serenity.  Both these games had established online communities, and as I wrote up my logs I began posting them for others to see.  Why?  Because I wanted people to see what I was doing, but also because I wanted to entertain.  By this time my logs were getting more detailed, but they were turning more into semi-stories than simple explanations of what had happened during a game.

There was some great writing in my logs, and I feel it helped me at the time learn to be not only descriptive, but it helped improve my imagination as well.  Running a good game is like creating a good story: they are both one in the same in my mind.  And so, when you write about what happened during that session, you want to try to impart the feeling of what happened to the people who are reading.

I’ve lost my logs to my early games, but I still have my last two.  To say I keep detailed recording off all that happened would be damning those logs with faint praise.  My Serenity logs ran 108 pages and 64,200 words, while my Farscape logs ran 150 pages and 89,900 words.  And I have to say, I have some great writing in there, ’cause at the time, I really needed to entertain myself.

I’ve told people that one day I’m going to publish these logs, because they do show how I was developing as a writer–and they’re damn fun to read.  Or at least I think so.  Maybe people who aren’t into gaming would find them interesting.  I would hope they’d look at the writing and examine the creativity that went into the story behind the writing, and understand and enjoy what I was doing.

And if you, the reader, like what I was doing, then I succeeded.

Because, in the end, it’s always about being entertaining.