The piece is called "A San Francisco Symphony," and it's about my rather frenetic feelings and observations about my hometown – San Francisco – while growing up. You can read it in the "Other Voices" section of this month's issue, here: http://issuu.com/noevalleyvoice/docs/201402/35?e=8709749/6565258
Apologies for the gap in updates. With working on many different projects at once, on top of an already terribly busy schedule, there isn't much to report. But I did contribute to Silver Moon Photo's calendar again this year – there are some beautiful photos and lovely accompanying writing pieces by several different writers (including me!). See it here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/silver-moon-photography/calendar-2014/calendar/product-21326775.html
My poem won Thinkgeek.com's monthly techie Haiku contest and was published in their newsletter today under the title, "Astronaut Warning." The original title was "In space, no one can save you from your own stupidity," but it was understandably shortened, as the title was nearly longer than the actual poem.
When on a space ship,
Do not open a window.
It's not refreshing.
I just can't resist taking on new projects. I've recently taken up a rather ambitious one called The Thousand Words Project with a small group of creative and talented writers and photographers, with the aim of merging writing and photography to tell some fantastic stories! The website will be live June 7th at www.1kwordsproject.com.
(For those of you following my rather hot-and-cold updates about Sunshine, know that I'm still working on it whenever I can, and that I'll be sending it out to other readers soon, one of the last steps before I send it to publishers. Thank you all for your patience. It'll be worth the wait.)
I will almost certainly not finish Sunshine by the end of tomorrow, but I'm very close. To give you some kind of concrete landmark, I'm going through the final battle right now (really, if you weren't expecting a final battle, you've probably got the wrong book). At this rate, I think I should be able to finish by the end of January (I have to keep setting deadlines, and they do keep getting shorter!), and then I'll send it off to agents and publishers and whatnot, which may take another few months or so. But the bottom line is, Sunshine should be available in some form or other in 2013, and then I'll be getting right to work on Moonshine, which should take significantly less time to get a draft of. I am very excited about all of this, and I hope you are too! Here's to keeping one's New Years resolutions!
I took up a project with a friend of mine while working through the grueling last edits of Sunshine. A dubious decision in terms of planning, but nonetheless a good idea. We made a calendar together (his photos, my poems), with the theme of animals representing the different opposing forces of the universe.
You can check it out/ order it here:
Why is it that happy endings are often considered to have less depth, less sophistication and overall less "artsiness" than sad ones?
It is true that we as a species seem to have an enduring fixation with destruction, which can likely be attributed to our fascination with our own demise, and what comes after. A mystery that we will likely never solve, though mysteries do make great stories...
However, I do not believe that our collective morbid curiosity quite accounts for the whole picture. I think that somewhere, we know how a story is supposed to end. A true ending is as final as the plunge of the guillotine's blade, for every life ends in death, and every flight in a fall, or at least a return to earth. Any story, or history, that tells us otherwise, simply has not continued long enough.
So a happy ending marks an incomplete story, and we feel it, even if we are not quite able to articulate why. We feel cheated, tricked, infantilized, because the writer is keeping something from us that they don't think we can handle.
As a writer who has written many endings, both happy and sad, even I cannot say what compels me to end a story in one way or another, except perhaps something in the story itself. But I can say that sad endings cause me as much pain to write as they do to read. I do not want to end a story in tears, because if my readers were half as attached to my characters as I am, I may well start a violent revolt.
So if happy endings are not true endings, that's fine with me. I'll take a wedding over a funeral any day.
I wrote a short story inspired by thoughts of the great writers and philosophers Pascal, Walt Whitman and Nietzsche for my English class that is probably not going to be in my next anthology (A Brief History of Totem Poles). I've therefore decided to post the entire thing as a freebie. You can find it under the title of Infinity in the "Short Stories" section of this blog, and it's a painless (and dare I say interesting?) way to get yourself thinking about some of life's big philosophical questions. Go read it!
“You either have to write or you shouldn't be writing. That's all.” - Joss Whedon
"Life is a good thing for a writer. It's where we get our raw material, for a start. We quite like to stop and watch it." - Neil Gaiman
"Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter." - Neil Gaiman
“Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what's wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” - Neil Gaiman
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you... There are better writers than me out there, there are smarter writers, there are people who can plot better - there are all those kinds of things, but there’s nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.” - Neil Gaiman
“Writer advice... Write. Finish things. Go for walks. Read a lot and outside your comfort zone. Stay interested. Daydream. Write.” - Neil Gaiman
“If you only write when inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you'll never be a novelist.” - Neil Gaiman
“There are people who think that things that happen in fiction do not really happen. These people are wrong.” - Neil Gaiman
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It's that easy, and that hard.” - Neil Gaiman
“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” - Neil Gaiman
“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” - Neil Gaiman
"The truth is, it's not the idea, it's never the idea, it's always what you do with it." - Neil Gaiman
"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it." - Neil Gaiman
"The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before." - Neil Gaiman
"It's a weird thing, writing.
Sometimes you can look out across what you're writing, and it's like looking out over a landscape on a glorious, clear summer's day. You can see every leaf on every tree, and hear the birdsong, and you know where you'll be going on your walk.
And that's wonderful.
Sometimes it's like driving through fog. You can't really see where you're going. You have just enough of the road in front of you to know that you're probably still on the road, and if you drive slowly and keep your headlamps lowered you'll still get where you were going.
And that's hard while you're doing it, but satisfying at the end of a day like that, where you look down and you got 1500 words that didn't exist in that order down on paper, half of what you'd get on a good day, and you drove slowly, but you drove.
And sometimes you come out of the fog into clarity, and you can see just what you're doing and where you're going, and you couldn't see or know any of that five minutes before.
And that's magic." - Neil Gaiman
I'm going to call it writer's syndrome, though there may be a real name for it, I expect it's fairly common. I've had this kind of eenui for as long as I can remember—it's not terrible, just...there. The gist of the feeling is this: no matter how good life gets (and life is pretty awesome; I love life), I can imagine better. So far, I don't sound too special, I know. Everyone has those moments, whether they're ambitions, imaginings, dreams. But being a writer, specifically a writer of fiction, more specifically a writer of fantasy, I am always dreaming, and my dreams are always impossible. And since I write, I have to imagine the impossible thoroughly as if it were everyday life. While I'm writing, I'm living the impossible, and it's difficult to pull myself out at the end. They say that what is even worse than knowing something is impossible, is having even the slightest hope that it isn't. Now I'm not not a head case; I don't believe in fairies, etc. But I do believe that in order to write about something convincingly, a writer has to find something very close to belief in the moment that she is tying words together from pure inspiration and putting them down on screen or paper. The result is a sort of warring Yin and Yang (yes, I realize that's contradictory) of hope and belief in one's own stories, and the knowledge that none of it can ever exist.
...Is there such a thing as a fashionable straightjacket?