Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Worst Story Ever Told

    Dear Reader, I would like to share something very dear to my heart.  I’ve mentioned the story that Erica, Bri, and I wrote in middle school before.  I think that its beautiful awfulness needs to finally be unearthed.

    Let me set the scene.  I met Erica in seventh grade.  She wrote; other than my Young Author projects from elementary school, horrendous attempts at poetry, and childish journals, I had never gotten past the idea stage.  Erica, benign dictator that she was, took it upon herself to get me and the rest of our band of friends into storytelling.  She announced, one day, that we were all going to write a story together.  We were each supposed to pick a mythological creature to be our protagonist.  I chose a centaur, Erica a fairy, Bri a dragon, Laura a phouka, Christina a… I don’t remember what she chose, and Evelyn a good witch.  The basic plot of the story was simple: these creatures had been chosen by prophecy to retrieve the pieces of a broken amulet, which would somehow restore good to the world and defeat the evil Head Wizard (to whom we were too lazy to give a real name).

    Christina and Evelyn soon abandoned the project.  Laura continued on, but developed her own world and a far more sophisticated plotline.  This left Morgana (my centaur), Lyra (Erica’s fairy), and Kazul (Bri’s dragon) to fend off evil themselves.  Many wonderful sleepovers and countless lunch hours later, this monstrosity of fiction was the result.  I’ve corrected the punctuation and grammar, but otherwise, this is word for word what we created back then.  Every last painfully bad word.  I present: Morgana.

Chapter One
Morgana Stargazer trotted to the ancient oak tree at the edge of the meadow.  She needed to think.
    Morgana loved this meadow.  It didn’t belong to her family, and that made it even more special.  Being the eldest child of two noble ranking centaurs, Morgana could have almost anything she wanted, but she didn’t want the meadow.
    If the young centaur owned the meadow, it would end up being filled with servants and constant disorder.  For now, Morgana was content with visiting her special place that was owned by someone else.
    Usually, the meadow provided Morgana with a quiet place to read, but today, Morgana needed it for something much more important.
    As everyone knows, centaurs are very wise.  Centaurs are wonderful astrologers because they can see the future in the stars.  And lately, the future had been troubling.
    It had started as, “A centaur will be sent on a mission.”  Last night, it had been, “A noble-ranking centaur will be sent on a quest with two other creatures, one of which will be a dragon.”
    Morgana shivered at the recollection.  Centaurs were always going on quests; it was a part of life.  But with a dragon?  It would be suicide!
    Dragons were enemies of the centaurs.  They were so fierce, so crude, so large!  Morgana had heard tales of dragons larger than twenty centaurs put together!
    And the part about a noble-ranking centaur going… Morgana’s father was at a battle and would be gone for at least a year.  Her mother had to take care of Morgana’s siblings.  It was the most absurd thing the stars had foretold in ages.
    “But the stars never lie…” Morgana mused to herself.  She lowered her chestnut-colored body to the soft grass under the tree and gently stroked her tail.  Even though centaurs were some of the wisest creatures in the world, Morgana was completely puzzled about the stars’ message.

*    *    *

    “Mother, I really don’t want to do this…” Morgana sighed as she looked at her reflection in one of the many pools in the Stargazer castle.
    Flowers and ribbons had been wrapped into her tail.  Her coat and hooves had been polished.  A shirt had been sewn with gold thread (an elf technique) and sported a golden color.  It was now being worn by the disgusted Morgana.
    “Your ensemble is not yet complete, my dear,” Morgana’s mother smiled.  “You had forgotten your crown.”
    “Oh Mother,” Morgana moaned.  “Must I?”  The crown was beautiful, fashioned of pure silver with designs carved in gold.  Thirteen large diamonds circled it to represent the thirteen full moons of the year. Yes, it was very beautiful, but it was bulky and heavy and gave Morgana a headache if she wore it for more than a few minutes.
    “Yes, you must,” her mother replied.  “I’m not looking forward to this ball either, but we must do it.  With your father gone, we are not exactly doing a wonderful job ruling the centaurs.  We cannot let them rebel against us.”
    “Yes, Mother,” Morgana whispered.  For the sake of the kingdom, she would be someone entirely different from herself tonight.  She would be dainty and polite.  She wouldn’t sneak off her crown when no one was looking.  And for the first time that day, Morgana forgot about the troubling message of the stars.

Chapter Two
    The ball was about to begin.  Morgana paced nervously in her large room.  Not only did she have to act perfectly, she had to deliver a speech as well!  Morgana was frantic.  She had never made a speech before.
    “I must make a good impression,” she mumbled, “for the sake of the kingdom!”
    “Are you talking to yourself, Miss?” Morgana’s personal servant, Clara, had wandered into the room.
    “I’m, uh… rehearsing my speech,” Morgana lied.  A future ruler didn’t talk to herself.  She must learn to stop.
    “I was sent to inform my lady that guests are beginning to arrive.”
    “My name is Morgana, please use it when addressing me.”  Morgana sighed as she headed towards the ballroom to greet guests.  This would be a long night.

*    *    *

    Morgana had been pleasantly surprised.  The ball had been fun, so far at least.  Everyone had told her how wonderful she looked and acted, and she had danced with a kind centaur named Thomas.  Thomas Moonwatcher was the son of one of Morgana’s father’s advisors.  And he was extraordinarily handsome.
    As Morgana was thinking about Thomas, her mother called the hoard of centaurs to attention.  “Everyone!” she called.  “My daughter, Morgana, would like to give her very first public address to you all, so let’s give her a warm reception!”
    “Here goes nothing…” Morgana thought as she approached the podium at the front of the ballroom.  “Nothing but the whole kingdom.”
    “Fellow centaurs of Peliadesia,” she began uncertainly, “I would like to welcome you all tonight.  As you all know, my father, the prime ruler of our fair Peliadesia, has been gone for many months fighting the barbaric dwarves in an effort to keep them off our beloved land.  As the stars have informed us, he will be gone for over a year, but the centaurs will emerge from the battle victorious.”  Here Morgana paused as the centaurs cheered and applauded.  “I know that we are all worried about what will happen to our kingdom in the meantime, but my mother and I will take care of it to the best of our ability.”  More cheers.  “I am, currently, no ruler.  I am unfit for the honor of protecting our nation, but I am more than willing to help my mother in the duty.  I love my land, and I assure you, I would die to protect you.”
    Morgana finished and slowly looked around.  Every centaur was looking at her, utterly transfixed.  Suddenly, Thomas burst into applause, closely followed by everyone else.  Morgana stepped down and blinked back tears of joy.  They had loved it, and she had succeeded.

Come back next week for another mind-destroying installment!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Social Media Marketing & the Writer

I returned to blogfests this week. Oh, so much fun! I write a passage on Writing Worlds, then go and read other entries, comment, and so forth. The comment-love is easy to come by for blogfests, and they seriously boost traffic to your blog.

But that isn't the best part. Reading awesome entries from the other participants and finding other authors in your genre certainly feels good. Then there's the critiques. Sometimes I get really good responses, and many times I find a lot of support. It's really easy for me to see everything wrong in my writing, and very hard to be happy with it, so positive feedback is just as essential as a thorough critique. It might be my personality, I'm more ready to believe negative evaluations to be reality than compliments :P

Then I find authors/writers who invite you to friend them on Facebook and follow on Twitter. The more we connect and the tighter the community, the easier it becomes to channel audience through the network. Also, the easier it will make eventual publication when that day comes.

I found an application on Facebook that networks blogs. This is really useful! I connected the SWS blog to one of our pages and can follow other networked blogs. if this makes it easier for our members to find writing blogs/links I will be ecstatic. It is within the SWS mission to "educate" writers about writing...and unfortunately the trend we're going, that includes the "business of writing." At least, for me, it's fun. Hopefully it helps streamline others' research.

Also, it is instant advertising for SWS. It's just up to us to make the group look professional, well-organized, and interesting.

With our website, compilation blog, member blogs, and project site, we have the beginning of a writers' network. If we can feed these pages through social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and our members can engage in discussions on Facebook, we can easily boost SWS rankings in the web at large! So be friendly, leave comments on this blog, on our Facebook pages, and on our members' Blogs! Everyone who links back to this page between now and October 8th will be mentioned at our Release Event! :D

So go ahead--Where would you like to see SWS? On the net? In the Real World? Let us know.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How I Avoid Writing

When I've reached a block in storytelling, one of my favorite diversions is to organize.  I have two big writing binders: one of current projects and another of past.  The past binder includes dearly departed stories like the old Morgana chronicles (started by Erica, another friend, and me in the 8th grade) and the far bettter but still unfinishable Revenge (written by the three of us at a slightly higher level of talent).  Hundreds of pages of Arylle  ideas and drafts fill the front half of the binder.  Tucked in the back are drawings from days of olde when I liked to pretend that I possessed a modicum of artistic ability.  These also mark a period of my writing when I was so bad at developing character that I spent more time debating about what they wore than what they actually did.  The binder is rounded out in the middle with some old handouts from highschool with basic pointers on narrative techniques, the hero's journey, and word choice.

I purchased the second binder from Staples yesterday (there are few things in the world that make me happier than new office supplies).  For the  first time, I ordered and divided five years of notes for Aya's Wings and its tentatively-titled sequel Aya's Children.  The funny thing about reading over old notes is realizing how many ideas have fallen through the cracks over time.  Some of them might even be good ideas.  With me, though, this usually serves as a comfortable reminder that as cliche and melodramatic as my writing continues to be, it really is better all the time.  I finished this new binder with a section of 'Other.'  These are fragments of story ideas or prose that hasn't found a home yet.  My Dynesia ideas were stashed here, also.

This task took half of the afternoon, and perhaps it wasn't entirely useless.  I found myself thinking about my stalled plotline later that evening.  And I caught myself looking through a catalogue and imagining what Amarinne and Najerie would wear.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

What is Art?

We writers are prompted to put pen to paper or tap messages on keyboards, for one reason. We have this overwhelming need for self-expression. Sometimes, in my case, the need to express self muted over time. I started writing, like many people, because I had issues. But after watching Loranna fight with her father and Dezy having no father...and so many other elements that reflected my own life...I took those characters and their stories and locked them up entirely.

But the damage was done. My imagination gave birth to a world, and the characters were alive in my head. I couldn't always identify with their issues, but as I have gotten older I've learned how to express them better. Them, being the characters.

To me art is about communicating. It is one of those things we assume we do. But oftentimes word choice and use do not convey the intended meaning. The simpler the word, the harder to understand. We use so many words colloquially that they attain meanings--semantics--that are not found in the dictionary. I like to keep to dictionary definitions, as near as I'm able.

I also like to assume my readers are intelligent, capable of reading between the lines. Art, in my understanding, is guiding the assumptions of the readers. Communicating intent consciously, and directing the readers' thinking. Art lies in crafting the sentences, the paragraphs carefully. But it also depends on an understanding of what the reader sees. Hence, communication.

An excellent painting is not created by a sudden spill of a paint can, even if some paintings look that way. Color and form are chosen carefully. So too need it be with writing.

Nor is art the first draft. The first draft is like a rehearsal, when all the actors run through their lines. It takes time, and revision, to make the rough outline a solid piece. Art.

Creativity, I think, when fostered in children, is treated as if it is easy. This concept is furthered by a notion discussed in various points around the blogosphere: More people are writing now than ever before because they think you sit down, write a novel, get it published. Easy money. See? Creativity must be easy. It must be making something from nothing. Following rules does not creativity make, so why follow rules?

Artists can't create a nature scene without use of perspective. An abstract artist must know how the human eye travels along a composition, in order to defy the viewer's expectation. Rules. You have to know 'em to break 'em. Else, you convey nothing. Even breaking the rules, consciously, is art.

Art, real art, is hard work. Rough drafts are easy. Rewrites and revisions, tedious. That is where the real art happens. That is when the writer hones his/her craft.

I'm 5 pages into a revision. Every scene, every thought is consciously planned. I've listened to my characters in the prior drafts, I know where they want me to take them. Now, I find a way to tell there story in a way others will understand.

I write for my characters, now. And while they are part of me, sometimes I think I am little to them. I want to publish, not for fame, nor for "success," but to make just enough that all my ends are met and I can immerse myself in the telling of stories. There is nothing else I've ever wanted from life, but the ability to tell stories and do it well.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Broken Hearts

Today, for the millionth time, I made the mistake of going back and reading parts of my first novel again.  Seriously, this will be the love affair that haunts me for life.

And good God I am so pretentious sometimes it's worrisome.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Where I Write

Hi! Haven't posted in awhile. Life assaulted me lately, hitting me from all sides. I have become a ghost, lurking around my virtual spaces, but never interacting. So with a *shove* I'm going to kick my butt in gear! :P

Where do I write?

Anywhere really. Right now, I am sitting on my Ikea couch. My guy is playing a game. There is a lamp on behind me and a fan running under the living room window.

I find that where I write has changed overtime. The first time I mastered the whole Butt-In-Chair scenario I was 17. I had just graduated High School, I had a crappy draft of a 1st novel tucked away, and was determined to crank out a "sequel." I woke up at 7am every morning that summer. I ate my cereal, poured tea--Captain's Stash Chai--turned on Lorena McKennit (changed up the albums, though) and plunged into Traitor Born. I wrote all 200 pages (forget the word count, so bad of me) on my mother's computer, in her office. Mom, naturally, was at work.

That summer I spent more time on Mom's computer than she did. By July she began to realize this. Then she thought, maybe, just maybe, she wanted to return to her poetry. Which she does, sporadically. But it seems to me that that's how poets work, in infrequent bursts. I could be wrong, maybe it's just my mom.

Anyhow, her realization was followed by a decision: Drea needed a laptop. Well, I was certainly grateful. I signed up for all afternoon and evening classes for my first semester at Community College, leaving my mornings open to write. I wrote some by hand at the neighborhood Starbucks, and then returned home to commit myself to my work. Then off to classes I went. Starbucks became the Writing Spot during my community college years. I could make a mocha last five hours, and wrote a ton in that time.

I was desperate to find people to critique Arrelle and Traitor Born. Arrelle took on greater length and complexity until it's own weight made it clearly unfeasible. So I pushed on with Traitor Born.

When I transfered to San Fransisco State, I wrote on my desktop during the week. but I wrote little. Life began to interfere. My roomate was silent, she could glide behind me so soft I couldn't hear a step. She could open the door so gently it wouldn't make a noise. The apartment-mates were cousins, and they watched a lot of movies. I hate the sound of people talking in another room. Talk radio makes me anxious. Needless to say, I was not comfortable with the continual onslaught of noise. I like music and silence. I like the TV on if I'm going to watch it.

I have, now, become accustom to the sound of computer and video games.

I transferred to Sacramento State and divvied my time between desktop and laptop. Then laptop died, and all time was spent in front of the desktop. Which worked out well, because I got a job at Starbucks that fall and moved out early the next year. Now, Starbucks has NO creative vibe for me at all.

Our first Christmas in our first rental, my wonderful guy got me a laptop and ring--not an engagement ring, we're still working on that one. But I have been wearing his gift for three years now :P The laptop is the one I'm currently using.

When the economy hit, two years ago, we moved. Then, last year, we moved again. Trying to find a system to keep our heads up and reach all of our goals. I graduated college, finally. But work has been elusive. I had abandoned Starbucks for an office job,but that was contingent on attending school. No school, no work.

I resumed Butt-In-Chair (figuratively) last summer. Really, I sat on the floor with my laptop. I worked on a "new project."

But none of my projects are ever completely "new." I tend to recycle, reform, and re-approach ideas. Then I added Blogging to the list of my efforts when fiction ran dry. Silly life, always interfering with the mental process.

I try to resume the cafe-pattern when I feel "dry." Mind, "dry" isn't writer's block, per se, it's more a feeling that I need to put my writing on "pause," because I have unexpected life issues to sort before I can sit down and dedicate myself to my imagination. I feel that "going to a cafe," should somehow trigger the older patterns.

It doesn't.

I've found my new favorite spot. I just moved, you see. I'm no longer on the couch. This is the second time I've returned to the dining chair by the table in the corner of my living room. Ornery me, the laptop is on my knee rather than the table. I'm holding the computer with my left hand while I type with my right. I think I'll stay here the rest of the night. Perhaps this will be my new writing place.

Perhaps, in all the places I've lived, in all the phases of my life, I will find a new place to write. Because it isn't the spot that matters. It is the act of writing itself. I should be able to write anywhere, anytime. Because this isn't a muscle I can turn off intentionally :D

Monday, August 9, 2010


I haven't written anything in over a month.

Well, that might be a slight exaggeration.  I think I've written a couple of sentences, but I don't like them.

I feel like I've written myself into a corner on Aya's Wings.  The slow pacing is beginning to bug me, and it's hard to remember that on first drafts, slow pacing isn't the worst thing in the world if it can be ironed out later.  But then I get impatient and start missing Arylle or, more likely, watching South Park with my sister.

The good news is, the summer that I once feared would be endless is almost at an end.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Upcoming Sylvanopolis Event

This week I want to tell you about the Classic Horror Movie Night that Sylvanopolis will be hosting.  For anyone who loves a good, old-fashioned horror movie, this event is not to be missed.  It will be held this Saturday, August 7th, starting at 7:30 and running all night long.  In addition to the movies, we'll have readings by local authors, snacks, a raffle, fortune telling, and more.  Admission is only $4.00 at the door - a great deal for hours of fun!

The event will be located at the 33rd Street Compound in Sacramento.  Please email if you would like more information.

Hope to see you there!


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