Thursday, September 23, 2010

Other than fame, what do Rowling and Meyer share?

So I'm on the CSUS English E-mail list. I received an e-mail from the list service concerning a high school boy who was writing a paper on Twilight. I think I over responded to the question: "Who spread the word?" (about Twilight, that is).

I made the case that it needed nothing. And as I built my argument, citing the history of the industry, I found out...well, that was market analysis. And now, creepy as it is I can see why Twilight was a hit. Just by looking at the trend.

Wanna know why?

Fantasy has always had vampires. We share them with our Horror brethren, and get the creeps from them. Then in the early years of this century Paranormal Romance boomed. And it didn't boom small. It took over the romance genre so rapidly that Harlequin released an imprint, Luna that shook up the Fantasy genre.

Meanwhile, fantasy authors began reverting to YA. When Harry Potter exploded onto the scene, YA exploded with fantasy. Classic Fantasy novels were reprinted with YA covers and stacked on YA shelves. Harry Potter, despite its overtones of high fantasy, occured in the modern world. Which is a trait Urban Fantasy shares. A lot of paranormal romance shared the same traits.

And Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series which bridged horror, fantasy and erotica got popular in the early 21st century. (Related to the complicated nature of Anita's relationships, perhaps?) While Hamilton began publishing her series in the early nineties, during the prior ascension of then-named "dark fantasy," she didn't see popularity until the rise of paranormal romance.

Lastly, novels with conservative ethics have made a comeback. Christian writers can write in any genre and as long as they have moral overtones...they can be hosted in Christian bookshops. And novelty shops, like Christian bookshops, are the only types of independent stores that stand a chance anymore.

When Meyer came along, she bridged all of these popular areas. The time was just right for her. Rowling had opened urban fantasy to the YA-reading crowd (children and adults alike) and taught the publishers that This Stuff Sells.

So her first book hit the shelves in '05. By the release of her 3rd book, popularity had increased to insane levels.

Luna books published urban fantasy that bridged paranormal romance, pulling those readers into other genres, and the heady mix produced the modern industry. Hachette, the publishing group under which Twilight was published, saw so much success that last year (I think, look it up :P) they opened Orbit. A SFF imprint that is really putting out some interesting things. So maybe Twilight IS making the world better for us.

Though where Twilight falls on the spectrum, is clearly as a "YA Romance with horror/fantasy and christian themes." Yes, I know she is Mormon, but honestly, all conservative religious ideologies share more in common than they differ in. And I'm more concerned with the marketing slant than the "truth" of her value-origin. The marketing slant and the behavior of the readership is related. For something to be this successful, not only does the marketing have to work, the audience has to be there...lying in wait....and they were.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Moving Foreward

In my interest to grow as a writer and a person, I found the idea presented by Anastasia V. Pergakis on her blog "Labotomy of a Writer," fascinating.

I fully intended to create my own collage out of old magazines...

However, when I pulled out my poster paper and searched the house...well, I recycle many old fashion mags. The magazines that still hang out on bookshelves are old Realms of Fantasy, MZBFM, Asimov's, etc. Nothing I want to cut up.

So I took up my colored pencils and paper and created a rough poster:

From 2010-09-16

The main goals are the large images. Directly in the center is a desk, one side represents "work" and the other "writing." The left hand corner features a picture odf a kitchen :P The goal represented here is too keep my kitchen clean and ordered, and to reduce waste here. I cook nightly, so we go through pots/pans/dishes/silverware quite quickly. And cooking is ... messy. Especially when I go on automatic. When we briefly lived with my guy's mother I apparently stunned her with how quickly I chop veggies...but food is the one essential cost in my life that (while I'm attempting to reduce) is never going to be cut out entirely. So being more efficient and less wasteful is necessary to leading a rich and rewarding life on a squished budget.

On the left hand side I have an image of a very poorly drawn bundle of bills transposed on a line-graph. The goal here is to return to relative financial security. Mind, this is dependent on receiving an income...but, hey, it's a goal :D

On the bottom I have three (lesser) goals. The most important of these three is in the right hand corner. I have mentioned before that I have too many clothes. Keeping organized when I naturally have one foot in the dreamworld can be ...a nightmare...joke unintended. But as I get older I'm finding that disorder in my home is making me increasingly disconcerted. It makes it hard for me to focus. I feel like my house--torn in a bazillion directions. Unsettled. So if I am aiming to write (in the non-blog world) regularly, I need to do a better job keeping my home organized.

The second most important is learning to sew, and completing my mending. Currently, my mending sits in a box in a closet. Buttons fall off, zippers break, and the box winds up overflowing. I need to actually get back to it.

The final large goal is planting veggies. Gardening would be another obligation to list to my long to-do list, but would be immensely helpful.

I see the bottom three goals as essential to improving my fiscal security, which is important to my mental state and assists in the job hunt/writing endeavors. Why?

If I can keep my clothing and such ordered I can:

--see what I don't use.
--see what I should alter to make a better fit.
--increase my ability to pack away/donate and otherwise dispose of unneeded garments,do-dads and whatnot.
--which will assist in providing an ever more ordered environment.

If I can complete my mending:

--I can see what I will/won't use of my full clothing collection...
--see what I should alter.
--and the last two mentioned above, too.

If I learn to sew:
--I can alter clothing I have to match fashions I like.
--I can dress as I like more afordably...but retain my chosen form of visual expression.

If I plant veggies:

--I cut down on the produce that I buy.
--since vegetables compose the majority of our diet, this would present me with an insane level of control over my food budget.

If I cut down on waste:
--this means that I reuse all plastic bags, plastic wrap, aluminum and Styrofoam I possibly can (just a lot of washing to achieve this).
--(ideally) create a compost pile.
--buy and use less veggies
--store fewer food items, and make it easier to meal plan accordingly.
--meal planning and less buying equals more money to get by for more months...

All of these will make me feel more "in control" of my life. The more secure, the easier to write.

The little messages strewn throughout are like little reminders. "Stay positive," emphasize "reusing" goods, etc...which help me reach the big goals :D

What would your collage look like?

Friday, September 10, 2010

This is me jumping on the band wagon. Below is a tidbit from Arrelle...shelved 6 years ago after 5 years of writing/revising/rewriting. Be warned, I shall blast my own writing to shreds after the excerpt! :P

(To know: Arrelle is in hides, kicked out of her homeland. She and Evridon are in a prison cell. Velrehn is Evridon's home, its people enemies to Arrelle's.)

Evridon, though--
Someone was shaking her, Someone quite strong since she felt as weak as a leaf...and that was not a sense she liked. She opened her eyes. Velrehni! Her hand, of instinct reached for her side: nothing. Her back: nothing. Her--an animasl smell returned her to the present.
"Blahk." The Velrehni made a face. "Those really smell."
"I don't trust you."
"Fine. Good. That means you'll remain over there."
She frowned. "You are a fool."
"Is that the best insult you Leccites have? Look, you've no reason to trust me. By Draden, I certainly don't trust you! But those are sad last words. Sad to die plagued by the past."
Arrelle tensed, wondering if somehow he had read her mind...could he have seen...?
"Sad," he continued, "That I haven't overcome it." He rubbed his forehead with an earth-brown palm. "You haven't either, have you?"
She didn't respond. His smile was ironic and directed at nothing in particular. Arrelle found it offensive.

So why is this bad? One, Eesdon's random supposedly "sage" comments throughout are an indication of his one-dimensionality. Through Eesdon the "reader" of this version is supposed to develop a better understanding of Arrelle. Can you tell I meant for them to get together? And see how naive I was about relationships? I think that exudes from their dynamic...Eesdon slowly guides Arrelle through her own dark places and forces her to deal with life because he knows so much better.

BS. WTF. Why does Eesdon know better? Because he was on the streets for a few years? Because he's male? What was I thinking? Clearly I had no idea what the meaning of "a relationship is a partnership," meant.

Eesdon and Dayis guide Arrelle differently, toward different truths. This, to my current sensibilities, is too simplistic. Real people are not devices to assist the growth of your heroine/hero. So this sort of character building is unrealistic. Though it does highlight my emphasis on structure. Everything feeds plot :P Stupid plot-driven tendencies.

On the sentence level...too many adverbs, unwieldy sentences and an over dependence on dialogue. Too much information, too little internal dialogue. Too little description. on top of everything, characters know too much. I focused on psychological discovery over real life-changing events...but didn't do enough "explanation." There's a lot telling, too little showing...

And feel free to add anything else to the list! :D

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Link to Steven Sylva-aRT's Blog Entry

I'm sure there's any easier way to link this, but I wasn't sure how to do it myself.  So I decided to post a link to my blog post for the week here.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Humbled by Mel's bravery in posting her first stumbling efforts into the world of fantastic fiction, I have decided to post my own part in it. Sadly, I cannot even claim that this was my first attempt at writing. I was actually working on a novel at the time (the first in a proposed quintet, after which would come a second quintet. I was a very ambitious twelve year old. Obviously something has changed.)

Like Mel, I have preserved every painful word. In this installment you will witness info-dumps and a rather poignant example of why I no longer even attempt to write fight scenes.

Somewhere along the line I lost the first page of this story so it begins in the middle of a sentence. Essentially, Lyra, our protagonist, is handing out orders to the gang of thieves she runs.

“... usual posts. I want you to stay away from fights and whistle if you do. I would also like to inform you that all the rules still apply and anyone caught breaking them will have to answer to me.” Lyra glared at them to drive her point home. “Alright, go!”
                The gang melted back into the shadows, all but two. These were Iorek and Asriel, Lyra’s partners; second and third in command. Lyra ran her gang differently than others’ gangs. Each of her thieves had a specialty and worked in that area. Some were pick pockets, others raiders, and some were con artists. Lyra worked in all these areas but her specialty was in con artistry. Iorek and Asriel helped her. “Let’s go,” growled Lyra and stepped back out into the crowded streets.
                Lyra stopped to take in all the scents of the city.  Merchants yelling their wares, the creaking of cart wheels, the different cries of animals, and the laughter and talk of  the crowds blended together as background noise. Different scents drifted toward her on the breeze. Fresh baked bread, sweat, dung, spices were all there, familiar. She could remember when all this had seemed alien and frightening, but it seemed like home now. She knew Cyn could never feel at home in the city as she did, but Lyra enjoyed being around the crowds, even the noises and smells.
It was easy to hide in the city, to blend in and never be noticed. It was also easy to get away. There were countless little alleys, sidestreets, and backways. One could hide hideout in the city and never be found, if one knew the right places. And Lyra, being a thief, did. Lyra was conscious of this every hour of every day, for this was her city, she may not have grown up there, but it was hers all the same. Lyra knew all this in a moment, then put her able mind to other things. The sun had risen, there were plenty of people out, and work to be done.
                Lyra, Iorek and Asriel made their way to the square where each of them promptly took a strategic lookout point and leaned on whatever there was to lean against with an air of casual boredom. Lyra was leaning against the side of a stall displaying cooking pots and a few pieces of finely worked metal when the apprentice began to flirt delicately with her. When it was profitable Lyra took the time to wear a dress, as now, and looked really quite fetching in it. One of the best tactics she used was to get on someone’s good side so that they showed her the box with the money and, unwittingly, how to open it. The apprentice tinker was falling right into her trap.
                Lyra was just stating that he must have awful responsibilities like, say, protecting against thieves? The apprentice, named Jobrile, said he did have a lot of responsibilities, but the money practically protected itself and would she like to see? Why of course she would!
He took her to the back of the stall where there was an iron box with a variety of locks which she looked at intently. It would be a challenge, but then again, Lyra enjoyed challenges. It wasn’t the locks that worried her, (she was an excellent lockpick) it was the iron. All faries were a little allergic to iron, especially those with magic. The apprentice noticed her staring and asked about it. It was just that all those locks were fascinating, and how did he ever keep track of all the keys? Well it wasn’t really all that hard.
                Lyra threaded her way through the crowd, artfully bumping into people. She seemed so kind and so full of remorse everybody just said think nothing of it! After all the streets were crowded. Lyra had been doing very well that morning and the afternoon looked to be even better. Then everyone would stop work early, and the real revelry would begin. Lyra was just thinking to herself about how much she loved faire days when a high, shrill, whistle echoed across the square.
                Nobody else paid much attention to it, but then again, Lyra was the only one who knew what it meant. It was one of her thieves whistling, and that particular whistle meant danger. Lyra also knew the type of danger the thief was in; he was hopelessly outnumbered in a fight and there was no way to get out of it. Lyra had designed the complicated system herself, rookies who didn’t know the meanings were always accompanied by someone who did until they learned. The whistle couldn’t reach over the whole city, but there was always a thief in the vicinity who could pass it on if need be. Lyra knew all this in but a second and started to make her way to its point of origin.
                As she reached the allyway she knew the distressed thief was in, the rest of her gang materialized around her. Lyra entered the alley and took the scene immediately. Her thief, Borcan, a boy only about nine or ten, was surrounded by a ring of older boys. Lyra recognized some of them, they were from a gang across town. Lyra knew their leader and was not fond of him.
 Sorcen, she thought. He is, I think, overly fond of making trouble. Whatever these imbeciles may say they knew Borcan was a part of my gang when they attacked him. Maybe it is time I taught him a lesson.
                “Halt!” Lyra said in a strong, clear voice, “I said stop!”
                “I heard wha’ yeh said, but who’re you t’be sayin’ it?”
                Lyra drew herself up to her full height, looked down her nose imperially at the speaker and said, “I am Lyra Silverlit, and you are assaulting one of my thieves,” her voice was dangerously low, and by the end it sounded very much like a growl.
                The speaker just smirked and Lyra knew she had been right. It had been a set up. Every thief in the city (and probably a fair amount outside of it) knew the name of the Queen of Thieves, and it was not a name to be smirked at. “And if you fight one of my thieves,” she continued, “You fight me.”
                “And if you fight one’ve my thieves, you can bet on fighting me,” came a voice, and Sorcen stepped forward. “Lyra Silverlit, I challenge you.”
It is not a widely known but thieves have their own kind of Court System and customs to go with it. Everyone present knew that this was not only a fight between rival gang leaders. This was fight for superiority. In essence Sorcen was challenging Lyra’s authority as Queen and her gang’s superiority for her being head of it. Whoever won would be the rightful ruler of the thieves.
                A circle was automatically formed around Lyra and Sorcen by all thieves present, except for Borcan who was trying to get his breath back; he looked pretty bad.
                “I accept your challenge Sorcen,” Lyra said, though everybody had known she would. Sorcen leered. Lyra glanced back at her gang, who formed half the circle. They knew the rules, do not attack until attacked, she just wanted to make it clear it still applied.
                Lyra and Sorcen stood in the afternoon sun sizing each other up. Lyra knew he was bigger and probably stronger, so she couldn’t let herself get  trapped or too close. She also knew he was not as fast as she, and his reflexes were sluggish, she could use this to her advantage though her skirts would slow her up. Lyra waited for Sorcen to make the first move, she wouldn’t start a fight, but she’d finish one.
                “What’s-a-matter Lyra, afraid?” he sneered.
                “No,” she replied, and then he made his move.  
                Sorcen lunged for Lyra and hit her squarely in the eye. Nice tactic, thought Lyra, try to impair my vision. She jumped back, as did Sorcen. He was leering again. Lyra blinked once, twice,  shook her head and stepped up. Sorcen lunged again but Lyra was expecting this, she ducked and hit him heavily in the jaw coming back up. Sorcen whirled toward her and her and threw another punch which she avoided easily, though she got caught in the gut with the next one. Winded, she stumbled a bit and Sorcen seized his chance. He lunged yet again and struck a blow to the head.
                Lyra reeled, stars and balls of color burst before her eyes. Her skirts tripped her up and she fell heavily. She rolled over onto her back just in time to see Sorcen aiming a kick and rolled out of the way. She was back on her feet in a trice and shook her head once more.
                “Doesn’t look like things’re goin’ your way Lyra!” jeered Sorcen.
A boiling rage burst in her chest and spread throughout her body. She had fought with some of the best, she knew what she was doing. She was not about to lose to a hot-headed loud-mouth like Sorcen. This time Lyra lunged, making a sound very much like a roar. He managed to block her first few blows, but just barely. Her fist finally connected with his head and then his gut. He reeled. Lyra pursued. She wasn’t a knight, she had no need to be chivalrous. Another blow to the head and one to the jaw. Fighting like a wildcat Lyra sought out all his weakest areas, until Sorcen fell to the ground with a thump.
                Using her knees to pin his arms, Lyra put her hand to his throat and applied pressure, not enough to choke him, but enough to let him know she meant business. Her other arm was pulled back, the hand balled into a fist that would surely break his nose if she brought her arm down.
                Putting her face very close to his she said, “Surrender,” though it came out as more of a growl. He spit in her face.  Lyra applied more pressure to his throat and her upraised arm became even more taut.
                “I said surrender,” she breathed. She could feel him gulping under her hand.
                “Al-alright , I surrender.”
                “I surrender!”
                “Good.” Lyra got up and started to walk toward Borcan when she heard footsteps. She turned around at the last moment and dealt Sorcen such a blow he fell down unconscious.
                “Some people never know when to quit,”  she muttered as she pulled Borcan to his feet. He had been beat up pretty bad.
                “Somebody see to him, then get back to your posts,” she barked, then she strode off into the direction of home.

Morgana Continues!

The next three chapters of Morgana follow.  First, though, I'd like to make note of the fact that I started a new short story last week, alleviating my fears that revisiting this catastrophe would permanently stunt my writing.  Anyway, onward:

Chapter Three
    The ball was nearing its end; only one event was left: star reading.  The reading of the stars was the most exciting part of every centaur gathering, but tonight, there was only one message.
    “Morgana Stargazer, the soon-to-be warrior will be sent on a quest with a dragon and a fairy.  She shall be a heroine for all eternity.”
    All eyes turned to Morgana; she couldn’t be a warrior.  Only men could be warriors!  Morgana felt her world crash down on her as the stares and rude comments kept coming.
    “Calm down, my friends!” Morgana’s mother shouted over the noise.  “Morgana can’t be a warrior, so we must be reading the stars incorrectly.”
    This seemed to soothe the centaurs, so gradually they left the ball, leaving Mrogana alone in the clearing.
    Though Morgana was crushed, she wasn’t staying away from others out of shame; she had noticed something else.  Next to the spoken star message was another one.  Some sixth sense told her that no one else had been able to see it; it was meant for her.
    Morgana scanned it quickly, and then write it down on a small piece of parchment. It appeared to be a riddle.
    Straight away to the North,
    Keep the rising sun to your right,
    And the setting moon to your left,
    Sleep as the stars dance at night.
    Three weeks on the path you’ll be,
    Until you arrive at the guarded gates.
    Go straight away;
    Your destiny awaits!

*    *    *

    Morgana realized immediately that she must run away.  Her mother would never give her permission to go on a quest.  Nonetheless, she was hesitant to leave her family, friends, and land.  She sat on the cool grass and pondered the inevitable deed.  She had no choice; she had to go.
    The centaur grabbed her cloak, enough provisions for three weeks, and the family sword.  Morgana’s father had not taken the sword for fear the sly dwarves would rob him.  Nonetheless, the sword was said to possess magical qualities to those who used it wisely.  Unfortunately, Morgana had never even held a dagger before, let alone the family sword.  Still, something told her that she would need it, even though she would have to steal it.
    At around midnight, Morgana set out on what would be the greatest adventure of her life, but first, she had to do something.  Hiding behind a bush, she pulled out a piece of parchment and a pen and began to write.
    “Tell no one about the contents of this letter.  I must leave.  I would tell you where I’m going, but I’m not sure myself.  Tonight’s message was no mistake.  Pray for my safety and know that you will always be on my mind.  I will come back safely, so try not to worry.
    “Love, Morgana.”
    Morgana slid the letter under the door of Thomas’ house and stole off into the night.

Chapter Four
    Morgana had been traveling through the Myst forest for almost a week.  Other than direction, Morgana had been ignoring the stars’ message.  They had said to sleep at night and travel by day, but in all good adventures, the hero traveled at night so as not to be seen.  Besides, Morgana couldn’t think of anything dangerous at night that wasn’t a threat during the day.  So she traveled by night.
    All was going well until her seventh night of travel.  Morgana had been casually walking through a clearing when two huge trolls grabbed her!
    “Unhand me, you brutes!” Morgana cried in fury.  “Put me down in the name of the Stargazers!”  She paused to view her captors and gasped in horror.
    Trolls, as you probably know, are very ugly creatures.  Morgana had only seen pictures of trolls, and was hardly prepared for the sight.  The troll that held her was about 25 feet fall and was covered in brown scales.  Two pointy horns grew behind a pair of tattered ears.  Yellow, deadly teeth filled its gaping mouth.  The other troll looked the same, but was slightly taller.  It promptly grabbed Morgana.
    “What an interesting little horse we have here, Oog,” the taller troll remarked. He was obviously the leader of the two.
    “I’m not a horse, you monsters!” Morgana screamed.  “I’m a centaur!”
    “What’s a centaur, Uug?” Oog asked.
    “I’m not quite sure.”
    While the trolls were occupied, Morgana clumsily drew her heavy sword.  “Let me free,” she stammered, “or I’ll slice you both into ribbons!”  While she said this, she raised the sword and swung wildly.  When she finally stopped, she realized that the most mortal wound she had inflicted was a small nick on Uug’s finger.  In her dismay, she again flung the sword, which caused it to fall to the far-away ground.  The trolls glanced at each other and burst into laughter.
    “You are the most pathetic horse that I have ever seen!” Oog chuckled.
    Morgana was too exhausted to correct the trolls.  She simply groaned in protest.  The trolls examined Morgana with a childlike curiosity for several hours.  But in their interest, they forgot the most important rule of trolls: if a troll is in direct sunlight, they will turn into stone.
    Morgana had just been falling asleep when the hand that held her grew tighter and she heard a shriek.  She opened her eyes to a bright morning sun and Uug and Oog statues of rock.  Unfortunately, she was now stuck in a hand of stone.  She was also very cold.
Morgana dug her fingers into the pockets of her cloak and gasped in surprise – her crown!  Somehow it had ended up in her pocket, but Morgana had never been happier to see it.  Slowly and carefully, she began to chip away at the stone fingers with one of the crown’s diamonds.

Chapter Five
    It had taken Morgana two weeks, but she had finally reached her destination.  Morgana hadn’t been sure what to look for.  She envisioned a large building where all kinds of creatures gathered in times of joy and crisis, but she didn’t know what to expect.
    As Morgana walked up to a humongous set of gates, she stared in awe at the building she was to enter.  It was like a castle!  There were hundreds of pillars, windows of stained glass were everywhere; meadows and brooks surrounded it all.  Towers jutted out in just the right places, and a faint song could be heard from within.
    “It’s like a dream…” Morgana gazed in wonder.
    “That’s what many people say about the Embassy of Drynthia.”
    Morgana was jerked into reality and looked at the speaker.  It was a male fairy; Morgana had never seen one before.
    “I am Ravion, the guardian of these gates.”  Ravion flittered his large, clear wings several times.  “Are you Morgana Stargazer?  How did you get her so quickly?  The notices were just sent out yesterday!”
    “She’s a centaur, Ravion!  She read the stars and left ahead of time!”  A woman fairy had emerged from the building, turning towards Morgana she said, “My name is Olivia.  This is my brother.”  She pointed at Ravion and continued.  “You don’t even know why you’re here, I assume, but no matter.  Come with me.”
    Morgana followed Olivia obediently into the “Embassy of Drynthia.”  Whatever Drynthia was.

*    *    *
    Morgana had been left alone in, Olivia had said, the Embassy’s humongous library.  While snuggling on a large cushion (centaurs use these as opposed to chairs), she read the letter Olivia had given her.  The fairy had said it was an extra copy of the letter everyone else had received.  Morgana unfolded it and read:
    “Evil is abroad in the land, and it is very near the land of Drynthia.  Goblins, vampires, wizards and other such evil have banded together and formed an enormous army.  But the worst is their leader, a wizard.  His plan is to take over the world of Feary.  Then he can make all good creatures become slaves and serve him.  If we are to overcome them, we must join forces immediately.  I ask you to send one of your people to the land of Drynthia.  Others have been sent for and when everyone is here, we will have a meeting and tell you what you must do.  Consider: separate we become droplets of water, which can be scattered with the flick of a hand.  Unite us and we become a river, even able to wear away large rocks.
    “Sincerely, Lillia, Queen of the Fairys.”
    “Interesting, isn’t it?” Olivia had walked in unnoticed.  “Every letter was a little different.  Yours, of course, would be personalized, but this is an extra copy.”
    “Is it true?” Morgana asked meekly.  “I mean, about the war?”
    “Every word of it.”
    “That’s why we summoned you all: a centaur, a dragon, and a fairy.”
    “But why those exact creatures?” Morgana shuddered at the thought of a dragon.
    “I think that it would be best if you wait for Queen Lillia to tell you at the meeting.”
    “Oh.  So Drynthia is…”
    “Our country,” Olivia said with pride.  “The country of the fairies.  The Embassy is equally amazing because it is different to everyone who sees it.”
    “The Embassy was built with many spells.  One was that it should appear however you want it to.  For me, it is a large cottage.”
    “For me, it’s a castle.”  Morgana had never learned magic (centaurs frowned upon it), but she was growing excited at the thought of a building made completely of the stuff.
    “The inside is splendid to all.  The Embassy has almost 500 rooms, but you never get lost.  More magic, I suppose.”
    The two talked for hours about many things.  Finally, Morgana’s head began to droop and Olivia’s voice became slow.
    “I’d best show you to your room,” Olivia yawned, and they left the library.  After numerous twists and turns, Olivia stopped and opened a door towards the end of the hallway.  “Here we are.”
    Morgana gasped in amazement at the sight that lay before her. Her room was beautiful.  It contained a large, deep green canopy bed (specially made for centaurs), a corner of purple cushions, a small oak desk (with quill, ink, and paper), and a full length mirror.  On the wall that Morgana’s bed faced was a tapestry of what Morgana figured was (and she was right) the history of the Embassy of Drynthia.  But the most splendid of all was the balcony.  Great double doors swung open to a rounded balcony.  And the view!  As if in a dream, Morgana trotted slowly across the softly carpeted floor and stepped out.  She could see a small stream surrounded with heather.  Further on, she could see many meadows and beyond that, the beginnings of a forest.  Looking even farther, Morgana saw the outlines of mountains with snow-covered tips.
    “It’s…” Morgana stumbled to find words that could properly describe this paradise she could now call ‘her room.’  “It’s perfect!” she finally managed.
    “I know.  Everything about this place is perfect.  Maybe that’s why we’re in grave danger.”  Olivia turned and Morgana saw her brush away an escaping tear.  But she heaved a sigh and smiled again.  “Feel free to explore the Embassy tomorrow.  Almost all of the doors are unlocked unless someone is using it as their bedroom.  Breakfast is at ten in the Great Dining Hall.   You’ll know where it is.”  Olivia winked.  “More magic. Goodnight.”
    Morgana bade her friend a goodnight, but didn’t sleep yet.  Something about the tapestry was odd to her.  Morgana stared and thought, but she was too exhausted from her journey and soon gave in to sleep.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's My Birthday and I'll Cry if I Want To

So today I turn 27. I feel 30 around the corner. If an age can stare at you and accuse you of all your shortcomings...30 is doing that to me right now. I can't get that Simpson's kid's voice out of my head "Ha-ha!" and the feeling of his accusing finger.

I woke up depressed. I've learned a ton this year, but I feel like I'm in the same position I was last year. I know I'm not. But when I mark my list of goals I have so many "In Progress" and so few "Achieved." How would I explain myself to the person I was ten years ago?

Ten years ago, I felt that I had a lot to prove. Not to my parents. Not to my teachers, and not really my peers, but to myself. I externalized it as "society" as if I could somehow collect that whole abstract notion and bundle it in a bag. Then give it the finger.

I would show them all! I would write 40 novels! I would read tons of advice by published authors and do everything they said writers had trouble doing! And then...I'd be successful. And along the way, I'd get a BA.

Relationships were an amorphous thing. They never factored into my goals concretely. Clothing had always been an expression of my inner eccentricities rather than a genuine effort to attract a date. I had no real interest in dating, though felt insecure at times for the lack of attention I received. But I was also clueless about the whole thing.

And, I was painstakingly shy. I was phobic about talking up in most classes. I hung back with my friends, and when called on my voice hovered a little over a whisper. I was most comfortable with my friends. And my friends had a massive network around them, into which they roped me. Not intentionally. It just sort of happened.

That girl wanted nothing more than to write short stories and novels and be published. She expected to be there by my age. She expected to have been further in life when she turned 27. What would I say to her?

"You are resisting the Internet, and that is a mistake. You will find, in time, that the Internet will determine more of your future than that novel. You have read that first a writer must master the art, then learn promotion because she cannot expect the publisher to do it all. But you have yet to see the impact of the internet on the industry, and how hesitant that will make you in publishing your short fiction. Don't sit on that short fiction. Sword and Sorcery, MZBFM won't be around next year. Realms is going to have a fight ahead. Dredge up those old Asimov's and go for it! In a year, the press is going to be so limited, the editors won't give you critiques. Now, right now, it's 2000. The next 10 years will be so very different...

"Learn LiveJournal, like they tell you to. You don't know how it'll come in handy. And know isn't orderly. It's messy. You have to write one million words of crap before you put down that golden phrase leading you toward true art. Craft. Publication. And don't devalue life experience, there are some hard knocks ahead."

And boy were there. My dad's family business went out. My mother's heart condition appeared. I started dating, infrequently. My brother's teens sent the family into turmoil. I wrote rough drafts of three novels before I even mastered revision. I thought writing was simple. You have an idea, you write it out. You tweak the wording, maybe a little structure--clarify a ton, because that's important--but basically, basically, you stick with the original.

Ha! Such ignorant thinking. The more you try to clarify, the more you learn about the characters. The more you learn about the characters, the more you learn about their world. Then the story changes. Because as the factors you juggle become more specific, and more suited to the story, the greater the diversion from the initial intent. And I thought, then: "I'm not a bad writer! I'll get better, I'll learn more, and I'll publish!"

If it were really that simple, I wouldn't have a little rejection card from a literary agency nestled amid the pages of Arrelle. Hidden in a box. A big box. That card is 7 years old. "I'm not ready," I realized, and threw myself into the process all over again.

I didn't realize that there would be other goals that came to share my life. A relationship that meant the world to me, and my guys' goals nearly as important as my own. I didn't know about conventions. I had no idea about the value networking actually played in making it as an author. I didn't know about the rise of POD. I didn't know how much upper division courses would detract from my writing time, but inform my storytelling when I returned to it. I didn't realize that my parents' expectation for me to get through college alone would lead to me doing it...slowly... and when I graduated, with the need for a back up career, I would stand in the wilderness empty-handed.

"There's only one thing I want to be!" Cries the 17 year old: Drea Davis.

"Tough luck. That's impractical," returns Drea Moore. "You don't get anywhere by wishing it. You can't flaunt your difference and expect acceptance all at once. In the future, acceptance will be more important to you. Then it will remind you what you know now: it's not easily come by. But you can't be a writer, only. You can't be any one thing, only. Humanness doesn't work that way."

"But I am going to work hard! I'll get there!"

"Sure you will, but it'll take a lot more time than you expect. And that's okay. So figure it out if you really want your feet under you before your thirty."

"You don't have any faith in me!"

"You don't have faith in yourself. You are expecting to magically gain confidence at 18? When you start using my name?! You'll get it in time...but you aren't over those other things...the things that got you writing in the first place..."

"I made my peace with that."

"But there will be instances in the future that will remind you of the past.Return you to the old patterns. It isn't about the person, it's about you."

"But I've-"

"Left one phase. You're headed to another...but the dark spaces will be back."

And here, in the present, dragging into the future toward 30...I wade in my private darkness, seeking the light. The hope, the confidence to return to the willful spirit I had at 17.

"It isn't about hoping," Drea Davis reminds me, "It's about doing. What did I do my senior year?"

"You pieced the Creative Writing club from nothing. Created a Literary Newsletter that was read and exchanged around the student body. You were the treasurer of the Vietnamese American Society and helped Yen and Mary Ly, who becomes the president of the Chinese Culture Club, run all of the fund raisers for the year. You got your theater techie friends to run the lights and sound for the Asian Assembly, helping the others put it together."

"See? Look at what I did. Behind the scenes I hope?"

"Yes, back then, definitely. You were good at taking direction."

"And at 27?"

I laugh. Oh how I laugh! "Your goals will change. You will want to set up something that fosters others creativity."

"What about my own?"

"It'll always be there."

"Of course it will!"

Of course it will...but I need a back up plan...and all I ever wanted was to be part of the field. If not working toward my own goals, then inspiring others. Fostering community, support. All I ever wanted...but when I wait on others I'll never see that light. I don't have the community support I once did, 10 years ago.

Who would know that as I turn 27 I would know so many people and spend so much time feeling so isolated? So much has changed...and I must believe in three years more will. But three years no longer feels very long. So little has happened in the past year. At least I might have a hint how to move into a more uncomplicated future. So I try. I move forward.

Soon I will stare 30 in the face. I have three years to get my feet under me. Set up my foundations, change "In Progress" to "Achieved" so I can set my eyes on more goals. A house. Family. But I need my foundation in place before I can get to those. I will do it this year, make all the strides I need to get started and lift myself from this dark mud.

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