Failed Goal

So, I’m starting work on a new writing project. A novel. Crazy, I know. I’ve been sketching things out and have written some small pieces to fit into the overall frame. My goal this morning was to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and do some writing. The alarm went off (two of them in separate rooms), and I get up and set them for later. They go off again, and I repeat the action. Finally, I wake up at ten till seven, a little frustrated and mad. MWF I get up at 5:30 to go jogging, so it shouldn’t be so difficult. Next time, I guess.

Man Walks Into A Room

Just started this book, and am about 50 pages in. So far, it’s compelling and interesting. Premise is that the main character loses his memory from the last 25 years.

Review: The Scar by China Mieville

In a follow up to his acclaimed novel, Perdido Street Station, Mieville offers up a novel that falls short. For those that loved Perdido Street Station, this novel takes place in the same world where New Crobuzon exists, but follows characters aboard a floating city scrapped together from a multitude of ships. Mieville has something, which few fantasy writers do: a love for words. However, that doesn’t mean he should be free of editing or allow himself to get carried away. His books are epics spanning 600+ pages, but what in those pages is actually necessary for the story?

Some may argue that his descriptions ground the reader in the setting, and establish the overall mood (decay, grit, mistrustful, and isolation) that weigh on most characters and objects, but when this effect is achieved, do you have to continue throughout the novel? I found myself skimming the pages, because I could visualize the motley group of ships with new buildings sprouting up from their decks. I didn’t need to be shown over and over again.

Another failure of this book is that not much happens.

The rulers raise a sea creature, harness it, and travel to a reality warping stretch of ocean where there is a mutiny and they turn back. In the process the primary character realizes she’s been used repeatedly. I just saved you 623 pages of reading. Of course, I’m being a little harsh, but I wanted a lot more from this novel. Part of the problem is that I was not particularly invested in any of the characters. The primary character is someone who is reserved, cold and in control of her emotions. There is nothing to identify with or to sympathize. Who cares? Who cares what happens to her or anyone else? I’m thinking of epics with characters that are despicable whom a reader cares about. That leads me to Blood Meridian, full of deceitful killers, yet I care about them, I want to know what happens to them. There needs to be some resolution.

In this novel, not only do I not care about the characters, there is nothing that really ties it all together. Are we to find pleasure in Doul taking control of Armada, or Bellis returning home? It didn’t matter to me.

While Mieville has conceived a world that is diverse, dangerous and fantastic, it does not mean this is a well constructed novel. Even the shifts in point of view “interludes” as Mieville groups them, and letters written in the first person show this weakness. He can’t tell the story without bouncy around. It’s Bellis’ story, but not entirely. On the whole, this was a disappointment. If you read it, skim as much as possible, or even better, don’t bother.

Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

I’m giving up.

At first, I didn’t care much for the narrator’s voice, but once I hit the sections with Lola and Beli, I really missed it. Those sections just seemed boring and unnecessary though, so I ended up skipping them. When I came back to the next chapter in Oscar’s life it was better, but I found myself not caring about him, and thinking he’s as annoying as the other characters believe him to be.
Perhaps this book didn’t catch on for me because I recently read the Savage Detectives…more I’m giving up.

At first, I didn’t care much for the narrator’s voice, but once I hit the sections with Lola and Beli, I really missed it. Those sections just seemed boring and unnecessary though, so I ended up skipping them. When I came back to the next chapter in Oscar’s life it was better, but I found myself not caring about him, and thinking he’s as annoying as the other characters believe him to be.
Perhaps this book didn’t catch on for me because I recently read the Savage Detectives which is sprawling and full of numerous narrators. Anyway, not sure what all the buzz about this book is, seems like one to miss.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I’m trying to think of where I read something similar to this years ago, but can’t remember the name of the book. It seems like it was Ray Bradbury’s October Country, but that’s not right. Even though Neil Gaiman said, “I had a book in my head. Then it took me twenty-something years to write it.” It seems more like this novel is not very original and ends up pretty unresolved. Instead of writing a novel, perhaps Mr. Gaiman should have written this as a short story. The whole premise smacked a little of Harry Potter, which I hate to say, but here is a small child whose family is murdered by an evil agent and then the boy is protected and prophesized to be the undoing of the evil order who tried to kill him.
The relationships between the graveyard inhabitants and the boy dubbed, Nobody, are charming for the most part. He is raised by the ghosts of the graveyard, a mysterious man whom is neither dead or alive (mysterious here seems like a good word for the writer not knowing either or hedging a choice), and a werewolf. While in the graveyard, the boy is safe, and outside of it the man known as Jack is still hunting for him.
Throughout the novel, young Nobody grows up and goes through the transition of teen angst and rebellion. Want a new spin on a coming of age story, put it in a graveyard! As often is the case in works involving good and evil, good conquers. The boy named Nobody becomes a young man and must head off on his own to live life. The hint here is that he will continue to wander the border regions between life and death and fight the good fight. However, nothing really happens in the novel. The books seems more like an idea without much of a plot. There is no real danger and no real risk. Again and again, Nobody does something stupid, and his guardian or the ghosts save him. Nobody is contrite. Nobody does the same thing again.
I’m a fan of Sandman and have enjoyed Gaiman’s previous work, this novel just meandered and seemed like the prelude for another work. It would have been more interesting to have these three-hundred pages condensed down to one-hundred and then write what happens to Nobody after moving on from the graveyard. Overall, this is one to miss.

In Reference to Your Recent Communications by Tessa Brown

Just read this short fiction piece, and really enjoyed it. What I like about flash fiction is that it’s almost like a puzzle and messes with the reader’s perceptions. This piece is about a breakup and the narrator is responding to the voice-mails her (ex)boyfriend has left on her phone.
At first, the reader is against him, just sort of naturally siding with the narrator because she seems like the victim; and because what she says seems so rational and sane, though anyone who actually sat down and wrote to this degree of detail wouldn’t be sane. That’s the first give away, but, I for one, was willing to overlook that.
As the five to six page story develops, we realize things are not as they seem, and the soon to be ex-boyfriend is really the victim. More and more comes out about the narrator and our perception changes.
Overall, this was an incredibly funny piece of writing. Things are twisted and the boundary between believable and over-the-top is flirted with.

Getting Back Into Writing

Recently, I signed up for a fiction workshop on writing flash fiction. So far, it’s been interesting and getting me thinking about writing as well as writing often. Over the past few years this has been missing from my life as I pursued another masters degree (something that I can be gainfully employed with) and have been a little transient and caught up in life. In some ways, that all feels like an excuse.
You can always find an excuse not to write. The dishes need washing, you haven’t seen a friend in a while, you’re tired. Writing shouldn’t feel like a chore. Writing shouldn’t be something you worry about and feel guilt over. If writing is a part of your life, it needs to be embraced and followed. Do you feel guilty for breathing, for getting up each day, for eating meals?
While I wasn’t writing and living and breathing it, it did feel like something was missing. Something that defined me. So, here I am, back in a workshop and enjoying it. Perhaps I’ll share some of what comes out of that here.

Our first assignment was to write fondly about someone who is ugly in five-hundred words or less.

Beginning

So far I’ve had a few people interested, which is great. I’ve already uploaded one poem that I’m currently working on and look forward to have more work to share.

Experimentation

In both writing and working with new technologies, experimentation is a way to grow, learn, and innovate. This idea has come out of finishing writing programs as both an undergraduate and as a grad student and losing the community of writers with whom to share work.
After countless sessions emailing stories and poems to friends and receiving scattered replies, I thought it was time to try something new.
This blog will act as the public side for a site to share work privately with those whom are interested. I’m using Google Sites as the medium to share, critique, and collaborate with my friends and whomever else may be interested in participating. For now the network of writers will be by invitation and referral only. If you are interested, please contact me, and hopefully some great writing will come out of the process.