Dream, Writing Prompt #14: Place of Peace

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 8, 2010 -- 6:23 a.m.

I had an odd dream last night. I was biking and a friend of mine came up to me. I knew she was the servant of an old woman who lived in a house nobody but writers could see. She was a witch, but not the bad kind. A wise woman muse who offered advice to young writers. She lived there alone, except for her servant, her daughter/niece, who spent time reading, chuckling, and breaking wood for their shack's fireplace. I knew that this muse had given Robert Jordan advice in his youth, and that she had been his model for an aes sedai, because when I walked into her shack and saw her cloak on her hook, I saw not one, but many, all flickering because they contained all the ages and styles of the world, including Verin's brown vines. She had lived a long time, was very powerful, and very wise.

I would go to visit her as often as I could. Once, I accidentally led a boy to her, even though her location had to be secret. He followed me, desperate to talk to her, even though the road to her house is laced with broken glass meant to cut the unworthy. I'm not sure what happened to him. When I tried to follow him in, the muse's servant slammed the door in my face.

But one day, the servant came to me and told me I had to come, and to bring one of the people in my writing group. She warned him that the "life" of his story was in danger because it wasn't political enough. By which she meant that he wasn't exploring the tyranny of the government's effect on the 'little people' and he needed to do more with it. He needed to reflect on our own government and compare it to his, weaving its follies of history into his word. His story lacked Truth with a capital T, and so would fail.

I asked her what I needed to do. About how I was afraid I was just a wordcrafter, not a storyteller, because I can spin descriptions and make words dance in people's heads, but my stories are not as good as the writing deserves. About my concerns about whether I should continue on as I am, unemployed except for the small jobs, or try to find a job that will let me write and earn money at the same time. Her answer was mostly a shrug, that I should do what I think is best. Then she asked me to describe the stories I was working on, and I told her about the three, how I couldn't seem to settle on my next project because none of them felt right. She told me all my stories were good ones and the main thing I lacked was patience. Patience with myself, patience with others. Patience with the characters that hadn't yet found themselves in my text.

Then she stroked my cheek and said, "don't worry, if you work hard enough, you'll be able to take my place here one day."

And I woke up deliriously happy, because I knew that this is who I am and always will be, and one day, I will get to live in a wood-heated hut in the middle of the slums that no one can see, giving advice to young writers that can change lives. Coax happiness. Give thought.


A true dream, I think, advice to stay on the path I have chosen. People who read my writing later may be surprised to find out that I'm a Christian, because I write such blasphemous things about gods. Take the current epic fantasy I'm working on, where there are seven nations, each one's culture inspired by the seven deadly sins. Part of Christianity's domination of the western world came from the fact it absorbed pagan religions. In my world, it's the other way around, paganity won, but many of the Christian rituals are kept, because they were absorbed. This creates interesting contradictions that I'm still trying to work out (Like, why gods and goddess with such sexual natures would have priests so fully determined to censor everything).

I suppose it is my backlash against worshippers of the recidivist Goddess theory, which believes that there was once a goddess religion that taught peace and love and everyone was happy until the big bad male-centered religions came to suppress them, demonizing Eve and Pandora until all we have left of that religion are little fertility statues and memories of goddesses as bearers of evil.

I believe that there certainly was goddess-worship in the past and that it certainly was repressed, but I don't believe that it was the peace-loving, nature-worship that certain authors claim it was. So my goddesses are sexually-charged and as brutal as their male collegues. Perhaps because I am so full of emotional conflict and hatred and frustration, I sympathize more with the war bringers dieties than the mascots of peace. They are more...human.

But though I cannot explain god's interventions in certain lives, I believe sometimes he whispers peace and confidence to me through my dreams. I believe that it is not the wish-fulfillment of my subconscious, but a true message to keep on trying until I get it right.

So I have written my place of peace, of inspiration. What's yours?

Title: Place of Peace
Genre: None
Type: Self-exploration
, Dialogue

If you could go somewhere to experience peace and confidence in yourself as a writer, somewhere to go and get ideas, where would it be? What would it look like? Who would be there? What kind of questions would you ask that person?

Some people are lucky enough to have places like this in real life. In high school, I had a bridge. And under it, I could lay back and just listen to people crossing and talking, and no one knew that I was there. I liked that. I'm a bit of a sociophobe, so being able to satisfy the human need for company without having the stress of having to act a certain way was very nice. I never had to perform for anyone, but I wasn't completely isolated either. That's my perfect place, where I can be with someone so completely that I don't have to worry about what I say or do. That I can be as bitter and vulgar as I want to be, and no one will judge me or think less of me.

Find your peaceful place, populate it with a muse, even if you'd prefer to be alone, and write to that person about a difficulty you're having with the story. Let your mind drift as you write the response your muse might make. Perhaps, by writing it out, you'll be able to find a way around your difficulties.

That's what I do. And I'm surprised how often it works.

Movie Talk

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 8, 2010 -- 6:03 a.m.

History is made. The first woman wins best director award at the Oscars for the Hurt Locker. I never even heard of the Hurt Locker. It's all the more interesting because Kate Bigelow is James Cameron's ex-wife. I would have been surprised if Avatar won, just because of the stigma the Hollywood establishment tends to show against popular and genre movies. Avatar had a double doom. I was so amazed Return of the King got the nod just because the deck was so stacked against it. Reuters' write-up of why Hurt Locker one mentions that one of its producers got banned for campaigning...wonder what he did. I was surprised the award didn't go to Precious.

Another first in history: Sandra Bullock wins awards for "best actress" and "worst actress" in the same year. Red boots do not win audience hearts.

District 9, another sci-fi flick, was nominated for best picture as well.

I don't think there's been a time when two sci-fi pictures have cracked the top nominations, which I think says something about the genre's acceptance as art.

Superman Sex

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 6, 2010--1:34 a.m.

You know you should go to bed when you find yourself reading Larry Niven's squicky, hilarious explanation of why Superman and Lois Lane could never actually physically have sex and you have an urge to write a story about an army of bullet-proof sperm taking over the world.

It's quite graphic. Be warned.

Night of the Living Trekkies

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

From Publisher's Lunch list of deals:

"Kevin Anderson's NIGHT OF THE LIVING TREKKIES, a mash up mixing a zombie apocalypse with the enduring mythology of Star Trek, to Jason Rekulak at Quirk Books, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group."

Zombies and Star Trek? Wow.

I think the Brunching Shuttlecocks need to update their geek hierarchy (see above).

Axe Cop and Wexter the Dinosaur

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 3, 2010 -- 8:11 a.m.

If you haven't read "Axe Cop" yet, you should. It's a web comic. The story is written by a five-year-old and illustrated by his 29-year-old older brother. If you've ever played pretend with a five-year-old, you know what interesting things they come up with.

The fusion of good illustration and crazy/nonsensical five year old thought is plain awesome. After all, where else can you see a space-flying dinosaur with machine gun arms?

Places I want to visit

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 2, 2010 -- 4:50 p.m.

Stunning photo of a glacier in Argentina. You can see the rest of his photos here.

Ironically, found it while doing a google image search for Maui Ocean Center marriages. I'm doing research for our family vacation to Maui, which will celebrate my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. The aquarium there has a shark tank, and you can get a Scuba diver waving a sign asking for a marriage proposal. It's a cute pic, but you can only see it if you download their romance brochure, here. You can also get married in the shark tank while scuba diving with "I do" signs.

I don't know if I want my wedding dress to be waterproof, but I do like the proposal idea.

If Fred, my invisible boyfriend, ever pops the question to me, it will definitely be down there. Too bad he's too broke to afford to fly me to Maui. Ooh, I want polynesian firedancers at my wedding...

Fred: "Seriously? Well, it won't be my fault if they light any of the guests on fire."

Writing Prompt #13 - Inhibitions

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 1, 2010 -- 5:47 p.m.

Well, I finally plugged my nose and read my submission to Ender's Companion. You can tell reading it that it's not my normal clean, clipped style, especially with the frequent switching of tenses, but it's still not bad. Either they edited it to make it readable or I'm so amazingly talented, it shines even when I'm wasted.

Title: Inhibitions
Genre: Any
Type: Character

One of the side effects of alcohol is that it makes us do things we wouldn't ordinarily do--at least for most people. Some people live their lives exactly as they want, easily ignoring their inhibitions.

Sometimes, however, inhibitions shouldn't be ignored. Has your character ever done something in their past that they consider deeply shaming? Told their deepest secrets to a person who turned out to be an enemy? Had sex with someone they despised, or made promises to someone whom they later abandoned? It doesn't have to be because of alcohol. A moment of weakness, of despair, of foolishness. We all make mistakes, and some of them we regret for the rest of our lives.

What is the worst thing your character has ever done in his or her life? Remember, what you would consider the worst is different from what your character considered might consider the worst. Everyone has their own personal standards of honor. Mine are pretty flexible. I admit that I lie and cheated frequently throughout my education, because it seemed to be a victimless crime. Academia, for me, has always been a game, and it was fun to see what I could pull off. My sense of morality on that score is still pretty fluid, but on the other hand, there are things that matter to me. For instance, cheating by writing test answers on the back of my hand is no big deal, but the idea of plagiarism is abhorrent to me. I might lie to get myself out of trouble, but I would never make up a newspaper article from scratch, as one of my employees once did. For me, that is betraying a sacred trust.

Another example: most people my age pirate music, movies, whatever, and justify this to themselves based on "evil corporations." I pirated things in my day, but I never felt comfortable about it. I've since stopped the practice, because evil corporations are people too. And because my favorite thing to pirate was audio books, and I realized it was like stealing from my future self. Now I buy them legitimately.

But I've done other things that betray my own honor code that I'm deeply ashamed of. Things that really have hurt people, that I wish with all my heart I could retroactively go back and solve. The question is, what is your character's honor code? What is the worst possible thing he has ever done to betray it, and himself? Will his past mistakes come to haunt him in the present, or will they just shape him in a deeper, more meaningful way?

Way of Kings Cover

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

March 1, 2010 -- 5:40 p.m.

The cover art for local author Brandon Sanderson's new epic fantasy series Way of Kings is up on Tor's website. It's by Michael Whalen so it's, of course, beautiful. Sanderson read us excerpts from the book at LTUE, and the parts I heard sounded like good writing. Unfortunately, of course all the ideas I had while listening were blatant copies so I hard to discard them, which was too bad. Some of the ideas were quite good, I thought.

Still not sure whether I'll read the book, because it sounds like the formatting is weird and I hate books I can't finish in a single setting. He said this new puppy's over 400,000 words long, which is freaking ridiculous. Longer than the Gathering Storm. I like reading epic fantasy as must as the next nerd, but I don't like the carpal tunnel that is going to come with it if I try and pick up the hardback monster. Wheel of Time is bad enough for that.

There's also a second choice on the Tor web page. I like the composition better, because it has that classic s-curve which so delights the eye, but it doesn't work so well with the lettering. It surprises me that the lettering is done separately BEFORE. I always figured they decided on the lettering after they saw the cover art. When I decided newspaper layout, I did them both at once, and it's hard for me to imagine developing headline lettering without seeing the image I'm going to use first.

My favorite part of this cover is the sky. Which is incredibly gorgeous.