This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The ghost of NaNos past

My past NaNos were, of course, terrible. Here are some of the quotes I actually like, though:

A building that has had a murder committed inside it always looks larger to me than it really is. (NaNo 04)

Like the slow pulse of a waking heart, the need for cocaine began somewhere deep in her brain. (NaNo 04)

I still have affection for this NaNo. It was the first time I tried it. It might be worth something someday, torn apart and put back together.

In a field of corpse-flowers, the wolf of bones came to her. (NaNo 05)

Sadly, this was before I realized that perhaps characters shouldn't reference things that don't exist in their world, (that line is fine, but the rest is uh, not) and boy, did I love an adverb, but since it's a tradition to have ninjas break in to your nano manuscript I am not going to feel too much remorse.

Let's see yours! Maybe we should do the howlers too, hmm?

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I may actually do it this year.

For all those NaNo naysayers, well. I wrote my first novel thanks to NaNo. Was it a piece of self indulgent wanky shit? Oh yes. But I honestly don't know if I would have progressed to the writing I am doing now without it. If you're doing NaNo get rid of any notions that you will have a publishable product at the end. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that publishing isn't what NaNo is about. It's about giving you a starting point, getting you past whatever bullshit baggage you're carrying around about how you really have nothing worthy to say. Use it in that spirit.

Once my writing progressed to a certain point, I quit doing NaNo as such. Creating a first draft at a frenzied pace, with no thought as to quality, no longer served me quite the same way. Now though I think I might give it another try, and see if I can combine a more thoughtful pace with the goals of NaNo.

I am unemployed. I have nothing but time. Let's do this.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Write It Now

I use Write It Now. Honestly if Scrivener had a Windows version I would most likely use it instead; Write It Now has several unattractive quirks.

What it does have, though, are some very useful features. Storyboard, for example. I suggest writers find some way to use this or a similar tool, because it is such a help. Especially if you write by the seat of your pants like I do. It's a bit terrifying to see all of my effort laid out like that.

Quote of the day from the second revision of Sacrificial Magic:

"Fury. An agony that lived in the heart rather than in the body. The painful, scourging power of revelation. He looked beyond, in to the realm of all that was good and holy, and lifted his sword."

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Bellingham Diaries

Inspired by a recent discussion in the comments, I've decided to give you all the best of my journal entries. I wrote most of these over my last year in Bellingham, WA. They haven't been edited.

I read this to my mother and she smiled and said, "that's the Irish in you."


My mother sat on the couch in her underwear this morning and told me about how the clinic sent her another woman's report. The report suggested that this other, phantasmal Mc**** had cancer. I get to keep my mother, this frail bodied, steel souled woman a little longer.

Make no mistake, my mother is hard. Thin limbs recall the gangly child, high cheekbones and slender fingers evoke what I have come to think of as her spirit animal, the blue heron. Her flesh, however, even in her mid fifties is smoothed over muscle even I don't have at twenty eight.

Whenever I visit she tells me stories, and I realize that I have been wrong about her my whole life. I was sure she didn't care. Now she tells me about early labor, that damnable sense of feminine politeness, that kept her from asking for a seat on the bus at seven months pregnant.

She still cries when she tells that story, and now I hear what is unspoken as clearly as a single note struck on a tuning fork; what would have happened, if I'd demanded a spot? Did I curse you, make you what you are, ensure you came out half baked and part faerie because I couldn't assert myself?

My grandmother was like putty in dementia's withered hands by the time she was seventy five. My mother is only fifty six, but the specter of spooning pudding in to her mother in law's slack mouth still walks beside her, my mother's version of my impassive shadow-man.

It amazes me, the amount of pain humans shoulder every day. I still think grief is the strongest human emotion, love and sorrow together.

Sometimes, though, death is a transformation. As parts of my life fall away and change, I rise again from the grave. The life of a shaman is nothing but a series of deaths and the empowerment and lessons that result.

Portland. Seattle. My big beautiful dirty glittering cities, my depthless, bottle-green sea.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On mental illness and creativity

The final world on romanticizing the locus of suffering and art:

"No one is creative when paralytically depressed, psychotic, institutionalized, in restraints, or dead because of suicide."

--Kay Redfield Jamison

Touched With Fire

Betsy Lerner weighs in

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sacrificial Magic, second pass

I am still trapped in the Forests of When to Introduce a Secondary PoV Character, located between Neuroses Island and the Briar Patch of Lifelong Regret.

I wonder if my writing is noticeably different when I am on medication, and when I am not. I am at least managing to get this second pass done now, after a week of nothing. I am seeing a lot of places where I can combine scenes and hopefully make things flow more naturally thereby. This is encouraging, of course, but I have hit the first stage of burn out. It's like the whiff of what might be a rotting opossum under the porch, evocative, fleeting, and capable of robbing one of the will to live. If nothing else I sure as hell don't want to look under the porch.

Anyway! Here's a quote for you. The MC is trying to call forth a happy memory:

Tehran, before the day everything had changed, where he and his parents had fled the country steps ahead of men who wanted to kill them. His mother, showing him how to make Sohaan-e Asali, the toffee still warm, the smell of saffron, the threads bruised by his mother’s callused fingertips, so real even over thirty years later. His father complaining about how it would be much simpler to go for a take away, making annoyed pronouncements from where he sat ensconced in his overstuffed chair. The complaining had been half the fun.


Over and out.