Musings

[Blog] Stretch Fingers, Write

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I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed chasing the words across the page and catching them on the tips of my fingers. I’ve missed building cities and starships and space stations, and imagining the conflicts and the stories that take place in them. I’ve missed the exploration– of themes, of characters, of imaginary places.

And it’s funny to say that, because it’s been years since I last took off an extended period from writing. I didn’t get half so much done while I was in Armenia (at least, not when it comes to fiction), but I didn’t stop either. All the same, though, now that I have a little more free time again, it’s like stretching muscles that haven’t had a chance to work hard for too long. It’s a little rough and rusty at first, but once it gets going, it feels like coming home.

I’m still surprised by how much practice it takes, and how little time it takes to fall back out of practice once you’ve gotten yourself into it. If writing is a method of recording your own thoughts, it almost seems that it should come more naturally. And yet there’s a divide between the things we imagine and the words we manage to put onto the page, and for most of us, it takes a lot of work to bridge that gap.

I can’t help but find it fascinating that language, even when it comes naturally and almost as quick as thought, can’t always express the ideas that build their homes in our heads. Things get even funnier when you realized that a particular language might not have the words you need to describe exactly what you want, and while another language might get closer, it’s still not perfect. And, funniest of all, that’s okay.

Because of its limitations, writing forces us to understand our own thoughts better in order to more fully express them with the words you have available. It would be one thing to be able to transfer a complete idea to another person’s mind, just as it exists in our own. It’s quite another to write as we actually do, knowing that each word we choose may evoke subtleties in the minds of our readers that we have no knowledge of.

But perhaps I’m rambling, letting the words take me where they will. I suspect it means that I haven’t thought all this through entirely, or at least not as completely as I thought I had. But that’s okay too. God knows I don’t have all this figured out. And besides, a little rambling now and then is healthy. How better to remind ourselves that there are a thousand things we don’t understand?

Musings

[Blog] Great Big Planetary Empires

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Across the planet today, there are around two hundred different countries, between three and eight thousand different languages, and more cultures (and subcultures?) than anyone could possibly count– if they could even find a reliable definition of culture in the first place. Or put another way, our Earth is both very big and very small.

This is the sort of thing that comes to mind after watching entirely too many episodes of Star Trek in a row. Or pretty much any science fiction TV show or movie or video game or book, for that matter. Compared to our own, all the biggest, grandest worlds that we’ve created are just so small, so limited.

And some of that is by necessity. Take the aforementioned episodes of Star Trek*, for example: if you only have a little less than an hour to tell a complete story, then you just don’t have time to develop a complete and complicated set of geopolitics for your strange, new world, and to try it would be to take away from the story you actually want to tell. When a bunch of humans, Klingons, and tribbles all end up on the same space station, we don’t need to know anything about the inner workings of Klingon geopolitics in order to enjoy the episode.

Even in the infinitely more complex Deep Space Nine that spent numerous episodes exploring the conflict between the Bajorans and the Cardassians, both species have only a single culture, and any hypothetical divisions among them are ignored. It seems there is no such thing as Northern Bajorans and Southern Bajorans, and even those separate groups that appear as the series progresses all stem from the same basic culture, only different in the way they react to their common history. And again, that’s not a bad thing. Even as simple as it is by real world standards, it’s plenty complex enough for the purposes of the story.

That being said, I’d love to see a story that plays a little more with the ramifications of multiple major powers on a single planet with the capability of interstellar travel. What would happen if American explorers made contact and formed an alliance with the Greys from the planet Heru at the same time that Russian explorers hit it off with the Purples on one of the same planet’s other continents? And what would happen if the Greys and the Purples didn’t get along?*

I’m inclined to think that that’s exactly the sort of question that science fiction was born to answer.

 

* It strikes me as I write this that I’m poorly enough read in science fiction that someone may have already written such a story, and I just don’t know about it. If you happen to know one, do mention it in the comments below, as like I said the idea fascinates me!

Updates

[Update] February 2018

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It’s February! January proved to be a busy and productive month, just not in the ways I’d expected it to be, as you might have guessed from the continued dearth of new stories on the blog. Between unpacking, getting settled, traveling home for a week, and hunting for a job to support my writing habit, there’s been no shortage of things to get done. That being said, now that they’re all more or less taken care of, next on the list is getting back into the old twice-a-month story schedule. I’m very excited.

I’m also very happy, because part of the getting settled process involved getting a writing corner set up in my room. Combined with the coffee shop half a mile from the house means, this means that I have almost unlimited opportunities for bunkering down and coaxing/threatening/luring words onto the page. If that’s not a recipe for a good writing environment, I’m sure I don’t know what is.

Speaking of which, keep an eye out for a new short story going up tomorrow! I’ve been wrestling with this one on and off since October, and provided I haven’t just jinxed it, it’s finally coming together properly. Next up is another Tanner and Miranda story that should go up before the end of the month.

That’s it for now! As always, thanks for sticking around and following my musings and meanderings. It truly does mean the world to me! If you’ve got any questions, comments, or just want to chat about writing and stories, drop me a line in the comments or by the contact link up above!

Until next time,
Faith

 

Handy new writing perch!
Musings

[Blog] Writing, Writing, Rewriting

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When I was in junior high, I distinctly remember having a conversation with one of my friends in which we expressed our doubts on whether or not all the famous authors we were studying really meant to infuse their works with all the themes and symbolism that our lit teachers said they did. If I remember correctly, we admitted that at least some of the structuring was done on purpose, but we figured that it had far more to do with the author wanting to write a good story than to make any particular point. Looking back, my only defense is that we were very young and very foolish, and we both grew a great deal wiser in the years that followed. It turns out there’s an awful lot that thirteen year olds (and the rest of us) don’t know, despite their opinion to the contrary.

That being said, I think (hope?) that I had formed that particular belief in part because of a faulty understanding of the way the vast majority of people write good stories– specifically, I had not yet realized that “all good writing is rewriting”. On that first run through a story, whether it’s a vignette or something novel-length or longer, there’s only so much crafting that can be done as you drag the words onto the page and pin them there in something roughly approximating what you had in mind in the first place. Hopefully, you have some idea of the point you want to make, but most of us are going to have to edit, coax, and generally manipulate the words for even longer than it took to write them in the first place if we want them to say everything we want them to. And, of course, some of the things I’ve written that I’m happiest with are the ones I stumbled on and realized after the fact that they worked better than anything else I’d tried, but if it weren’t for rewriting I doubt I’d ever have recognized them.

That being said, it’s entirely possible to get stuck in a neverending editing process. Or, worse, it’s easy to start the editing process prematurely, before the whole rough form of the story has made it onto the page. I won’t deny that restarting before reaching the end is occasionally helpful, but more often it seems to just be a good way to get stuck rewriting the same thousand words in a vain attempt to make them perfect. Nine times out of ten, the parts that actually need retooling will only become obvious once you’ve gotten to the end.

Musings

[Blog] Static Friction

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The last month has, to say the least, been a little busy. Between traveling, moving, and the holidays it’s hardly surprising that I’ve missed a few days of writing, and while the rest was welcome and needed, it hasn’t made it any easier to get back into the swing of things. If the storytelling process can be compared to pushing a block of stone up a long, slow incline (and believe me, it can), then I’ve let my block come to a stop while I catch my breath and prepare to get it going up the next segment of the path. I may have needed to stop and catch my breath, but it’s still going to be difficult to get it moving again.

I’m tempted to compare the whole thing to the torment of Sisyphus, but that might give the wrong impression. I enjoy writing. (No. Shush. It’s not Stockholm Syndrome. Stop looking at me like that.) I’m just also keenly aware that if I want to get anywhere with writing, there’s an awful lot of work involved. Plotting, planning. First draft. Second draft. Editing. And that’s before there’s even a finished product that needs to be marketed and promoted. Sure, today I just need to write a few hundred words, but then I need to do the same thing tomorrow and the day after that and again after that until I’m done.

On the bright side, I’ve done this whole starting-and-stopping thing enough times that I know it’s going to get easier again as soon as I hit my rhythm. The cursor on the screen won’t feel like it’s mocking me quite so much. Words won’t play hide and seek with me for ten minutes before I can find the one I want. My inner editor will stop muttering and fluffing its feathers and will remember that it’s turn is coming soon enough. The block will be moving up the hill again, and I’ll just have to keep the pace.

Updates

[Update] January 2018

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Happy New Year! To those of you who have been following me for a while, thanks so much– you mean the world to me! To anyone just stumbling across my little corner of the internet, welcome, and if you happen to like what you see feel free to stay a while.

Between the holidays and the end of my Armenia trip, December was another fairly quiet month around here when it comes to writing. Friday blog posts went up every week, but nothing much beyond that. But! I’m back in the States, and while I haven’t manage to settle into anything like a routine just yet, I’m looking forward to more time for writing and the chance to do some more work on my bigger projects, as well as getting back into the swing of two short stories a month.

Speaking of those bigger projects, there’s two I’m particularly excited about! The first is that I’ll be working to finish the second draft of a fantasy novel tentatively titled The Seven this year. Check out the teaser here, and keep an eye out for more information as the year progresses!

The second is that I’ve got more Tanner and Miranda stories in the works, with an eye towards writing a complete collection. The two stories I’ve completed so far (Under Whiskey Hill and The Ethan Lindsay Job) were so much fun to write, and I know there’s a bunch more adventures in store for the siblings. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading about them as much as I’m enjoying writing them.

That’s all I’ve got for now! I hope the start of your year has been a good one, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the months ahead. As always, drop me a line in the comments if you’ve got any questions, or just to say hi! I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,
Faith

Musings

[Blog] Place Magic

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When thinking about the most important aspects of a story, the first things that come to mind are plot and character– the things that happen and who makes them happen. And to some extent, that’s entirely true. The characters we meet in a piece of fiction and the journeys we take with them are what make our favorite stories so compelling. But perhaps there’s a third part that is just as important to a good story: the setting.

It’s entirely possible that this is common knowledge, and I’m just a little late to the game. Even so, I think it’s fair to say that we tend to focus a bit more on the two elements that I mentioned first. Stories are retold in different settings all the time– think Shakespeare’s plays– and, at least when we like how it turns out, we don’t have any problem saying that it’s still the same story. As long as the plot and the characters remain the same, it’s easy to say that the story is fundamentally the same.

Of course, the fact that so many of the Bard’s plays have been retold and given a different location in time or space serves as evidence that the setting is a large part of what makes each particular story what it is. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be any point in changing it in the first place. When Hamlet’s tragedy plays out in a modern day setting as opposed to medieval Denmark, different aspects stand out. One might expect to encounter a ghost in a drafty castle, but if that same ghost stalks the halls of a twentieth century military base he might seem a little more out of place, and even though the characters will ultimately react in more or less the same way in a faithful retelling, the incongruity draws our attention.

That’s a specific example, but the point holds true: a story might tell how a scrappy hero rises from nothing and fights to topple an oppressive dystopia, but if the story is set in a fantasy world with swords and magic, it would have a different theme than if the events played out on a space station in the distant future. The first describes what we are capable of doing to each other. The second makes a similar point, but also makes sure that we know that it’s not something relegated to a barbarous past.

Updates

[Update] December 2017

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It’s December, and the end of the year is approaching far faster than it has any right to. That’s what it feels like, at any rate; I’m having a hard time believing it’s not still early fall.

My Armenian adventure is quickly coming to an end, and while I can’t wait to see everyone back in the States, I can already tell I’m going to miss this place more than I ever thought possible. Between the amazing people and the more relaxed pace of life here (not to mention the incredible food), the specter of reverse culture shock is already rearing its head and eyeing me balefully from a distance. But that’s a problem for later. For now, I’m still here.

That being said, I am looking forward to seeing how the experiences of the last few months end up working themselves into my writing. I already have a few ideas– one of which is even half written. I didn’t complete any new stories in November, but there should be at least one going up in December, provided that the last couple of weeks don’t end up too crazy.

That’s all for now! As always, drop me a line in the comments or via email if you’ve got any questions. Until next time!

~Faith

Updates

[Update] November 2017

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Happy November, everyone!

I have to admit, my feelings about this month are slightly mixed, as it’s National Novel Writing Month and I won’t be participating this year. Not that I didn’t think about it, of course. It’s just that if I tried, certain family members would (justifiably) confiscate my laptop. Maybe next year!

As for other writing, things are still moving along! October saw the completion of The Farewell, the short story I’ve been working on for the past while, and I’ve got a couple more in the works that I’ll post up here as soon as they’re finished. Blog posts about my experiences in Armenia should continue going up on Fridays as well.

And that’s about all! Thanks to all of you who have stuck with me so far, and to all of you who have wandered by as well! I hope you like what you’ve seen, and please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or comments on the stories or the blogs. I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,
~ Faith

Updates

[Update] October 2017

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It’s October!

This is just going to be a quick update this time, mostly because there’s not a whole lot new to talk about regarding my various writing projects. I’ve still been writing– it just hasn’t been going very quickly. Something about international travel and navigating a new culture. Go figure!

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I’d finished the first draft of a short story, and I’m still working away on it. At this point, I’ve probably got a third or a fourth of the second draft done, and I’m liking what it’s looking like. I hesitate to give an estimated time of completion, but I’m hoping to post it up in the next week or so. We’ll see!

In addition to that, I’ve got a couple of other ideas in the works, one of which should just be a simple, fun idea that will write itself easily enough. Of course, I’ve been wrong about that before, but here’s hoping.

In the meantime, I’ll keep posting up Friday updates on my Armenian adventure, so be sure to let me know if there’s anything you want to hear more about! Until then, all the best!