Language is a tool not a box

After much recommendation, I am reading a book that on the surface is about a subject (American History) that holds mostly no interest for me. But boy is it good and weird and written in a strange way.

Would you read a novel made of citations? That’s what this seems to be… a large portion of it anyway. Also, the point of view changes every paragraph almost. And each paragraph (each POV, that is) is written in a different style. Some of them with no punctuation, misspellings, or odd capitalization, and each one signing off with their name at the end.

Example of citations:

The rich notes of the Marine Band in the apartments below came to the sick-room in soft, subdued murmurs, like the wild, faint sobbing of far-off spirits.

-Keckley, op. cit.

Willie lay in the “Prince of Wales” bedroom with its dark purple wall hangings and golden tassels.

-Epstein, op. cit.

The cheeks of his handsome round face were inflamed with fever. His feet moved restlessly beneath the maroon coverlet.

-In “History Close at Hand,” edited by Renard Kent, account of Mrs. Kate O’Brien.

Example of POV changes:

The lad, overawed, followed close behind us, looking this way and that.

-hans vollman

Well now I will give you A part of, or all of, if you like it, a Song my dear husband used to sing. Cauld it Adam and Eaves wedding Song. This Song was Sung by him at my sister’s wedding. He was much in the habit of making Songs and Singing of them and— Oh no, I won’t go no closer. Good day to you, sirs.

-mrs. elizabeth crawford

We had reached the edge of an uninhabited wilderness of some several hundred yards that ended in the dreaded iron fence.

-hans vollman

And the entire novel, so far, is written this way.

‘You can’t do that!’ shouts the English teacher. Well, the point of writing is to convey ideas, and this does that well, in its own way. If it works, it is allowed!

Why should we treat language like a fence around us? Uproot that fence and use its posts to carve your message into the ground!

Language is for using, not for obeying…

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Kafka has some way with words that makes everything seem like a slow, surreal nightmare. This story, in simple, straightforward language, manages that feeling while still being somewhat comical.

Gregor Samsa wakes one morning to find he’s transformed into a giant insect-like creature who’s smell and appearance so horrify his family that they can’t bear to be in the same room as him for more than a few seconds.

But, like The Trial, it all has the effect of a strange dream… an inevitable, existential horror creeping slowly but unerringly.

First he is sequestered to his room, only able to listen to his family or guess what they are up to. Then the furniture is removed from his room. Then the room (and he) gathers dust and trash and is left untended… and his relationship deteriorates at the same time.

And it all somehow evokes a feeling of… shrinking, of the world being stripped away until reality is a single room, a single floorboard at which your eye is pointing, unblinking.

A short, strange read. Well worth it.

Our New Creative Writing Magazine is Open for Submissions — Lucent Dreaming — Jannat Ahmed

Many moons ago, before the summer slung itself haphazard over the shoulders of Britons, and as easily fell away, my friends and I dreamt up a new creative writing magazine. The journey to launch has been an interesting one. Frankly, of course, we have no idea what we’re doing. And I imagine that will be […]

via Our New Creative Writing Magazine is Open for Submissions — Lucent Dreaming — Jannat Ahmed

I can’t stop writing

Which may seem like a good problem to have, except I’m supposed to be editing.

Since I finished my novella, I’ve written five short stories, and just signed up to write another… and I’ve only edited, partially, one chapter of my novel.

I know I need to focus on editing, or the writing was for nothing, but it is terribly difficult to stop creating.

So I give in and will try to do both at once! Editing doesn’t take much, if any, creative powers, so I’ll try to write new things and edit old things alternately, and on the same day even… maybe at the same time? 😮

Good luck to me :s

The grind

I logged into my Submissions Grinder account for the first time since 2014, and boy did I used to submit a lot of stories everywhere… I miss that. Writing novels has kind of taken a lot of the excitement and feeling of making progress out of writing for me, since they take so damn long. Well, I want it back!

I think I can allow myself some variation without getting distracted.

My plan, now, is to allow myself one short story per 10,000 novel words. Goals/deadlines/requirements seem to motivate me, so maybe this will actually increase the speed I’m writing this novel.

And maybe… just maybe I’ll actually sell something again…

Very short story

I accepted a random challenge to write a 75 word story about a duel at high noon… this is what I came up with:

 
No shadows. Sun sizzles on my scalp. Lips crack, skin flakes red. Eyes blink sticky. My tongue is a paper reproduction. Resist.

Cool crystalline water, ice snap popping, condensation beading near my hand. Dusty fingers, split knuckles–they are the cracked soil longing to absorb drops from the cool glass. Resist.

He wobbles. A tower tipping, head drooping, hand swaying. His fingers touch glass. Grip it, tip it. The ground drinks. He laughs. Still I resist.

A short story appears

I’ve written one for the first time in months, and all in one sitting–something i haven’t done in over 5 years. It was exhilarating, satisfying and gave me lots of brain endorphins–it also turned out really good!

How did this happen? I signed up on Thursday for a contest which had a deadline of Sunday night, and the penalty for not turning anything in was some severe mocking and embarrassment… so I wrote it that day. Deadlines work!

It felt very good to see my own improvement. The fact that I wrote a story in two hours that was actually not bad, and probably better than a lot of stuff i spent weeks writing years ago… it means I am definitely getting better at this.

I’ll let you know if I win (though in this contest really, the goal is just not to lose) but I feel I already have, because I wrote something!