Influx of ideas, and a contest

I’ve been having a lot of ideas lately, giving them a bit of polish, then storing them away for later. I don’t often have success with an idea when I write it too soon. Ideas need to age…

But now that I’ve got a few of them shelved and fermenting, maybe I can actually get some writing done instead of all this… thinking (not writing).

My next story is going to be for a pre-issue of the magazine I’m working with, Lucent Dreaming. So you can look forward to reading something from me there soon!

Also, we are having a short story contest, check it out if you’d like to enter 🙂

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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.

Write about what you love?

I started reading IQ84 by Haruki Murakami recently, and one of the characters is a struggling writer. I am enjoying it quite a lot more than the previous Murakami novel I read, though it has a lot of similarities also.

I wonder, though, how many writers write about writers? How many characters in novels are writers themselves? The common advice is to ‘write what you know’, and every writer knows about being a writer…

Reading it though, has made me want to have a writer character. Maybe that character’s character is also a writer, too. How deep could you go before confusing the reader, I wonder..

The end of the world

But which world is ending? I have just finished Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and over all found it thought provoking and entertaining, if a bit obscure.

There were a lot of ideas in this novel, some strange, some confusing, some interesting, some mundane, some–seemingly irrelevant. We follow two sides of one consciousness. A ‘data shuffler’ , a person who encrypts data using a part of his mind that is locked away from even his own awareness, to ensure that no one can decrypt the data without his help. And things get weirder from there. Creatures of midnight appear with no sound–and are never explained.

A lot of this story seems arbitrary. Weird just for the sake of weirdness. Or maybe I’m missing a lot of symbolism.

None of the characters have names, which I found trite.

I did like the characters though, and it was an enjoyable read and much different than your regular sci fi. A refreshing splash of difference in my book diet.

I will most likely try another Murakami novel, but maybe not for a while.

 

 

Multiple I’s

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is written in first person, from two viewpoints. I don’t see how the two stories are related just yet, but I expect it will become clear.

Writing two different characters from a first person point of view seems strange. I would be wondering, as a reader, if they were the same character. I only expect that they aren’t, really, because each has a different narrator.

I do notice, though, that neither of the characters is an arrogant prick, which breaks my streak of arrogant jerk first person POV characters. So that’s nice.

I feel like I have something against the first person POV in general, though I’m not entirely sure what. It seems harder for me to suspend my disbelief in a first person story. I think about why this person is telling their story, how they are telling it? Who are they telling it to, and why? How they can remember all these details? Why are they recounting all these details, specifically? And on and on. Somehow, when it’s first person I often find myself focusing more on the idea of ‘someone is telling me a story of something that happened to them’ rather than just enjoying the story.

This novel, though, I haven’t found myself having that trouble. For whatever reason, I haven’t thought much about it being first person. Maybe it’s the relaxed, conversational way the character tells his story. Or maybe it’s just a sign of good writing.

Either way, maybe this novel will make me change my distrust of first person POV…

Intentional annoyance?

I’m on to my next audiobook, and this time it’s Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami, who I’ve heard many good things about but have never read.

The opening of this book takes place in an elevator. An extended elevator ride that is described repeatedly, in an overly-long and quite annoying way that made me say ‘come on!’ out loud. This was not a good first impression of the book.

But I wonder, was this a purposeful way to evoke the irritation of riding in such an elevator? The rest of the book so far, outside the elevator, has not been annoying at all, so I have to assume it must have been a desired outcome of the author.

This seems to me a very risky way to start your novel. Intentionally annoying the reader in the first pages? This guy must have supreme confidence in his ability to entertain.

I hope he’s right…