Writing a novel is the agony of going against every hard-wired stitch of the cross-hatched, multi-billion-year-evolved survival instinct programming of immediate gratification. Writing a haiku, by comparison, is the bliss of being that much closer to the primal, monkey-brained drive that says, “Yes, I want to eat that snake’s head. I want to eat it now!”
I had recent occasion to experience both. I placed in a novel contest and a haiku contest.
Strangeness in the Proportion
Several years ago, I won a novel contest. Between the then and the now, on and off, I worked on various drafts of this novel with the publisher (White Wolf Games) and my editor, James Lowder. It was hard. Really hard. Nearly busted my brain a few times. Nothing for respect for anyone that has gone through this process.
This winter, my big hunk of scrawling became available. My mutant child is all ready for company. It’s called Strangeness in the Proportion. It is available, currently, as a 17 part serial over at White Wolf’s site.
You can find it HERE.
You can subscribe to the RSS feed HERE.
It’s received some nice comments so far. I will definitely feed it an extra bucket of fish heads tonight.
In my convalescence, as I strained foreign objects out of my liquid brains and funneled it back up my nose (using reversed Egyptian techniques), I wrote something much smaller, entering a contest calling for Edgar Allen Poe themed haiku. It was bliss. A quick burst of creativity, pen scratching, emailing, and then input and accolades.
I tied for 4th place.
Here are the haiku I entered:
I-love-you-nots. So in love,
I can’t hear the screams
The Eight Chained Ourangoutangs!
Dwarf love conquers all,
And smells of burnt hair.
“And I held illimitable
dominion over all.”
Red Death sits.
Black Death begins.
They made a mistake
T’was sharp senses, not madness
The heart beats. It waits.
I thank the practice I’ve received from lots of recent twitter-story (short stories in 140 characters) writing. Both forms call for the same discipline in implied story (to be discussed in an upcoming post).
The Present Bias
The human current human brain really isn’t any different than the one that sat in the skulls of our grandaddies n’ mommies who hunted mastodon. That brain still has trouble with the concept of the future. It’s predisposed to the now. That is the Present Bias. Big projects like novels go against that. So when is it worth transcending? When is it worth playing to the strengths of the now (and taking glorious 4th…er…half of 4th)?
Growing pains in the skull, right along the faultiness of the suture-cracks, that’s what you have to look forward too, but the agony is just a reminder that you are on to something better, bigger, if only can keep your focus and—
Google Me…No One’s Looking…
While we’re on the subject of places stained by my ink, let me list some other places that still feature my writing (as a way of assessing myself in the new year, a time to make resolutions of transcending snake brain mastication).
Over at the This Endless Present (an online publication dedicated to dreams), you can read about a nightmare I had (it’s in the first part of the 3rd issue). I don’t know whether to call the piece fiction, or what I should do with it. I woke up, during my first month in Norway, and jotted it all down, as fast as I could go, before I could forget. I don’t normally have nightmares (especially ones that follow so vivid a narrative). I like it though. There was no overactive self-editor, as I was half asleep. I just wrote.
I have an article on the joys of audio fiction up at KillerWorks.com.
My short story, “Blood, Snow, and Sparrows” can be read in The Book of Dead Things and can also be listened to on Pseudopod.
And still (Still!) I have a short story up at BloodlustUK.com, titled “Varmints”. It is the first thing I ever had published. Be gentle.
These days, my daytime gig is writing video game dialogue and story. For the last year and a half, I’ve worked for Funcom (in Norway and now in Montreal). I write for the Age of Conan MMO, mostly in the Rise of the Godslayer expansion, and on some upcoming material.
Very recently, I’ve been playing with an idea for an anthropamorphic animal story, but not a kids story. I think it has its roots in childhood viewings of the The Secret of NIMH and Watership Down.
That evil rabbit haunted my boyhood as much as any movie monster.
Sleep tight, lovelings.