Month: October 2010

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  
~Ray Bradbury

***WARNING: Rant only tangentially related to writing inbound.***

BEHOLD!  My left foot!  Or more correctly, my left foot in a cast.

Yeah, I went and done it.  I am a bit of a jogger–more an athletic dilettante–and I’ve run on roads all over the world while managing not to fall down (I’ve discovered, the not falling down part is pretty key). 

(sigh)

But it turns out the roads here in Sicily are pretty bumpy, and yeah, I happened to be suffering from foot-in-pothole disease last Friday.  I fell down.  :(

The doctors tell me I sustained what is called an avulsion fracture.  Of course I told the guys at work a wild story about getting chased by jewel thieves and having to save some bikini-clad princess in distress.  They bought it hook, line and sinker.  I do write fiction, after all.

Still, it’s a pretty big bummer, especially considering our house has three flights of stairs.  When told I’d be in a cast for six weeks, my ears almost fell off.  No flying for me either, which is the part I suppose I hate the most.  But hey, roll with the punches, you know what I mean?

Perhaps at this point you’ve also realized there’s a silver lining: I should have plenty of time for NaNo!  If I didn’t feel like such a horse’s patoot, I’d be right excited about that.  But my momma also taught me that when life gives you a broken foot, make broken-foot-ade.  Or something like that.  Never mind.  The point is, in other words, I think I’ve thought of a way to turn this spot of bad luck into some fun.

Wanna sign my cast?  😀

Yeah, I mean YOU wanna sign my CAST?  Yeah, really sign it?  It’s like a big white canvas around MY ankle screaming YOUR name!

Except by “sign”, I don’t mean actually “really” sign, unless you wanna buy a round trip ticket to Sicily.  No, I’ll let you “sign” it if you want to.  All you gotta do is leave me something witty in the comments–you can even tell me which little strip of plaster real estate is yours!–plus tell me the color (red, blue, or black) and we’ll get it stenciled on for you in a jiffy.

All you writerly folks can think of something cool or interesting or profound to say, can’t you?  And if you think this whole thing is only a stunt to curry sympathy and get some attention, you’re absolutely right!!!  Pictures to follow!

Stay groovy guys, and for those of you gearing up for NaNo, good luck Monday morning!

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. 

~Toni Morrison

When we paid a visit to Rome in July, I snapped this picture of an outdoor stone staircase near the Colloseum.

The wear and tear on those steps, the way the curves seemed to speak of a several hundred years-long process of people walking up and down them and wearing them down, really fascinated me.  If my travel companions hadn’t been tugging gently on my sleeve–“Come on,” they urged.  “We have a ton to see!”–then I probably would have spent the morning taking a million and one snapshots of this set of stairs.

Many images and objects I come across in daily life make me think of writing, and the writing process.  My environment gets me thinking, or, rather, I puzzle at the writing process utilizing an objet du jour–a set of stairs, for example!–as a sort of lense through which I filter my thoughts.

In this case, the steps made me wonder about the stages involved in writing, in the step-by-step process of taking the barest seed of an idea, developing it, first-drafting, marching right through Revision Hell (sometimes more than once!), getting beta and second-reader eyes on it, querying, and if everything goes really well, maybe even finding an agent and getting the durn thing published.  What we all hope for, right?

The staircase becomes a metaphor.  What could be simpler.  But looking at that staircase, another set of thoughts hit me.  As the steps led from the most ancient part of the city to the Colloseum, no doubt they were heavily travelled.  Over the years, countless travellers on their way to Gladiator Games or Chariot Races must have climbed or descended them with nary a thought as to their construction, or with any true understanding of their utility. 

Yet there must have been a certain class of citizen–perhaps the Colloseum workers or the Senatorial runners (whose job it was to run messages back and forth all over the city–the ancient equivalent of e-mail)–who knew those steps better than anyone, who knew every crease in the stones, the measure of every riser, the missing knots and blemishes worn slick by sandal and shoe, who knew the spots to avoid, the safe passage.

After all, they’d been up and down those steps a whole lot more than the average bear, fallen a few times, picked themselves up, dusted themselves off.  They’d successfully traversed those stairs in darkness, sometimes when the rains blew in, or in the newday light of morning when the stones were slick with dew.  Those few had skipped the tricks of the trade and learned the trade instead, a process which granted them a wisdom not shared by their peers. 

Their continued success was built on that wisdom.

As writers, I think we share the same challenge.  The best way up the hill may not be the fastest, or the safest, or the easiest, but it’s up to us to discover what works, to uncover our own set of rules.  As I thought about this, and tarried to marvel at those majestic stone steps, I realized when it comes to writing, my stairway looks a lot like this:

Clearly, I have plenty of work to do.  😀  But I am committed.  I want to keep building, learning, discovering.  Someday, I want my writing process to feel as weatherworn and understood and real as those beautiful Roman steps.

_ _ _ _ _ _

But wait!  The story’s not over yet!  Hours later, over a beer and in a goofier state-of-mind, I wondered what the stairs for different types of fiction would look like.  I mean, would Horror look different from Science Fiction?

After some snooping and hunting around on the intertubes, here’s what I came up with.  Enjoy!

Short Fiction:
Experimental Fiction:

Mystery/Thriller Fiction (DL, I’m looking at you :D):

Epic Fiction:
Horror:
Historical Fiction:
Fantasy:
Science Fiction:
Romance:
Combat Fiction:
Pantser Fiction:
Plotter Fiction:
Writer’s Block Fiction:
Unfinished Fiction:
Here’s hoping my upcoming NaNoWriMo project–and yours too if you’re doing one–doesn’t end up looking like the last two!  What about you guys?  What would your fiction look like as a set of stairs?  Or any other architectural device for that matter?
Hope you’re having a great hump day, and don’t forget to stay groovy!

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?  For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone.  That is where the writer scores over his fellows:  he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. 

~~Vita Sackville-West