The Art of Old Stuff

January 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

For the past couple weeks, Mondays have become “clean the entire house” days. My big project for today was to go through a big stack of papers and toss out the old junk. There was a lot of junk.

I found several copies of some work that I’d done in high school all marked up in pretty colors. I’d forgotten that I’d written these short (SHORT) pieces and about the group of writers who took the time to look them over. Just looking at the names of those writers brought back a lot of great memories from that group, and a lot of not so great ones of the divorce I was going through at the time.

I think after I get my to-do list caught up on (if I ever) I may go back through those old things and actually read them. Maybe I’ll even tweak them and make them better. Who knows, I might even post one of them.

I’ve always liked going through old stories. It’s like going through an old photo album. You get to re-live the moments. Some of them aren’t always great, like remembering how you tortured yourself over coming up with the perfect word for any given sentence. Or how late you stayed up trying to remember what you’d written on a draft that your word processor decided to dump.

Some of the memories, though, are wonderful. You don’t forget the thrill of having found that perfect word, getting lost in the draft, and being able to see nothing but the scene before your eyes and not realizing that you’ve written for hours and the rest of the house has long since gone to bed. Its moments like that which make writing more addictive than any drug. It make you a crazy person.

I wouldn’t wish this addiction on anyone who hasn’t already had a taste. To those that have, revel in it. There’s nothing else on earth like it, and don’t get discouraged when people look at you strange when you start talking to yourself. Usually, that means you’re doing something right.

So, perhaps later, I will relive the moments nearly 10 years old now. I wonder how horrible I used to write. LOL It will really be fun to see what kind of progress I’ve made. (Because writing is both a craft and an art, and still requires practice at any stage.)

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Music That Moves You

November 6, 2009 at 7:48 am (Uncategorized)

Like most writers, I have the compelling need to research as I write. On this 6th day of NaNoWriMo that research comes in the form of sounds (and really, that’s no big surprise as I most often will research the way something sounds. Memory is faulty and popular media lies).

I have researched two sounds this morning. The sounds of the barn owl, and the cello. Not all owls hoot, and from my time in band, the school never had the money for an orchestra. If they had, I would be a violinist instead of a clarinet player.

Note to self: Pick up violin lessons again. Also, save up about $300 for a cheap beginner’s cello. (My violin is purple. Maybe I’ll get a black cello with a white bow…or neon pink. Watch as my crazy skills transform the bow into a streak of color across the strings.) Just thinking about playing again brings back memories. I used to be pretty good. I wonder how things may have been different if I had practiced, lol.

While I was listening to random tracks online of cello music samples (read as: 30 seconds is not long enough) it occurred to me that as soon as possible I needed more. The music, played on a loop, began to fuel me. I could hear one of my character’s voices in the notes. I have no way to describe this feeling. I can only compare it to an experience that not many have gone through.

A few years ago, I went through Air Force boot camp. This charged up crazy feeling is like how I felt after exiting the gas chamber with my mask off. My skin burned with the fumes (it was a hot day and every exposed pore on my body dripped with sweat which seemed at the time like it was what activated the burning, because my eyes, nose and lips also stung). It made a lot of people throw up, and everyone looked like they were crying. Me? I felt alive.

It was a thrill ride and I wanted to do it again. I was tempted to get back in line, but being boot camp, you don’t do crazy things like have an opinion, a mind or your own, or speaking those opinions…much less be this insane person that enjoyed the thrill of a gas chamber.

This is how I feel this morning. Alive.

The hard part of this is translating this feeling into prose. A blog post is easy. You can stumble and mutter. You can use the words “like” and “as” too many times. You can make references to something like a gas chamber. In prose, you can’t do that. You’re limited to the voice and experiences of your characters.

Anyway, I have a busy day ahead of me and I have wasted too much time sharing this adrenaline-like experience. The story calls.

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Sample of What’s to Come

October 29, 2009 at 7:54 pm (Uncategorized)

So, I was doing some goofing off and playing around with character sketches and throwing my characters into situations to test their reactions. I had no intentions on my two main characters meeting, but they have and there’s no going back now.

Here it is, a teaser of what’s to come in a month or two:

Oz wandered through the rolling plains of stunted trees and dead grass with his stepmother’s words resonating through his mind. The sun was high over head, beating down on his furry back. Dry twigs cracked beneath his furry paws and stuck between the soft pads making him wince. His once useful fingers, groomed nails and soft skin were now deformed into this – a bear’s fumbling brute strength. What was he to do with these? He couldn’t play music, write letters, open doors or any of the other things he once took for granted. He could wander the wilderness and smash things.

“Try and find a wife now,” she had said. “You will wed Princess Teneale.”

“I still have a year to find a woman who will have me,” he had said. Princess Teneale was a monster, but the only monster who would marry him, thanks to his stepmother. She’d done everything in her power to see to that.

It wasn’t that Teneale was unappealing, far from it. She was perhaps the most beautiful creature Oz had ever seen – until she smiled. Her gorgeous features couldn’t hide the rows of sharp teeth she hid beneath those alluring lips. Inside her mouth was the truth of her nature, she was a troll, and like all trolls he’d ever met, she was selfish, heartless and cruel.

Oz sat on a patch of moss and looked down into the valley. The entire place was a barren wasteland, except for a small colorful grouping of wild flowers that were growing in front of a quaint farm. He wondered why anyone had chosen this place to live, unless they were like him, useless, hopeless and doomed to lead a life married to a monster princess.

The wind blew from the north, pushing chilled air through his overcoat and into the soft down of his new fur. It felt good. Standing, he shook himself and grunted, his new voice still unfamiliar to him. Slowly, he ambled down a path that was cut into the hillside towards the farm. The wind carried smells of onions, bread and the sounds of many people hard at work pounding at nails and earth.

When he had reached the farm, he saw that it was not quite as large as he had thought it was. From the shelter of a cluster of stunted trees, he counted as many as nine people going in and out of the farmhouse, barn and fields. There was another that he could not see, but her voice carried to him on the wind from inside the house.

She didn’t have the lyrical, sickeningly sweet voice of Teneale, but it was no less appealing to him. He moved around the outside of the tree line, failing at his attempt to stay quiet. Oz cursed his stepmother for bewitching him with such clumsy paws.

A loud crack shattered the tranquility of the glen. Instinctively, he crouched low to the ground. Behind him startled voices shouted at one another.

“Did you hear that?”

“Yeah. What was it? A gun?”

“Don’t be stupid. Who would hunt out here? It was probably another tree limb falling. Maybe one of us got lucky and was crushed under it.”

The other voice laughed, “Yeah, lucky bastard got out of here.”

“Shut up and get back to work,” a third voice bellowed. In minutes, the sounds of pounding and digging returned to their monotony as before.

After waiting for the people to forget about the noise, Oz crept closer to the cottage window. Inside he saw a girl sitting on the floor dressed in and surrounded by rags. She was humming now, quietly, to herself. She was something unlike any he’d ever seen. Underneath the dirt and mop of tangled reddish blond hair there was a beautiful young woman. Her voice even now haunted his ears. Her eyelashes caught the sun and glimmered gold over her green eyes.

She had lips that were full and turned down in the corners in the slightest of pouts. Oz was consumed with the desire to be closer to her, to kiss her lips and erase the sadness from her face. He just wanted to touch her, maybe to see if she was real, or if he was.

He dropped down below the window, so he couldn’t see her. He pawed at the ground, leaving small scratches in the dirt. He had to get closer to her somehow. It was then he realized that he was already enamored with her.

“What is it, George? The soup will burn.” It was a woman’s voice.

Oz’s heart froze in his chest. There were others dangerously close. He should have heard the people coming before now. Bears had better senses than people, didn’t they?

He risked one last glance at the girl, one paw on the window’s flower box, for the briefest of moments before using it to push off and away into the trees again. He winced as he made another loud crack of destruction in his wake. He thought he saw, on the edge of his vision, that the girl had looked up and seen him leave.

He should have run, and kept running until he was safely away from the farmhouse and the people that lived in it. Instead, crouched again at the edge of the trees and listened for her voice again.

“Did you hear that?” It wasn’t hers, it was the other woman.

“It looks like the last flower box has finally decayed and broken away from the window.”

“Why didn’t you have one of the boys fix it? Lord knows we have enough children that we shouldn’t be living like this.”

“It’s been another fruitless harvest, Sarah. I’m not worried about flower boxes. What are we going to do? We had barely enough to live on through last winter, and this year seems it will be worse.”

“You never should have taken Laurent’s farm. You should have never retired from the military. You should have had the foresight for this. You’re not a farmer. You don’t have farmer’s hands. You are a soldier. A retired good for nothing soldier. Is this why you pulled me away from the soup? I swear, George, worrying is going to do nothing for us now. You have eight children, a barren farm, and so help me if you add burned soup to that list…” she didn’t finish her threat. She mumbled back all the way towards the house, something about her mother and Paris.

The man sat on a withered old stump, and Oz placed one tentative paw out into the open, past the trees, into full view.

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New Story and a 17 Stories Update

October 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm (Uncategorized)

Fun things first! There is a new story up! Be sure to visit Gone with the Pen – the website edition to read all about it.

Now, for the sad news. I’m not perfect; I’m not a story machine with a slot to put in a quarter. 17 Stories in 17 Days Self-Induced Masochism…or whatever I called it was a complete failure. I know you can’t force the ideas; I know that you can’t inflict Chinese water torture on your muse to make words fly from your fingers…I just hoped it might work anyway. =)

My baby is due at the end of December, so when the stories run out, they run out. I will do my best to keep them coming, but I have no idea what type of child this will become and how my time for writing will transform.

There’s also some talk amongst the voices in my head for a contest either in December or January, so stay tuned for progression on that front.

One last thing. You can now find me on Facebook, LiveJournal and Twitter.

Jaeden Knight on FaceBook
Jaeden Knight on LiveJournal
Jaeden Knight on Twitter

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When Opportunity Knocks, Don’t Fall Back Asleep…

October 12, 2009 at 5:02 am (Uncategorized)

…at least not until you’ve written everything down first.

I am awake, I have pilfered fruit bars and carbonated caffeine. I am showered, dressed, bleary-eyed, and so not ready for the day.

Sometimes when you wake up at 5am, and you know you don’t have to, and just before you fall back asleep you ponder what it was that woke you up in the first place you don’t question your sanity. You just don’t.

You already know that you’re crazy; writing by the meager bedside lamp light with a fine point permanent marker (because that’s all that you could reach in your scramble to simultaneously hold on to the thoughts in your head and not fall off the bed onto the floor)…

…when you’ve scrambled to get everything down with as much detail as possible before it all is lost…and twenty minutes have gone by, you’re still not done writing and you’re actually debating with yourself on whether or not you should just stay up.

Here’s to hoping that I’ve been woken up at the right time, and made the right choice to seize opportunity instead of going back to bed once the thoughts were immortalized in ink. I wonder, if I had gone back to sleep if I would have been rewarded with more to go on.

I think I did. I have a beginning, two characters that are amazing, a plot (Oh My Gosh!), and the ending. I’m sure I can puzzle out the middle.

Jaeden

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17 Days Of Fail

October 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm (Uncategorized)

Just a quick little note on a day off:

My 17 Stories in 17 Days thing? Yeah, not so hot. It was great in theory, but in practice? That’s a lot of mental strain!

There is approximately 5 days left in the 17 days, and I’ve written a total of one short story and there is one that seems like it might be about a quarter of the way done (which I’m totally falling in love with).

Maybe next time I challenge myself with something utterly insane, it might be a good idea to have at least a handful of ideas to start with…you know, instead of none. =)

Jaeden

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Test

October 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm (Uncategorized)

This is a test of your emergency broadcast—

Wait. No. This is a test so that all you folks on LJ can still read my blog without ever leaving LJ!

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New Fiction

October 5, 2009 at 1:00 pm (Uncategorized)

Mississippi Blues is now up on my website.

Go read it. Comment. Tell me you love it.

(You know you do.)

Jaeden

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17 Stories in 17 Days Self-Induced Masochism Challenge (Try saying that 5 times fast!)

September 30, 2009 at 12:49 am (Uncategorized)

As you may or may not know, though I’m sure by now that everyone who reads this does know, I am pregnant. You do know, if you are reading this, that I have a website where each Monday I am dedicated to posting new fiction written by me.

Whether you see the problem already or not, I’m going to spell it out for you. My baby is due at the end of the year, which will put me in a situation less than ideal for creating new fiction…due to oh, the pain of healing after labor, adjusting to having another baby around the house, not to mention trying to get that baby on a human schedule. (Opposed to a fetal one where she eats in her sleep and sleeps whenever she wants to. Coincidentally, she likes to be awake about now, which is normally when I’m sleeping. Good times ahead, good times!) So my problem is that I needed to find a way to write some pieces before the baby is born so that come all those days when I don’t feel like doing anything but sleeping and crying because the baby is crying and I haven’t a clue why, I will still have something to post and not let my readers down.

I fiddled with some spreadsheets and oh my gosh! MATH! (Who ever would have thought I’d actually use that stuff again!) I figured that by the time the baby is three months old, I should be about on a schedule and better able to see when I can squeeze in some of that writing thing that I do. I also plan to take a vacation starting the week of Christmas.

I’m crazy, not insane, you know.

Let’s say I take off, 17 weeks for vacation and “maternity leave.” I’m self-employed now, I can do that. (In your face corporate Germany and your three days of paid maternity leave!) With the way that I write, I take one week for each step in the process of writing and editing. If I continued to write this way, I would need to write three new stories a week for twelve weeks before vacation starts.

Yes, there really is only 12 weeks left until Christmas. I counted. Twice.

By week six, I would be utterly swamped in work and setting myself up for failure with this system. Don’t forget, I’d also be writing my one story per week on top of the other three, and the first day of NaNoWriMo starts within that six weeks. (The last day of the sixth week to be exact.)

Here’s how my schedule would look:

  • Week 1:

Brainstorm stories 1-3

  • Week 2:

Plot stories 1-3

Brainstorm stories 4-6

  • Week 3:

Write stories 1-3

Plot stories 4-6

Brainstorm stories 7-9

  • Week 4:

Edit stories 1-3

Write stories 4-6

Plot stories 7-9

Brainstorm stories 10-12

  • Week 5:

Revise/Rewrite stories 1-3

Edit stories 4-6

Write stories 7-9

Plot stories 10-12

Brainstorm stories 13-15

  • Week 6:

Final edit stories 1-3

Revise/rewrite stories 4-6

Edit stories 7-9

Write stories 10-12

Plot stories 13-15

Brainstorm stories 16 & 17

Begin NaNo

  • ….and a partridge in a pear tree!!

You can pretty much get the idea from there. The main point though is that in week 6, all 17 stories would be in some sort of rotation. Not to mention whatever rotation the other pieces I’m working on are in…let me check on that! Yes, I have one other that will be in final edit, one that will be in revise mode, and the six others I plan to write for my story a week and their various levels of done.

That, my friends, sounds like a failure trap. This is why I do these crazy things, these spreadsheets and all this planning of where my stories will be in what phases. This is why I schedule myself! Organization will be your key to freedom my brothers and sisters!

Yes, its late. Yes, my head is spinning a little…and yes, I think I might possibly be delirious.

Anyway….if you’re still with me this far YAY! You get a cookie. Drop me an email with your address and I will get it to you. I can’t promise that it will be whole, bite free and not an envelope of crumbles though. (This offer is only good in the continental United States. This excludes Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada. Why those last two are included, I don’t know. Let’s just merge and be one big happy family, eh? Mexico, you’re out of luck. Sorry.)

Where was I going? Oh yes. 17 stories need to be written in the next 12 weeks in order to keep giving you all the Jaeden Knight fiction you crave so badly. (Don’t deny it. You love it like heroine.)

ENTER!! (dun, dun, dun…..)

THE 17 STORIES IN 17 DAYS CHALLENGE!

Will she succeeed? Will she fall flat on her face in a bowl of oatmeal? What flavor will that oatmeal be? (I hope its blueberry.)

Here you have it folks. I will attempt to write 17 stories in 17 days and then worry about the edits later. =) This is of course, in addition to my one story per week and everything else I have going on. If I’m lucky, I will have them all written by the time NaNo starts and can edit them afterwards.

If you’re a writer, or heck, even if you’re not wanna join me in this?

Jaeden

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And the list goes on…

March 3, 2009 at 12:52 pm (Uncategorized)

Review & edit Library – reviewed, not edited
Finish Wolf Mother
Lesson 1 of 6wkSSC – done
1 of 50 First Lines – done

After making the post yesterday, I went through my files and notes and found that I have a lot more unfinished things that I’d like to be done. There’s no way that I could do them all in one day though, not with my schedule the way it is at the moment at least.

Perhaps a few scheduled weekly visits to a nice, quiet writing spot are in order; if only temporarily. It would give the boys a chance to bond. I would get a firmer grasp on my sanity. I think that’s a win/win situation there. =)

Then again, with Anthony newly addicted to Sims 2 and Shane pre-occupied with cartoons, there should be no reason I can’t lock myself up in the “office” and get some work done there. (No, its not in quotes because I’m trying to slyly refer to the bathroom!)

Maybe I should consider getting out of the house again…

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