FEELS

A Pair of New Year’s (Writing) Resolutions

I have so far made three attempts to compose a work of fiction. Four, if you count that one I worked on for a couple of weeks in 2013 and then quickly abandoned. All of them were set either on another planet or in some kind of alternate reality, and I didn’t finish any of them. This particular genre is evidently a lot more difficult to write in than most people realize. It helps to adhere to a few guidelines of some type or another.

In addition to Kurt Vonnegut’s ever-useful eight rules of short story writing which I elaborated on earlier, I’d like to add two other rules of my own that I’m presently applying to my fourth (fifth?) literary attempt. The more practical writing experience I get, the more I realize how important these guidelines are. Especially in the speculative fiction genres, where the temptation is always there to go nuts with the worldbuilding.

  1. Do not edit as you write.
  2. Do not exceed 100,000 words on the first draft.
A scene like this, for instance, should not be vividly described in loving detail in prose fiction, unless it’s somehow relevant to the overall plot.

FEELS

NaNoWriMo 2021: A Recap

The stated goal of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is to compose a novel of fifty thousand words or more in the thirty days that comprise the month of November. I only managed about a tenth of that word count, and it’s more like a lone chapter than a complete novel. If I was unemployed and it wasn’t winter, this would be a lot easier. The majority of my writing is done in the morning, and ’tis the season when I necessarily must give up about twenty minutes of precious writing time to scrape off that small glacier on the windshield that formed the night before. Considerably more words were committed to the sheet on those days when I didn’t have to worry about putting on pants or leaving the house, but I only get two such days a week.

On precisely one of those thirty mornings, Black Betty’s keyboard mysteriously stopped working. Found myself having to spend a good chunk of what should’ve been a semi-productive writing session reinstalling the driver (a process which requires at least one reboot), logging in using her hitherto-never-used onscreen keyboard. Managed to fix the problem in the end, but somewhere along the way I learned I’d never want to write a whole novel using that onscreen keyboard. At least not on a device that has no touchscreen. Even with one of those newfangled touchpads that recognizes all the usual tablet gestures, you’re still pretty much forced to hunt and peck.

This is what the hunt-and-peck method looks like to me.

So I didn’t get anywhere near the prescribed fifty thousand words. No big whoop. They don’t hand out prizes for this thing; it’s not like I would have won a billion dollars had I surpassed the threshold. I certainly don’t consider this NaNoWriMo experience a failure, for what I did produce that month is something I can continue to plod away at for months to come. It’s the beginnings of something like a parallel story to my previous work in progress, set in the same universe. With several characters and plot devices tweaked. A different narrative point of view as well. Which I’ll elaborate on later.


FEELS

A Pagan Ritual Your Grandma Would Like

That macabre time of year is upon us — the time when I take that pile of unwearable old clothes that’s been accumulating for the past year deep into the eerie haunted wood, where I incorporate them in a scarecrow-esque effigy for immediate sacrifice to the dying sun. Stuffed with generous handfuls of that ubiquitous dry foliage that all species deciduous have been shedding like tears…

This year’s wicker man, in the headless early stages of construction.

Part of the autumnal wicker man tradition is to attach a handwritten list somewhere on the effigy, detailing all the things one would like to lose in the coming year. Like a letter to Antisanta. For this ritual is not about gaining things one presently does not have, but about letting go of things one no longer needs. As the forest itself does in fall.  

Upon attaching the aforementioned list, it’s time to get the party started and douse the whole thing in booze. This year’s choice of rocket fuel was inspired by a certain man who currently reigns supreme as the most moronic politician in all of Canada…

The cowboy hat prevents his microscopic brain from blowing away in the chinook.

Speaking of politicians and their moronicity, we had a (highly underwhelming) federal election last month. I brought along a campaign letter I received during said election, which I never bothered to open. Mostly because I didn’t like the sanctimonious tone of the first two letters they sent me. I sensed I’d be none the wiser had I opened the third letter. But I found plenty good use for it in this haunted wood.


I always walk away from this experience feeling like my inner manitou just shed an exoskeleton. I don’t know if it’s the sacred smoke, or the way the pieces of burnt fabric flutter about like faceless dark angels in the wind high above. Or maybe it’s the spectres that always manifest themselves in the flames. Like this one, which immediately struck me as bearing an uncanny resemblance to a young Bernadette Peters…


Or this one. A phoenix rising, which for some reason looked like either a rubber chicken or one of those Instant Martians from the old Looney Tunes shorts that grew to full size when you added water.


Last but not least, there’s this image. You have to use your imagination a bit to see him, but you can vaguely make out the Cat in the Hat.