As a writer, there will be days when the words spill from my mind and gush all over my keyboard. Those are good days. It’s sunny outside, the birds are chirping a merry tune, and my neighbors’ toddler is either asleep or visiting the grandparents. Occasionally, however, I’ll have really awful stretches where the words are stymied and nothing pushes the blinking cursor forward. I’m not talking about regular writer’s block, which I’ve written about before. No, this is far worse. This isn’t just struggling to find the right direction for a story or wrestling with a difficult scene. It’s apocalyptic: thunder and lightning accompanied by merciless winds, dead birds plummeting from their perches, and the toddler next door wailing like an air raid siren (which, admittedly, often happens on good days, too). This is what I like to refer to as “the inspiration abyss.” No matter how hard I try, I can’t get any of my ideas off the ground. Even if I manage to write a thousand words, they ultimately lead to a dead end, forcing me to start over. While writer’s block can last for days, the inspiration abyss can last for weeks. Currently, I’m dealing with a stretch that has now lasted just over a month. It’s the most frustrating experience as writer. I don’t have any quick-fix solutions, but I’ve developed a few strategies to aid me in my attempts to claw my way out of these bleak situations: (more…)
A couple of weeks ago, I ran into someone I’ve known for several years (an acquaintance I’ll refer to as “Boba Fett”), who asked me how my writing was going. This being my fourth semester with Stonecoast, I talked about the collection of stories I’m working on for my master’s thesis. I gave a very brief overview of three stories, just to give a taste of the kind of stuff I like writing: there’s a tale with a talking dragon, another featuring a ghostly girl, and another one about hills made of chocolate. Boba Fett, with one eyebrow arced slightly (I could see through his shady helmet), asked me what the other stories were like. I responded by saying, “Well, most of the stuff I write I’d classify as fantasy, but I like messing about in other genres, too.” Then, with a very serious face, he asked if I had ever considered writing “real stories instead of this fantasy stuff.” (more…)
If there’s something strange in your neighborhood… who you gonna call?! In my case, the pizza guy because I’d be damned hungry after running away. But I’ve been very fortunate thus far in my encounters with the paranormal. Yes, I’m a believer. Make fun of me if you wish, but I’m certain ghosts exist. I mean, I’ve never experienced something so terrifying that I’ve felt compelled to call some real-life ghost hunters (though admittedly, I’d be exited to meet Jason and Grant). No run-ins with statuesque hellhounds; androgynous, ancient gods; transparent librarians; or goopy, green ectoplasm. (more…)
I supported a Kickstarter project recently called “People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!” which was created by the good people at Lightspeed Magazine (the same folks who published the Women Destroy…! and Queers Destroy…! series). I have a story in submission for this project, but even if I don’t get published here, I think it’s awesome for a magazine with a huge readership to spotlight writers like myself who identify as “people of color.” I think it’s a very exciting time to be a fan of genre fiction. There are so many emerging writers with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who are contributing to and reshaping the definitions of science fiction and fantasy. More unique voices means more unique stories. And that’s a good thing.
Writers love to observe. It’s in our nature. We like to take note of how people dress, how they speak, how they move. We like to eavesdrop at noisy cafes or people watch at the park (a little creepy, maybe, but it’s all in the name of art – you understand). Sometimes, we even ignore people and simply take note of the lone dandelion on the sidewalk or watch in terror at the flock of seagulls threatening our hair with an unwanted shower. Writers are constantly taking in all of the things happening around us and filtering them for bits and pieces of story. Maybe that lady wearing a beanie at the beach would make for a great oddball sidekick in the next novel. Perhaps that restaurant serving ghost chili hot wings would be a wonderful backdrop for a tense scene. Or maybe that rabid squirrel with a mangy tail would be the perfect narrator for a story about love, loss, and redemption. Whatever the case, we find inspiration in watching or interacting with the world around us.