Categories
creative writing women writing

Formula (writing) is for babies


One of the main causes of writer’s block is the overabundance of writing advice. The checklists, sorry to say, were created to raise the SEO of the sites that are posting them. Every day, I scroll through my Reader and I can see that the pressure to conform to “structures” is sapping the mojo of my blogging colleagues.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks

The problem is pervasive, because even large film studios, after using these magical checklists to spit out treatments for films, have to pirate their own releases in order to generate interest.

There exists deep learning technology so finely tuned that it can render writing samples resembling something that a human being would create. This AI tech is open source and anyone can request to be placed on a waitlist to test it. It was inadvertently trained by writers online who write to these checklists.

A friend wants to hang out

One consequence that writers are overlooking is the long-term viability of writing as a career. I will not be shocked if next year, a New York Times bestselling novel is written by AI and an eight-year-old on an iPad. Large news publishing companies are already making huge profits using this technology and a skeleton staff of freelance journalists. Sooner or later, the algorithm will supplant us.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Black paper swirls

Or, we could tell original stories and support fellow writers as they do the same.

I cannot repeat this often enough. The film version of Blanka Lipinska’s Polish-language novel, 365 Days, has 2 stars on IMDB and yet, she is raking in the $$$ and is now besties with Oprah. When someone starts talking to me about my work as if I’ve done something offensive, I point in her direction and say, “Have you … seen … this display?” (Thanks for that, Blanka).

A new hairdo

Right now, you could be sitting on an idea for a viral micro series. You might have a beautiful concept for a live, improvised audio play on Clubhouse when it finally comes out of beta. But you might not develop your ideas because lists say not to create as you like.

You are a human being, you are on planet Earth, and you have a story to tell. Are you going to wait until you are perfect, or are you going to write?

Categories
about me art creative writing fiction opinion women writing

Sunday, at the (home) office


On Saturday afternoon, I was waiting to take down an art exhibition and while I was waiting in the car, I decided to pull an Oracle card. I bought them because they’ve got a matte velvety finish and the gold inlay looks pretty. I could not for the life of me understand what it was trying to say.

Threads of Fate Oracle Cards "Patience"
“Patience” from the Threads of Fate Oracle cards

Hello everyone. Are you enjoying your Sunday? I have been at my “home” office all day. I am chuckling at the moment, because when I was searching my phone’s image library, I noticed that photo from yesterday and suddenly, my entire Sunday makes sense. This, for once, is not a rant.

I’ve had the most insane day. I had a vague project deadline circa now: Thirty episodes for a Japanese/English animated series. Sounds fun, right? Except, the criteria changed three hours before I submitted the scripts for TEN episodes.

There is a budget issue. “Smaller budget: remove characters.” So I asked three friends to help me out of a jam. Halfway through, when I presented a snippet of the draft, the graphic artist/animator demanded I write the script for the trailer first.

Now, the reason his company hired me was that the project team was led by a talented graphic designer and animator who was not a writer. Because I understood that, I explained to him that the writing process is not linear. One never starts with the summary. It appears that way because that’s how a story is presented to us. But you can start in the middle and work your way backwards or forwards. You know what I’m talking about, right? You’re all writers.

Colors of love by Thomas Bergersen

And of course, I might be the most non-linear writer of them all. I was giggling because he probably thought I was being unreasonable.

I say, “Should we have notes on the first ten episodes and then write the trailer script, which will happen very fast because we will know what the story is all about?” Doesn’t budge.

That’s how four of us were at one point editing the same sentence at the same time. I would like to give a special big up to Google Docs for facilitating that. When we were all finally done tweaking the scripts, the graphic artist texted, “I’ll take a look in two hours because I am going out.”

What?! It’s 7 past 22 o’clock (two hours later) and he wants to have a meeting at 23 o’clock. I, on the other hand, will be going to bed.

Categories
about me creative writing fiction technology

A video for you, with thanks

(If you’re having any problems viewing the video embedded above, please tell me. It’s in my WordPress media library. The point of upgrading was to not have this issue, WordPreeeeeess.)

Thanks for coming over here to support me when I took this blog out of hiatus in May last year. Special thanks go to everyone who came by to say hello to me after I re-launched as a brand-new entity last Saturday.

Earlier, WordPress responded to the altar call and got right with the Lord, but is now backsliding and error coding my videos. I cannot penetrate this chaos with code, scripts, tags, or commands. Nothing can defeat it. And I have tried everything.

Thank you for your support. I wish you a brilliant, glitch-free Thursday. (It’s Friday.)

Notes: Big ups to @TonyWijsVA (Twitter) for the ‘frustrated Kylo Ren’ impersonation.

Categories
art fashion gourmet

Roses + Coffee

Drip coffee package with specialty rose shaped cookies - pink.

This morning, I received a surprise gift: A box of rose-shaped cookies from a Tokyo patisserie called Tulip Rose. I can’t have the cookies because I’m gluten intolerant, so I took photos before giving them away.

Drip coffee package with rose shaped cookie - blue.

The illustrations are from individually-wrapped drip coffee sachets. I received four from a colleague who found them while hunting for coffee deals on Amazon. I have had three so far. (When I say I have coffee, I mean a milk substitute, cream, sugar, and coffee as a flavour).

Rose-shaped cookies

I kept the packaging in case I could create some yummy photo art. The moment has arrived, the coffee brand is called Tasogare, and the beans are from Ethiopia and Brazil. 

Drip coffee in package - green. With decorative wooden clothespins, and graffiti.

Thank you for your support so far. Please enjoy the cookies with your beverage of choice, a warm hug from me, and best wishes for the months ahead.

Box of rose shaped cookies (cookie petals with semi-solid cream filling) from Tulip Rose, Tokyo. Thank you scribbled over the top.

( ^ω^ )

Categories
poem poetry writing

Dominae Sol serenat omnia

aikyo to aikyo 2019 postcard of oil on canvas painting by Anna Ishii
あいきょうとあいきょう

Dominae Sol serenat omnia

Dominae Sol serenat omnia - Latin poem based on the Mediaeval Latin verses in the Codex Buranus.

Based on Mediaeval Latin verses in the Codex Buranus. Below, you will see the English translation.

The Sun is my Empress, She shines over everything

I was tempted to put the full text here. However, I remembered that Chrome’s translation software would chew it up. I hope the two images render without any issues. If there are any, let me know. The raw text is available, so please contact me if you would like to have it.

Image: Postcard I received recently of Anna Ishii’s 2019 work, “Charming and mesmerising” – 193 cm x 193 cm oil on canvas.

Categories
art creative writing fiction writing

Accession

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was writing a coronation scene for a new novel. The story is set in 2033, and unfolds in the same universe as The Quarter Percent. We follow events from three perspectives. One belongs to Sebastian, who happens to be a nephew of Cordial’s.

Whereas it hath pleased our Most Blessed Lady to recall to us Her glorious memory in the noble crown which is solely and rightfully come to the High Prince Carroll Patrice Saints Maud et Agnes:

Still drafting, but I know how the story ends. In the very last scene, after a bombshell revelation the previous evening, a hush falls over the nation on Coronation Day. The new monarch is Sebastian’s bestie, 35-year-old Carroll. In this draft of the story, Carroll’s father is still alive, so the proclamation of accession has to take place at the coronation.

Proclamation of accession (fiction).

By this point in the story, we have eavesdropped on meetings and know that the coronation will be stripped of pomp and pageantry. Sebastian has been asked to whittle down the government’s expenditure on the ceremony to mere shillings. The ceremony is a reckoning with the public which, after a display of hubris, has completely lost face. Nonetheless, the ordeal has been humiliating for Carroll.

Bless and sanctify thy servant Carroll, Inheritor of this realm, who we anoint and consecrate King. Imbue him with the wisdom of the Mighty Reformer Jonas, as we, with one voice, proclaim him King, Servant and Steward, with hearty and weighty affection.

The proclamation text is based on EIIR’s 1952 accession and 1953 coronation. (Read a short story inspired by the latter). As mentioned in that earlier post, Google was reading over my shoulder and recommended gospel music to me on YouTube. I made some artwork to display the text that was misunderstood. I hope you like it.

Note: This post was originally intended for publication on this date, 09/20, but I moved it up a week. I moved it back here to make way for a different post. Thank you for your attention, as always. Header image: Izrael Poznanski Palace in Lodz, Poland, by Jacques Bopp, via Unsplash. Concept art: “Accession proclamation for King Carroll”, Posca watercolour pens, and Pilot Juice metallic ink on matte/glossy magazine paper.

Categories
opinion science fiction women writing

A nutty idea

There is a torrential downpour forecast for this week. I came home during a lull, grabbed my tablet and both of my phones and thought, “I’m going to the office/coffee shop to take advantage of the quiet time to write a scene for my upcoming novel.” Why, oh why, did I check my email before going outside?

Image: Alexandru Zdrobău via Unsplash.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I live in the same universe as the author who wrote bestselling fan-fiction about a woman who was kidnapped and assaulted by a dude for 365 days. Therefore, I will write whatever I like. Please do not misunderstand this post. I am not griping about feedback from a man who tried to say I was “nutty” for using research and my fertile imagination to write a fictional story.

As I have said before, people like what they like. And when they don’t, here come the excuses. It’s like when a guy meets a girl and she has a perfect oval face, hair that is soft and silky, and skin like nectar. She is kind, polite, chews with her mouth closed, and speaks five languages. Except … she has a 32A chest and he can’t feel it for her, he whines to his friends over a beer, because his eyes cannot focus on a woman who does not have a 36 GG chest. And if that woman has to go to Seoul or Bangkok and have them stitched into her body for his viewing pleasure, so be it. “You’re giving me a real athletic vibe,” he later says to the girl over spaghetti. “Are you into sports? You should be a sports model.” The girl feels bad.

Image: Timur Romanov via Unsplash.

In July, I was worried that people would find my story bland, given the current year we live in. However, this afternoon, I read a message explaining to me that the story for The Quarter Percent was quote, A NUTTY IDEA THAT WORKED OUT WELL IN YOUR MIND, unquote. Get it? This person accurately described my process for writing every fictional story that I’ve ever published on this blog.

People enjoy reading about themselves. So, I guess he felt left out? One of the women in my novel is an engineer who does engineering things, while being partially clothed. A real woman doing a postdoctoral fellowship in engineering read it and sent me an email to say she enjoyed the story. And to be fair, if I read a book by an author who was using their work to attack a protected class or group, I would shred it and mail it to the publisher.

Women writers hear the darnedest things.

But I tell you all of that because I want to say that the story for the sequel to my first novel is over-the-top, dystopian, unconventional, irreverent, and chaotic. In fact, my process is that if scenes feel NORMAL they are immediately scrapped. Or I rewrite until things get CRAZY. If someone reads that novel and doesn’t think it’s crazy, I will be very upset.

After a busy month of literally no weekends, I finally have a four-day weekend coming up. I will be spending most of it writing. Some day, in the future, you will meet Mimi, a public health nurse who has lost her sense of humour given the situation unfolding in her country. Compared to her, Rue of Vale is going to look like a Sunday school teacher.

Good talk.

Categories
poem poetry writing

Beatitudes

Go out in the morning,
into the tabernacles and the courts.
Blessed are the souls that receive you;
they will be comforted.
Do not faint from toil; find rest
in mine house. Sleep, and see
a mystery in the early moments,
before the trumpets will sound.
Continue to the city, touching
all who praise thee for thy works.
Blessed are the faithful that rejoice
in thy labour; they will obtain
gladness even until the latter rain.

I will not age
nor show how frail I am,
nor let the flower of my glory fall away.
Yea, I will bless them that sow in joy
and wait to taste the bounteous supper.
Mine riches shall I heap upon their heads.

Therefore, feel not disquiet,
but hope. Walk in righteousness,
and be worthy. Weep not for days,
but return to me. And measure not
my devotion in a handsbreadth;
surely, it will endure
forever.

🌺

Thank you, everyone, for your encouraging words on my last post. This poem is based on Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem). English text: King James Bible. Original image: Nghia Do Thanh. Musical inspiration: Junkie XL’s Brothers in arms.

Categories
about me creative writing opinion writing

Better is one day

Better is one day, from Hymn by Sarah Brightman

Therapy is working. I had to complain to my therapist about this because, for two weeks, I have been staring at a wall of text that usually my brain would gather up and frappé into a poem.

However, my therapist and I have worked out my underlying issues. The stuff that was causing me to be codependent, passive-aggressive, resentful, angry, and vindictive had helped me to write poetry. There is no better way to cloak my hostility or deny my own needs. Now, the magic is gone. Nice job, doctor. 

I am able to confidently state my needs, and sometimes that involves screaming to the world that I’m not okay. This always happens when I am in traffic on Sundays, but I think that’s true for everyone. Anyway, she says I need to ping my brain with music. I say that it is a meditative process that only works for writing prose fiction. We also talk about feeling sad about the tragic passing of someone we all know.

After that conversation, I swear to Jesus, I went to YouTube and I see Sarah Brightman posed like the Columbia Torch Lady. I had no idea that she released an album in 2018. I listened out of curiosity, and realised that YouTube did not suggest this to me before because I avoid songs that praise the Lord Almighty, in English. I made a face at first, but it stuck and I had to play it again. The song is based on A German Requiem by Brahms. It sounds uplifting, cheerful, and transporting.

How did this happen? Google’s neural networks are getting better at listening to my private chats (!) and/or analysing my emails. I strongly suspect the latter because yesterday, I emailed myself the ecclesiastical portion of a coronation scene that I am writing. It’s for a new novel, but the machine believes that I’m Catholic or something. Oops.

I love the song. And I still can’t write poetry.

Categories
art creative writing poetry women

Psycho Fan

One is a crowd.

My addiction of choice is your past.
Its powerful spell makes me anxious,
creates a tension that is so deep.
You are cocky and terrific. Grinding
right there is the hardest thing in the world.
But your stuff was beautiful and
the consummation was
a thing of enchantment.
I genuflect under control.

The second half makes me want to get
squelched so fast into several pews.
The three-part thing was so spontaneous.
You are a pretty raw wonder. You did
something really special with your stick.
Took a minute for it to sink in.
Just love to picture it.

How beautiful to know
it all works inside me.
Truthfully, strong man, morality
is all stupidity and foolishness.
I think I’m pouting, yet taking it
painfully is humbling.

Always,
Psycho Fan

The comments remind me of a time when humans had a sense of humour and understood sarcasm. Originally published May 25, 2015. Image by Diana Vartanova via Unsplash.

P.S. Still unable to see any notifications for this post five hours after posting. Please leave a comment so I can holler at you.