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Writing | First Time Flowing
 

All posts in Writing

Look at Everything

Your world has always been a smeared, rained on sidewalk chalk landscape of floating, impressionistic faces, every tree a wad of green cotton caught in a thicket. One day they give you the glasses and you see a world once hidden, presumably everyone else’s world.

Your world has always been sliding planes of glass, a parallax trick of time where towers simultaneously crumble and rise. One day someone slides the paper under your tongue and the stars reveal their highways, all clocks chant the same moment.

Your world has always been a sandy beach spilling a silicon waterfall into the basin where the ocean used to be, a forest of dry wine glasses abrading in the constant thirsty wind. One day someone crests the hill and plunges a dowsing rod into your heart.

Your world has always been a rough sketch, hand drawn dreams from the nubs of sixteen Crayola crayons. One day someone gives you the 128 pack and you realize many of the colors are invisible if you are alone.

But you are not alone now.

Ishtar

Three days passed and then the man was brought before Ishtar. Her servants positioned him before the throne and then vanished into the whispering scarves. The vagrant wore the robes of an unknown country, their colors long since leached by the road, painted with a new palette of sand. Much like his skin. Ishtar had endured the curious murmurs of the courtesans long enough. She would know this stranger’s tale and sooth her mind’s chatter, for it too had fallen prey to to the courtesans’ inquisitive ways.

“Stranger,” she said with the voice of a scimitar, majestic and cutting, “you survived the desert made from the dried tears of my former lovers. Gilgamesh himself supplied much to their number. You slipped through the gates by bribery or cunning. And now you stand in an audience where even emperors feel as paupers. Your hands are empty? Did I not seem worthy of a gift?”

The man stood silent. Outside the desert winds told secrets. She waited. Even Isthar’s wise eyes could not divine the strange words in his eyes. At last he spoke.

“And what might one bring before Ishtar that she could not take, unmake or break? Who can know what desires haunt her heart? Only fools presume to lay the poor gifts of this world at the feet of a goddess, for all must seem as dust to one such as she.”

“So you offer pretty excuses instead?” She smiled. “I have special oubliettes just for those who traffic in pretty excuses.”

“Forgive me, Lady of Sun and Sorrow, for I mean no offense. I spoke of one kind of fool. Another would be one who made no offering of gratitude for being allowed refuge in this city and even a moment in your radiance. I am neither sort of fool. For I did bring you something: a riddle.”

There is only one of me, but there have been many of me
Every morning you leave me, running towards my younger sister
You promise to remember me, but at midnight you will not know me
What am I?

Logjam

Every once in a while I’ll get an idea in my head and it  jumps up and down, bullying the other ideas and becomes a general nuisance until I give it my attention. I can feel other stories and projects behind the idea, but I can’t get to them until I address the one at the fore. Sometimes it is just a matter of writing down some notes while other times I need to follow it through to completion.

A few months ago, the idea that got in the way was Sküb, a despicable storytelling game featuring a bad, bad dog. Basically a re-imagining of Scooby Doo and the gang as a hellhound and his thralls. It was evil and wrong and I hope you’ll play it some day. I got enough of it down to clear the way for other things.

The newest logjam is the result of an idea for a music video. Completely impractical and expensive. I’ll at least need to storyboard it and sketch out the ridiculous device required for it to work. Then I can see what’s next.

Brief Updates:

I had a powwow with Cory, an expert designer, someone capable of translating ideas into functioning objects. I had only wispy concepts of how I thought the board for the Dune game could be constructed. He had names for all of the parts required. I insisted that he illustrate and write them all down for future reference. Incidentally, he is also constructing a custom Dune set, though with more ambitious production values.

The Stork is at the printer. The printer erred of the side of caution and sent me a new proof with a different color calibration. I found it even more accurate than the previous iteration.

The frame for my movie screen is complete. I replaced the generic lamp with a more steampunky version. I still need to re-skin the small couch and the chairs to match the decor. Also, I envision a curtain dividing the living room and the dining nook.

I have re-purposed a cabinet and some random bricks into a backyard garden. I still need dirt and, well, something to plant. Tomatoes, I think. They are pretty forgiving.

That is all for now.

Origins of The Stork

When I went to see Pixar’s WALL-E, there was an animated short called Partly Cloudy before the film. It had to do with a stork who got stuck with delivering really challenging packages. It got me thinking of some shadowy agency which employed people called Storks to deliver metaphorical packages to people. Perhaps this guy shows up on your doorstep with a lost memory from childhood.

Then I thought maybe I could make a role playing game out of it. The players would play characters in this agency delivering packages as a way of working off a debt, kind of like the reapers in Dead Like Me.

But then it occurred to me it might be more interesting if it were a live action game like Killer or Capture the Flag, where teams of people had to make sure a package got delivered to its destination.

I’m not sure how it happened, but when I sat down to write down some notes for the rules to this potential game, I instead wrote the manual that became The Stork. It was one of those rare pieces of writing that I transcribe more than write. It just flowed out, almost fully formed. I made some tweaks to it, but the first draft ended up being really good as is.

Some part of me wants to create these shared experiences, these abstract dreamlike ideas. I’ve found the best way to communicate them is to squeeze them into the shape of a story or a game. The structure is just a handle or a frame, a label so that other people can (hopefully) understand what I’m trying to tell them.

Find out more about The Stork at Kickstarter

Show and Tell

Last night my friends Jonathan and Sharon had a Show and Tell party at their house. It is an annual thing where friends gather to present projects they are working on or demonstrate talents. I used to be involved in the slam poetry scene and none of my Austin friends had ever seen me perform, so that’s what I decided to do. I still had two of the poems memorized. I guess I’ve done them enough that they’ve become etched into a ROM somewhere. The other two were on book.

One of the poems is always emotionally difficult to do, so I rarely read it. It’s a tricky thing: On the one hand, I want to read the poem over and over to get the emotional payload out of my system so that it won’t be a problem to do the piece. On the other hand, I’m talking about something real and personal and I don’t want to cheapen it into a performance. I made it through the poem with some difficulty. Apparently I will always have some tears left for the events that marked me most.

Set List:

  1. Some of the Parts
  2. My Girlfriend is So Fat
  3. Small Hands
  4. First Time Flowing

Now Don’t Get Excited

Although I’ve signed up for weekly blogging (the One A Day Lite package), I may sometimes write more than once per week. Gasp!

Alright, so on to the update. I’m working on several projects at the moment. Unfortunately the one that is nearest completion is one that I cannot discuss in detail as it is for a friend and he is keeping the project under wraps for now. But hopefully he’ll make an announcement in the near future and I can show you what I’ve been doing. Continue reading →

In the Grip of Terror

Anytime I embark upon a new project, I am almost immediately seized by fear. It is suddenly quite obvious that I wasn’t thinking clearly when I agreed to take on the project. It will likely be a disaster, a flaming slow motion spin out into a crowd of gaping onlookers. And then they’ll know. They’ll know that I’m a fraud who has been deceiving them all these years with claims of being a writer or an artist.

It is no use to present as evidence the hundreds of posts in my blog or the stories I have written or the many web sites I have designed. Those were flukes. Tricks. A bit of smoke and mirrors to disguise the fact that I have no idea how I’m doing any of it.

And this, of course, is part of the process. It means it’s working.

What you can expect from my One A Day contributions: At the very least you will find a weekly account of my progress and process in regards to various creative projects I am working on. Basically, I want to be sure that each week I have done something of consequence that advances my creative well being. This blog will help keep record of that.

Thus concludes the preamble. Onward!

A Welcomed Invasion

I finished a new short story the other day. It started out three or four years ago as a handful of vignettes. It took this long to coalesce into an actual story. I may still tweak and poke at it, but I find its current state presentable.

You can read it here

Writing from the Future

Maybe writing from my iPad will magically inspire me to write. While sitting here watching words appear on this glowing obsidian slab is a delight, it is still a wonder which I have anticipated. The tools are a convenience, not story engines. When I dip into some new app or device, I feel like I’ve taken hold of a magic sword. Now anything is possible, I think. But the sword does not know how to sing without me.

Lately I have been devising strategies to trick myself into creating something. I come up with various exercises, low commitment stunt projects, fire and forget one offs. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.

But I still must return to the font, which now wheezes and gasps a faint mist (or is it now sand?). In my ponderings of what may have happened to my creative fire I have drawn a correlation to having become less crazy. The unspoken agreement has worked too well and the safe harbor from the storms of my mind has become a home. From this vantage point I observed much, my world held before me in a snow globe, regarded with clear eyes.

I have spent much of my life in fear of various measuring sticks. I always felt I was getting it wrong, that I was found wanting. This permeated all spheres of human interaction. But at the core was the feeling of failing at reality, of a diamond hard superstructure crushing what I felt was real. Now that I see that there is only a reality of consensus, a ridiculous web of dependent causality governing behavior, I wonder if there is anything left to fear.

I do not think it is healthy for me to be sane. It is a survival trait necessary for the muggle world, but I fear it may be a cancer of the spirit.

Endings

It has been a while since I wrote something with a proper ending. The Stork doesn’t count. I mean like a story or poem, something like that. I have plenty of beginnings and middles lately, what with all these various writing projects. What if I get out of practice and find myself unable to end something at the right time?

I better do a remedial ending, just to keep the juices flowing.

Ahem…

Eric turned the last of the dials and felt the heavy tumblers thud into place somewhere in the machinery below. Unsealing the phial, he let the nanophage drip over the dials, melting them into something else, something that would never open again. Back against the metal wall, he let out a sigh, deflating, sliding to the cold floor. His sigh whisped away into the darkness of the vault to visit with the other ghosts.

The sodium lights failed for a moment and then swelled back to life. Eric didn’t notice. He had the locket open in his hand. One last look before snapping it shut. All worth it in the end.