Friday, January 22, 2016

Abandon Your Writing

The only perfect aspect of one's writing lies in the silence between the words. All else is approximation.

How well we approximate determines our worth as writers, but to be spot-on requires the words to lead to the silence from which the vision arises.

This is approximately what I meant to say.

I've finished the short story "A Murmuration of Dragons"--at least, I've finished a handful of drafted revisions. It's not quite right yet, so I'm going to abandon it for a while and write something else. Maybe I'll work on another short story, maybe continue with my novel, maybe both.

I'll come back to "Murmuration" when the memory of the words dims and the silence between the words increases. That's where the real story exists. It's there, complete and perfect, like a pristine mountain lake that perfectly reflects the sky. I just have to keep removing or replacing those words that muddy the water; therefore, of course I'll come back and work on the story some more in a few days or a few weeks. I'm giving it time so the mud settles and the silence, the blank spaces between the words, is revealed.

You may read the story as it is. I wiped my feet at the door after my tramp in the mountains, but a little mud (some might say a lot) stuck to my boots. Those footprints before the door--they are mine. They follow me everywhere. I rarely escape them, no matter how hard I try.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Draft 2 Complete--and Unification Continues!

Wattpad link for "Murmuration"
Draft 2 of "A Murmuration of Dragons" is now finished, although there are more revisions to come. It's a process. I've posted the story on Wattpad twice: the revised story and the original Draft 1, so anyone interested in seeing the changes can look.

Creation is a higher order thinking process called synthesis, a combining of possibilities into something new. The best beginning point for this process, of course, is the field of all possibilities at the source of thought. That way a writer or any artist has more choice.

This short story began as just that--a short story about a character called "Cobb," son of a cobbler. It transformed during the creative process, though.
  1. Cobb became a secondary character, preceded by Fingers, a pickpocket.
  2. Third person, focusing on Cobb, changed to first person point of view, from Fingers' perspective.
  3. Cobb became the character Caul; Fingers became the character Gnossos, telling about his youth, when he was called Fingers.
  4. The chararcter "Trot" was removed, and the character Old Jin was just mentioned in the story.
  5. The "murmuration" idea was introduced to the story.
The short story will now also most likely be a prelude to the prequel of the novel The Stone Dragon. The prequel is titled A Mage That Gathers, and is about the youth of Alma-Ata, who is old in The Stone Dragon. Also, I may write the prequel from Gnossos' point of view, eight years after "Murmuration," or I may alternate between chronicles (reports to the Order of Thom) by Gnossos and third-person limited narrative of Alma-Ata.

This synthesizing, or taking diverse elements and creating one story, is an interaction of inner possibilities and, in the revision process, the existing reality of the words on the paper. I enjoy it, although I have to be careful I don't enjoy it so much that I never finish a project--a fantasy version of Apocalypse Now, off in the jungle (field of all possibilities) with no road home.

Enjoy the story at Wattpad.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Finished Draft 1 of "A Murmuration of Dragons"

Well, I've finished Draft 1, so now I have a completed short story. You can now read the end of the story. I'm proud that I've finished one time through, and am eager to begin revision. Revision is always a fun (and necessary) part of the writing process.

I've added the ending of the story and changed the original order on the Wattpad platform so that there are now two parts: the completed story that I am revising, and the original draft. That way you can see changes as they progress.

You can read both versions and follow the revision at Wattpad.
"A Murmuration of Dragons"


 Starlings return from the fields, wheeling the darkening sky. Be wary of hawks, be wary of the cutpurse, but when magic comes to Half Street, be especially wary of dragonfire.

 Being the chronicle of Gnossos, Supplicatory to the Order of Thom, Thomikos


I'm also going to give myself a new experience today. The local library has a writing time every Wednesday from 9:30 to 12:00. I'm going to show up and work on the draft. Maybe I'll post a blog on the experience. Meanwhile, enjoy what I've done so far!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Book Review: The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame

"The Reluctant Dragon" was published in 1983 as a children's book. The story came originally from Kenneth Grahame's collection of short stories Dream Days, published in 1898. The book edition is illustrated by Michael Hague, who also illustrated publications of The Wind in the Willows, also by Grahame, and The Secret Garden, authored by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The publisher was Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

I found this grand book at our local public library.

The tale is one full of whimsy about a lazy and easy-going dragon, a boy, and St. George. For children (and for adults who need the learning), the lesson is that differences can coexist, and that it's a lot more pleasant getting along than fighting. A secondary lesson is that reading and scholarship can be useful.

Michael Hague's illustrations are lush and full of medieval extravagance. Children can view them and not be bothered with all the realism that Chaucer chose to include in the Canterbury Tales. The colors are gilded with the aura of times gone by, and the detail just begs for taking the time to look closely.

Hague's romanticism and lightness also lend themselves to a dearth of realism. For instance, the Boy reads in a bedroom entirely too elegant for a shepherd's soon, both in size and decor. Also, although perhaps appropriate for a children's story, the dragon is not, as it states, one of the earnest dragons. Hague's illustrations paint the dragon as entirely avuncular. That's the only word that fits.

This book, though, is a friendly tale filled with humor in both text and illustration. It's a world any child or adult can enter, and upon leaving, exit with a light step and a happy heart.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Saying Goodbyes to Mom

Bags packed, I'm traveling to Sacramento today and then back to Iowa tomorrow. 

Saying goodbyes is sometimes perfunctory but not when goodbyes are to someone 91 years old. 

We never know if we'll see someone again, even with the most everyday partings. Our hellos should always be full of joy and our goodbyes full of appreciation. What is that expression? There is no joy in the small.

Let our hearts be full and the new year blessed with many appreciations of those whom we share our lives with. 

(Written on iPhone)