Archive for the ‘Unsolicited Writing Advice’ Category

Morality, truth and noir…

Bear with me, this is off the top of my head

My friend Nina sometimes says at the critique table, “Is this what you want to put in the world?”

She says it in reference to stories that work on a craft level, may have tight plotting and good prose, but purport a theme or morality that only seem to say, “people suck.”

Is this what you want to put in the world?

Don’t get me wrong. I love noir. I’m currently reading an excellent comic called “100 Bullets” by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. It’s well written and has an epic arc. But, yeah, basically people suck.

And that darkness serves a purpose. From it I learn about my own weakness. I am cautioned to be conscious and to strive for integrity.

I take my noir in small doses. There’s only so much darkness i want to heap on myself at a time. I’ve heard the argument that we read for survival skills, that darkness is part of the real world.

I agree, but i also think if we put all our attention on darkness, we don’t see the whole picture. If we exclude what is wonderful and bright and significant in life, aren’t we just as blind as if we live with rose-colored glasses?

My friend Dee used to say, “I’m not asking you to put on rose-colored glasses, i’m asking you to take off the shit-colored ones.”

Anyway, i’m thinking about Nina’s question. What do i want to put out in the world.

It’s true, i want to lean into the blade, open a vein on the page, i want to write the painful scary things that keep me up at night. But i also want to write things that invoke people’s sense of wonder, give people hope. I want to change things.

So far, i’ve written about torture, rape, murder. I’ve written about child abuse and loss and fear.  [NOTE: i’m talking about over my whole career, not just in my current novel.] But i feel like i’m always trying to find that place in fiction where i honestly put out something real and visceral and painful, while still looking for the place where people grow and learn, where people try their best.

I want to write truth, and i think real truth is a fine balance between pain and grace.

I don’t think i’ll ever write a straight noir piece myself.

I just don’t think people suck.

Anyway, back to the novel….

Changes a comin’

Well, i finally did it. I converted my writing site to a blog. It’s not entirely done, so let’s call this Version 1.

First and foremost, this means that i won’t be posting directly to LiveJournal anymore. You’ll still see my posts, though, through syndication. I’m trying to set up a plugin to show comments made on LJ syndicated posts, but it might be easier to just go to my site if you want to cheer, boo, accuse or cajole. (link at the bottom of every post on LJ.)

Hey you know what?

Tomorrow’s my birthday!

Clearly a time for changes and challenges. In honor of my new year i’m challenging myself to create more. Expect frequent posts here of art, music, story excerpts and other bits of weirdness from my mind.

The current exciting categories are:

  • Scribbles, Constructions and Objects D’Art : ART
  • Bleeps, Crashes and Squawks : MUSIC
  • Chunks Of Story : FICTION EXCERPTS
  • Unsolicited Writing Advice : WRITING ADVICE
  • That’s Just Silly : COMEDY
  • Whoa, That Was Weird! : DREAMS

Expect something new at least twice a week, eventually everyday if i ever get on top of this novel.

I’ll still post updates on the novel process and Work In Progress quotes too.

So, cool, come check out the site!

Go to Clarion!

The Clarion Writers Workshop

I cannot say strongly enough how much the Clarion workshop has changed my life.

Yes, it effected my writing in crazy and wonderful ways. It took everything i thought i knew about writing and turned it on it's ear. It took me three months to process everything i learned.

Am i finished learning as a writer? Not even close. We never are, but i feel i keep hitting these plateaus in my writing, and each one is harder than the last, and Clarion got me to the next one.

Go to Clarion.

I met people i'll be friends with for the rest of my life. I networked with folks who could potentially help my career in ways i can't even imagine.

I've never done anything like Clarion. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

Go to Clarion.

The Clarion Writers Workshop

Announcing the
2009 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop

@ UC San Diego

June 28 to August 8, 2009

The Clarion Workshop is widely recognized as the premier training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction short stories. Many graduates have become well-known writers, and a large number have won major awards. Instructors are among the most respected writers and editors working in the field today. The 2009 writers in residence are Holly Black, Larissa Lai, Robert Crais, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Hand, and Paul Park. The six-week workshop is held on the beautiful beachside campus of the University of California at San Diego.

Since its inception in 1968, Clarion has been known as the “boot camp” for writers of speculative fiction. Each year 18-20 students, ranging in age from late teens to those in mid-career, are selected from applicants who have the potential for highly successful writing careers. Students are expected to write several new short stories during the six-week workshop, and to give and receive constructive criticism. Instructors and students reside together in campus apartments throughout the intensive six-week program.

The application period for the 2009 workshop is January 2 – March 1. Applicants must submit two short stories with their application. Scholarships are available. Additional information can be found at