Still Alive

. . . Great. Now I have that song from Portal stuck in my head.

I just typed and scheduled two posts for Anxiety and desperately need to squeeze in some writing time before sleep takes over, but if I don’t post here, it could be another three weeks before I resurface.

Performances start in less than two weeks. Then I’ll be back on a more normal basis.

It’s strange – certainly unexpected – how the lack of time has helped make me more productive writing-wise. After work and rehearsal, I don’t even boot up my computer but go straight to writing for an hour or two. Being so busy has refined my focus and my priorities. I only hope it lasts long after the show ends.

The Fourth of July meant a long weekend off from both work and rehearsal, but my sister and brother-in-law came up for a visit. Great to see them, but the days ‘off’ filled with family/social obligations. I’m exhausted.

Next comes four days of rehearsal, a weekend of ReaderCon (anyone else going?), three more days of rehearsal, and four days of performances. All done around work, of course.

Oh, right. And somewhere in there I have a birthday.

But performances – three weekends of them – signify less rehearsal time, so maybe I can be a little less of the ‘flighty artist’ stereotype. Words cannot express how much I am looking forward to that point.

So how have you all been? And what have I missed?

FYI

Shakespeare is kicking my ass.

This is awesome.

But this does mean that on days I have rehearsal, the computer never turns on. On one hand, it’s great for my productivity. On the other, it means I have an even harder time staying on top of this whole communication thing. So my posts here could remain more sporadic than normal until the final performance in August.

(And if you happen to be in the Bangor/Bar Harbor area of Maine in the last two weekends of July and first weekend of August, you should totally come see Julius Caesar. It will be epic.)

On Monday, my post over at Anxiety Ink discussed social media: how I try to use it and what I find difficult with it.

I love all of you. I love every like and follow and comment I receive both here and on Twitter.

But I’m not great at initiating interaction beyond my posts. So I don’t necessarily follow everyone back. I rarely comment on other blogs. Partly because the etiquette of it all still confuses me, and mostly because if I let myself, I would sink hours and hours into just that.

And I would much rather be writing.

So you – yes, you – and your patience with me is amazing. Thank you.

Stories are the reward you get. Because, really stories are the ultimate currency.

. . . Now to figure out tomorrow’s Anxiety post and avoid Facebook for a few more hours until Father’s Day is over. The commercial lead-up to the day upsets me (one sign said, “Remember your dad this Father’s Day.” REALLY?!) and the culmination just pisses me off, and I get extra pissed when I see mentions of my dad. He is/was not some saccharine gimmick.

But that’s not a rant I want to get into, so I’m just going to leave this here.

Grave Robber’s Promise

Last week, Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds posted a flash fiction challenge in which he provided tables to randomly generate titles, then gave until noon EST tomorrow (Friday, June 6) to write pieces of no more than 1,000 words and post them to our blogs.

Things like this make awesome exercises, and they’re fun! It’s mostly unedited, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from enjoying it; here’s mine:

 

Grave Robber made me a promise. I never asked her name. The dead don’t need names and she just would have lied anyway.

I’m so sick of all the lies. Aide the harvest, bring honor and wealth to our families. Some of us believe the lies out of ignorance, the rest out of desperation. Whatever gets us through the nights until it’s our turn and all the belief in the world can’t help.

But Grave Robber was new. She had a smile brighter than the sun – how could someone that bright suck a life from the dusty remains of ghosts? – and for a moment, I dared to believe.

That belief went the way of everyone else’s, of course. I knew better, and the knowing only made the sting worse.

I didn’t scream or wail like some of the others. The time for fighting had long passed. I just stared at them as they toned their ceremonies. Two of them never found the courage to look at me straight. Some of the others met my eyes on accident. Their winces and shivers were proof of my fight. They knew I would haunt them.

But now the door is sealed, my candle long since guttered. However soft the gold, it makes a hard bed. I will not lie in it.

The air is stale, sand coats my tongue and throat. Perhaps my skin will harden and become like the diamonds and rubies I can no long see in this silent tomb.

How much time passes? Days? Weeks? Eternity?

I do not at first recognize the scraping as a sound. My ears are stuffed with cotton. They quick sharp crack I think is the sound of death – not the gentle music of bells or strings but harsh destruction. Light burns. The pain tells me I still live, unless in this, too, they lied to us.

Hands rough where the priests’ are soft touch my arms, my face, my neck. Too much. After such absence, such living death, it is too much, but I have no strength to pull away and no voice to speak.

The hands lift and cradle my head. Water still warm from the day’s sun dribbles between my stone lips, sweet as ambrosia.

“Easy now.”

Gummy eyes reluctantly focus. My Grave Robber.

She murmurs, “I’m sorry we made you wait.”

“You,” I reclaim a voice – not mine, not yet, but a voice. “You came.”

Her lips quirk upward. “I hate to break a promise.”

This Is Exciting!

I have awesome dreams. I’ve mentioned that before in this blog, and it bears repeating.

These are dreams I don’t want to wake up from – not until we’ve reached the goal or found the thing, not until I’ve gotten to know the other characters. It’s breathless and exciting and heart-pounding.

That’s the sort of story I want to write.

Today as I was working on the novel rewrite, and thinking about the rewrite, and wishing the day job would just get out of my way so I could work more on the rewrite, I realized that the story has reached that flavor of intoxication.

Keep in mind that this speaks nothing to the quality of writing. In its own way, this is a first draft, so I expect to discover that it is complete and utter crap when I go back over it.

But the act of writing it is as heady and addicting as the best of dreams. I hope that even a fraction of that comes through in the reading.

It made me so excited, I had to share!

Writing Process Blog Hop

My friend Kate (also one of the three of us behind Anxiety Ink) tagged me to participate in a blog hop. I’ve never done one of these before, and it kind of feels like I’m joining a cult. But a fun cult!

1. What are you working on?

A rewrite of an urban fantasy novel using Japanese folklore. Surprisingly, the rewrite is allowing me to fall in love with it all over again — the opposite of what I expected. There’s also a short story I need to edit for an anthology and another one to send out again. My procrastination habits thrive on deadlines.

2. How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

I’m not so sure it does differ all that much. Then again, my reading trends heavily towards strong, complex female characters who get themselves into and out of impossible situations. Apparently, this is unusual? I write character-centric fantasy of many flavors — urban, epic, YA, weird mash-ups of times and technologies and cultures.

3. Why do you write what you write?

Because why not? And because my grandmother told me years ago that I could stop breathing easier than I could stop writing, and she was right. I write fantasy because I want to play in my own worlds with my own rules. (I have a total god complex.) And because the characters have to be even more real and identifiable when the story has such impossible elements. And because I like to wonder if ‘impossible’ really is.

4. How does your process work?

That’s often determined by what else is going on in my life. But most often, I have to put away the computer, sit down, and get just one word, one sentence on the page. After that, it’s easier. That’s a sort of daily process. On a larger scale, I still write longhand. When a draft finishes, I type it up, then print it out and edit it longhand. Of course, I have to let it sit for a while between drafts so I’ll have fresher eyes when I come back to it. But about 90% of my process is just showing up at the page.

I’m tagging my friend Laura of Designs by Nature Gems. She may not call herself a writer, but but I’m tagging her anyway because she’s an amazing artist and I can’t wait to find out more about her process. Tag!

What I Did On My Vacation*

*And by ‘vacation’ I mean ‘trip.’ Semantics, I know, but there is a difference.

Old Istanbul and the "new" mosque.

Old Istanbul and the “new” mosque.

I . . .

  • cruised the Bosphorus.
  • explored the Hagia Sophia (complete with ancient Viking graffiti) and Topkapı Palace.
  • fell in love with the Basilica Cistern.
  • discovered the Istanbul equivalent of Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the 350 year old Egyptian Spice Market.
  • Darkened a few shades so that at least parts of me are no longer glow-in-the-dark white.
  • found a spark of incentive to get in shape while watching tennis pros at practice (we’ll see how long this lasts).
  • managed not to die in traffic. Holy hell.
  • took two non-writing days.
  • learned not to say “um” when trying to think of a word or make a decision, since that means “vagina” in Turkish.

Travel is awesome. The end.

And Go-Time!

Bags are mostly packed. One post is up and another scheduled for Anxiety Ink, and keeping with the theme of the moment, they’re about my experiences and things I’ve learned traveling as a writer.

I don’t know how often I’ll post, but Twitter may see some decent action, for once. If you haven’t followed me yet, please do: @mjkingwrite. Alternately, just check back on the blog every once in a while and take a look at the sidebar.

Anyone out there have a favorite trip to share? How about something upcoming, or someplace on your bucket list? Comment and tell me about them!