how to find a pulse

Journal entry. may 18th. this morning i return to the manuscript, i return to my desk where i belong, to have another go at the trilogy, the daughter of darkness, a five year endeavor coinciding with a sea change in my life and lifestyle. i don’t know how this will work out, but hopefully by the end of the summer all these mornings strung together will produce a fresh and final paperback copy of the third book for you to sink your eyes in.

many of you have been on this adventure with me, and i thank you. i am hopeful and invigorated now, getting back to Ame and Bless and Freddy and Maze and Kell. part fiction, part story of my life, it’s really a tracking back into my spirit and heart.  some people like to ask where do fact and fantasy diverge? my curiosity lies elsewhere. i wanna live and play in the place where fact and fiction converge, and make a home for us there, you and me. the interplay of what i have experienced, with my imagination.

waking up fresh from dreams to a blue white morning light – rinsing my face with cool water – setting a prayer and intention – placing my fingertips on these keys – feeling the weight of the desk in my wrists – the earth in the soles of my feet… i am finding my pulse.

2 artists

to all aspiring artists

You can be an artist if you are creating as you go. you live your life and you record it with whatever materials you choose, in whatever way you wish to record it, not necessarily how it appears to you, but how it feels to you, not necessarily each and every thing which transpires, but those instances which stand out for you, for whatever reason, good or badness aside, morality unnecessary, judgment removed, recounting perhaps some infinitesimal change may have established in your thoughts, feelings, sentiments, or even your style, behavior, fashion, or manner of dreaming or daydreaming, it’s all up for grabs, whether it pushed you forward, pulled you in or dropped you out, whether it silenced you, gave you pause, made you more vocal or expressively settled you into new rhythms or arrhythms. you can be an artist in any medium but if you wanna be an artist try to be an artist every day. the chore may feel quite burdensome at times, and especially at the start but not only in the beginning, either, very often midstream, do not let this deter you, this aversion to effort, do not mistake it for a lack of inspiration, okay, we all get tired by work on mammoth projects in need of our unceasing attention, just battle on through and love yourself more for your ceaseless, tireless devotion to what you do. and remember, when you come across a crisis of confidence in yourself, perhaps in the face of the contender, or in light of a culture which has not yet opened its eyes to you, to your content, remember the unquestionable and valid fact of your life, that only you have lived this life, this life can neither be price-tagged nor questioned, this life is yours and your alone and you are and always will be its great historian. and without you telling it, showing it, representing it? it will not otherwise be known! let this thought alone drive you forward in your quest!

couch with netflix

some of my best decisions come outta me when i let go of logic and hold on to that feelin and so was tonite as i went ahead (with only a sliver of ‘proven’ in my pocket) and signed myself up (placed my bet) for the Cali International Marathon this december and the Run The American River Parkway (20 mile) event this november, so now i have 4 months of arduous training ahead which was not part of ‘the plan’ in my head all year, yet i will follow ‘the feeling’ instead cause it seems to make my life alot more interesting. i will be the first in my family to run a marathon so that’s cool, make my family proud. the greater hope i have and the part where the leadership quality in one’s own life appears (leadership as one who makes the unpopular and ever outrageous split decisions which turn out very well for everybody in the end), is not to shelf but rather to impel the big idea – the Book (of course) – i have my heart set upon. how? well, i reached ten miles (on my own time) in my latest run. i’ve been keeping a close eye on the physical as it interacts with my mental and psychological, and it’s been mostly stimulating. object in motion stays in motion kinda theory (which i believe in). yes there have been days lost to these long runs. but what is lost in the immediate aftermath of physical exertion is restored only to complement/supplement the mind and spirit quite soon after hydration and sleep. in these (restorative) conditions the muse is more likely to come out and play, and certainly more reliable than couching (her) with netflix.  my grace period (i gave myself) ends on halloween, what with national novel writing month on its heels. what i’m saying is, if you are leading the way in your life like you oughta, you may be unpopular with yourself but good things will follow, or inspiration follows perspiration (a duller way to say). i am making my moves and enlarging my ‘risks’ for greater ‘rewards’. the populist in me has the simple-minded view that drop-everything-2-focus-on-writing-the-books is the easy answer to all my problems, but the populist has made my life a living hell (in the past) because she’s an idealist and not at all pragmatic. times I so situated myself to carry on her way did not yield any bountiful harvest… i can see… so that my Book(s) may be written, I need only follow the feeling, drop the populist, lead the way, and amp up an already amped and blessed life scenario. are you with me? hold on cause here we go

writing tips

the scrivener corkboard (writing tools)

I have the outline to my book now available to me at the touch of a key, on Scrivener’s corkboard feature. The screen background looks like a corkboard, and there are index cards created for each chapter, which have the chapter heading and space for you to write summaries or whatever you feel you need for a quick visual outline of the larger narrative. I only seem to require the corkboard when my story expands. In this case, I’m playing with about 100,000 words, or about 50 chapters averaging 2,000 words. When I’m working out of the body of the narrative, on Scrivener, I have the chapters descending down a left column, and clicking on any chapter will take me directly to it. When the cursor is brought to the super heading ‘Book#3’ under which lies the cabinet of sub-chapters, the entire narrative will appear and you can scroll through it as a streaming passage. Often I find myself cutting and pasting and creating new chapters and recreating old chapters. And all you do is drag and drop a chapter in the cabinet to place it in a completely different location in the narrative, so I love the facility the ease of relocation, it almost inspires creativity or open-endedness in the editing process. Yesterday I filled in the corkboard summaries that were missing (new and recreated chapters), and found myself adding notes to the simple plot outlines, including notes about the feel of the narrative from one chapter to the next (ie humor, dark, heavy on action, descriptive, light-hearted) so that I can keep tabs on ups and downs and graduate the voice of the story into a consistent diversity of mood or feelingstates. I also embellished the summaries with  theme-related developments and character quirks or relationships I am hoping to keep tabs on. I hope this helps give you an idea of what Scrivener offers you to enhance the writing and editing process. Thanks.

restructuring your work

A couple of days ago, I found a way back into my book, maybe the new moon on the 4th of June gave me an opening. I took it. I’m still not out of the woods, but I have a lead. I never give up hope; with writing, you can always find a way. The book is written in first person, with tense varying from past to present. I have been dreaming about switching up narrators, alternating chapter to chapter, yet I really love coming from the voice and perspective of my female lead, my heroine, and a change would be risky. This is serial fiction, after all, and one should expect consistency across books. Still, a slight departure from the first two books – in voice or person – could be pulled off, I thought, so long as the plot and characters held together. I’ve been dreaming about this for months (and not on purpose), and I found a compromise. I started interspersing the main narrative – chapters rounding out at 2,000 words each – with slices of 3rd person narrative about 500 words each. The body is therefore still under the auspice of Ame, for protection of what I have established (in the first two books), and guidance. Yet I am letting in light of special circumstances, subchapters pertaining to Kell, describing her experience simultaneous to and interwoven with the plot. I was thrilled to have envisioned this, and I believe it’s rather unusual for an author to switch back and forth from first and third person. But it seems to be working so far and it’s an intuitive hit. Let’s see now if i can pull it off!

creative process

the mad scientist in me and you (creative process)

mad scientist

I don’t know about you but only in silence can I break away from routine and find my way back to her, the mad scientist in me. Ya, once I find her all bets may be off, she may decide to pump some Iggy Pop or Nine Inch Nails into my bloodstream with all the coffee. Here in my laboratory — aka my apartment —  playing with the soft membrane between you and me in my mind. Going off somewhere unusual and yet somehow self-validating. The unitive awaits us, the collective mind, where we may connect from any distance. It’s extrasensory. My head is buzzing by Alice Munro’s  Carried Away. I let the kittens outside for the night. They will be cold but they want to go. I am denying the urge to go off with salts and butters on a plate of broiled veggies and shrimp. Other tenants in the building are bumping into our shared walls, makes me feel safer. Me and you, we really need to break the routine for a hot second. Let the atmosphere in my kitchen become remarkable all of a sudden. Only because I am paying extra attention. Super cool and clear with vinyl floors, flourescent overheads, a giant green chair, a laminate wood table. Much different from the feel of the carpeted living room with cathedral ceiling. I can breathe into the silence and feel the softness of the inside of my baby blue dollar store slippers. I can follow the whisping whirr of the ceiling fan. The lovely chime of the Tibetan bell tongue, rocking against itself. Why fear my mad scientist when I love her so? She is raison d’etre like no other! Out of her comes strange stories like Maze and Grand Theft Life. Maybe that’s what terrifies me? Stories of my life but not exactly memoirs. Call it creative nonfiction. Or don’t call it anything at all. Just what comes out of the silence with me. Alluring and luring us to a feast of re creation. Thank god I have my laboratory. Thank god I have my routine to break. Thank god I have my health. Thank god for Alice Munro. Thank god for you. Thank god for books. Thank god for the mad scientist in me — and in you. Let’s all let ourselves get carried away by our experiments tonight. This is true living!

killing off central characters

but what if they die first?

My stories always go in directions i did not expect or plan sometimes, and i get to decide if that’s where they were supposed to go or not. This is the excitement and burden of writing off a minimal outline. I have a friend who is a writer who was saying that his friend who is also a writer had a central character who stepped out of car in the middle of the book and got run over on the freeway. His character just offed himself without his permission! The author apparently was really upset he lost his protagonist, but he went on with the story because he believed that’s what had to happen. Now isn’t that bizarre? It floored me! I mean, I don’t see how i could have Ame (my star in ‘Grand Theft Life’ and ‘Maze’) just fall in a hole one day, against my wishes, and force me to write the story around her? that seems ludicrous! but its funny to think about anyway.  -K