Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: February 2011

So, about that picture I mentioned some time ago…

Turns out I found it, and now I like it even more than I did before. They are actually part of a monument in Norway. The original image that I found of it is visible here. I would like to express my thanks to the photographer for sparking so many ideas within my mind, and for inspiring the name of this blog.

There is mythology in progress.

I just need names for a fire giant and a pair of frost giants.

I also finally fixed the timestamp and some other settings on here. Look for more soon!

“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve. 

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilightseries.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

— Rosemary Urquico

I really wish that I had written this. This is glorious.

“There should be more books. I want to get lost in rows of shelves, filled with books in which I can lose myself. Books are like the pools in C.S. Lewis’ wood between the worlds. Each one is a portal to a new realm limited only by the imagination of the reader. The best part? You don’t need a magic ring to enter one, and any of the characters you find inside stay behind when you close the cover. I love to lose myself in a book. Too often of late that has been difficult. I find that I am surround by distractions that prevent me from straying too far from the printed path. They serve as signposts that I want to avoid. It’s a far better adventure when you don’t know the way. I love the feeling of picking up a book I’ve never heard of but knowing that it is about to pull me in. When I touch the cover of such a book, I feel an inexplicable joy, an almost electric rush, and an urge to drop everything and devour its contents before I can move on. This is a rare joy, but the scarcity of such books makes the finding of one all the more fantastic.

Doubtless, there are those who would call me mad, but never to my face. They would whisper, as so many have done, behind my back, though I would hear nonetheless. It is the nature of a whispered phrase to meander about until it weaves and winds and finds itself within the ears of the one about whom it was first spoken. It is the nature of secrets to be discovered, for riddles to be solved, for the sun to set at day’s end. It is the nature of the world for these things to happen. It was in my nature since birth to crave knowledge, and in my nature to seek it. It was in the nature of my father and mother to guide me to the books in which I could find such information, such wonder. It is in the nature of knowledge that lingers the traces of original sin. So it is that those who would seek knowledge lose their innocence. This is the nature of man. One could say that a library, for all the knowledge it contains, is more sinful than all of the bordellos in all of the world. Conversely, such a library could be considered to be more sacred to those seekers of knowledge than Mecca or Jerusalem or any similar site to her faithful devotees. In the poorest of libraries can one find more wisdom than in the minds of the richest woman or man now living.”

That’s a little something I wrote a few months ago, but finally got typed up. I’m thinking about how it ties in to the character of Rime and his understanding of his own religious beliefs. He begins the novel as a man who is beginning to,  for the first time in his life, consciously question the existence of his god. His brotherhood works in Dhe’skuva, the city on the desert’s edge, selling crops from their garden and spreading the word of the patron deity of the city of Dhe’laza. The people of Dhe’skuva are highly resistant to the visiting prophets, though they have allowed them to live within the city for almost ten years. Rime stays near the temple entrance most of the days, caring for the garden during the day when his brothers are out proselytizing (I love that word). He speaks of his god to any who come near, but the streets near the temple are empty throughout most of the day. It’s almost agonizing to Rime, knowing that his own effectiveness is limited by his location and his physical inability to keep up with the other members of his order. When he’s alone, with nothing but the echo of his own words for company, a little nagging voice keeps popping into his head. “What if you’re wrong? What if he’s not real?” the voice says.

Over the course of the novel, Rime will have to decide how much he’s going to listen to/trust the voice in his head versus what he’s seeing right in front of him. His interactions with Arsus are going to change his life. Landara, Zach, and the others who have yet to tell me their names are going to be a part of a great adventure. The journey to Dhe’laza is going to challenge them all in ways they never thought possible. Long-held beliefs about the characters are going to change. Zachariah (Zee) will be narrating, and at the same time providing some stories for the other members of the cast. As a wandering poet, he will have been accumulating knowledge over the many years of his life. However, he’s got his own personal demons haunting him, maybe more literally than he ever expected. Landara is fleeing her own heavy gambling debt and her past as a city guard, an enforcer of the brutal law that provides Dhe’skuva with its legendary security.

Then there’s Arsus. Arsus has a unique claim that no one can prove or refute. The first character he meets is Rime, and his first statement is that the voice in Rime’s head is full of shit. The voice of doubt should be ignored. Rime’s god is indeed real, Arsus says. Not only that, but he’s standing right in front of him, stripped of all of his powers and trapped in mortal form. Rime’s reaction is exactly what you’d expect from a man who spent his entire life dedicated to the praise and worship of a god who supposedly protects an entire city-state and is among the strongest in the pantheon. Rime hears this stranger’s words and immediately falls to the ground in front of this strange man who claims that he is his god incarnate, closes his eyes, and bursts into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.

Politics exist in every world, in some form or another. In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf had to get a whole council of people of different races together in order to decide how to destroy something that would bring about the end of the world if not “handled properly” (read destroyed). In my world (which has yet to be named), politics rule the various city-states. Each one is going to have a unique little thing about it. Dhe’skuva, the city on the desert’s edge, is the biggest city in the nation. As such, it will naturally be full of corrupt politicians who want all the power, and people who want to escape to the smaller city-states. Each city-state, additionally, will have a patron deity. It’s a very Greek system, and that appeals to me greatly.

In my world, there is no single thing that’s going to potentially destroy everything, with the exception of human nature. There are no aliens, no bits of supertechnology, etc. There are people, their ways, their beliefs, their interactions with one another. Even the most technologically advanced people in this world do not possess firearms, at least not in massive quantities. I’m toying with the idea of making one or two basic guns available, but not readily so. Crossbows are about the best ranged weapon, and swords are commonplace. At the same time, there will be airships. I like the idea of basic lighter-than-air travel being available. Again, just something about that appeals to me. I’m trying to balance the whole level of technology. I don’t want it to turn into “these guys have swords and these guys have laser pistols” or something like that. The world needs balance. Even the most militaristic city-state (probably Dhe’skuva) won’t have tech that far ahead of the more rural areas. Ah, the detail that goes into building a world. I’m also mildly obsessed with this show, and the way that music inspires so much of the setting.  Between that one, and this one, I think it’s quite possible that Shinichiro Watanabe  has given me all the setting I need. There’s also Firefly and the Knights of Cydonia music video. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, there is my story.

Today is going to be an interesting day at work. Our district manager (the scariest kind of DM there is) will be coming in to walk the store. Given the current situation with my employer, this is going to likely be the most intense visit. I’m also supposed to hear back from one of my potential future employers today. I’m trying not to be nervous. This job would be my first full-time job outside of college summer jobs. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much, though, for fear of grand disappointment. I have a tendency to do that to myself. I’ll get all kinds of excited about something that just might happen (but probably won’t), and then I’m crushed when it doesn’t work out. I suppose I invest far too much into my life, emotionally. I dunno. Maybe I’m secretly hoping I don’t get it, so that I don’t have to cut my hair. 😀

Anyway, I suppose I’ll be posting again soon enough with further details on how today goes.

I feel so accomplished! My blog got its very first bit of spam today. Thank you, askimet, for filtering such things. 😀

I’m sitting at home on a beautiful Saturday afternoon (or rather, what I believe to be a beautiful Saturday afternoon, since I haven’t actually looked outside yet), trying to rest after a somewhat trying week. My employer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week. It’s been a long time coming, honestly, and it saddens me. My job will be unaffected for now, though, as due to the hard work and general awesomeness of the staff at my store, we are not on the list of stores that will be closed in the initial restructuring of the company. In response to this announcement, though, some customers have decided that they no longer need to be civil to us, since we’re “going out of business” (we are not).  They’re circling, waiting for us to go under so that they can get liquidation prices on everything, not giving a damn that it means that, if our particular store were to close, thirty-some-odd people (many with families to support) would be out of jobs. I hate humanity sometimes. I have no problem with becoming a crazy old recluse. I just need internet to keep in touch with my friends (I swear I’m not addicted to social networking…I’m only on facebook, and myspace and deviantART and this blog and youtube and skype and MSN and AIM, not twitter).

For the most part, though, things go well. I’ve been doing some job interviews this week, and I’m feeling fairly confident with my performance. I haven’t heard anything yet from either one. I suspect I won’t until Monday. *sigh* I hate this part of things.

It’s now Sunday afternoon, and considerable more beautiful than it was on Saturday afternoon, though the rain was very much appreciated. I’m looking forward to a day off that won’t be eaten by Starcraft. That’s right! Brood War has been completed at last. Now I just need to set aside money for a new computer so that I can play Starcraft II. Real-time-strategy (RTS) games have never been my forte, but I couldn’t resist Starcraft or Warcraft III. Those are parts of my childhood. Well, young life, not really childhood, per se. I’m not great at it. You won’t see me taking on the South Koreans any time soon, but I’m proud of myself for getting all the way through the original game and the expansion as quickly as I did. Now my afternoon will be free to read Neverwhere or finish Epic Mickey. I’m thinking that some serious writing might need to get done as well.

The narrator has been named. A couple of years ago, my friend and I were discussing pen names, and potential ones that would suit us. I’ve decided that rather than using the pseudonym for myself, I will use it for one of my characters. Arsus, Rime, and Landara will now be accompanied by Zachariah Shadowood, along with a couple of other yet-unnamed characters. “Zee” will be a fun character to write as well, and I think that he will provide a pretty special view of things. He’s a wandering warrior/poet, so having him narrate will be quite fitting. Imagine that bard who is always wandering along recording everything the great heroes say and do. Now imagine that he’s got to put up with the constant bickering of Arsus and Rime, another character who’s an alcoholic, an obsessive-compulsive gambler, and a little girl. Yeah. It’s going to be a wonder if he doesn’t lose his mind by the end of things.

Anyway, back to work. Lunch break is only so long.

 

 

“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed in the end.” -Neil Gaiman, American Gods.

How the hell have I not read this book before? Seriously. This stuff is fantastic, even for Gaiman. Neverwhere is next on the list, probably quickly followed by Anansi Boys. I first discovered him a few years ago, when I read the first volume of his reboot of the Sandman comics. Ever since, I’ve been hooked on his writing style, but I’ve never had a chance to dig into one of his novels until this morning. Thank God for days off, huh?

As far as recent events, interviews! That’s right. For the first time in about 5 months, I’ve got job interviews again. I got a phone call on Friday asking me to interview for a position in a call center with a local bank. As I was getting dressed for said interview, I received another phone call asking me if I was still interested in a part-time position with the public library. I couldn’t believe it! Since I’ve been working at my current job, I’ve been hunting around off and on for a 2nd job or something full time. Now within a span of three days I’ve gotten an offer for one of each. In addition, I’ve been asked to do some freelance editing work for a former coworker and possibly for one additional contact I made recently. It’s been an incredible weekend. Add to that the time I got to spend with my girlfriend over Valentine’s Day, and you can guess that my mood is better than it’s been in weeks. It’s been a damn good couple of days.

This weekend did have some sad notes to it. On Friday night, my friends and I said goodbye to the D&D characters we’ve been playing almost exclusively for the last two years. Mine, the half-orc barbarian, Ryuk (yes, named for that Ryuk), survived the great battle with Ruin, allowing the spirit of Preservation to live on. After the battle, he flew off into the sunset, as it were, leaving his friends behind, avoiding what would clearly have been a pretty emotional moment as they mourned the irreversible death of their long-time companion, Vatre Dahn. It was a truly epic ending to a great campaign. All good things, and whatnot. After D&D, we all made our way to Village Inn at 2 AM for some early morning food and reminiscing over the last two years. I’m looking forward to the next campaign. I get to play a warforged barbarian (What can I say? Barbarians are fun to play). He’s basically a robot with a giant hammer who hits things really hard. 😀

I’ve had a couple of really good days of writing. I’m making even more progress on the story right now. I have pretty much fleshed out the circumstances under which most of the other characters first meet Rime and Arsus. The question still remains as to how those two first encounter one another, but I’ve made a major decision regarding the narrator, as I said last time. This in and of itself allows me a lot of room to determine how characters meet, but lets me have an idea of the voice that will be telling the story, what he will know, and what he will be able to reveal at any given time. It’s a good step forward.

What’s the difference between a pilgrimage and a quest? A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place. A quest is a search. As I plan more of this story out, I’m beginning to think that it is a little bit of both.

I’ve been delving into the depths of my mind, and coming up with more characters. These men and women will be part of the initial caravan across the Sand Sea from Dhe’skuva to Dhe’laza. As I reflect more on it, I like the idea of Arsus and Rime traveling as part of a very large group at first. This merry band of pilgrims will quickly prove overwhelming for both of them, and they will set out on their own, only to be followed by a handful of other characters who will join them on their journey the remainder of the way across the desert. I’ve actually come up with the name (again, tentatively speaking) of one of the other characters. A female city guard from Dhe’skuva by the name of Landara. She will join the pilgrimage ostensibly to flee some gambling debts in the city. Along with her will be a character partially inspired by the legendary Harry Bailey, from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and partially inspired by a good friend of mine. If there’s going to be a pilgrimage, there needs to be a fat, borderline alcoholic innkeeper who goes along for shits and giggles. Also, his inn may or may not be destroyed in some of the chaos that will inevitably ensue before our heroes set out for the desert. So what has he got to lose? Rounding out the main cast will be another female character. If Landara is the strong, independent woman, there needs to be an initially more timid female character who learns from her, and eventually finds her own courage. She’ll have her own reasons for joining the pilgrimage as well, but I won’t go into those here tonight. Let it suffice to say that her growth as a character will potentially rival that of Arsus and Rime.

I think I’ve got the opening lines worked out now, too. The biggest difficulty I faced here was deciding which character in the story (if any that the reader sees) would be the narrator. I’ve not come up with a name for him yet, but I think he’ll provide a pretty unique perspective on things going on throughout the novel.

On an unrelated note, Randall Munroe is a genius. An evil genius, but a genius nonetheless.

As most of my readership is already aware, the literary world was struck by tragedy last week, when British author Brian Jacques passed away. Jacques was best known for creating the bestselling young adult Redwall series, though he also wrote several collections of short stories that took place in a more modern Britain. Jacques will be greatly missed. I consider myself quite lucky to have had the honor of meeting Mr. Jacques when I was in the 5th grade. I feel as though a large part of my childhood is now missing. Jacques wrote an incredible world. I am quite happy to have been able to spend as much time in Mossflower as I have. Quite frankly, I plan to share these books with my own children some day, perhaps as a stepping stone between the Chronicles of Narnia and the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Rest in peace, Brian. You will be greatly missed.

Does having airships in a story automatically categorize it as steampunk?

I hope not. I’ve got nothing against steampunk. Personally, I think it’s an awesome genre. I love the idea of smashing Victorian style together with crazy levels of steam-powered technology. However, I think it’s a little bit too anachronistic for the setting I’m creating. I may pull bits and pieces of things from some of the steampunk-y world, though. I dunno. Something about goggles and sundials and compasses really appeals to me. Plus, as I mentioned before, airships. “Hello, airplanes? This is blimps. You win.”

 

 

I’ve got a sickly green concoction in a glass in front of me. It’s mostly Mountain Dew Voltage. The rest is Kahlua.

I hate writing things in purely digital form. They’re not real enough for me. Ideas are too easily destroyed, words too easily unsaid. We live in a temporary world. Nothing we say or do is permanent anymore. We’re not permanent anymore. Just passing through on our way to wherever the hell it is we’re going. Words on paper mean something. Legally binding, as it were. Writing a story or a poem is like signing a contract with your creative side. On paper, there’s no backspace, no delete key. Sure, you can take an eraser to pencil and white-out to pen, but you don’t see the mistakes you made anymore. You erase your past with every mis-typed word. At least with paper, there’s some sign that something WAS there, even if it’s not anymore.

Superman is suicidal, but he can’t die. Think about it. He’s massively depressed. No one understands him, since he’s the last of his race. All he wants is to end it all and be with them again, see his REAL parents one more time. But he can’t die. Some freak coincidence with our planet’s sun makes him nearly immortal. What would you do? Why do you think he hurls himself into danger time and time again? He does everything he can to try to feel pain, but he can’t even BLEED under normal circumstances. He envies Bruce because, while Bruce too suffered loss, he will eventually die. He remains mortal, and so he has no fear. Clark, on the other hand, has no idea what physical pain even feels like anymore. He antagonizes Lex Luthor because he knows that Luthor possesses ways to obtain Kryptonite, the one thing in existence that can allow Superman to be physically harmed. Clark, then, is torn between saving his new friends and finally achieving what he’s sought for so long. Eventually, he will give in, Lex will win, and he can rest.

Things that I read make me wonder what kind of person Rime should be, personality-wise. I already know a few things about him. He’s a religious man. A priest of sorts. His beliefs are constantly being challenged, and he’s forced to question the very gods that make up the pantheon of his world. When he feels that his prayers are not being answered, he decides to take matters into his own hands. This is a driving force behind the quest he sets out on early in the story. He wants to prove that his devotion has not been pointless this whole time. He’s basically shouting “I EXIST!” to the night sky. Maybe at some point he’ll do this. I need to decide how prevalent alcohol use would be in his world. If he hides his emotions most of the time, maybe Arsus will get him drunk just to get him to open up a little. This could be a great spot to build off the hot springs scene I’ve been working on. It’s going to be a great sequence in which the characters (particularly Arsus and Rime) get to know each other better. I’m still debating who else will have joined in on their little adventure. I’m thinking no more than five total. I mean, that gives me a classic Five Man Band. Now don’t expect any of our little friends to necessarily perfectly fit any of those classic tropes. I intend to subvert them where it makes sense to do so.