Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What would McJesus do?

So, I find myself again at the start of another novel. I say that like I've written quite a few myself. Well, I'm sure as hell no Stephen King, in fact I've only finished one novel draft to date. With two other drafts kind of stuck somewhere in my pile of fiction I've started but probably will never finish. I'm ok with that, I've come to terms with that. I've changed as a writer, even from November last year (when I wrote my first novel).

So, what have I got planned this time around? Well, basically, all I've got at the moment is a bunch of ideas. Think of those ideas as those balls in the lotto machines, flying about in their chaos and confusion, contained in their clear sphere, waiting for the vacuum hose to come up and pick a number. I've got a couple of starting places, which I'm using as a launching pad of sorts for my other ideas. I've got my themes that I want to write about, and I've got my fingers crossed that it comes together well enough. Needless to say, I put a lot more time and effort into planning my novel in November, although I feel like this one has the potential to mean something, as opposed to existing merely as a juvenile form of entertainment.

One thing I've been able to do lately through poetry is tackle issues relevant to my life, to me personally. As a socially insecure individual, I think that having that outlet in my life is simply just wonderful, even if people read it out of context, butcher its grammar, it's still got that meaning to me. The next logical step would be to channel that strong connection from poetry into prose.

To be honest, this prospect is a little frightening to comprehend. It's not another "mankind's selfishness has doomed us all" sort of gothic horror that I have been drawn towards in the past, but a chance to go back to the issues I had in my childhood, and how they trickled on into the more grown-up me. I knew it was never going to be as easy as 'hey, let's go dig up some undead skeletons in my closet and hit them with a shovel a few times!', but essentially, that's what I want to do.

My story will most likely take place in a hyper-commercialised world (thus, the McJesus in the blog title) and starts with an armed robbery. Basically, I just wanted to stir up a shitstorm right from the get-go so I could spend most of the time just exposing and exposing the main character (he's a sort of fictionalised me at this point), and I'll explore what it means to have an identity within such a heavily commodified culture and how that can impact an individual on a psychological level. This is where all my literary and cultural studies at uni will come in handy.

JulNoWriMo is coming up very soon, and I'm probably WAY under-prepared, but I'm excited. It's something I'd write for my ten-year-old self, and I feel like it's very necessary that I go away from genres such as sci-fi and fantasy that are typically seen as forms of 'escapism'. I don't want to escape anything, I want to confront those childhood skeletons and get some much needed closure, which I feel I haven't fully done yet, but, yeah. I need this.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All I've Written

So I haven't really had much to say on here lately. Now that I've finished my first semester of my second year at uni I can get back to prioritising some of my writing goals. I handed in my last assignment on Monday and I feel like I've achieved a credit with my worst class. All my assignments, save for one, a solid credit, have been distinctions or higher. Feels good.

But now that uni's over it feels like all I can really do is work, write and read. Got a couple of things going on, but for the majority of the break, I'll probably just be couped up in my home, learning more about myself through my writing.

Today I went through everything I've written over the past two and a half years, basically, since I started writing as a hobby, just making sure I had all my finished short stories/poems printed out, as well as the draft to my one finished novel, and the odd chapters of the couple of unfinished novels. I think I counted about 230 odd pages. Flicking through the file I now have for my writing, I have written 13 poems, 4 flash fictions, 22 short stories, 1 short film script, 1 radio play, 1 chapter of a novel, 2 chapters of another novel, and 1 complete novel. I also wrote a 10,000 word journal over the course of the past 3-4 months for one of my uni courses, which has the potential for quite a few more stories, however, out of what I've listed here, if you asked me to pick out the ones that I thought were genuinely outstanding, I'd forget about most of them and struggle with the remaining handful.

Yeah, I've started probably 4 or 5 (probably more) novels over the past couple of years, but at the moment, I'm at a struggle to see any merit in them. I guess my units have changed how I write fiction. Certainly, my poetry and short fiction have improved greatly. The stuff that I wrote a couple of years ago that I thought was quite good, now just feels quite average, and I think it was because back then I was writing primarily to entertain people. I was seeing writing as a form of entertainment, just a casual hobby to throw around for people to enjoy. There's nothing wrong with that, but I guess I look at books like Twilight, I guess that's an example that a lot of people can relate to, and I wonder about the meaning behind it. What was the meaning behind my gothic horror shorts? I guess with my Literary and Cultural Studies units I've been able to understand how some texts go beyond the simple pleasure of 'novel=entertainment' and attempt to actually say something entirely larger about class or race or gender or whatever.

I read Fight Club for the second time this semester, and watched the film for I think the fourth time. I learned a lot regarding gender that I didn't wholly understand the first time reading it through, and I find that it's very much a part of why I identified with it as much as I did. It's about questioning the dominant ideologies of man, it's about renegotiating the self and attempting to renegotiate your expectations with society. That's the sort of thing I'd like to get into my writing. I don't want to be someone who writes something purely for the sake of giving people something entertaining to read. I want to be someone who writes something that really makes a statement. It doesn't have to be as in-your-face as Fight Club, but I'd like for something to be there, if that makes sense.

So anyway, all my older stuff is pretty much redundant in terms of that goal, and while I've talked about rewriting my novel, to make it more decent, more entertaining, I feel there's nothing really there at this point in time, and I'd rather just start over with something completely new. A new novel. New ideas. A novel that's about something. I've had a recent idea about a sci-fi short story, and one thing that's kept me from writing sci-fi for a while was because when I write it, it feels so bland and empty. But hopefully, this short story is able to say what I want to say, and maybe even extrapolate out into a novel.

I don't know. In a few years time, I'll probably be questioning everything I've done up until that point like I am now, and I'll feel like I'm just running in circles.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Water on the Engine

Utopia for seahorses,
who know no better than their brothers
as to what monstrosity sleeps in their waters.

Used and abused on the surface,
used and abused, and taken away.
And the last air bubbles rose and blistered
many, many years ago.

The Aztecs were its little brother,
the Egypts, its little sister.
The whole ocean belonged in its pocket,
the earth, a pearl plucked from its hand,
so young and supple and pure.

A nation-state of dreamers
with the resources
to take, take, take away
and make the truly beautiful
truly terrifying to behold.

They built the cold metal shells
of children stolen from the earth
and moulded into slaves,
abominations to the life-blood of the world.

Still now, I feel the shudder,
I feel the quivering anger
of an earth abused,
a crucial counterpoint
which sent it sliding from their clutches,
down, down, down.

It sits like an algae-coated castle
in a fishtank in the ocean,
it means nothing,
a utopia for seahorses
so forgotten in the deep.

Out of sight, it sits restlessly waiting,
it tries to warn us of our fate,
of our future beside it on the ocean floor
where the truly terrible
can become beautiful again.


It feels good to write something that isn't for uni. This is a poem I whipped up tonight, and so I assume if you're reading this you've read the poem, so I can talk about stuff that might skew your perception before reading the poem. Like how this poem is about the lost city of Atlantis. If you knew that at the start, the imagery would be lost, and so, the target I've set out for in this poem is for people reading the poem to figure it out on their own, which I hope you did. The other thing I'm doing is juxtaposing the ancient myth with present day society and the whole over-reliance on technology. It's quite ironic that I've written it and distributed it via technological media, but that's a whole other thing. Another matter I'd like to address is the title. I wrote it before I'd fully figured out the meaning of the poem, and I tought maybe "Deus ex Machina" would be a better title, what with it being a literal translation to "God of the machine", meaning nature having more stability and reliability than technology. I don't know, would that work? Better/worse?