Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Thirty

So this is it, done with another year. Once I hit 50k I couldn't be bothered writing any more. Which kind of sucks, but, eh, I kind of got bored of the pointlessness of my novel. I don't think I'll be finishing it any time soon.

At the moment I'm trying to write a novella that has spawned from some of the ideas from within the novel. The Pilgrim is a story that is constantly changing each time I go to work on it. It probably won't even be called The Pilgrim for much longer. Anyway, it's about a teenager who is orphaned when a gang of Deaths come and murder his parents. He takes to the streets, hiding from the legions of Deaths that fester about the towns, and with his pet spider, Stinky, and his television, Telly, he searches for the last remaining humans and a means to overcome Death.

And while I'm here, I'll drop a couple of reviews for the latest books I've read: Punk Land, and Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden.

Punk Land, by Carlton Mellick III:

I really enjoyed this story. It is awesome. It follows a mutated punk called Goblin, a couple of characters from Satan Burger and a Shark Girl ninja assassin as they try to overthrow the organisation that is trying to redefine the term "Punk" and dispose of all the people who fail to adhere to their standards, or who don't have enough "punk points". It's gritty, violent and entertaining, with political overtones running throughout. It's a step up from Satan Burger. It's still random as fuck, but it's a lot more cohesive and engaging.

If you've read Satan Burger, and you liked it, Punk Land definitely won't disappoint, but while it's a sequel, you probably don't need to have read Satan Burger to understand it. It couldn't hurt, but I don't think it's necessary.

Yeah, the book makes for a good read. It's pretty wicked, and the illustrations are quite fun too. It was a quick read for a 280 page book, but I feel that it by no means falls short on substance. It's fast paced from start to finish, and if you're a fan of the strange, violent, and at times, the sexual, if you're impartial to being grossed out now and again, you'll probably get a kick out of this book. It's got me excited for the next two books of his I've got on order: Warrior Wolf Women of the Wasteland, and Sex & Death in Television Town.

Shark Hunting In Paradise Garden, by Cameron Pierce:

As with Mellick's Punk Land, this is the second book I've read of Pierce's. Although, this is the first book he's had published. Now, I don't mean to sound harsh, but you can tell it's his first book. It's wild and random and bizarre and strange, and with giant fucking flying sharks in the garden of eden? You can't really go wrong there. However, I felt like I wanted more out of it than just the strange descriptions that were each one more strange and outlandish than the page before. I loved his short story collection, his second publication, Lost in Cat Brain Land, and I think what is missing from this book is a sharpness of imagery. It's so strange it's hard to picture what everything must look like. I want to really get in there and check the place out, but once Pierce briefly describes one thing, he rushes off to describe another. I suppose you get that with a book that's only just over 100 pages long.

It was a good book, having said that. It's got a lot going on, and subverts a lot of expectations, it really messes with religion and the image of god and that sort of thing. It doesn't really cram any religious themes down your throat or anything, but it does rewrite the beginning of humankind in a really, really, really strange way. It's about a bunch of religious priests from the future, weird and demented and magical, who travel back in time to go shark hunting with Adam and Eve. What they find is a shit load of sharks and weird trees and robots and stuff. It's super messy hyperactive stuff, and while I did enjoy it, I hope Pierce's other works (I'm thinking of going for Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island next) are a bit more cohesive and well rounded.

If you like fast paced and weird books, maybe Douglas Adams knocked up a notch, you may enjoy this book. But I'd suggest checking out Lost in Cat Brain Land and making a decision from there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Twenty Two

Yesterday I hit 50,000 words. I've still got a long way to go in the novel, but I think I'll take it a bit easier over the next few days. Last night I started working out the story I want to write for Eraserhead Press' New Bizarro Author Series. I'm taking two characters from Comarama, The Pilgrim and his pet spider Stinky, and I've started writing a story about those two characters in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I picture it as sort of like a bizarro version of The Road, but I'm still working out how I want the plot to play out within this setting and with these characters. For the most part, I don't want it to be hilarious. I don't want it to be so strange it's funny. What I want is to be so strange yet through the story you grow attached to the pilgrim. I want you to read it and find yourself attached to a man whose best friend is his pet spider. I don't want to feel like I'm ripping off The Road too much, so I think the main challenge will be making the distinguishing features that bring my own story into fruition. I like the idea of maybe a disease spreading throughout the earth and killing everything.

It should be an interesting challenge. For starters, there is only one main human character, so there is very little need to talk. Of course, I'm going to go into the backstory, of the pilgrim living on his farm with his wife and child. Switching between that and his journey to find any sort of human colony yet unaffected by the disease and helping them rebuild society. At the moment it's not sounding incredibly over the top bizarro, but I've got a few elements planned out nicely that won't fall into the category of "weird for the sake of being weird" but will be weird to serve a purpose that progresses the story and has its own weird logic to it. I don't want to go into details too much at the moment, partly because I'm still working a lot of things out, but also partly because I don't want to reveal spoilers of those really intense plot-shifting moments that I hope I can properly execute.

Basically, out of this NaNoWriMo has come a jumble of chapters that are connected to some form of loose plot, although sometimes just doing things for the sake of it, and now, I'm thinking of refining it, and one of the stories that has come bits and pieces from NaNo has been The Pilgrim. Travelling through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the pilgrim searches for one of the last surviving colonies on earth.

I'm undecided as to whether there will be zombies or not. As with The Road, I think there needs to be clear-defining moments of something drastic happening. And I should stop now before I depress myself. I'd hate to think I'm just doing a Bizarro Road rip off. It's more like The Road meets Jack and the Giant Beanstalk maybe with some punk ass mother fuckers along the way.

So, yeah, finished NaNoWriMo in 21 days. But the novel is far from finished.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Twenty

Today is going to be a slow day. But that's ok because the last few days have been very productive. At the moment, I'm 44,000 words in and I'm on chapter 11. Still not yet half way there. My dream sequences are starting to revolve around the more popular characters and having some sort of flow. Still doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's fun and easy to write nonetheless.

Tomorrow is Sunday and I have nothing planned for tomorrow, so I'm planning on hitting 50,000 words tomorrow. Today will be slow, so it will balance things out. And after that, it becomes all about keeping on writing, getting as far as I can go, and working on The Giant film script as well.

I sent an email to the Eraserhead Press author, Kevin Donihe, a few days ago and I heard back from him yesterday. It was pretty much all just details for the New Bizarro Author Series he's organising/editing/publishing, so hearing back from him about that is really encouraging. I'm looking forward to post-NaNoWriMo writing, I'm hoping to get my dream sequences together and figure out which one(s) would be best to extrapolate into a bizarro novella.

Aside from that, there's not a huge amount of stuff going on. I'm still just writing, writing, writing, and occasionally I stop. I work, I go out. I went to the WA finals of the Australian poetry slam, which was really good. Entertaining, thought provoking, and sometimes, just totally weird. But it was a lot of fun.

And "I will touch you in the end."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Eighteen

I'm almost at 40,000 words and I'm ten chapters into my novel. Ten out of twenty eight. At the moment I'm feeling really good about that. I'm still having a lot of fun with it, and I think I know why. So every second chapter is a dream sequence. I can basically make up anything I want, it can be as ridiculous as I like. My last dream sequence was about my main character Cliff going with his travelling companion The Pilgrim, and The Pilgrim's pet spider Stinky, going into Toyland to meet with The Child.

Then came the real world chapter that somehow needs to compete with that? I feel like I should have written more for that chapter, and for some of the other real world chapters, but I think I ended it short (not too short though) because I wanted to get right onto the next dream. And now I'm there and I brought back Stinky and The Pilgrim. Honestly, I'm fond of those two. And I decided to be sneaky and steal the first hudred and something words from the previous chapter to get it starting in the same place. But basically, what I'd like to do with this dream sequence is give The Pilgrim more of a soul. The last one he was serving the purpose of The Child's dream, where this one I'd like to expose him as more than that.

Anyway, in traditional dream sequence fashion, I've made the plot of this dream about Cliff and The Pilgrim travelling into the mountains to go to the big cheese fountain and trade the lords of the cheese board some magic beans for a cup of cheese each (a saucer for Stinky) so that they can gain divine super powers. It should be a real hoot. And maybe something goes wrong and had a super sad ending.

So, yeah, it's all blistering along, nice and ridiculous. In the real fictional world, there is a book called Crazy Mother Fuckers, a B-grade horror film called Corpse Man and a hypothetical avant-garde film called Man Eats Breakfast. Oh, and in this place that is Perth but isn't Perth, there's this underground second hand shop in the city that sells some REALLY WEIRD SHIT.

So I'll just keep on writing, and letting things get weirder and weirder and I'll probably reach the 50,000 words quite soon ish hopefully. And then next month I might read back through it and wonder where all this crazy junk came from.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Seventeen

Last night, I finished my final essay for uni for the year. I also finished reading Satan Burger yesterday too. I didn't write all that much on my novel though. However, now the only thing that's holding me back is work and a social life. Over the next few days I plan on catching up to my 2,500 word a day goal, which is at the moment 6,500 ahead of me, although I expect to most definitely have that well under 5,000 by the end of tonight.

Also, now that uni has finished, I'll be bringing a couple of projects back onto the table to finish before the end of the year. One is the film script for 'The Giant' which will eventually make its way into becoming an actual film. And other short stories for various arrangements, which I probably won't get right into until December, but they're there on the table nonetheless.

So where I am now in the novel is chapter eight, dream sequence number four. It's not as outlandish as the last dream sequence, I probably wouldn't go so far as to call it bizarro, however, it's got elements of the bizarre that could be explored further, perhaps post nano. And it stands to connect with the first dream sequence in that, yes, it will actually progress the plot along in some form. 33,000 words in and my story is finally beginning to go somewhere.

So, yeah, still writing strong, recovering from the hiccup of yesterday's unproductive novelling, and I'm glad I still managed to write something down, even if it was only about 700 words. Keep pushing forward, keep writing, and hopefuly I'll have that 2.5k a day target pegged down soon enough, and maybe I'll even hit the 50,000 word target by November 20. I would be thrilled to achieve that.

Now, on to a brief book review of Satan Burger.

The book is really hard to explain outside of "this shit is fucked up" but I'll try anyway. It's got something to do with God and Earth being sick of regular human beings, so heaven's closed and this portal, the 'walm' has opened up and is feeding on people's souls, turning them into soulless, boring creatures that do little but stand around and stare at walls and shrug. In addition to sucking people's souls, the walm allows strange alien beings onto Earth, and these beings are loved by God and by Earth because they are much more interesting. They're sexual, they're violent, they're very full on. In other words: STRANGE = GOOD. So Satan starts a burger joint to collect people's souls, and the main characters work there so they don't lose their own souls.

It's an entertaining read, no doubt, but it's also got some interesting ideas going on as well. It's quite a clusterfuck, but it ties up some good plot points that initially seem like they're there just to be strange. I'm probably not doing a good job explaining the book, but really, there is so much going on it's really difficult to give an accurate, concise summary without just reading the blurb. I'm not surprised it's a cult classic. It's full on, disturbing, amusing, and occasionally thought provoking stuff. A few basic spelling and grammatical errors slipped through the editing process, but for an underground literary movement just beginning to blossom, I'm more than happy to nudge those little inconsistencies aside and say that this Carlton Mellick III certainly knows how to tell an entertaining story. I am hesitant to recommend this to too many people because it doesn't hold back at all, but if you like being disturbed in strange new ways, I recommend giving it a read.

I've also bought Mellick's sequel-of-sorts, Punk Land, which I'm waiting to arrive eagerly in the mail.

Anyway, back to novelling I go...

Monday, November 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Fifteen

Day fifteen, the halfway mark. I'm already almost 5,000 words over the 25,000 words, so whatever I have at the end of today I plan to at least double that by the end of the month. However, I have to write my last essay for uni some time over the next two and a half days, so that should slow me down a bit, hopefully not too much.

I have finished the bizarro story that I dropped into the novel as an extended dream sequence, and it turned out to be a 13,000 word long chapter. So I'm pretty happy with that, for four-five days writing. I've got a few other strange dream sequences lined up, which hopefully should be just as fun to write.

I've also sent an email out to the guys at Eraserhead Press regarding their New Bizarro Author Series, because they're looking for young, up-and-coming bizarro authors to publish novellas and short stories and things. So I sent them an email to find out if I'm eligible to get in on that. I would be seriously so amazed and thrilled if they'd be willing to put me into print in book form.

So now my novel's back into the realm of the real, and I'm still managing to roll along with the plotless narrative and still actually have stuff happen. Although I think a few more chapters in, I'll have to start developing the comarama narrative of Cliff seeking the coma kid, but there's plenty of time for that later. At the moment it's sort of turned into a twisted romance novel between the two social outcasts, Cliff and Zelda, and their struggle to resist the social norms. It's a sort of hauntingly sentimental undertone that runs parallel to all the strange things that happen in the novel. I think, as things stand at the moment, no one thing is more important than the other, things just happen and Cliff rolls with the punches and keeps going against the grain.

I haven't plotted out the second half of the real world story yet, but I've got an idea what I want to happen. However, I'm only 7 chapters in, and it'll be another 7 before I reach the half way marker in my novel, so it may be that I only make it half way through my novel over the course of November. Which is both really exciting and disheartening at the same time.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Thirteen

I've just woken up, so no writing just yet. As of last night I was 3 days and 5,000 words ahead of the 50,000 word target and 2 days and 5,000 words behind my 75,000 word target. But yeah, as things stand right now, I am over 25,000 words into NaNoWriMo, aka over the half way mark by day twelve. The past three days I have written about 9,000 words and It's all part of the one chapter. I'm 10,000 words into the ice-popsicle dream sequence and I think it's not going to go on too much further. Maybe another 5,000 words. Then he'll wake up and continue with the story like nothing happened.

But yeah, as things stand right now, I'm 6 chapters in to the novel, which is 28 chapters long. And it's only really this one chapter (and I suppose the chapter before it) that's making the book seem long. A ten thousand word chapter alongside a five thousand word chapter alongside four two-to-three thousand word chapters will feel like stretching the novel out a bit. But hopefully the rest of the novel should be quick writing. The original plan was a chapter a day, making each chapter around 2,500 words, but with three 3,000 word days on the one chapter, maybe longer chapters is just something that's naturally fitting to this book. I mean, realistically, a 10,000 word chapter is not outrageously long. I think it's around the 20-30 page mark. Considering most of my other chapters are around ten pages and under, well, I dunno, I'll just have to get used to it.

I'm thinking maybe, once I'm done with the first draft, the direction I should take with the novel should be to play it up as a novel of short stories, playing up the real world chapters as micro stories in themselves. And maybe if I go all out making the whole thing disturbing and 'bizarro' enough I could pitch it to eraserhead press, maybe. We'll see once I've written this thing. I'm probably going to get in touch with them some time this month anyway, just to see what sort of stuff they're looking for and if I'm eligible at all.

So yeah, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about this. These past twelve days have been really exciting for me. And I'm a little nervous at the moment as I'm about to hit roadblock number two, aka my final uni assignment for the year. And then all that's stopping me from reaching my goal is a couple of parties. But it should be good, break up the constant novelling, see what this whole 'outside' thing is that people keep telling me about.

And on another note, I got a couple of books in the mail on Thursday: Lost in Cat Brain Land, by Cameron Pierce, and Satan Burger, by Carlton Mellick III. I read Lost in Cat Brain Land in the one day and I'm getting into Satan Burger now.

Lost in Cat Brain Land: Where to start with this, where to start... It's a completely shitting all-consuming mind fuck of a book that is disturbing and brilliant and disturbing and awesome and disturbing and mother fucking Mr-T (that's a Satan Burger reference by the way) and that's pretty much all there is to it. Have I mentioned how disturbing it is? Well basically, it's a collection of short stories, it's not a long collection at 136 pages of large print. So it's easy to read, but the thing I really love about it, is that you have no idea what you're going to read from one page to the next. The blurb on the back gives away a lot, and there was one thing it mentioned that I was wondering where it was in the book and if I somehow glazed over it, but no, it comes down to the very last page. So yeah, it's completely weird and outlandish and full of surprises and quirks that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. But, having said that, Pierce writes this shit like a conventional author. He'll inject human emotion into a slab of meat that is apparently some guy's son, or he'll make the motherless housewife grow desparately affectionate for the thing that crawled up the shower drain. It's stuff you can't really pack into a summary of the book. If you try to describe the book, it'll turn into a clusterfuck of things that make no sense. But it's most certainly not about weird things that happen for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It's about weird things that happen that we find ourselves strangely interested in and attached to. That, and Pierce switches from first person perspective, to third person to second person between stories so effortlessly, it really turns this book from just another random shit-fest into something else. I highly recommend it for people who like random and disturbing. This guy makes Douglas Adams look like a fuzzy white rabbit that does not talk. Sorry, Mr. Adams, I've tried reading the Restaurant at the End of the Universe twice now, but I found myself asking something that I never once asked myself whilst reading Lost in Cat Brain Land. Why do I care? Weird things need to happen for a reason, and I think that making this the cornerstone of bizarro fiction will set the truly great apart from the lackluster.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Ten

So I'm at a point in my novel where I've decided to just drop in a bizarro novella of a dream sequence in there for no reason whatsoever other than to make things quirky and interesting. However, upon closer inspection, it's coming out sort of like what Cormac McCarthy's the Road would be like if it were written by Carlton Mellick III or Cameron Pierce.

What's basically going on is that the main character and three others are all that remains of the ice-popsicle people that live on the great travelling giant's back. All the others have melted away over the years, leaving them to walk the desolate town north, hoping to reach the giant's head and turn him back north before the spring heat turns them to puddles.

I'm only part of the way through the story, but they've run into a couple of giant ass-tumours trashing the local supermarket. As they go on, searching for shelter by day, walking and walking and walking by night, will they reach their destination in time? Can they turn this monolithic beast around in time? And what other dangerous creatures will they run into, whilst walking up Rupert's great spine?

I'm six chapters and almost 18,000 words into my novel and I'm probably around a quarter into the narrative, if that. Which is really promising for actually giving this novel some real substance, something last year's novel was severely lacking. I figure, the worst I can do is stop writing at the end of November around the 50,000 word mark and leave the novel unfinished, in which case I'll have a bunch of dream sequences which would make for interesting short stories on their own.

Anyway, I was planning on writing a considerable amount more today, so I'll get back onto that, and hopefully I'll be well into my 20,000s by tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Nine

I've got two essays due over the course of November. The first one was due on Monday, and I'm glad I'm done with it, even though it's not exactly the best essay I've ever written. The next one is due next Wednesday and hopefully, I should be able to throw it together a little easier. For starters, it's not a research essay, so no scrounging around for silly little references.

What this means is that I've got plenty of time for writing that novel what I'm writing and all that, yes. I'm currently a little over 15,000 words, which is not too bad, considering I was planning to have quite a bit more written by now, and to be quite a bit further into the narrative. No matter. I'm still right on track for reaching 50k, even though I'm only just starting my sixth chapter out of twenty eight, and it's going to be a long one.

Compared to JulNoWriMo, the narrative aspect of my novel feels a lot better. My chapters are coming in at around the 2-5k word mark, as opposed to just hitting 1k with very little substance. I guess I normally have this problem because I'm not a very elaborate writer. I usually keep things as short and punchy as possible, which usually means I make happen what I want to happen quite quickly, with very little messing about between.

But this time, I'm making things more about the characters. It's good to get them to just sit around and talk with little else happening. I've been able to develop a lot of interesting ideas. And while I'm really enjoying how my writing is coming out, I know that I will have to change a lot when it comes to editing this mother. While the chapters are a lot larger and fuller than I'm used to, it's still really short and undeveloped. Things happening then other things happening with very little connection or relevance between the two.

So yeah, while I'm still stuck in wreckless first draft writing mode, I know that at the end of it I'll really have to sit down and nut out how I want to seriously approach this. There'll be plenty of time for that later. Right now I'm catching up on all the slacking off I did over the past few days when I was working on this annoying little essay. Oh well, I've got the next two days off, and I'm hoping to get well into the 20,000's by then. I'm hoping the writing doesn't dry up by then.

Friday, November 5, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Five

I didn't write much yesterday and I've only got a few days until a major research essay is due for uni. So the next few days are going to be pretty full on. But disregarding that for a moment, I'd like to talk about the subject matter of my novel for a moment.

It's completely and utterly fucked. I knew that it would be, to some extent, going into this thing. Basically, I think the entire thing is going to be about death. I could go chapter by chapter and say what is wrong with each, but so far, four chapters in, there's pedophilia, attempted murder, a ghost that convinces people to commit suicide, amongst other things, and I'm yet to really get into the swing of things.

Needless to say, I think I've really hit the ground running, come out swinging, cue action montage. Sure, it's hard to write some of the things I do, but for the most part, I think my main character is a likeable antihero, and thus, he's not completely cruel or lacking any form of morality just yet. Although I do believe that my novel sounds much more grim and unsatisfying when lining the themes up alongside eachother. In reality, the second chapter is quite charming and the ghost in the fourth chapter is likeable in spite of his wanting you to jump out that window. I think it's this that is making the novel really fun to write. It's all about death and ugly themes that relate to death, but it handles it in a black humour sort of way. Like people jumping out of buildings, the things that go splat in the night. That's Hunter, the ghost in the hotel. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NaNoWriMo Progress: Day Three

Ok, progress on my NaNoWriMo novel is coming along great, despite minor annoyances, such as having a cold and uni assignments and all that. I've finished two chapters and plan on getting well into my third by the end of the day. I'm keeping on top of the 1,667 words per day target quite comfortably, although I'm a little behind on my personal target of 2,500 words per day. No matter, things should run a lot faster once these last few assignments are done, I'll really kick things up a notch about half way through the month. I've still got a lot of planning to do for the last 2/3rds of the novel, I'm not exactly sure what will happen there, but I'm only really working off loose outlines anyway, putting a larger emphasis on language and characterisation to drive the novel along. I'm still planning on having a bizzaro novella dream sequence in the middle somewhere but that still won't be for a while. I'm currently over five and a half thousand words in, planning to write quite a bit more this afternoon, so we'll see how that goes.

I think that it's definitely turning out better than last year's novel, and my JulNoWriMo attempt. Hopefully, the finished product will be somewhere around the 70-80,000 word mark.