My literary prowess is growing by the hour. I have just received my second rejection for Total Immersion - hurrah. Well okay, maybe I'm not quite feeling that hurrah deep down, but still, I am somewhat proud to have received a personal rejection this time.

Chris East from Futurismic sent me a little e-mail that commented on the writing and the story, and in short it came down to "there's some good stuff there but it's not up to par throughout". 

And you know what, I cannot agree more. I really have to sit down, go through the second half of the story and give a good, critical edit. In my hurry to get my stuff out there, I never paid as much attention to the second part of this short story as I did to the first half. I knew that, but I still sent it out, violating one of the basic tenets of writing as testified everywhere on the net, i.e. "Write, edit until polished, and only then submit".

The Futurismic editor did include the magical comment "We hope to see more of your work", which, if I can believe what various editorial blogs out there have taught me, really does mean they would like to see more (better) work. 

Time to start writing in earnest again, I suppose. After my previous writing post I haven't really written much, I've been chewing on some plot hooks that have going in circles in that foul broth of half-baked ideas and unrounded characters that is my mind at the moment. But I feel as though a few of them are nearing the point where I can sit down and write. Fingers crossed!

Excellent stuff by Maureen Dowd on the NY Times website. If you studied some Latin, that is!

I always loved weird literal translations like this. In fact, I once had a colleague with whom I had a deal to only send Babelfish'ed messages to each other... Hilarious stuff! Write your mail in English, then push it through Babelfish into another language you know. Or better, have it round-tripped into English :-) 

I've been struggling to write at anything close to a decent page these past few weeks. A paltry three, four hundred words here and there. At first I couldn't figure out why I slowed down so badly, while writing my first two stories I could maintain a higher pace. But now I think I've figured it out.
The thing is, you see, that I've been trying to follow other people's process. People whom I admire, true, but still, not my own process. I think I have to conclude that writing without knowing at the least the beginning, middle and end of the plot does not work for me. And as a consequence, I cannot write "a story a week" like some others, blessed with more creative minds perhaps, have been doing. So for me it's back to the drawing board, back to hammering out an acceptable outline of a plot before I commit myself to the actual writing.

Also, I've fallen in love with Sigur Ros and their latest album, Med Sud i Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust really has the kind of mood that makes me want to write epic fantasy instead of mundane SF. Whoda thunkit?

Story: The Singer Unsung (working title)

Word count: 300
Total word count: 1690
Reason for stopping: still not sure of where to take the plot. I know the boy is going to lose his friend, the only question is how and when.

To come back to writing process, I find that listening to some mood-setting music on my good pair of headphones is about the only way to get over my innate fear of failure, my automatic self-censoring mechanism that refrains me from writing freely. I'll try and use that to write sooner in the evening, which should give me some more time and allow me to go beyond a few hundred words per day. Should being the key word here. Oh well.

To me, it was a straight Joe Biden win. Palin did not screw up the way she did in the Couric interviews, but she was unable to hide that she really has no knowledge of her own on any of these topics, never mind having developed her own views.

Really, moderators in debates like this should have the guts to stop the whole thing until the candidates answer the questions. "I am not going to answer this question, instead I'll speak to the American people about..." I mean come on. Try that on an exam in college... :)

Title: The Singer Unsung (working title)Word count: 400Total word count: 1390Reason for stopping: Plot. In fact, it's time I came up with one that goes beyond cliched shards and snippets. 
Music: more Sigur Ros. I found out I really dig their sweeping soundscapes. Will have to get me some of those albums!

This "Fiction Rule of Thumb" by xkcd is spot on. In fact, I recently bought a Steven Erikson novel, Reaper's Gale (the seventh book of his Malazan series) and boy, does the fiction rule of thumb apply here :-)
Well, actually, not completely. My main gripe with the novel is that there are just so many small plots with so many different characters - each of which I would have liked to get to know better - that it becomes tiring to keep up with the story. Of course, this being the seventh novel in a series makes it a little unfair for me to judge the novel on that count alone (I picked it up at the airport desperate for something to read on a transatlantic flight). It did have a great atmosphere to it, and the idea of these ancient elder Gods walking around among the mortals, and being at the same time so aloof from the goings-on but also so very earthy in their actions, well that's an idea that really stirred my interest. 
I have yet to finish the novel by the way. I got so exhausted by the plethora of characters and storylines that my jetlagged mind couldn't deal with it. I'll pick it up again soon, now that I'm fit and ready to wrap my mind around it...

You may be worried about Ms. Palin's seeming inability to string words together into a coherent and meaningful sentence. I am not. Not any more. It turns out that she is a poet.

Title: The Singer Unsung (working title)
Word count: 360
Total word count: 995
Reason for stopping: Tired. 

Only started writing fairly late in the evening. I must work on my "process"... just get to the writing earlier, by shutting out outside distractions.
Listened to Sigur Ros while writing. Worked pretty well for the mood of this piece.

Jason Stoddard, man of many excellent short stories, has posted his Positive Science Fiction Manifesto. I've been following the rise of the debate among writers and editors about this hot issue with quite some interest, as it is quite pertinent to a young wannabe writer like myself. Should I jump on the bandwagon of this "positive SF" movement, which claims that writing a dystopian future is the easy way out, and the true challenge lies in writing tales of a future where not all is bleak and hopeless.

So read Jason's post, dear reader, and browse through Jetse De Vries' (former Interzone fiction editor) posts on the subject, and make up your own mind.

I for one have decided I'll just follow my gut feeling. I believe that writing truly optimistic speculative fiction at this particular juncture in time is difficult. We are beset with challenges, problems, and disasters at all sides. We may be at the verge of a new Great Depression, and the turmoil in the Middle East is far from over. The Russian Bear is flexing its claws, sharpened on its natural resources. Climate change is getting harder and harder to ignore. Combine all this and you get a highly volatile mix, which by god I hope doesn't explode.

Still, it offers many opportunities for writers to explore these challenges, and where they might lead us. My own thoughts are not at all exclusively negative, no, but I don't think we will get through this period in time without some mighty bumps. Somehow I do feel we will surmount all these difficulties, and figuring out how is probably what Jason and Jetse would call a "positive" attitude. So perhaps my stories will turn out to be positive after all. We'll see.

Back to writing.

Wow. They did it!

After three failed launches, SpaceX has succeeded at what so many critics had deemed impossible: to send a privately built and funded spaceship into orbit. This is excellent news for anyone who thinks space exploration is a good thing, and governments are not doing enough to move it forward.

Title: The Singer Unsung (working title)

Word count: 623
Total word count: 623
Reason for stopping: no clue how to continue with the embedded narrative.

I'm happy I got around to writing tonight at all, because I felt a little down after getting the rejection slip from SH. But then I figured, if everyone says you just need to keep going, why not?

Oh. It's going to be fantasy piece, did I mention that? I decided that the only way to find out whether I should be writing science fiction or fantasy would be to try both. So this piece will be my shot at writing fantasy. Wonder which I'll enjoy more, and whether either will get picked up by an editor along the way...

This is day one. The first day of my writing life. It is not the day on which I first wrote fiction; not at all. That started months ago. However, I have been reading quite a few writerly blogs and they have taught me that you become a writer when you get your first rejection slip.

And today is the day. My very first piece of fiction ever (well, since high school at least), a 5,500 word short called Total Immersion got a form rejection from Strange Horizons. Quite predictably, of course. I just saw that Jed, the fiction editor who dealt with my submission read over 60 subs on a Saturday... ouch!
Still, as a newbie I am still full of unrealistic hopes and dreams of how my writing will leap out of the slush pile, how wildly enthusiastic editors will brawl over the right to publish it, and undying fame and glory will be my part.

No such luck today though :-)

For the record, I also submitted a flash piece to Apex Digest for the Halloween competition (I was surprised how difficult it is to tell any kind of story in less than 1,000 words!) and I've just resubmitted Total Immersion, this time to Futurismic.