SOMETIMES A STORY HAS NO END

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Now that my training program is completed and I am a Certified Personal Training Specialist, I can start putting a little more focus on writing. As I get into the groove of things again, I thought I would throw some focus on a couple of writing related news items I have read or watched in the last week.



First up, The New Yorker magazine is making their digital archives available for free, for the rest of summer. They are implementing their new subscription/pay scale in the fall, and honestly, for the bang for your buck, The New Yorker provides some of the best arts, culture and commentary writing around. I am seriously considering a subscription, but in the meantime, read what you can!



Secondly, this video published by The Atlantic, another fantastic publication, asks various journalists, writers and creative people what is the most important element of a good story. It is not a long video, but the answers are very thought-provoking.

THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE WALK INTO A BAR: IT WAS TENSE

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I dream of a time (in a week, really) when I can return to writing. My Personal Training course will be over by Saturday night, and after a couple days of rest and an opportunity to get my life back together (I’m looking at you, my beloved, but neglected apartment), I will return to Closer. The last few weeks have been… stressful, and my mind has not really had an opportunity to turn off. That includes turn off from writing.



While I have not had the opportunity to sit down and write, the ideas have been coming in. Ideas for Closer. Ideas for what will likely be Certain Truths for this year’s National Novel Writing Month. As another idea came to me over the weekend, I thought about how I have come to finding material for previous projects.



Really, it boils down to being influenced by my life. I am not saying that every single thing that happens to me in life ends up in a novel. It does not, but sometimes to influences how I think about something. For instance, in Closer, Jonothon finds himself attracted to Daniel, the wrong kind of guy for him. Wrong in many ways, including a nasty cocaine habit. I dated a guy like Daniel once, when I was in high school, and that person influenced the creation of Daniel (minus the coke habit, that was never an actual thing).



I once wrote a novel about how I was afraid and unwilling to tell someone that I loved them. Writing The Hardest Words that year, really helped me sort out my emotional baggage.



I also think about where I am at in life. My 20s was about finding myself, and creating that adult identity. That played a major factor in the themes I wrote about in novels from 2006-2012. Now that i am in my thirties, there is a shift, the characters are a little less unsure of themselves, a little more stable, and ready a little more prepared for what life has to throw at them. So I throw different stuff at them.



It has been fun playing in the past while revising Closer, and remembering the influences, I am also equally looking forward to returning to the present in november with a new National Novel Writing Month submission.

THE BLOG OF NON-WRITING

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This is quickly becoming the blog where I write about not writing. Or write about excuses for having not written anything. I suppose that is part of the deal when you are not a full-time, must write to pay the bills, sort of writer. I have the luxury of time when completing projects, because there is no looming deadline, there is no need to put food on the table, and no need to worry.



But you are probably wondering what my excuse is this time?



Well, I was given an opportunity to become a certified personal trainer. This is something I have been thinking about for some time now, wanting to take my own fitness to the next level. As a result, I have had almost no time to write (or see friends, or my much neglected significant other) as I have been spending the last couple of weeks, and the next couple of weeks preparing, studying and trying to get myself just ready to rock my two exams.


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The writing was obviously the first thing that had to be shelved while I went on this different journey. It is interesting though, this extended time away from the novel has really given me time to think about it. It has also given me time to remember a lot of background stuff regarding the novel.



None of the original prep work for Closer exists anymore. I moved in 2004, and again in 2007. I have a feeling between one of those two moves my old notes, character sketches etc were lost. I was not great about keeping track of that sort of stuff back then like I am now. But the memories are coming back, and I think the next couple of weeks would be a great opportunity for me to write about them.

SEX SELLS (AND HELPS PAD WORD COUNTS)

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It was a lesson I learned early on the first time I ever competed in National Novel Writing Month: when you are stuck trying to make your daily word count, you write a death or a sex scene. A death means you have to work through the emotional reactions of the characters, and if it fits into the plot without too much digression, gives you the opportunity to write a funeral scene. Bonus.



The same could be said for sex scenes as well. However, as I have gotten older, I seem to get a little bit more prudish about how I depict sex in my writings. I am not trying to get published, yet I seem cognizant about an audience (that does not technically exist) reading something of mine, and becoming offended when they get to the naughty bits.



I picked up a book on gay erotica yesterday, and started reading it. My rationale is that it is professional writing, and the sex is not always explicit. I could get a flavouring (so to speak) of different authors writings, and get an impression of how I could be writing those scenes.



Interestingly enough, while there is some excellent examples in these shorts stories, none of them are particularly boundary pushing. There was one sentence in one story that made me go “whoa!”, but it was done in a rather tasteful way. I have realized by reading about four or five of these stories, that I am writing in a very similar way; maybe not as well, but I seem to be on track. That is reassuring.



Now, how about an excerpt? Coincidentally, the first “sex scene” I ever wrote, way back in 2000 for Closer, which I tweaked and rewrote slightly a few weeks ago.



Daniel pulled away from Jonothon, ending the kiss. “Wow,” Jonothon whispered breathlessly. “That was… some kiss,” he finally managed to add. Daniel stepped back without saying a word and stared at Jonothon intensely.



The entire situations had suddenly become uncomfortable for Jonothon. “Could you stop steading at me like that,” Jonothon requested in an uneasy voice.



Daniel smiled as he reached for the hem of his form fitting t-shirt, and in one fluid motion, peeled it off his torso. Jonothon could not himself now, and stared in return. Daniel’s chest was exactly what Jonothon had envisioned packed pectoral muscles to be. Daniel’s well-defined chest melted into the flat plain of his stomach. There was the slightest bit of definition showing that Daniel worked on his abs, but that he naturally just let his core sculpt itself. That was where Jonothon saw the tattoo.



The male arrow symbol in blue ink, just right of his abdominal musclees, pointing towards his navel. Jonothon breathed out slowly at the sight of the now half-naked Daniel Penn standing in front of him. Jonothon felt suddenly flushed and extremely turned on by the sight before him.



Daniel approached Jonothon and grabbed the tail of the shirt he was wearing, and with much fumbling on Jonothon’s part, managed to pull it off of his body. Taking a quick glance Jonothon’s naked torso, Daniel nodded to himself. While not nearly as defined as Daniel’s near Adonis-state body, Jonothon did have the slight beginnings of a six-pack and he was particularly proud of his taunt chest, despite his relatively slim frame. Daniel smiled before he moved in for another passionate kiss.



“Oh boy,” Jonothon muttered, before giving in once more.


I NEED A WEEK’S WORTH OF 26-HOUR DAYS TO WRITE

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It was my original intent to come back from my week holidays, and start rewrites again. However, while I was away, I was asked by the community centre that I work for, to write up a personal bio. Apparently they want to start putting info up on their instructors. I suck at writing these sorts of things. So I put it off.



While I was away, I was also offered the opportunity to begin my certification process to become a personal trainer. I really did not want to pass up this opportunity, even if it meant spending the second half of my vacation prepping for that course, and not writing.



There is also the blog post for my “Lift. Laugh. Live.” column over on From Flab to Fit that related to my personal trainer certification that I want to write. It is mostly up in my head, I just need to find the time to sit down and write it.



And this is essentially why you have not read any new content on this blog; I just have not had the time to sit down and write. The bio for my dodgeball instructing is written, and sent off. This entry will be published, and then I will start tackling Closer once again.

NOTHING TAKES THE PAST AWAY, LIKE THE FUTURE

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As I get older, I come to appreciate Madonna’s Ray of Light album, more. It has always been an exceptional piece of work in her discography, one that not only brought her back to the limelight, but also provided her with much critical and commercial acclaim when it was first released.



It is an album that I have be finding that I have a lot in common with. Especially in the last year or so. I had originally thought that I would write about the impact that songs like “Ray of Light” or even “Drowned World/Substitute For Love” have had on me, but in the case of “Ray of Light”, it has been overwritten about, and in the case of “Drowned World/Substitute For Love”, it has not quite had the same level of impact. One of the more underrepresented and under appreciated tracks fits the bill rather well: “Nothing Really Matters”.



Released as the final single from Ray of Light in early 1999, it failed to truly impact many of the charts it entered. Despite its lack of chart success, the track is one of the most lyrically lush pieces that Madonna has co-penned.


The artist herself has described how it is a reaction to the critical press over her status as a singer and songwriter, and that it is also serves as a focus on her then infant daughter. It serves as a reminder to her of what is truly important in life, and how perspectives on life change over time.



A friend recently described the song as a negative piece, yet, I hear the opposite when I listen to it. I hear someone not overcome, but someone who has finally realized that the world can not be about taking without giving. That the karmic wheel is constantly turning. You take the good with the bad, in turn, because we have something to learn from both.

WE CAN’T EVEN THINK OF A WORD THAT RHYMES



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I am on vacation for the next couple weeks, and I am out of town for the next week. I had originally planned on taking all my novel stuff with me, and writing while I was away. I decided not to in the end, and it actually helped me. You see, if I carry my Macbook in my hand, my carry on (and only piece of luggage) is just under the allowable weight for a carry on. Taking my writer’s prep book, and the printed copy of Closer would have put me over the allowable weight.



Sometimes the universe has a funny way of affirming a decision you made previously.



So instead of writing, I plan on reading. And watching television. I am not a big television watcher, but when I visit a particular friend in a particular city, I binge-watch television. And it is fantastic.



I have every intent of completing Larry Kramer’s Faggots while I am away. The first half of the book has been a difficult read, but the second half has proven to be more enjoyable. It may not be the best book I have ever read, but it is on track to at least redeem itself.



I will return home in a week, refreshed and the final week will be spent writing. Each day, my daily 1000 word goal. Someone hold me to that, okay?