Reflection in Silver

•October 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’m not one given to labels, because labelling often leads to oversimplification which in turn leads to assumptions and eventually to a path away from the truth. Labelling is an easy, lazy path to lies. I have no desire to align myself with anything but truth.

My laptop crashed following the frenzied week of typing up the manuscript for “Nothing,” leaving me essentially unable to work on anything else. Due to a series of other unfortunate events that had all happened at the same time, I decided to contact the “publicly funded organization in charge of helping writers” to see if they would help with a replacement. I posted this blog’s address as my writing link and apparently something isn’t kosher with the blog, because I received a response so utterly rude that I had to take a week to calm down and not yield to the temptation to use words from Eminem’s more colorful vocabulary in my reply. I will tolerate a lot of things, but I draw the line at rudeness. I have no intention of tolerating that from anyone or any organization, so I responded as politely as I could and now I’m going to address assumptions, labels and the path to believing lies.

Their response, which I tossed somewhere and will dig up later, essentially stated that my work, which they apparently neither bothered to read nor research, “will be of no benefit to the public in the long or short term, is unlikely to reach publication (or find an audience) and shows no evidence of support from the literature sector.”

This, mind you, is a reply received while two of those unpublishable works in question were sitting at the sectional ranks of #’s 2, 3 and 4 on Kobo, coming down from the dismal lows of #’s 1, 2 and 4 in the previous few months. Although I have no idea how Kobo’s sectional ranking system works, it did make me wonder how they came to the conclusion that I would never reach publication. Benefitting the public is somewhat subjective. How exactly does one measure public benefit when it comes to any form of writing? Right or wrong, someone seems to have glanced at my previous post about unagented authors and jumped to the usual label-slapping of “self-published” versus “traditionally-published” and then proceeded to treat me with all the contempt that my upstart self-published self deserves in their estimation.

This is why I don’t like labels, assumptions and general discrimination of any sort. It ends up making the world an unpleasant place. Unknown to all, because I’ve never mentioned it before, I didn’t start out my writing career as a self-published author. I started out with a nice little non-fiction piece in a national women’s weekly with a very lovely picture of my smiling face next to the headline. My next brush with publication involved the inclusion of “Reflection in Silver” (and “Mirrors”??)  in an international anthology, complete with one of those contract things that seem to be so important to the labellers. So, labellers, I’m technically a traditionally published poet and non-fiction writer. If I’d left it at that, I guess I would have been deemed “of merit,” but apparently deciding to take full creative control of my own work now means that the same work and any subsequent work produced by the same individual is of no merit.

Sorry to burst your bubble and complicate your lazy, oversimplified lives labellers, but deciding to self-publish has had no diminishing effect on my talent, which was given to me by God and cannot be taken away by criticism. The only thing that has changed is the label. Maybe you need to rethink your assumptions and your labelling system.
By the way, “Reflection in Silver,” which is still one of my favorite poems, is available in “The Turmoil Within,”  as is “Mirrors.”

Have a blessed week.

Nothing

•October 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I think I may have set some kind of record, if only a personal one, in novel-writing speed for the production of  the manuscript for “Nothing,” the combined Fantasy/Sci Fi stand-alone sequel to Opoponax Dreams, Rêves Opoponax 69 and Dark Matter. After starting the story in early September and being forced to put it on pause after a total of three days (maybe less) due to a bad allergic reaction to the  seasonal transition, I discovered last Sunday that Harper Voyager was looking for unagented Sci Fi and Fantasy novels for electronic publication.

I picked up my old laptop and resumed working on “Nothing,” mostly because I wanted to have it ready for Christmas publication as I’d only got 13,000 words down during the 3 days in September and needed to make a serious change to one of the characters. I decided to throw caution to the wind, free myself from my usual confines of starting with a tight short story and expanding outwards and just write. I would essentially let the story write itself. I dropped most of my obligations, except for my workouts as I can’t afford to gain weight from sitting in one spot all week. That’s just not healthy. I sat down on Sunday morning and started to write, despite having to spend the day with a beach-sized towel draped over my shoulders, I was sneezing so hard. At the end of Sunday night, the novel was 12,000 words longer and I felt hopeful. I aimed for 10,000 words per day thereafter. Some days I made it, some days I didn’t as I had other obligations and could only put in 7 hours on my short days. On Thursday, I stopped and made actual notes on an actual post-it, because I still have a need to control my endings and my laptop had started making funny noises and short-circuiting, possibly because it was having trouble keeping up with the typing, who knows? By Friday night, the first draft was done. I had written a full novel in 6 days, not counting the three days in September or the mind-boggling hours of research I’d done before to make sure my quantum physics was up to scratch, but including the research to make sure the terminology used in the novel was correct. I dreamt up the synopsis and query letter on Friday night, because it turns out that I can actually compose material while sleeping, a talent that comes in very handy when writing a novel in a week. I spent most of Saturday and all of Sunday on editing and polishing and rewriting, et voila, one sexy 75,000+ word PDF manuscript was submitted to Harper Voyager on Sunday night.

So, it turns out that it is possible to write a very tight novel in a week (sorry NaNoWriMo guys). The rest in God’s hands now.

Poetry – Thinking Outside of the Box and the Page and the Stuffed Cow

•October 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’ve had the unexpected chance to revisit the earlier question of whether poetry remains relevant. It started with just the spark of a thought, followed by a decision to look up a few poetry publishers. It turns out that a few houses still specialize in poetry, so it’s not as much of a lost art as you might think. I decided to send off a few poems to one of these houses because I specifically want to produce a book combining old poetry scrolls with art and it’s not practical to produce that independently, or so I thought, but I was shortly to prove myself quite wrong.

One publisher made my shortlist specifically because its requirement was short – six poems to be exact and I had an itching to do something involving pens and paper. Something real. I decided to go for a real old artsy feel and, lacking parchment, resorted to brown packaging paper and a host of vibrant art pens et voila, inspiration struck. The finished piece started a movement that I never expected. I was looking at something that had escaped the pages of the unread poetry book and had a life of its own. It was poetry, but it was alive. It was functional. I could hang it on my wall and use it as interior decoration.

And so “Poems By Genieve” was born. I took six unpublished card-sized poems dealing with human emotions and freed them from the confines of the printed book or the e-book. I placed them on pillows, bags, mugs, playing cards, canvas prints and even on a stuffed cow.

Is poetry relevant? The answer is a glorious “Yes!” It’s alive and it’s beautiful. Poetry is art in every possible manifestation.

A Glitch In Time

•September 20, 2012 • 1 Comment

I’m currently working on a novel that is a combined sequel to “Opoponax Dreams“/”Rêves Opoponax 69,” which are both fantasy and “Dark Matter,” which is hard science fiction. The focus of the new novel, “Nothing” is time travel, which is fundamental to the fantasy books and tangential to “Dark Matter.”

Dimensionality and stories that defy our assumptions of the unidirectional nature of time absolutely fascinate me. This is in large part due to an oft-repeated story in my mother’s family in which my then-young aunt went outside early one morning and found herself in a time-warp, where she was in the same place, but a much earlier time. The experience lasted mere minutes, but changed her life and quite possibly mine, and now I hope it helps to change yours a little bit too.

If you have a strange but true time warp story, please feel free to share it on the “A Glitch In Time” blog. I look forward to reading some fascinating accounts from others who’ve had similar experiences. Some will argue that these are the products of delusions and psychological problems, while others, the vastly more interesting ones in my opinion, will wonder, “Could there really be something going on here?” As far as I’m aware, my aunt has never had another paranormal experience and she’s fairly normal, so I’m squarely in the latter camp.

Truth is almost always stranger than fiction.

Treating Poor People Badly

•September 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This post is one I really didn’t want to write. Much like Jesus, I initially took an “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me” attitude to this topic, but I’ve come to realize that this cup cannot pass from me, because like it or not, and I’m leaning towards “not,” I actually am the one with the voice that the subjects of this missive lack.
I’ve had a few close encounters with poverty and discrimination against the poor in recent times. You can check out this post on a conversation I had on the street with a man representing St. Mungos where he told me plaintively that “nobody cares.” As a writer, I know only too well what poverty feels like, so I possibly have more empathy toward people in these situations than the average person, many of whom think the poor are poor because they are lazy and can therefore be treated as sub-human.
Things came to a head on Monday morning. I’ve been on the losing end of a dispute over an old, non-functional phone and the contract attached to it, which actually ties into my whole topic of the rich devouring the poor whenever possible. Such is the way of the world. I packed the phone into my bag, intending to take it to the original supplier in an attempt to salvage it and get some benefit from my contract. My only opportunity to do this was on Monday morning after a rough workout in the park. I had to do push ups and ab crunches in the dirt and store my coat under a tree. I do this often and usually take no notice of my appearance as I go home and shower immediately after. I put my crumpled trench coat on after the workout and remembered the phone, so I trotted off to the store on Oxford Street to see what could be done to fix it.

I didn’t get the phone repaired. Instead, I got an unexpected lesson in the way people treat people who they perceive as poor. I must have looked a sight – crumpled, sweaty, sporting a disheveled afro and clutching a four-year-old phone in my grubby palm. The manager’s tone was immediately condescending when I stepped into the store. It rapidly got worse. He kept commenting on my “old water-damaged phone” and eventually moved on to telling me that he didn’t know why I was sitting in his store with my “four-year old phone and my trouble-making self” and told me to get out. That’s right. I was spoken to and treated like a piece of scum and thrown out of a store in which I had once bought a phone because I looked poor. I was stunned. I was even more stunned when I realized that the manager saw nothing discriminatory or wrong about his behaviour and that several others will fail to see it too. I wanted to cry when I realized that the poor and homeless are treated like this every single day.

I’m taking serious stock of the way I speak to and deal with the poor and homeless people I meet on the street every day. I only hope that you will too. It doesn’t take much to make the world a slightly better place. You can just be one less person who treats poor people badly or ignores them and we’ll be well on our way.

Have a blessed day.

Dark Matter – An Apocalyptic Study of the Mundane

•August 8, 2012 • 1 Comment
Dark Matter Cover

Some days everything just seems to go dreadfully wrong. What happens when you’ve had just one too many of those days? Could the combination of set of seemingly mundane, innocuous, everyday injustices, a subverted intelligence, accumulated negative energy, knowledge of basic nuclear physics and coincidental access to a particle collider bring about the end of the world as we know it?
Take an apocalyptic short journey to the most unexpected end of days and hopefully you’ll come away working diligently to do your part to make the world a better place. You can be a superhero. It isn’t as hard as you think.

Many years ago when I was an Art student, I would start each piece with a study – a preparatory sketch that served as visual notes used to define and elaborate the finished piece. This habit has followed me into writing, as all my stories begin life in the same manner. I sometimes start with the bones of the idea, which more often than not end up being written on the backs of receipts. I’ll then take these basic elements of the study and turn them into a micro-story and then turn the micro-story into a short and finally expand the short into long form if it needs room to develop and grow.

These preparatory studies are never seen by the general public, although I do sometimes use them in treatments for my screenplays and pitches which are sent to private parties.  Dark Matter is my first deviation from this general principle. It is a study for a long-form work, tentatively titled “Basic Nuclear Physics – How to Trigger the Apocalypse While Doing Nothing Special.” I’d had a completely different title in mind, but it seems to have been trademarked by a particularly aggressive house, so I’ll come up with a working title later.

Dark Matter is the short form of this piece of apocalyptic fiction. It explores what happens when a series of bad days accumulate sufficient negative energy in one unlikely candidate to trigger the apocalypse under the right set of coincidental circumstances. Current Nuclear Physics theories don’t explore the energy tied up in the spirit or life force of a person and I wanted to explore the fact that the negative and positive energy we deal with every day in our simple, mundane interactions have a profound effect on the world around us. Moreover, each of us is a source of energy, but our energy is largely ignored by science and remains unexplored.

What kind of energy are you putting out into the world? Do you think your simple actions, both negative and positive, affect the world around you? Could the effect of these actions be even greater than you could possibly imagine? Can you save the world with a small kindness (and without having to don lycra)?

Can the mundane be apocalyptic?

Life, Death & Renewed Strength

•July 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Today’s post might be a bit morbid for some people’s tastes, as I’m reflecting on the brevity of life, the reality of death and the joy of renewed strength.

Do you ever stop and think about just how close you are to death at any waking moment? Do you live your life to the fullest or do you leave the brakes on, waiting for some special event or sequence of events to happen before you let go and start living? A friend of mine calls this the “ducks-in-a-row” lifestyle. I suppose we’re all guilty to some extent of living life waiting for the ducks to line up before doing the especially important things. Who doesn’t have some form of retirement plan? Then, there are some goals and dreams we’ve given up on because we’ve mentally tired of waiting for them to happen.

The sad truth is that death breathes just at your neck from the moment of conception, never more than a moment, a mere fraction of a step behind. I’m always amazed by people who believe and live like they’re more fortunate than those who’ve been diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Erm, no you’re not. You’re in exactly the same boat as the end-stage cancer patient. The difference is that the patient is more aware of his/her mortality.

A few months ago, I had my own brush with death. I woke up literally drowning in air. When I got done saying my last prayers and being sympathetic to the plight of fish everywhere, I went for medical advice and started a full lifestyle change. It’s been a hard slog, but gets easier with each passing day. I’ve met some lovely people through this journey and gained fresh perspective on life, death, achieving goals, nutrition, exercise, priorities, spirituality and renewing your strength in a holistic manner. I suspect those topics will be subjects for later discussion, but these recent experiences have inspired a new short story, “The Pale Shovel – Death in 100 Words,” which is currently available for free on Smashwords.

Take a moment to reflect on how you’d live your life if you only had a short time to live and then, as Nike says, just do it!

 
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