Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

It’s Been Awhile…

I have a lot of catching up to do, I know. I let life carry me away, and time management has always been a struggle for me. However, it just gets harder with every day I go without writing something. So, here I am. Back where I started. One of my idols, Ursula K LeGuin has passed away and I find myself struggling with just everyday life.

Dishes and laundry and playing chauffeur for my son and his much more exciting life, plus the Postal Service which can easily take a good chunk of time just by itself. But, in the end it is all excuses. You can make time for things that matter to you.

Perhaps I have found myself struck dumb with a severe case of apathy. I wonder if Ursula ever felt that, or did writing just flow all the time? I’ll never meet her, so I suppose I will never know for sure, although I have many books about writing by her. The answer may well be in one of those.

Maybe it is just laziness, maybe I don’t know, I secretly do not want to be happy. Maybe I don’t know how to be happy for long.

I hope any who still pass by this way forgive me for my rambling. I was partly inspired by the new Amazon series Electric Dreams, inspired by Philip K Dick, another author I envy. I liked all the episodes, some were more inspired than others. But the ones dealing with reality and being an other really resonated with me.

I don’t know how closely they follow the source material, because it has been a while since I read the stories, and some of them didn’t list which they were inspired by. Either way, they were interesting, and I am glad I saw them.

I also took the plunge and updated my laptop to windows 10. Unfortunately, I cannot find my copy of Office, which is the writing program I am used to using, and new copies are such an expensive proposition. Plus, I am so fond of this dear old laptop, but apparently windows 10 does not have a driver for my video card which is built into the motherboard. I can’t upgrade it, although I have upgraded everything else on this friendly dinosaur.

So, I have had  a few issues. Although, like the rest of this ramble, it is just more excuses. I will do better. I need to for myself. New Writing coming soon.

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Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Time to Do Some Writing….

My site is back and hopefully here to stay. I plan on doing a lot of writing, and hopefully it will be just what I need to elevate my craft. Thank you all for your patience while the site was in hiatus. I appreciate any and all follows and I do follow back as a common courtesy.

I took this week off from work and it was nice not having to worry about getting up early and to have an open schedule. I do feel for those out there that make their own schedules though. It was at times hard to get motivated. I wasted some time, but that was okay.

I kind of knew that was going to happen. It is like the kid who isn’t allowed to eat candy going to a friend’s house and an open candy dish is right there. Time has been like that for me. I never have enough of it it seems, and when I do I squander it like a lottery winner does their winnings.

I am trying not to be too hard on myself. But at the same time, we never know how much time we are allotted in this life. So, it is imperative to make it count.

With that in mind, be expecting some timed writes, writing prompts, and short stories of surprise and wonder coming your way. And, again, thank you. Your encouragement and inspiration is what keeps me posting.

Sincerely,

JennRae.

Posted in Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

Kittenish – A Character Study; Plus an Aside on Time and Ideas…

She is laying down, curled into a tight ball. Her sleepy almond shaped eyes open gradually taking in the aqua colored walls. Her tiny trim body is contained within the small chair. She jumps up suddenly in one swift graceful motion when a car drives by noisily. Her breathing slows as she realizes she is not in danger.

She walks casually to the door, cautiously opening it. She slinks through the hallway at complete ease by outward appearance. Ready to attack anything within internally.

She seems off guard, but upon a closer inspection, her lithe form is waiting like a tightly coiled spring. Her eyes glance passively about the room. She notices herself in the mirror. Her hair is frizzled and misshapen from sleeping on it. She promptly pats her hair until not one strand remains freakish.

She quickly examines her clothes and studies herself to ensure that her appearance is neat. She looks herself in the eye awhile, appearing to daydream. After she is through, she goes outside into the night. The chill air and dark sky make her feel alive and free. The sounds of the crickets chirping and the owls hooting release the tension in her slow stride.

She continues to walk until she reaches her vehicle. She enters quickly because she begins to feel droplets of rain dampening her hair. She has no plan in mind, nowhere to go. But she doesn’t care. Anywhere will do. She starts up the engine, and curses at it violently because she is impatient. She looks about her noticing the empty soda can, and some cigarette butts in the ashtray.  She slams the glove box in frustration, and gets up and decides to go for a walk instead.

She kicks the car door of the ancient Toyota Corolla and begins to walk aimlessly down the road. Suddenly, she feels lonely, and she wishes he’d stuck around for dinner. Then she thinks again, and is glad he didn’t bother.

She decides she doesn’t need anybody, and no one needs her. She looks up and sees the stars with all their sparkle and glimmer. It annoys her eyes. She is bored with her walk after a matter of yards. She begins to shiver as the cold seeps into her bones. She forgot to put on her coat.

She has had a hectic day between her husband leaving her, and her mother’s visit shortly afterwards. She walked back to her car after one more glance at the night sky.

*Note: This particular writing was from my 7th grade creative writing class. I do not know where my ideas come from, but I do believe time isn’t what we think it is. I think it is possible that my subconscious may be able to pull ideas or fragments from the distant past or the future, or from random writings I may glance at without thinking about.

I am not sure, but sometimes things have come to pass in the future, that I seem to write about years before they happen. This piece has been tweaked a few times since then, but the basic idea is from back then. I wouldn’t get divorced myself until 2002 or 2003. Also, I never was a smoker, but for some reason characters that smoke are interesting to me. Maybe it is all the old movies I watch. Although I hadn’t watched any back then, and that is from the original copy.

Posted in Fiction, Life, Writing

Stream of Consciousness And Why I Sometimes Wish I was a Poet…

Been reading the news online and it is filled with the usual mayhem and death and destruction, and then I proceeded to stare at an empty screen for a bit thinking about how I should be writing and maybe I should figure out what I am going to write about.

Sometimes things come to me naturally, effortlessly. Just add coffee. Other times I need to coerce myself a little. I guess this is one of the latter situations as I am not really feeling it, but I find myself with the perfect opportunity to write. And I know I will regret not taking this opportunity later.

Then I thought about the term ‘Stream of Consciousness.’ It is a type of writing which I have read and I kinda like. Roger Zelazny uses it in his Chronicles of Amber, usually when his characters are changing their surroundings in some manner. It can be effective. It is perhaps the only way I can do anything poetic. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. I love words, and I love stringing them together in interesting ways. So, I should love poetry.

And, I love reading poetry. But, if I try to write a poem, it ends up either being sappy or depressing or amateurish. Or all three. Perhaps it is because it isn’t something I have worked on extensively. It isn’t something that I have sat and thought I could do. If you don’t believe you can do something, it is usually a self fulfilling prophecy where you will convince yourself to the point where— surprise, surprise, you can’t do it.

So, it might be a mind over matter type of thing. I don’t think of myself as a poet, therefore I am not one. But there is something to be said for finding a sentence that works and is visually compelling. I could probably go through my works and cherry pick sentences and phrases that sound cool to me and create a poem from them. Whether it could have a cohesive meaning I am not sure, but I could take the time to find a meaning and make it work.

Ultimately, if you think you can, you probably can. If you think you can’t, you probably can’t. The power of the mind and how you identify yourself, how you think or perceive yourself as a being matters.

My attempt at stream of consciousness:

New Year’s

Red flowers blooming brilliantly over night time skies

where the stars shine down like little paper lanterns

illuminating the fierce nocturnal eyes of a million raccoons

and cats and weasels and varmints as they scurry amidst bushes and trees

looking for tiny prey that is also scurrying looking for nuts and seeds to eat

so they can continue another day and another night

so that the cycle can start anew another day and another night

as the earth turns slowly in space rewinding time

like a loom of silver thread until one day there will be no more

and some other thread will start spinning

in some other faraway place will begin instead.

Posted in Uncategorized

Have Laptop Will Travel…

So I am taking a week off from work to get my groove back, creatively and emotionally. Been working a lot of six day weeks and even though it isn’t labor intensive work, working with the public does after a while, unravel the mind. So, I decided I needed some R and R, and also some time to re organize and do some deep cleaning. Need to make my environment more conducive to productive living and help me channel more productive thoughts. Been just surviving when I want to do so much more.

I have a mental list of things to get done, among them, writing. So, I took the laptop out with me today and went to a local coffee shop. I think I will do this throughout the week, maybe going to different ones.

This time I chose Rainshadow Coffee, because honestly I have been here before and it just has a great vibe to it. I feel like I get a lot done and it is just perfect. There is food if you are hungry, fresh locally roasted coffee which is awesome, and plenty of electrical outlets which is invaluable when you are using a laptop from 2009. Which I am.

One thing about old laptops, it has had a ton of its parts upgraded so it isn’t that slow actually, but yeah, it lasts for maybe 15 seconds unplugged from the wall, so, yeah, need an outlet, battery will not take you far with this one.

But, in defense of using an ancient laptop, a lot of the newer models you cannot upgrade at all, they fuse the parts to the motherboard. Apple started this trend, so blame them, they have been doing this for years.

Shame on IBM/Lenovo  and others for joining them in their desire to force people to buy an entirely new machine every few years instead of replacing parts.

I mean, how wasteful! Think about it? Perfectly good computers that just don’t have the video cards to handle modern games or applications, go into the trash because they can’t run anything anymore, but most of the parts work just fine.

GRRRR.  My laptop has a fairly new hard drive, which I installed myself, along with a WiFi card, and new better dual channel ram. All for much less than a new laptop would have cost me. Much less. Plus, the monitor and casing isn’t in a landfill somewhere, or the toxic motherboard isn’t poisoning children in India tasked with getting the mercury or some such evil thing. Doing my part, no matter how small.

Anyway, yeah, good food, great coffee, and WiFi plus electricity equals the perfect equation for a happy writer. Thumbs way up to Rainshadow.

I hope the competition is half this good, although I know of at least two other places that are in range. Scooter’s coffee, has WiFi, and an abundance of outlets, food and coffee. They actually have Rainshadow  roasted beans, ironically. All locally produced deli items which is amazing.

Hurricane Coffee is another place I frequent. They have an advantage that when I am with my son they are the only one with ice cream.

So, if you have a child, immediately Hurricane has an edge.  This edge is also a minus however, as it is also a local hang out spot for teens, so after school hours, they kinda take over half the place and tend to be kinda noisy.

You need some good sound canceling head phones to work in there at those times. Rainshadow is the most spacious of the the three by far, all three are in proximity of down town and are convenient. They are all good, and the food is decent at all places, although I would give Rainshadow the top marks on food because they offer breakfast burritos and hot foods while the other two are more sandwiches and bagels and that kind of thing.

Price wise, I think Scooter’s is the most economical if you are sticking with drip coffee. If you are getting food or espresso, I would say they are all within range of each other. All are great places for inspiration and public writing spaces. There is something to be said for being in your own world while simultaneously surrounded by people. It is just a completely different feeling than being at home in your jammies with your computer. although that is good too.

There is also Starbucks, of course, but Starbucks is the same wherever you are pretty much. The McDonald’s of Coffeeshops, unless you count McDonalds which also has free Wifi and coffee, so, yeah, also an option. But I prefer to support the independents when I can. The little guys have the best atmosphere, the best vibe, and you can’t replicate or buy that, it just is.

And some places have it and some places don’t. I can’t explain it. It is an emotion not something quantifiable. I just know it isn’t something chain stores can cultivate. Starbucks culture is so snobbish and highbrow. It is kinda artificial and forced. It isn’t a natural culture. It is something marketed to itself by somebody in Seattle somewhere.

They try, just when you become big, something happens. You lose the dynamic culture of something crafted for a small audience, you start to cater to the masses, and the masses are a lot more blase and boring than a more specific audience ever is.

The smaller place will always have a more eclectic and interesting feel. I need to try Suzon’s as well. I remember it being cozy and having decent coffee but being more quiet and contemplative. Not a good option to take a kid, but those without children might prefer a quiet space. There is a place for everyone it seems even in a small town.

 

 

Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Inspiration and the Idea of the Muse

I am sure all the writers out there have different ways for finding inspiration. It isn’t a one size fits all type of thing. For me, I often use headphones and music to help me get in the  mood. For action scenes I often use tunes that are taken from soundtracks. These soundtracks are often movies, but also video games or even television shows. Defiance has an amazing score that I can listen to looped. Bear McCreary also did the soundtrack for the Battlestar Galactica Reboot, and I just love how he uses instrumentation with synth type sounds. It just says, “this is sci-fi, buckle your seats.” Defiance Soundtrack.

If I want a more fantasy style drama, anything Lord of the Rings will do. Or Enya, or Yanni, or anything by Yasunori Mitsuda, the composer responsible for the unforgettable and unbelievably amazing ChronoCross score. For those that are  not into video games, or older video games, ChronoCross was a game for the Playstation, a Sony console that came out around the same time as the Nintendo 64. This was the system that launched Sony into gaming and finally gave Nintendo some competition other than Sega.

Mitsuda often mixes almost Celtic style sounds with American Indian, mixed with Japanese and a hint of new age. And it works. Amazingly well. So well, you can still get the soundtrack even though the game itself is not that popular, plus it is like twenty years old or more now. For those that may be curious : Chrono Cross OST

There are a few orchestral versions out there as well, that are very well done. Video Games Live put out a  Through Time and Space compilation that has a beautiful version of Scars of Time, one of the defining songs of the game. Of course, Final Fantasy also has a ton of amazing music that I listen to as well, especially orchestral versions of FF7 and older. I just prefer the oldies. But Chronocross has a special place in my heart perhaps because it is a little more obscure. Video Games Live Scars of Time.

Now, if I want something like a tragic love scene, I listen to everything from Adele, to the Carpenters. I have a sad love song playlist just for this. And, a happy love song list, and a dramatic list, and a more action like list. The headphones also help block out the distractions of the television, the cat and whatever else may be going on. It kinda makes me focus and set aside time that is undivided and just for writing which I find useful.

How do you get inspired? What helps kick start your writing? Do you believe something or someone can be your muse? I have been inspired by people more than once, sometimes they don’t even know they actually inspired me. Actually, that is usually the case.

Overhearing bits and pieces of conversations at coffee shops or in the laundromat is why I love writing in public spaces. But sometimes, a certain person will inspire me more than most. That is my muse, and the music of course always helps. I find I am most inspired when I get inspired by people and the music and life experiences. It all helps. I would say not one person or thing is my muse, but the collective environment around me is usually my muse.

Posted in Fiction, Life, Writing

Merry Christmas, Happy belated birthday to Philip K Dick and Michael Moorcock, and of course, Humphrey Bogart and any others I may have forgotten —Part 1

Okay, with the title out of the way, this is my belated post that I mentioned I would write. The one where I go on and on about Dick, and mention Moorcock, but mostly talk about Mr. Dick.  I assure you this post is about writing, and ideas, and fantasy and science fiction.

The reason for the Bogart mention, is besides the fact I am a huge fan of his movies, he was also a huge fan of writers and writing. So, I think a happy birthday is definitely in order, besides the old detective genre of movies has definitely affected how Hollywood portrays some of Philip K Dick’s stories. Blade Runner and Total Recall both have a taste of them, Blade Runner especially, has almost a feel of a Maltese Falcon type of feel with the detective/policeman voice over. My brain which is full of associations paused and just thought, ‘Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, Millennium Falcon, Star Wars, Maltese Falcon, Bogart.’ It can be truly wondrous how the brain works as I have recently seen Rogue One, and binged West World, my mind is just full of interesting connections right now.

In fact, Rogue One resurrected Peter Cushing much like an episode of TV did Bogart, to reprise a role. West World owes much in ideas and even its existence to Blade Runner, more than the original West World, which heavily influenced The Terminator which starred Schwarzenegger who starred in Total Recall, which was based on We Can Remember it For You Wholesale by Dick.

My brain is spinning from the universal connections some of these ideas have. To write something that permeates society so deeply and shows up so unexpectedly in so many different ways is I think many writer’s dream. I would say all writers but that begs an arrogance that I don’t possess.

I can’t know what all writer’s want, but I know what I would like. I don’t need fame, money is nice, but being rich has never been a goal of mine except as a child perhaps, but what I do crave is having a sense of permanence. Leaving something behind when I am gone, a deep carving in the rock saying ‘I was here. I lived, and I mattered, and this is what I stood for, this is what was important to me, this is my contribution to society. to my family, to myself, to the world.’

I think from what I have read of Philip K Dick, that he felt similarly. I can’t say the same because I will never know, but from the quotes I found, from the stories I read, he had a deep philosophical bent, which I also like to think I have in my writing, and meaning and legacy seem to have been a big deal. He had an existential streak that I also have, where the meaning of being alive, what it means to be human, what it means to exist was in the background of many of his stories sharing a strong strand of what does it mean to be real, what is reality, another question that I love to deal with. He was so effective at these two questions that I have found them, along with what is true, or the truth,  are the back bone of every story he wrote.

I received as a present a few years back a great book called the Philip K Dick Reader, it has all the short stories in one place. I know I have mentioned this in other posts, but I am a big fan of omnibus volumes.  I had seen the movies, I think Minority Report had come out sometime before I got the book and I expressed a desire to read the story. It always interests me in where adaptations decide to diverge and what they leave out, and add in. I have read Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and complained throughout the Depp movie  that was based on it because it just shared the name pretty much but not much else, so it is a double edged sword, knowing the actual stories, sometimes it ruins the suspension of disbelief that is required to make it real.

But, with Dick, even when it diverges, it is like the essence, the reason behind the story creeps in. Hollywood cannot get rid of the message, it is in too deep. Total Recall is a good example. It has a lot of 80’s action movie and heavy cussing in it, it is a Verhoeven film more than a Dick story, by far. But the thing is, the actual story is so short and I can honestly say they needed to add more to the plot to make it work. It couldn’t be faithfully adapted into a two hour movie, and that is largely the case with Dick’s work.

In the end, the story has an ambiguous ending, you can’t definitively say whether he actually was a secret agent that went to Mars, or whether he was a vegetable at the vacation place, you can interpret it either way, and the movie stayed true to that. Both interpretations work which makes you question what is real, which is the question behind the story, and the movie itself, despite all the explosions and distractions that were added to make it flashy.

Minority Report I felt was mostly true to the story, I expected it to be further removed honestly because that is the trend with Dick’s work, and in general. The movie Adaptation deals with this quite well, actually. Basically it is a writer’s job and purpose to create, to recreate another person’s dream and be totally faithful to it is hard, because in the end we all want to create something new. It is a struggle because is any idea new, then becomes a question in of itself.

I also binge watched season two of The Man In the High Castle. This is an amazon show, so if you have prime it is easy to watch because you have all ready paid for it in a sense by being a member. You don’t have to buy it again, or pay for it and it is all out there to watch, no waiting each week for an episode to air. I didn’t quite enjoy season 1, so I wasn’t eagerly awaiting season 2. In fact, I only watched it because it came out around Mr Dick’s birthday, so I felt like maybe I should at least see it. And, you know what, season 2 was actually very very good.

It even had some Dick-ish themes going along in the background. What is reality? What is the truth? What is good what is evil? Can doing a horrible deed end up being the right thing to do? I haven’t read The Man in the High Castle, unfortunately, I have heard that the series diverges a great deal, and that isn’t surprising. But, I can say, that I felt the message behind it, the feeling, the questions in the background, are true to his work. So, the writers kept that in. I am starting to wonder if it is possible to remove this quality from his stories, as even the most crazy adaptation has it insidiously there, somewhere in the background, you just can’t remove it.

Back to Blade Runner, because it also isn’t a particular faithful adaptation. I have read Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?, it is a great story. Much like We Can Remember it For You Wholesale, it is short, and I can see the need to add much to the plot to make it a full length film. Dick loved Blade Runner, and saw it as an improvement on his story. The fact that it didn’t replicate his story didn’t seem to bother him, he in fact was honored that the creative team managed to spin this story out of his own. Ultimately, the question behind both stories remain, what does it mean to  be human? What does it mean to be alive? West World the TV show deals with the same questions as well as the movie AI, which was based on a Brian Aldiss story, which I have also read.

Yes, the movie again departs heavily from the source, but it is also a series of short vignettes. So, of course it would diverge by necessity.Aldiss was annoyed by the merging of his story with the story of Pinocchio, but again, Pinocchio deals with what it means to be human, to be real, what makes him a puppet and how he eventually becomes a real boy. When there are no more real boys, will the close approximation of one be a real one as it is the most real one in existence?

The same questions are asked and the story of the other, and how we treat who we regard as the other is dealt with similarly. Whoever is considered less than is seen as a threat, and ultimately considered disposable. The African slaves are an example of this in real life, the American Indians, the Australian aborigines, anytime someone is considered the ‘Less Than’ by others they are treated horribly and sometimes eradicated as a perceived threat. We are threatened by things we cannot understand, and robots, computers, androids are good representations of this fear, of this irrational destructiveness we have toward the unknown or the misunderstood of the perceived ‘Less Than.’

We can use science fiction to look at these problems in a way that gets around any programming we may have received in our lives. You can have false beliefs toward a whole group of people than watch someone mistreat a robot on a TV show or in a book, and just maybe it can open your mind, and cause you to question the very belief that you think of as reality even though what you witnessed on TV or in a book is outlandish and far from real.

By taking it out of reality, it allows us as people to question reality. By being supremely unreal and untrue, we can learn real truth.I feel that Dick knew that, and played on that in his works. A Scanner Darkly deals directly with what is real, perceived reality versus a definitive reality. I think what is real is one of fiction’s greatest questions and it can be asked in so many interesting ways.

“That was my problem then and it’s my problem now; I have a bad attitude. In a nutshell, I fear authority but at the same time I resent it — the authority and my own fear — so I rebel. And writing SF is a way to rebel. … SF is a rebellious art form and it needs writers and readers and bad attitudes — an attitude of “Why?” or “How come?” or “Who says?”

Philip K Dick, From the forward to The Golden Man

Posted in Life, Uncategorized, Writing

Writing Prompt # 12 Good Bye Self Doubt

My Resignation

After years of unhappiness, you’ve finally had enough and have decided to quit—but

we’re not talking about your job. Write a letter of resignation to someone other than your

employer—your school, your family, your favorite sports team, etc.

 

I, Jenny Rae, am herewith writing my resignation notice to my inner critic. After many years of letting you hold me back, tell me I can’t do this, can’t have that, or that I am not good enough. I am finally done. I can do it. I can do whatever I set my mind to. I am the happiest I have been, in the best shape I have ever been in, and am living life, taking risks and not living in fear of what if, or worry.

There is a place for criticism but I will no longer tolerate negative self talk, or artificial limits placed on my abilities. I can publish that novel or another one. I can get an agent. I can live anywhere. I can and will have financial freedom to do what I want to do. I want to experience life without being chained by self doubt, anxiety and worries. I am no longer going to live in fear or doubt.  I will call on you as needed on a freelance basis to improve my writing, but will no longer be a slave to you.   I quit being employed by my self-doubt and disbelief. I can no longer blame any failings on others, and no longer will I be allowing myself to get in my own way.  Good bye self doubt, shut the door on your way out.

Sincerely, Jenny Rae.