Saturday, June 29, 2019

Revamp 2.0: Basic questions.

I'm still figuring out my main blog, sure, but I think I'm ready to start taking it seriously. I've variously blogged about blogging, and I'm sure I've said the same then either explicitly or implicitly. But it's for real this time. For. Real.

I considered doing this thinking aloud there, on the blog in question, but then this post became longer and more, arguably, tedious than might be tolerable there, so I figured it was better to do a shorter, to-the-point post there and the full thinking-out here.

Later, in a future post or posts, I may lay out my plans for world domination—or, you know, revamping the blog. At this point, though, I'm mostly trying to feel out basic questions such as the following; some I've asked before on that blog but ought to revisit, and some I don't think I really answered before but ought to now.
  • What do I want to blog about? Why do those things matter to me, and what do I want to accomplish by writing about them? 
  • Who am I blogging for? How do I want to reach them?
  • Why do I blog? What do I want from this? 
I suppose it's obvious, but I expect that answering these questions now should help focus this attempt, both defining the blog and determining what steps to take. I also expect that continuing to ask them going forward, if only loosely and implicitly and occasionally, should keep me focused on what to maintain and what to adjust as things change, or don't, over time.

Time was, back when I started blogging at the tender age of, like, 15 or so years old, that any little thing that riled me up or got me down or caught my attention got the full blast of my nascent pen, for good or ill.

I blogged mostly because I was angry or sad or happy. I was a moody teen and played it up; I needed to vent, a lot. And my blog provided that medium.

I wrote for me, but also to show off at my friends—not even for, just at. I was blogging back before the Socials took root and spread, so these posts were the equivalents of Twitter rants and vaguebooking and so on. I guess I was in it for attention, but I wasn't recruiting followers, really, just hoping my friends would hear me.

(I would like to think that I was honing my skills as a writer and developing my voice; it was practice at an art I was, if roughly, attempting. So while I'm not as proud about the things I said on my first blog, I can say something likely came of it that I can be happy with.)

But pivoting from that to now and what's to come, I can see a few things:
  • What: I don't want to vent like I used to when I was a kid; that doesn't appeal to me, at least not in that raw, unrestrained fashion of those early ventures.
    • I want to blog about things I find meaningful and interesting, not about things that have elicited some outrage or what have you. 
    • I still want, as I'd considered in a previous post, to do thoughtful reviews and reflections and such, but I'm also more open to blogging about things like my garden and little projects and so forth than I was then.
    • Although I still want to share about my life, I don't want to share everything about my life.
    • One thing I'm considering, following up on a past post, is that I'll go through all 300 posts and cull unnecessary tags and hide any posts I find frivolous or oversharing or even offensive. 
  •  Who: I won't deny that I'll still largely write for me, but I want to keep an eye on audience, if with only friends and followers (eg, Twitter) in mind. 
    • I'm not just recording interesting, meaningful things for myself; I'm hoping what I write about and share will prove interesting and meaningful for others, too. 
    • I suppose I still want attention, but it's certainly of a different sort and largely to a different end than what I sought as a teen.
    • I don't expect swarms of followers or even that massive of a following; I'm hoping to draw in people who care through the Socials. Maybe as time passes, and I accumulate posts on certain subjects, I will do that whole reaching out to influencers thing, but I don't plan to.
Although I began assessing those first two points, the what and the who of my blog, and more or less approximated these positions on them the last time I decided to revive/revamp/refocus my blog, I don't think I really gave the third question its due: the Why. I'll probably expand upon the above considerations in a later post, but I think this why needs attending.

I suppose that at some point, I should reckon what the "Palmerpink Brand" represents, but whatever it stands for and however it gets expressed, I need to commit to it mattering. That will, I suspect, speak to the why of my blogging.

I need to decide that, to at least some degree, my voice matters. I may not become some crazy-important influencer, and frankly, I don't want that anyway. I just need to decide that, for what its worth, I have something to say and want to keep saying it—and that my voice is worth something.

I'm not sure that this commitment will change everything—that it'll focus my message and efforts and goals, transform me into a regular even daily blogger, and suddenly bring in oodles of readers and followers. But I think it'll help me take things that little bit more seriously. Maybe.

I think the next steps are to do more research and some planning. Partly that's how I operate—bulleted lists and spreadsheets and all. So I'll do some research and contrive a tiered/staged list of how much I want to do and when/in what order depending on how far I want to go. In and around that, I should probably do more reflections and work through these questions and others regarding purpose, content, audience, and so forth.

Image by William Iven from Pixabay.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Pondering anew.

As I mentioned in my other post, the one about "Simon's Love Life," as we're calling it, that I'd made some progress on "Ponder." The poor thing has been so neglected, but I do still care for it. It's just ... it's a difficult story, it seems. So much world building, plus having to balance several things at once. Developing multiple characters. All that world building (again). It's a lot for a new writer, I've rationalized, so hitting those snags isn't all that surprising.

But the two little breakthroughs. Neither is entirely paradigm shifting, but in their way, each has helped me progress a little on the difficulties that held me up. Also, I can't remember how much I've shared about the story (apparently not much because "Ponder" wasn't even a tag I'd used on a blog post here before), so this may all be totally unclear. But I'll just proceed to share anyway because I'm too lazy to look it up!

First, one of the points of "tension" (assuming I really go that direction—having, you know, tension in the story) is that they're waiting for a resupply to get them through the next month. But it's never going to come. They talk about what they need all the time (or at least several times), but it isn't going to come. So this is the minor "causal black hole," but it's a really important one given it's what dooms them and seals the story's unhappy ending.

Basically, the problem was: Why didn't the resupply come with the ponderswap? What I came up with was that the ponder returning to Earth takes a list of all the supplies they need, then in 2-3 weeks, the resupply comes, and all is marvelous. The breakthrough was realizing the timeline: The ponder returns to Earth after it's been destroyed, so no resupply can be mounted because it's gone. Duh.

This doesn't change much, I suppose; it was just realizing something basic about the world I'd been building that was already built in. But it affects how I approach this problem and plan and execute in the course of the story, so that's a big deal.

The second thing is a bit trickier. In the original plannings, I was going to have someone remark that they pitied Oscar's wife for having to put up with an asshole like him; I can't remember exactly how I planned it in my notes, but he was basically going to smile knowingly and say something evasive. Later, when they're all watching the world getting destroyed, he was going to fall to his knees and sob "My husband...", thus revealing his gayness. I think the idea was—whether I quite realized it or not—to conflate the reader's recognition of his personal tragedy and loss with the discovery that he's actually gay and that the surprise of the latter would combine with the sympathy of the former to synergistically create a stronger response in the reader...? Maybe?

There are a couple of problems with this, and I wasn't entirely comfortable with any of them. Roughly 2.5ish, to be precise.

  1. One is an ethical sort of problem(s) that my boyfriend Anthony introduced me to. That is, I hadn't heard of it/them until he mentioned them, not that he caused them in our relationship. (Important distinction!)
    1. Queerbaiting: I'm not entirely sure this would have qualified as queerbaiting, but as I reflected on it the other day, it felt uncomfortably close to it. And I didn't like that. Usually, it involves a homo relationship that's implied but not depicted. Oscar's relationship with his husband isn't directly in the story and it isn't, really, hinted at either, but it seemed similarly dishonest anyway. Also, using gayness as a gotcha? Hm...
    2. Fridging: Also not entirely sure this counts, but it was uncomfortably close. With fridging, a character (usually a woman) is killed, and her death isn't sad in itself—as the tragic end of a whole, valuable human being's life—but as a means to progress the story/motivations of the main character (usually a man). What felt uncomfortably close was that Oscar's husband was basically gonna get name dropped as he was getting killed just to advance Oscar's personal tragedy. Their relationship would have no other impact on or development within the story.
  2. The other problem is that I'm not entirely sure keeping his husband a secret is in character for Oscar. While, yes, he's a consummate asshole and troll, I'm not sure a) that, in that future time when things are (hopefully) more open, he'd have the motivation to hide it and b) that, troll that he is, Oscar would want to be coy, even to fuck with everyone.
I'm still not sure to what extent his marriage will be developed in the story, if at all, but in reflecting on those problems, I happened to figure out a better, more honest and ethical way of "using" Oscar's husband for the purposes of the story. First of all, no more "Gotcha!"; that should go without saying, I think. Second of all, rather than off handedly or simply conveying his tragedy, his bringing up his husband could bring home the overall tragedy of the story—everyone's tragedy—that everything and everyone they've loved have been gone and dead for a month—in one simple gesture:

"Oscar! Calm the fuck down!"
"I will not calm down—my husband is down there!"
"...was down there," Kimberly corrected quietly. "Was."

I think this is better? At several/a couple points during the story, Kimberly has reminded the other characters that, although the ponder is broadcasting in "real time," it's a month behind the actual events, and she's done so in exactly this way—simply correcting their tenses. But this time, it introduces the major causal black hole: That everything they've been doing and discussing over the course of the story has no meaning because humanity and their home have been been callously erased from the universe.

Anyway, I'm not sure when I'll get back to "Ponder." I still find it kind of intimidating, frankly, and I'm really focused on "Simon," so it may be a while yet. Still, I'm pretty happy with these bits of progress.

Some promise and its problems.

So it's been a while, hasn't it? I hit some major snags with developing "Ponder," so I set it aside . . . And kind of didn't go back to it? Oops.

Well, I made some progress there, actually, but what got me back in the game was a new story that's totally different. As it happens. So we'll get back to "Ponder" in another post.

Before I get ahead of myself, though, I want to make a shout out to my boyfriend, Anthony. I'd proposed doing a thing: Every Sunday, we'd go to Starbucks or what have you and write. See, he's a writer, too. I wanted him to work on his novel(s), and I wanted me to work on my blogs. And eventually, he took me up on it! I honestly probably wouldn't have gotten back into writing without that, so thanks!

Anyway, the night before our second such write up, I was on the train thinking about a friend of mine. We'd talked a few times after a long break. On one occasion, she mentioned some health problems but didn't specify anything; on another, she mentioned seeing someone she was digging; and so on.
As I rode the train home after working a double at the restaurant, it occurred to me: What if she's dying?? Then it occurred to me: Why would she be dating someone if she were dying? Weird thoughts.

But then I wondered: What would it be like (newly) dating someone who was dying? And, further: What if he were really messed up? Like, Munchausen by proxy messed up, but maybe not quite that bad. Or at least different.

So I concocted a story concept from that: A parasitic type of guy dating a girl who's dying, but he's doing it for the attention and sympathy usually given to people caring for the ill or dying or whatever. I've decided to call it, at least for now, "Simon's Love Life" because his love life is obviously fucked up. And his name is Simon.

So anyway, I threw together some notes on the train—interspersings of snippets and thoughts and so forth. When Anthony and I met up the next day, I then divvied them up into a SNIPPETS doc and a NOTES doc and then supplemented those with an OUTLINE doc. You probably don't care about my so-called method, but given this is, practically speaking, my first short story, any way forward has been a big deal for me. So I care!

Anyway, I got a little stuck from there. I needed something to happen, as often is the case in stories, but I wasn't sure what. The guy couldn't just dither on creepily for 10 pages then end. I mean, of course he could, but I wanted something more. Then it dawned on me.

What if she kicks him out of the hospital room when she's actually about to die? But—then!—what if he creeps on the parents after she's gone? Couldn't get what he wanted from her, but what about her grieving parents?

So the whole story needs to build to that, I've decided. That said, actually getting it to do that is the tough part. Remember, I'm pretty new and clumsy with this. But yeah. Progress!

I've now finished a (very) rough draft, and I hate it. But I'm told that's kind of how it goes. The most persistent problem in my mind is, of course, the roughhewn storytelling itself. But also, Simon isn't really creepy. He's more sappy, repetitive, monovocal, and maybe just annoying. Furthermore, and this is separate from the narrative structure/activity per se, there is a lot of awkwardness, and it's frustrating; I couldn't quite pull off some of what I wanted, and I don't think it's something that tweaks and light revision will change.
Here's what I've done so far and what I plan to do:

  • I ended up writing out each of the snippets—each of the scenes, really—and now just have to paste them in the order of the outline.
  • I think the next step will be to read through and draw up a new outline; the current one has prospective sketches of the intended purpose or purposes for each scene, but they're rough and ill defined and I'm not sure I fulfilled them, which is fine. It was a rough outline for a rough draft of a rough story by a rough writer. (Can't always be perfect!) Anyway, after I've read through and seen what's what, I'll have a (hopefully) clearer idea what needs to happen in each scene—what each scene contributes and what justifies it in the story—and put that into the new outline. This should help tighten up the storytelling.
  • Somewhere in there, before, or after, I need to brainstorm more on what makes Simon so . . . messed up. But also—how he functions. How he creeps. Because I think what leaves me unsatisfied with his character is that he's not entirely defined and, as a result, it's hard to write him well—to write a character study like this at all—without a better understanding of who he is and how he does.
  • One thing I'm both curious about and simultaneously not looking forward to is changing the narrative perspective. Right now, it's all in first person, but I think it needs to be third. Part of the awkwardness in conveying Simon is that I can't show what he's doing in the right light. That is, his perspective is obviously biased, so it's hard to reflect the (creepy) reality of his actions. That said, we'd lose a couple of things. 
    • For one, direct access to his (hopefully creepy) thoughts and such. Perhaps I can restore some of that, and hopefully, enough of that, with hard work and my beloved free indirect discourse. Subtler and tougher, but also often, I've found, more satisfying? 
    • The other thing we lose is perhaps just a tired trope in the first place: Because he's obsessed with her as an idea rather than seeing her as a person, I hadn't named her in the story. I think that only really works (if at all) in a first person approach because he's preoccupied; it'd probably be awkward and narratively dishonest to try that in the third person. The third person narrator isn't preoccupied like Simon, even if we're dabbling in free indirect discourse.

It's funny. Anthony commented that I had an advantage because I'm an editor so I'd come at writing as an editor or what have you. That only a quarter of writing is really writing; the rest is editing. At the time I pointed out how, historically, it's been a much a hang up as anything—overmeticulousness and perfection can block the writing process. But maybe he's kind of right: It seems like I am maybe coming at this with a more editorial eye for structure and process. Or maybe it's normal, and this is how writing is supposed to look. Who knows—I sure don't!

Anyway, I'll post more about my thoughts and progress later; this seems like as good enough a place to cut myself off as any.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Some tips, maybe.

So I've been building out my social media empire, and included in that is my Google+, which some people do actually use. Imagine that!

Anyway, today I encountered a list of tips to get writing going, i.e., get motivated, and I figured it was worth including here, regardless of how trite they may seem in the long run. Never hurts to reflect on some tips and how I might incorporate them, yeah?

Location is a big suggestion, not just because (based on some comments) it sounds like it has a significant effect, but also because I've not idea how I'd really incorporate it. My life doesn't give me a lot of location-changing options. I work and I go home, and I struggle to find/make time for even my chores, nevermind going out to write. Hm.

That being said, it could include just being at work, maybe? It is familiar, yeah, but it's also different from home. I can also change locations when at work--go down to the little "cafe" downstairs and write on my phone or some such.

There's also the Panera down the street. I could go on weekends for an hour or two and do as much as I can. Def a location change.

There's also time; this blogger suggests making time whenever possible, even just 10 minutes at a time, to squeeze in some writing. That's perhaps doable for me. If I actually took my hour lunches, I could spend 10 minutes eating, 20 minutes journaling, and 30 minutes writing. That'd be something.

What's also interesting about these tips is how against habit they are. I've heard other writers heartily endorse "writing like it's your job;" setting a specific place, span of time, and time of day to instill a writerly mindset. "This is writing time," kind of thing.

I'm not exactly surprised to hear a differing point of view, but it is a bit confusing. What do I do? Make habits or break them? Hm. I suppose different things work for different writers, which I guess also isn't too surprising.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Well, that's a rude title, really. It's not exactly about fucking per se. But I wrote a poem a couple of weeks ago and figured I'd post it. Note my attempts at my favorite meter, catalectic trochaic tetrameter.

Here's the original--more or less as I threw it at my phone:

One two, one two, and through and through
And through the night went we;
Passion met with passion felt,
And through the night went we.
Months we went with calm words shared
--But uncertain of intent.
At last! At last! Silence broke,
And the matter was announced.
(Embracing now, fingers laced,
Warp and woof entwined as one,
Bodies pressed and hard need known.)
We let it out, let feeling free,
And so through the night went we.

I wanted to preface it, if I had posted it, with "Sorry, Petrarch; sorry, Lewis Carroll; hello, Whitman." The latter two for the references to each of them, the first because I miscounted the number of lines and thought this was sonnet length.

Struck by that, and realizing it wasn't quite long enough, I decided to try rewriting it as a proper sonnet. I added a line I still hate ("Eyes both locked, sublimest depth"), and reorganized others to effect something like a rhyme scheme (a change toward rhyming is really only evident in the second quatrain, with it's ABBA). Don't love it, don't hate it, but here's the start of that attempt at revision:

One two, one two, through and through
Through and through the night went we;
Passion met with passion felt,
And through the night went we.
Months went we with calm words shared
--Though uncertain of intent.
At last! At last! Silence bent:
Bald/our desires were declared.
(Embracing now, fingers laced,
Eyes both locked, sublimest depth;
Warp and woof entwined as one,
Bodies pressed and hard need known.)
We let it out, let feeling free,
So through the night go we.

I may return to this and revise it, either into a sonnet or not, at some later time, but figured I'd post what I had for now.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


I was reading Ray Bradbury's introduction to that collection of 100 of his stories, and he said something very interesting about storywriting: "Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down."

This bold approach is so different from how I currently approach storywriting. I'm so tentative, it feels; so self-conscious. I don't have confidence that I know how or will be able to build my own wings, and that's definitely held me back--both in the past and in present ventures. And not just with storywriting, or even poetrywriting; but in life as well. But that's perhaps an observation best reserved for my other blog...

I do want to be a writer; the urge and, if I can be so brazen, the talent are there. I just lack confidence in my abilities, and I'm not entirely sure--other than by brute force and success--how I'll find it.

But I need to if I'm going to live that dream of being a writer, a real writer, and not shy away from it forever, never finding fulfilment in that not insignificant domain of my existence.

I also need, of course, to make more time for my writing (and my blogging...). But, then, time management has never come easily to me. I'd like to, and have even perhaps begun to, believe I'm making progress there. It's coming slowly, maybe, so it's hard to see at times. But I have made time for "Ponder," or whatever I'm calling it, if haltingly and in large leaps.

Although Bradbury seems to dismiss scheduling writing time, that seems to be what most writers suggest and is certainly worth trying. But when? Hm hm.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ponder, or so it's called.

So I've been working on a short story, and it's going a bit roughly. For now I'm calling it "Ponder," short for "transponder" as one such thing is indirectly the guiding force of the action. Although, now that I think about it, I might be thinking of the wrong word. Well, joy.

Meanwhile, it's sci-fi, which seems to be what I'm drawn to these days (some three of five stories I'd like to write are all sci-fi). It's also a bit of an exercise in nihilism, and I love that about it. How dark and hopeless can I make this?

I like the main character, Kimberly, even if I haven't fleshed her out completely. She'll be narrating things (more) as soon as I get things on track. More on that later. I love/hate the other main character, Oscar, who's basically a cynical philosopher-jerk. Can't say I'm too upset about that per se, but he feels almost too easy to write at times, and I'm not sure where I'm going with him. He feels prop-ish, at times.

The biggest problem I have is it's all dialogue so far. I've veered perhaps too far into "show don't tell," and "shown" everything rather than narrate any of it. Not in itself bad, I guess, but I'm not sure what to do with that. Is this normal for the writing process of a short story? The dialogue just keeps flowing out of me, and I don't know how to break it up without feeling like I'm breaking it.

Oh, right; worth mentioning that this is basically my first real attempt at writing a short story. At least, I think it is. It sure feels it--raw and unguided. Adrift. Lost. Unsure.

I feel compelled to work on it, sort of, all the same, though. I'm not sure where to go, so I'm doing my best, but at times I feel defeated or too uncertain before I even start. I know I should just push on, see what comes out, and work with what I have once I have it,'s difficult.

Oh well, more to come.