Writing

My own serious stuff; the craft itself; those who inspire me in it; the art of reading.

Under Oasine: Chapter Two Synopsis

2010.05.16
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NO ONE WAS MORE SURPRISED than I to have finished the second chapter of my novel[1], nor when the characters hijacked the plot (at about the 0.23 mark. Stephen King said that was going to happen eventually). Thus, in all its synoptic glory[2]:

In our previous chapter, our three heroes (one reluctant), in their quaint craft the Deeper, tumbled deep into the oasis of Fint to surface only the Hydrator knows where. Are they lost, or is their hometown, or…?

After a brief discussion, Twiz and Ij take the Deeper’s small-boat (and a variety of weapons) for a closer look at their new surroundings while Hapler putters with the quaint craft’s gomaker: a complex assembly of pith and vegetative muscle, now damaged from the Deeper’s tumble.

Twiz and Ij soon discover that, wherever they are, at least they won’t starve. Fish are plentiful within the oasis lagoon, and fruit from its overhanging palm trees; but these are as unfamiliar to the explorers as the songs of afternoon insects. Ij is so taken by a clump of flowers that he doesn’t notice the beast until it leaps on him. A quick struggle, some deft spear-work by Twiz, and the sharp spindly thing lies dead.

Meanwhile, Hapler has troubleshot the damage and is heartened to see that it’s minimal. He is about to effect repairs when a banging on the hull draws his attention: Twiz, with the delirious form of Ij. The two lash their stricken companion into his hammock, then medicate him into sleep.

After a fitful dinner, Twiz and Hapler divide the night between them. Nothing happens during Twiz’ watch (beyond some intense apprehension and self-castigation); Hapler is just beginning to enjoy the strange insect-song when he notices a ring of eyes all around the Deeper. The eyes belong to slender grey-green figures — about a dozen of them — who swarm over the craft and subdue its astonished occupants.

Tune in next time (say, another 5,000 words) for the next thrilling chapter of Under Oasine!

[1] “My novel” (I love saying that; insert Peewee Herman giggle) is called “Under Oasine.” It’s set in an otherwise desert world, and everything I blog about it is tagged, well, http://metaphorager.net/tag/under-oasine/.

[2] Sorry, that’s all you get ’til the whole thing is done. (See http://metaphorager.net/under-oasine-synopsis1/, second paragraph.)

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Pithyism #5

2010.05.06
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ART: MANIFESTED HUMAN INTENTION.

(Sparked by one of those endless arguments over the meaning of “art,” this definition should cover everything from Andy Goldsworthy and the Long Now people to the cup of coffee you made this morning — and the tune you hummed while making it.)

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Under Oasine: First Chapter Synopsis

2010.04.29
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AS NOTED EARLIER, THIS BLOG will feature periodic updates on my new Work In Progress, Under Oasine: the adventures of Twiz, Ij, Hapler, and the author as they pursue a desperate quest to save their world.

(I want to bang out a first draft of the entire novel on the thousand-words-a-day plan before I polish (and post) the first two chapters, while (partly to motivate myself, and partly to come down off the inCREDible buzz one gets from making up and banging out a thousand words a day) posting occasional synopses.)

Thus: With 4,000 of an estimated 50-70,000 words in the bag, our heroes have reached the end of the first chapter, wherein we are briefly introduced to the world of Oasine and its inhabitants. The planet is one big desert from pole to pole, orbiting a big red star; life evolved late in its history, and only around scattered oases of various sizes. Some are connected by caravans, but in the oasis of Fint one man wants to prove they’re also connected by water.

Twiz Beelan and his best friend Ij have talked Hapler the podgrower into growing a mobile pod big enough for two, stocked with everything needed to withstand a two-day journey to the neighboring oasis — assuming that Twiz’s theory is more than just a crazy dream. The big day arrives, the Deeper is set for its maiden voyage, when disaster strikes! and the pod sinks into watery darkness!

Apparently stranded, the three work out a desperate plan. Soon they are heading surfaceward once more — but when they break water, Fint is nowhere to be seen.

Reaction: Novels are very, very different in process from short stories. My reporter training makes short stories a natural medium — clean, concise, pointed — but something as big as a novel? With multiple characters, viewpoints, subplots, etc.? It’s really hard, as all writing is hard, only more so.

But it’s also fun. I’m using the ol’ index-cards-for-every-chapter-character-and-setting method of organizing my notes and keeping track of new ideas. (Annie Lamott’s first draft advice from “Bird by Bird” is very helpful too.) This is also entirely different from the Prosatio Silban pieces in another way: this isn’t a world I’ve been working on since 1978 in my scrap time, but something which came to me idly drawing (now worries, no spoilers): “What if there’s a world called Oasine, populated only around its separate oases but linked by the water beneath them? And what happens if somebody goes under Oasine?”

And remember; Just because I’m writing it, doesn’t necessarily mean I know what’s going to happen next. I hope you enjoy finding out as much as I do.

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Thousand-Word Taskmaster

2010.04.18
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“FROM SPACE, OASINE WAS AN otherwise tan ball flecked and dotted with green – but none of its inhabitants had ever seen it.

“Few of them, in fact, had been outside their own birthplaces. These were oases of various shapes and sizes whose populations, separated by trackless desert, varied from savagery to the sophistication allowed by circumstance and caravan. In one of the latter, called Fint by its blithe and industrious residents, and on one of countless cloudless days, a crowd of gawkers, mockers and the curious gathered at Horolan’s Pier for the maiden voyage of the good ship Deeper.”

Thus begins Under Oasine, a science fantasy novel relating the adventures of three unlikely heroes (Twiz, Ij and Hapler) who discover that their world is a lot bigger than they had thought — and it (along with everyone on it) needs their help to survive.

I’m telling you this for two reasons: 1) partly to avoid through preemptive imprimature a repeat of the Matrix incident”, and 2) mostly to motivate myself (as with the Prosatio Silban stories) through risk of public humiliation should I flake.

Somerset Maugham once said: “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately nobody knows what they are.” Although a skilled news reporter, I know nothing about writing novels save what I could glean from Stephen King’s On Writing, Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method and Simon Haynes’ How To Write A Novel. There is great advice to be found in each of these, but after mumbling it about my own muse is telling me to chart what I want each chapter to do and where I want it to end, write a thousand words a day until I reach 45-50,000, then look for an agent and a movie deal.

Blogging a novel may be dicey for aspiring writers who want to sell their works: the idea is still catching on, and while it can raise a persuasive buzz some publshers may see “blog” as “previous publication.” My task here will be to navigate the narrow path between these two extremes — and entertain the hell out of whoever reads what results. To this end, I plan to post the first two chapters, with synopses according to clamour. Your task will be to tell me whether or not I’m successful.

Deal?

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Fanboy Fun Illustrated

2010.04.03
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OLD USENET HANDS WILL HAVE an easier time than others with this one, but:

1. Go to alt.fan.starwars.
2. Select the thread “A New Hope.”
3. Enjoy.

Yes, it’s “just” two guys typing the first Star Wars movie at each other, but remember: One man’s timesink is another man’s religious act.

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Stone Groove Friday

2010.04.02
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AFTER MUCH CONSIDERATION, I HAVE come to the conclusion that of all God‘s creations or man’s adjustments thereof I should most like to be a rock; not so small as to be skipped by errant boys nor so large as to make the blind stumble, smooth enough to sit on but too rough for graffitti, blended with the landscape yet not so much as to be entirely unknown, not so corporeal as to be uninteresting but solid enough to watch the world slide by for a few thousand millennia. Slow rock thoughts — bird chirps and rainsfall and mountain chains rising like silent supplicants — and under all of it, the constant whirling thrum of Earth’s viscous spin.

Let others become astronauts and firefighters, nurses and movie stars: I shall be a rock, simple and content, my inside like my outside, one with the passing stars and the clinging lichen. (After all, one needs someone to talk to.)

(Inspired by Rabbi Rami Shapiro‘s 4/2/10 Facebook post.)

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Wit Dealers

2010.03.11
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TERSE WORDSMITHS, ATTEND: WEIRD TALES, that neo-venerable publication whose pages were graced by the first fruits of H.P. Lovecraft and Tennessee Williams, is currently accepting submissions for One Minute Weird Tales, which they describe as “sharp little micro-stories of 20 to 150 words, presented in a quick sequence of brief one-screen chunks.” (See more at http://weirdtales.net/wordpress/contact/submission-guidelines/; AC, RS and DH, ferstehen?)

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Introducing: Prosatio Silban

2010.02.24
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THESE FABLES CONNECT A NEED to tell a particular story with a near-lifelong habit of worldbuilding. They are self-contained excerpts from a picaresque novel-in-progress titled Around the Rimless Sea: Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits, and though set as fantasies, the Prosatio Silban fables are intended for anyone seeking the Divine in a day job, so to speak. Because the “Land of Two Names” is a big world of spectacular landscapes and ancient ruins, teeming with vastly different and occasionally commingled cultures, religions, prophecies, species and cuisines, all created in my spare time since 1978 or so, those curious to explore it may benefit from the following helpful words. (Otherwise, please enjoy an appropriate anagram.)

= – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – = – =

Beyond the sunrise lies the Land of Exiles, where dreams come to die – or so say the coffeehouse wits of Soharis. But they are a professionally cynical lot, thus fervent in their presumptions.

Here, by the southern edge of the Rimless Sea, two abler-than-wise peoples anciently fought each other to land-cracking dust, leaving their now-primitive Xao descendants wandering the shattered plains and scorched forests with no greater legacy than a few artifacts, mutual blame, and the hope of future redemption.

This hope was handed across the generations through tales of Rimless Sea-borne saviors who would restore their Land of Exile to lush pristinery before conveniently withdrawing. Some Xao believed this, others pretended to, and those who did neither made plans of their own.

Thus, when the Children of Huua washed ashore in three great fleets filled with agricultural necessaries at the mouth of the Great Bloody River (as it was then known), the indigines greeted them with a mix of joy, surprise and consternation. The Huuans were fleeing their own self-made catastrophe and, according to the Flickering Gods and their High Sacreants, had finally reached the Land Beyond the Sunrise — and where to show themselves repentful and worthy of returning to their own homeland renewed.

Heedless of their role in the local mythology, the Huuans could comprehend neither the Xaos’ initial amazement nor eventual irritation as they proceeded to restore the land and build the Three Cities and Thousand Villages of the Huuan Commonwell. While the Xao grew more perplexed, the Commonwell ripened into that state of elegant decadence without which no civilzation can honestly be called interesting. Still, despite all that had happened or was expected in the Land of Two Names, some (Xao and Huuan alike) continued to believe in their ancestors’ prophecies; others pretended to; and those who did neither made plans of their own.

One did all three, often simultaneously and sometimes successfully. His name is Prosatio Silban – former Sacreant, mercenary cook, and subject of these fables.

Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com
Prosatio Silban in his galleywagon / Illo (c) 2008 Alana Dill, http://youbecomeart.com

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ORL Redux: Interview with Robert Anton Wilson

2010.02.02
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(AS A FOLO TO THE previous post, and at the urging of sinister forces who would prefer I remain nameless, I now present a reprint from the bygone Bulletin of Obscure Research, Far Corner (v1n5, c. 1991): an interview with the late Robert Anton Wilson, who wrote about everything Dan Brown does (and much, MUCH more) but did it first and funnier. He was and is a great influence on both my writing and my thought, and I hope his fans will be amused rather than disappointed by this previously Lost Interview (which is transcribed with errors intact rather than scanned, at least for now). And if you’re listening, Bob — thanks for the cartography lessons.)


THE FAR CORNER INTERVIEW: ROBERT ANTON WILSON

[picture taken from the inside back cover of The Illuminati Papers (1980 ed.)]

Every publication worth its salt must, from time to time, feature interviews with the Heavyweights of the Field. Unfortunately, most of the heavyweights of the fortean/weirdological field do not share the philosophy of the staff here at Obscure Research Labs; and hence, either do not return our polite inquiries or (more often) write us rude letters requesting money. Fortunately, there are exceptions to these stuffed shirts of pseudo-inllectua; and one of the most delightful is the dsitinguished Dr. Robert Anton Wilson.

Poet, scientist, author, guru, wise guy and internationally-known weirdo, Dr. Wilson scarcely needs an introduction to the readers of this publication. He is the author of several books on psychology, conspiracy theory, literary criticism, magick, history, epistemology, sexuality, ontology, fortean study…but is probably best known as either a) The co-author (with Robert Shea) of the Illuminatus! trilogy, b) a frequent contributor to such magazines as Magical Blend and Gnosis, or c) the Inner Head of the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria, Inc. When we interviewed him, the Good Doctor had been under pressure due to book deadlines and lecture dates; but despite a severe case of eyestrain he graciously allowed us to pester him.

FC: Many publications have interviewed you, and yet it seems that none have asked you what we feel to be some Burning Personal Questions. I realize that you are a busy man, but we’d like to ask you: what did you want to be when you grew up?

RAW: The emir of Kuwait.

FC: Okay. what makes you happy?

RAW: Lotsa bucks.

FC: Is there any truth to the persistent rumour that Illuminatus! will be made into a movie?

RAW: There have been stage productions of Illuminatus! both here and abroad but although it has been optioned for films several times nothing has come of that as yet.

FC: When the Schrodinger’s Cat trilogy was issued in one volume (New York; Dell, 1988) we could not help but notice certain shall we say alterations or differences from the 1979 edition. Could you comment on this?

RAW: Three men in black visited me with editorial suggestions. Glimpsing their tentacles I felt it wise to obey.

FC: Turning back to the personal stuff: What is your favorite food? And do you have any recipes to share with our readers?

RAW: Anything full of cholesterol and sugar which is expensive and accompanied by raw oysters and vodka martinis. Recipes I leave to experts.

FC: Before we leave, are there any Words of wisdom for the aspiring fortean?

RAW: Smash those paradigms and keep the lasagna flying!

We’d like to thank Dr. Wilson for his patience; we’d also like to thank his wife, Arlen, for her help. Incidentally, among other things the Good Doctor is currently publishing Trajectories, an ongoing journal of ideas and opinions. It’s $6 from the Permanent Press, PO Box 700305, San Jose, CA 95170.


More metaphoragings RAW and ORL: http://metaphorager.net/tag/robert-anton-wilson/ and http://metaphorager.net/tag/obscure-research-labs/.

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Pithyism #2

2009.11.15
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THE REASON WE NEED each other is that life rarely contains enough different viewpoints to even begin understanding Life.

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Awe and Inquiry

2009.11.04
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He looked up. “What are you sketching?”

She held out a pad, on which was written:

AWE AND INQUIRY

God is good.

God is.

God.

.

He frowned. “What’s the point?”

She grinned. “Exactly.”

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For Franz Kafka

2009.09.10
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The old woman sat, softly singing, on a blue wooden chair in the middle of the vast cobbled square, rippling a carpet of birds with each cast of her hand.

Tall jagged buildings loomed on all four sides around her — blocky and black-windowed, granite-yellow in the light of the dying sun, their shadows not quite lengthened to cover her frail red-shawled form. The air was cold and redd’d her cheeks as the birds fought for dried corn and cracker crumbs.

A tall man strode toward her — dark blue and broadshouldered, a cap visor shading all but a dour mouth.

“Leave.”

“Why?”

She rolled with the blow which sent her sprawling.

“Now.”

“No.”

Fluttering clucks roared the birds swept round and round him. He raised his arms, alarmed; they were wings and he dwindled, his voice a querulous chirp among hundreds.

She felt herself, sighed, and satisfied, arose. She shifted her shawl and sat, singing softly and scattering seeds.

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