"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

18 October 2011

Writing for More Than Myself

As if completing a first draft of a novel weren't accomplishment enough (or proof enough of my insanity), I have decided to once again participate in National Novel Writing Month.
For those unaware, the probability of my having a first draft without NaNo is... well, zero. Thus, as it's the primary reason for my current ability to tell people, "Yeah, I'm an anti-social mope who spends more time with books and writing implements than other human beings. Well, I've written a novel. What have you done lately?" I've decided this year shouldn't just be about me attempting to scribble another sequel to my ever-expanding series of novels. This year requires a little 'thank you' to the amazing construct that is NaNoWriMo... and maybe a little pat on the back for me.
Ergo, my 2011 NaNoWriMo Sponsorship / Thank-You / Encouragement Program

Here's the scoop:
Me - Five-time NaNoWriMo participant, three-time winner. First draft completed October 2011, with submission attempts by January 2012. Dedicated this year not only to writing another novel, but encouraging/supporting/mentoring a handful of participants. In need of caffeine and writing accouterments.

NaNoWriMo - Non-profit organization started online in 2000, which challenges participants to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Supportive, worldwide community which encourages writers to do what many say they want and few accomplish: write a novel. Also created a Young Writer's Program for students and classes, Script Frenzy (like NaNo, but with scripts), and the new Camp NaNoWriMo.

You - A citizen of the world who wants to support writers, creative types, non-profits, bloggers, arts education programs, and/or show some love for me.

How to Help:
Sponsor my writing efforts by donating to NaNoWriMo at this link. It's tax deductible and the money goes to help NaNoWriMo and their Young Writers' Program (it's for the kids!)

If you don't want a tax write-off, or to help kids (or have already done such and just want to encourage me), you can gift me one of these items to help get me through my fifth year of spending the month of November eschewing all social activity that does not involve writing in order to (hopefully) draft another book.
NaNo Survival Wishlist (leave a comment with your email/site for shipping deets):
Schuil Coffee Full Moon Mocha (auto drip)
Chateau Blanc White Tea
Gift Card to Espresso Profeta
Republic of Tea Wild Blueberry Black Tea
Ashby's Cinnamon Plum Tea

Now is probably the moment where you ponder: What do I get out of this?
Well, I'm a poor person (starving artist and all that), however there are some things I can give you as appreciation for your support. I've even tiered it for people who want to feel special by donating more.
All donations. Even a dollar. Really.
- Timely thank you for your donation on Twitter & facebook.
- End of November email report to wrap-up the successes of the month, as well as that of those I'm mentoring (for those desire it)
- NaNo Wrap-up blog post shout-out

$20 - $40
- All the above
- Dedicated blog entry during November on you and your awesome support (with pimping of personal site / work / project / etc.)

$41 - $99
- All the above
- A handmade thank-you gift of your choosing from the following: necklace, bracelet, key chain, hand-printed set of notecards/envelopes

- All of the above
- Specialized thank you in vlog post come December. There may be a song. We'll see.
- When published (which it will be, either through self-publishing or other means), a signed copy of Novel the First with personalized message

Donate now!

13 October 2011

I Wrote a Book!

I wrote a book! I wrote a book!
Take a good, hard look -- I wrote a motherfucking book!

No, really. I did.


It took about three years to get a draft in a place where I felt it could be viewed by others for eventual submission to agents. A little over my original nine month plan, but hey, I'd never written a book before. I was young and optimistic.
Still, for anyone out there struggling with a creative project, completion negates any whining about how log it takes to get there. Stay the course (or "Stay on target."). Distractions will always arise. Life will always be complicated and seem to block you at times (or oftentimes). However, if you work your ass off and try... really, really try, you can do it.
Don't listen to Yoda. There is a wasteland of try on the way to 'do,' and that journey makes it all the more worth the satisfaction when you reach what you're trying for -- I can now say this from experience. Like a boss.

Now to scan through the very drafty sequels to prep for NaNo. And start looking for agents.

Perhaps also take my own advice and have a look at the screenplay baby I've neglected for far too long.

I wrote a book.

06 October 2011

American Horror Story: Needs More Crybation?

Courtesy of Urban Dictionary, for those unaware...
Crybate: Simultaneously crying and masturbating; the most pathetic act a human being can engage in alone.

Like millions of other seemingly ordinary individuals, I engaged in the horror mash-up that was last night's premiere of American Horror Story. The show has balls, coming out of the gate with a slew of disturbing imagery, homages to classic horror, Dylan McDermott crybating while being watched by a creeper standing amongst his family's drying sheets, and the most incoherent, jumbled assembly of timeline and plot ever created for a pilot series.
The show already has numerous reviews addressing the WTF-ery of its existence, as well as some top ten lists associated with the insanity vomited out of Ryan Murphy's GLEE-addled brain. My assessment runs more along the lines of: if this is an "American Horror Story," what makes it such... and does it work?

Ignoring generalizing and/or subjective queries such as: Is it scary? Are the ghosts real? Is anyone real? The biggest question about whether this show lives up to its title is this: What makes a horror story American?
Without getting all near-two-decades of watching, researching and writing about horror on y'all (because that would get far too intellectual for something as ridiculous as this series' pilot), it basically boils down to the following:
American horror wants to shock you. How it goes about achieving this varies depending on the desired shock level, where it hits you psychologically, and the style of its crafter. In this sense, American Horror Story wins in its first episode, if a string of mental WTFs can be considered shocking.
American horror is fascinated with disturbed individuals and their penchant for killing people, often in gruesome ways, with lingering effects. This show has disturbed people all right, and there's already hints and statements that some have already killed.
We like sex in our horror. It's not uncommon for American horror films to contain as much sexual content as violence, or at least the undertones of it. Europeans tend to be more subtle in their portrayal of sexuality as it relates to horror. It's almost non-existent in Japanese horror. Not us, we come out balls-blazing, coupling acts of gore in tandem with college orgies. From McDermott's luscious booty, to the (Ghost?)Gimp sex scene, to the hilarious (if you're me or anyone who works in my office) crybation scene, this series is no exception. In fact, if allowed by the censors, it could take torture-porn to a new level: porn-torture... like elevated crybation.
Many other themes in horror are embraced by the show: isolation, struggling against our desires in a heightened situation, history resurfacing to (possibly literally) bite us in the ass, and a questioning of what reality truly is. These are general constructs of most horror, not necessarily American.

So, the show hits most of the themes set forth in hundreds of years of American horror, along with more than a dash of general horror conventions. Does it work, though?
It could be a bit too soon to tell, but thus far... not entirely. The issue, I think, is that it's combining too many established constructs, coupled with homages, coupled with an incoherent plot and timeline. While it's shocking, disturbing, and full of weirdness (supernatural and otherwise), it fails to provide the audience with an answer to one of the most important questions in successful horror: What makes this horrific, and why tell us this story?
It has a chance to reveal this to us, but as of right now I'm doubtful it can accomplish this given its explicit bombardment of freakshow moments in the very first episode. That type of insanity cannot be maintained and retain the necessary creep-out factor to keep people engaged. yet you need to pull away a bit to provide some actual, coherent storytelling. Backing away from the crazy too soon, though, could expose perhaps the greatest flaw (so far) in this scenario: If all this insanity is happening within weeks(days? hours? who the hell knows right now...) of moving into their new home -- why are these people staying there and why should we care?

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