Dive In Like You’ve Never Been

11 July 2012, Wednesday

I never thought a rich imagination mixed with adaptability could be a burden.

Adaptability? That’s supposed to propel you forward, unfazed by the challenges thrown at you. You adapt, you keep moving.

A rich imagination is what you need to access every point of the world, things beyond reality. It opens your boundaries – you are unstoppable. And if you’re not stopped, you keep moving.

But mixed, I find myself content with dreaming. This beautiful notion I have will never be reality, so I can wallow in it at my leisure, and that’s enough. Stagnancy. I’ll adapt to the absence of my creation, my thoughts in physical space.

But I can’t, because I’m now consciously aware of this habit, and so can deal with it head on. I do not want to be content with dreaming. If I were the last person alive on Earth, that’s something I could do, but there are people and interactions all around me for some kind of reason – I may as well take what I’ve encountered and do something with it, right? You don’t just leave pennies on the ground. Well, I do, so that’s not the best metaphor for me, but maybe it helped you to understand my thoughts, and that’s why I’m writing. Right?

* * *

1. This afternoon, I was walking along the ocean and dreaming about how I’d love to grow up and move into a house close to the ocean, to live in a coastal city, to scuba dive for the first time. I wondered – wait, will I get just a snorkel, or will I get enough oxygen to dive below the surface and see the fish and try to touch the fish, and I let myself drift away in the possibility.

2. This afternoon, I was walking along Lake Michigan and I heard the bell on the ice cream cart before I saw it. The man was pushing the cart down the same side of the path that I was walking on, so I tried to move into the middle of the pathway, but he pulled off into the grass. Then, on the opposite side, a young boy started running out from between the trees, away from adults sitting in lawn chairs that curled around their center point. The ice cream man and I saw him at the same time, but only the ice cream man got to stop, wait for the boy to run to his relatives by the shore, back to the relatives by the trees, and finally back to the cart to pick the ice cream I’m sure he picked even though I didn’t get to watch, because I had to keep moving and not look back.

Both stories are true.

Which is truer?

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Traces

26 February 2012, Sunday

But the moment the thief touched the wires together, the safe lurched away from her and stood up. She was shocked off her feet and hit the marble floor hard.
The first noise the safe made was a loud, screeching “DEEEEEEE” that sounded like the mangling of scrap metal. And in an instant, the yellow eye lights of the safe – orbs that curved out of the front of its face – were directly in front of the thief, peering right at her. And was that flicker a blink?
“Who are you?” came a voice out of nowhere. There was no mouth on the safe, just a smooth silver curve at the front of his head. And the voice that emerged was delicate and feminine. It seemed to flutter in the dead air of the safe room for a moment after the words were pronounced. It made the thief look toward the solitary window. The dark maroon curtains were still.
A silence as the safe waited for a response. Then: “You are unauthorized. Move away immediately.” The thief looked up at the safe and smiled. This was what Dr. Malcom used to protect his highest treasure? This was the booby trap that was so enigmatic in rumors floating down through the offices of Malcom Industries that even Roge couldn’t validate them?
“I will shoot you if you do not immediately retreat.”
The two wires still hung from underneath a curled up piece of metal on the side of the machine, where the thief had left them after attempting to break through. One was red and one was black, but they no longer touched. What would have happened if she’d kept them together?
The safe lifted an arm, tilted his wrist back, and three small openings were revealed in the palm of his hand. A moment. Then: the thief could hear the clicking of an empty chamber. She thought fast.
“Can you understand me?” Immediately she felt silly for trying to talk to a hunk of metal, but told herself it was a mistake anyone would make.
“Yes,” said the ethereal voice.
“Okay. Well. What’s inside you?”
“I don’t know. What’s inside you?”
Of course. Why would it know? It was probably programmed ignorance to keep its charge safe.
“What are you then?”
“I am HABAN.” said the safe. “I am a safe.”
Haban? The thief had never heard of that model. She pulled the wire cutters out from her sling pack. She needed to bring this back home, needed more time to crack it. Luckily, security still seemed oblivious, but she couldn’t stay here underneath these vaulted ceilings for long.
“Haban, you’re coming with me.”
“You are unauthorized.”
“Well, you can’t shoot me, can you?”
“No.” The safe’s wrist folded back down and his arm dropped to his side. “But you are–”
“Come on. I’ll take care of you,” said the thief. She grinned to one side of her face, but the safe didn’t realize quite what she meant by her words. It clunked along behind her, leaving only echos to Malcom Industries.


Lissy came back out of the bedroom with her long paper cracking in the air behind her. She stopped at the counter to drink some orange juice, then held the paper up to show Haban.
“See? This one’s me.” The front side of the paper showed a figure outlined in purple, just about Lissy’s size. She’d spent a lot of time on her straight brown hair, but her jeans and shirt were quickly colored in.
She flipped the paper to the white side and laid it out on the floor.
“Now what?” asked Haban.
“Now you have to lay down on it,” said Lissy. “Like this.” She flopped down onto the sheet, leaving wrinkles where she pushed with her hands and knees. Haban lay on his back as he was instructed and fixed his eyes on Lissy. She took the permanent marker from in front of the television and started tracing. Sometimes the marker squealed against the glossy surface of the paper. Other times it seemed as if the entire room had gone silent and the only thing that existed was the motion of a little girl’s arm, the fallen curtain rod, and the seven yellowing front pages hung on the wall.
As Lissy rounded the curve on the left side of Haban’s jaw, something changed. He jerked once and the glare from his eyes made Lissy look away, lift the marker from the paper.
“No! No!” cried Haban. He grabbed her wrist. It was cold and too smooth around her. Lissy was sure that if she pulled even the slightest bit, she’d slip right out.
“Don’t stop. Trace there again.” The light made the edges of her eyes hurt, but she turned back anyway to describe that same curve of Haban.

Something was inside of him – like a mouse huddled between the wires he could feel coursing with electricity. There was a flash of the face of a man. He had hair: white, cut, neat. The same beneath his nose. His eyebrows were full and spilling out over his eyelashes. He had wrinkles around his mouth. Then a tugging feeling. It was like a pulse of electricity, but somehow uncontained. No wire jailed it. And the image of a back of a hand. Rough. Splotched with brown mounds. Next, a little smooth hand made contact with the bumps.
The tugging was there again. And a sense of repetition? Like he should have known those hands somehow even though he’d only known up close the hands of Lissy and the thief. He could hear her, very distant now, in the other room typing quickly, her hands with their backs to the ceiling. Lissy’s hands were there, very close.
The man again. Smile. White teeth in a long row, brighter than the hair on his face. His eyes – his eyes – his eyes – Haban could not get over human eyes – the white, the color, the void in the middle, and all around wrinkles, little folds. Something inside the eyes, shining, and repetitive – something that happened before…

“Haban, are you okay?” All of a sudden, all the lights in Haban’s eyes had gone off except for a single filament in the very back-center of the bulb. Lissy stopped tracing. She put her palm on Haban’s chest cavity and the metal felt warm.
“Mommy!” she called. The thief didn’t answer. Lissy said,
“Shh, Haban, it will be okay,” and cradled his head-metal with her other hand, dropping the marker to the paper. There was a deep, dark curve of marker, bleeding out into the paper where Lissy had drawn over and over. The lights returned. Haban said in his floating voice,
“I think I know someone.” He sat up on the paper. There was still a gap in the outline near his left shoulder, but he got onto his feet anyway. Lissy stood with him.
“Do you need a drink? Do you need to lay down?” she asked him. She wondered if her mom would make chicken noodle soup for Haban if he were sick.
“No,” said Haban. “Is there something like a mother but that is a man?”
The typing in the other room stopped. The children could hear the thief’s computer chair wheels rolling over the wooden floor. She looked out the door.
“Don’t ask her that,” said the thief.
“No, Haban, there’s nothing like a mother that’s a man,” said Lissy. “Otherwise he would be here.” She smiled and pushed the hair back from her face, her little fingers getting caught on the skin of her cheeks. “Don’t worry.” Haban slumped onto the couch. The green cushion bent beneath him.
“Are you sure?”

Are You In Your Writing?

23 October 2011, Sunday

 

When you examine this sculpture, do you have an idea of who the artist was? Do you want to know? Do you feel that it would enrich your understanding of the art piece, or would you rather take it as a disconnected audience?

Throughout my time in school, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with teachers giving students extra information surrounding a piece. Especially in my world literature class, where much of the content was politically toned, the teacher would spend half an hour at least giving a history lesson to explain what time period the piece was written in, what circumstances affected the writing, who the author was and how he or she was involved with this political event. Even in a short story book, I’d skip over the small paragraph about the author at the beginning of the work.

I suppose my opinion comes a little from my time in voice lessons. When we’d have juries, sort of like tests or evaluations at the end of each semester, we were taught to never give excuses. “Oh, I’m a little sick so my voice might not be great.” “Oh, I just learned this song a couple of days ago, so that might mean I’ll mess up.” “Oh, I’m sorry this will sound terrible.” NO. No. Own yourself. Take responsibility, and in that way, just present the work that you have prepared, whatever circumstances surround it. If you sound sick, so be it. If you forget a lyric, alright. You know the reason, but putting a disclaimer beforehand will only serve to first cause the judges to look for those faults and second take attention away from the work and on to you as a person.

I’d contemplated it before, too. If, in a contest, two contestants produce the same quality work, but one comes forward and says she worked so hard, sacrificed so much to produce this and the other does not say anything. Sad that, even if the other contestant put forth the same effort, their work will now be valued as less because the disclaimer was not there to give extra insight into the process? Or if the second contestant produced that same quality with ease, they are judged on their ability rather than the work they put forth, and the judges might say, “Well why didn’t you produce better if you could?”

There is always a struggle between the artist and his or her work. So how should work be presented in class? Should we know that this particular story was written with bombs going off all around the writer if that detail is not in the text itself? Should we know more than we naturally would when reading the text and be primed, in that way, to pick up what the teacher wanted us to, rather than what we would as our own person?

Of course there are benefits to knowing more. If we know what allusions allude to, we can better understand the descriptions or tones or what-have-you that rely on that understanding. But is not the unknowing value important as well? How does this piece come off to someone who knows nothing about the subject matter? Is it still moving? Sure, you can write for certain groups of people, but if something touches a chord in all levels of human experience, then more people can join in their appreciation of that work.

The decision I came to was that all work should be read at least once as cleanly as possible. Read it how you’d read it as your own person. If there’s information that is not in the text, the author chose to not provide that information to you. Read it without that information. Read it without knowing about the author’s birth or death or mother country if it is not present in the text. Make your decisions from that clean read. Then go back and read it with extra knowledge and see how that changes your perceptions, what effect that has. Even in watching those changes you can learn something.

I do not want to be part of my work. I will always be intrinsically part of my work because my sensibilities are woven in to my style. But I don’t want readers to know my situation, my travels, my life as an essential part of my work beforehand. Afterward, okay. You were interested. I won’t block you from learning. But give my work a fair read first. Read it on your own.

What do you think? Do you want to be woven in to your writing? Do you want your readers to know you a a person before they dive in to your work? Do you think they should research as much as possible before hand to get all the information on the first read through? Or do you present your work as separate from your being as much as is possible?

Inspiration Folder, Scene Five

28 July 2011, Thursday

Peek-a-Boo (by Mustafa Mohsin)

Scene Five: Hutun

Hutun means clouds with rain.
I wonder what it would mean to have feet silk-soft and white.

I see the shadow of a bushy tail outside the flap of our tent,
staining the dirt black, and I wonder what it would be like to be friends with a cat.

I heard from my school teacher that black dirt
grows by the banks of rivers like the Nile or the Volga or the Mississippi.

My mother says mirrors are evil.
I look at myself in the still pools by the sea.

A girl at school says she felt the Earth move beneath
the balls of her feet one day, but the word California tastes like vinegar.

My sister once mixed vegetables
in a bowl while she sat on the floor and sang lullabies my mother taught her.

I walk to school with my mother, but as soon as I am inside
I can see her, through the window, slip into someone else’s home.

Hutun is the name of my sister
who drowned in the sea while my mother was away.

I have learned to sit on hills and watch the army trucks
move by like ants while my arm rests in the crook of his.

If I am a Mystery, am I Fuller?

23 July 2011, Saturday

I started reading Jhumpa Lahiri‘s Unaccustomed Earth a little while ago and finished the first couple of stories. In the title story, there is a mother, Ruma, who describes feeling like her child is a miracle, that little Akash is miraculous for being able to move his legs, to walk. “With the birth of Akash… Ruma had felt awe for the first time her life…[at] simply the fact that he was breathing, that all his organs were in their proper places, that blood flowed quietly and effectively through his small, sturdy limbs.” At first, this flew past me, like much of what Lahiri includes because the tone resembles summary so much.

Later, however, I was walking to an event, looking down at my legs, and realized that she was right. There is so much power in one stride, the blood that moves up and down, the muscles contracting, releasing, the skin that holds everything in and moves over it. It is a miracle that I can walk, simply because who would ever believe that a pile of blood and guts could move itself.

But Ruma doesn’t comment on this in relation to herself. She was speaking of Akash. And it made me wonder if she had ever felt the same sense of awe at her own movement. It was important for me to know, because I feel like it’s a defining trait: whether or not you can feel a miracle inside yourself. If you can only recognize brilliance in others, you’re gracious. You’re different if you also acknowledge that you are brilliant.

It was something I wanted to know about Ruma, but it was never addressed in the rest of the piece. And it might be something that you can try to infer from all the other information given, but it’s one of those things you’d like to ask directly to a person. “Hey, Ruma, have you ever felt that way about yourself?” Then you can look at their face. Does she look down? Does she answer right away? Does her voice falter? Does she avoid answering?

Which brings me to my real question: does this make a character more or less full than if the question had been addressed?

On one hand, not knowing that fact about her leaves this hole in my understanding of her. I understand her relationship with Akash better for her consideration of him, but less about her, which was somewhat of a problem for me during the whole story.

On the other hand, would you ask those questions, get upset about them not being answered, want so much to ask them if you didn’t care at all?

After going back and forth over and over again, I’ve decided that while asking questions gets you engaged in the material, it doesn’t bring you closer to the character. Only knowledge, stated or implied, gives you a better understanding of the person the writer is trying to build. Even negative statements beg their opposites, thus implying something else you can put into your arsenal of knowledge.

It’s a little bit like poetry, which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. If you hand us a string of words that make no sense, we’ll wonder about them. We’ll ask vehement questions if something else interests us enough about the piece. But we won’t really connect with the poem unless we connect with the poem, unless we find something in our digging, a little piece of knowledge about something that brings us ever closer to the core of what you tried to evoke.

Intrigue your readers, but don’t leave them too much in the cold.

Inspiration Folder, Scene Four

19 July 2011, Tuesday

Scene Four: King of Bitters

My uncle’s feet are dry.

I hear them scrape against his boat

with callouses balled up into white hills.

He hides them on his soles.

He makes the boat he sits on soft,

sands it down because he’s walked on glass and coals

and elephants and left his shoes

sitting with crumbling straps next to the bed we share.

 

There is a hole in the bottom of the left one

where it was worn over mountains

and long sidewalks between buildings.

He tells me,

“I will be out on the boat today.

Please behave. Stay cool inside.”

But when he is gone I slip on his shoes,

feeling the elephants grace over my pale and soft soles.

I shuffle outside and once around the house

and the sun slides down my hair to the back of my neck.

When I look for him on the water, I can’t see him, so I turn back

and hang my feet over the edge of the bed we share.

 

If he comes back while my toes

like cardamom pods still hold the shoes,

he refuses to look at me. Instead his eyes

drift away and bob the way his boat is moored,

capturing spring clouds white in the black of his stare.

I get angry and sneak out

and rub his sandals in the mud by shore,

then toss them onto the bow of his boat.

I wait for him to step into the cold mire I left

outside of the bed we share.

Don’t Keep the Door Closed

18 July 2011, Monday

Writing is a lonesome passion. You write alone. I can’t even write with music. I write in a bubble of silence and as much concentration as I can muster. And when I finish typing, I save it to my computer all by myself. Your words come out of your hands and fingers and no one else’s. If they do come out of someone else, they don’t belong to you. So you are alone as a writer. But it is really important that the solitaire ends there.

Consider why you write. If you write purely for yourself, you won’t care about this. But if you even just put your writing out for others to read, you care about the opinions of other people when it comes to your writing. Even if you say “I just want to know if they like it,” then you are aware of the concept of like and dislike, which stems from individual concepts of what is good or bad. And if someone feels something is good or bad, they will likely evaluate things on range of better or worse. Which means that in some way your writing can be changed to become better or worse for that person’s opinions.

Which means you need to learn about how people form their opinions, what about you writing speaks to them, and what you want it to say. If you don’t care yet, okay, you can still learn what evokes anything in a reader. The word “car” evokes less than “mangled car”, even if you don’t care exactly what “mangled car” means to someone else.

What I’m trying to say is that working with other people is important. You might say, “But man, no one else is as smart as I am and they keep giving terrible feedback”, but you can still learn from those people. Listen to them, ask them to explain what they’re thinking and find the path in their explanation. There’s going to be a reader out there that thinks like they do. You can choose not to care, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to understand.

And it gets even harder, relies more on other people, the more in control you want to be. Writing is going to always be subjective, to a point, because words will always mean different things to different people depending on their life experiences  and what they associate with the word “asteroid” for example. Which means if you want to fight to express something clearly, you’ll need to spend more time asking more people what they get from what they read.

Make writer friends. There is little more important than your writing community. Yes, there is value in giving your writing to a regular old friend, someone who knows nothing about writing, but a little about reading. They’re a general reader, what many of your consumers could be. But the pit fall is that they know less about how to express their reaction. They breeze through your piece and say it made them feel sad rather than noting how your diction helped to build the tone. A writer has experimented with those pieces as well and can point them out to you.

In addition, it’s just plain stimulating to discuss things with people who have the same baseline as you. Lots of benefits: you can use extended similes and not lose the other person, you can take out your journal and jot something down without seeming too odd, you can soak up another person’s story and experiences to use them in your writing. And every moment could possibly inspire the piece you’ve been waiting for.

You write alone. I am sitting here and typing up this blog entry alone, but I know that I can’t stay here forever. I’ve gotta go out in the world and experience things, build the texture of my words and emotions. Later, I’ll share work with friends, learn where they are in life and the thoughts they are dwelling on. After that, I’ll remember my personal struggles and ask if they have experienced the same things, see if we can work out a solution together. And after that, I’ll withdraw again, and sit at my computer to type words that are mine and only mine.

Inspiration Folder, Scene Three

14 July 2011, Thursday


Scene Three: Hyun

The aquarium belonged to neither of the women. When Hyun brought Jae to the aquarium, Eun-Ji was gone and Shin-Hye was gone and because he carried Jae in his arms, he never touched the picture of her in his pocket, not even once.

Abba, what is it?” Jae asked, pushing his finger up against the glass.

“It’s a fish,” Hyun said. He landed his finger light on Jae’s nose. “Do you want to know what kind of fish?”

“Blue fish,” said Jae. Hyun laughed. He’d only taught his son one color. The fish that swam past his small hand was orange.

A woman passed them with a smile that grew as she walked. Hyun missed the chance to return it to her and instead smiled forward at a tank of jellyfish.

Hyun always held Jae, and Jae always pushed his finger up into the glass until his knuckles buckled. If he noticed, Hyun would step back so that Jae had to reach farther, but more often Hyun’s eyes spiraled up with the current of the tanks.

“How old is he?” Jae was sticking his hands in the sting ray pool, while Hyun sat on the bench and tightened his shoelace. The woman next to him had a baby bag slung over her shoulder, a bottle of juice in her hand.

“He’s one,” Hyun said. “A handful.”

“I’ll bet. He’s beautiful, though.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m Ji-Hye,” she said. She held out the bottle toward Hyun, then scrunched up her face in embarrassment, her eyes shut tight and pulled back, lips sucked into her mouth.

“Sorry,” she whispered. Hyun laughed and took the end of the bottle, made like he was shaking hands through it.

“Nice to meet you,” he said. His laughter pushed into his words. Ji-Hye looked up to see if he was laughing at her. His cheeks bunched up to his eyes. “I’m Hyun.” She was blue in the light from the water, but her eyes were striking in green.

“Sorry,” she repeated. “I have to go.” She shoved the bottle deep into the side pocket of the bag and got up. Hyun watched her take the hand of a little girl at the stingray pool and bustle off into a hallway.

He folded his arms across his chest and sighed. He was never quite sure if having a child made it easier to talk to women or more difficult. Jae was handsome, Hyun knew. His eyes were large, his nose high and thin. And Eun-Ji’s choice in clothing was impeccable. He would always trust her with that.

Today Jae wore a printed gray hoodie, but as Hyun scanned the backs of the children around the stingrays, he couldn’t see his son.

“Jae?” he called out to the room. No little broad face turned to smile and say, “Abba.”

Hyun sat.

The fish in the tank in front of him floated lazily up and up. He followed them and let his hands fall to his sides, tumble open. What was it if he lost his son? What would it really be? Eun-Ji would wail, but she’d wailed before. She’d always stopped wailing eventually. She could deal with things like other women, other places, secrets, disgusting things hidden. She could deal with something lost, couldn’t she? He realized that for all the tenderness he felt when he cupped his son in his arm, it would be easy to move on without him.

If Jae were lost (Hyun touched his fingers to his palm one by one) it would only mean he was found by someone else. He’d live. He’d continue, just separately. He wasn’t old enough that he’d remember Hyun anyway. It would cause him no pain.

Red shirts, blue, yellow dresses, green caps and socks and shoes moved past Hyun but no gray sweater, no hood up over the head shaped in a way Hyun knew well from holding Jae’s head as he fell asleep. It was what he was supposed to do. It was expected. It wasn’t something he particularly enjoyed or benefited from, so why did he continue telling Eun-Ji,

“Let me put him to bed. He loves his daddy.”

Abba?” and he was there again.

“Jae, where did you go?” Hyun asked. He flung himself around his son. When Jae answered, Hyun could feel his jaw move against his chest, fighting against his heart beat.

“I saw the seals, daddy. I saw the seals.”

Imagination: Pic Unrelated

13 July 2011, Wednesday

You’ve heard the advice. “Write what you know.” You should write about what you know because you’ll be the expert on the matter. “Write about what you specially know” is the advice that comes next, because at a certain point, the event or knowledge is too common to craft engaging writing out of very often. And if you know something that a lot of other people don’t know, they’ll want to know, and your book will sell.

And it makes sense, to a point. If you write about what you don’t know, chances are you’ll end up making some silly mistake that a similar writer with more knowledge would not have, something that more knowledgeable readers will catch.

But you know what? If everyone wrote about exactly what they knew, we’d just have a bunch of different life stories, stories that would plateau at a certain level of realistic excitement. No elves. No aliens. No creepy women hiding in your cupboard as you die of cancer (hey, it was a good story). And from me? No sentient tires. No magic stones that cure dying dogs. No girls growing tomatoes on the ends of their fingers. Wait, if i wrote what I knew, there wouldn’t be any marriages, any births, few deaths, and I could only write about one love. BORING!

If there is any reason to write what you don’t know, it’s selfishness. I do not want to leave all the fun to other people. I want to write about loves I don’t have. I want to write about babies I’ve never held, about dogs I’ve never buried. Besides, those people that lead such interesting lives? Probably too busy to write about them! Maybe they don’t have the skill to communicate the depths of their experiences adequately! Ahh!

There are pitfalls to writing about what you know. Consider them.

Being too inside the subject matter might make it more difficult to communicate to people without the same experience. Whether it’s because you forget to explain that sagwa means apple and apology or because you simply can’t remember the state of mind of people outside, there might be links missing in your path of thought that readers would require.

You know what? This works backward, too.

If you write about something you’re less familiar with from the outside, you’re more likely to bring in associations that you are familiar with to explain the idea and connect it to readers with the same low level of experience that you have. You’ll be sure to explain the parts that were important to you, that are most likely important to new readers as well.

It’s a fight between iconography and accessibility, but that’s a story for another time. I promise. It’s on my to-do list.

A good friend asked me for some insight on how to keep unfamiliar material shaped and emotionally significant. This is what I want to tell her. There is a good dose of imagination involved, and no, I can’t teach you that, but you’d be surprised at how much of myself leaks into even things that I’ve never experienced, just in little descriptions that allow me to connect more emotionally to what I’m writing.

Take, for example, the story here.

Those aren’t my emotions. I haven’t experienced the death of someone in that way. I am not that person. But I have slept in a sleeping bag upside down. I can’t remember why I did. But it helped me feel closer to the speaker of that piece, thinking about why they would have behaved that way and what it would reveal about them.

Maybe that’s the key, at least for me. By inserting small pieces of myself into pieces, it helps me identify with the character. Then I twist it, so it’s not me, and it becomes a different place. It doesn’t even have to work its way into the actual text of the piece. There was a moment in the story about the tire (this is for you, Navi) where the woman sleeps in her car. I don’t have a car. But I have gone into my bathroom with the thought of sleeping in the bathtub, just to get away. By connecting myself with the emotion of that moment, I could bring it to a new location.

It’s why fantasy works, for the most part. We know people and how they act. We just put them in a new environment. Or we build other races from patchwork of human or animal behavior we do know. And in my experience, good science fiction is taking what we know and just rolling it out further: taking the technology we have and advancing it.

So maybe I do mean for you to write what you know, but in a smaller way. By writing things you know how to feel, you help yourself connect to the unfamiliar material in a way that makes it more emotionally significant to readers later.

Write what you don’t know, informed by what you do.

The Inspiration Folder, Scene Two

12 July 2011, Tuesday

The reason I wrote the first “inspiration folder” post was because I had been transferring all my pictures over from my old computer. I thought I had a lot more inspiration pictures, but they all seem to have disappeared somewhere.

There was only one way to remedy this. By getting a Tumblr. That’s where I found all the beautiful pictures in the first place. Now I just have a place to collect them online as well as on my hard drive.

Yeah, is there something else people do on Tumblr? Besides post pictures? … haha

Scene Two: Georgia

Georgia,

There is candlelight sinking into your chin.
You never worry about taking it out,
about buying white strips
with adhesive
and abrasive
to lay across your nose and tear.
Never try
the harder bristles to scrub
out the particles of star dust,
you don’t,
you never try the harder bristles.
You leave it for your mother to watch
as it makes its solemn, oozed egression
and gathers
white and yellow and white again
in a pool between
your nose and your upper lip.

Georgia,
she knows
about the grass between your toes.