Archive for January, 2015
Taken in November, 2009
Once upon a time, during the height of the French Reolution, a family decided to relocate. The result was Miranda Castle. It seems to be known better by it’s nickname “Noisy Castle” since it served as both orphanage and summer camp location at various times since the end of WWII.
I found too many cool galeries to just put a few pictures up… the above, for example, has a the feel of a cover for either a horror, mystery or historical novel (note to self: use the above as the springboard for a story). Picture it: the title, in bold text, in the sky on either side of the tower…
Audible was having a sale recently, which led me to look for the Neil Gaiman titles, discovering several of the “collections” that have been put together over the years. One of which, Telling Tales, struck me when I saw the content listing. The lead piece: “A Writer’s Prayer.” The liner notes indicate it “was written shortly before I began American Gods. I knew the first two verses when I began it, and the conclusion was there when I reached it. This is why I love writing.”
I think this, along with his “Words of Fire,” should be somewhere at any writer’s desk.
A Writer’s Prayer
Oh Lord, let me not be one of those who writes too much;
who spreads himself too thinly with his words,
diluting all the things he has to say,
like butter spread too thinly over toast,
or watered milk in some worn-out hotel;
but let me write the things I have to say,
and then be silent, ’til I need to speak.
Oh Lord, let me not be one of those who writes too little;
a decade-man between each tale, or more,
where every word accrues significance
and dread replaces joy upon the page.
Perfectionists like chasing the horizon;
You kept perfection, gave the rest to us,
so let me earn the wisdom to move on.
But over and above those two mad spectres of parsimony and profligacy,
Lord, let me be brave, and let me, while I craft my tales, be wise:
let me say true things in a voice that is true,
and, with the truth in mind, let me write lies.
One of the author’s I follow, Jay Kristoff, has a new book out later this year – a collaborative project, with an interesting title. (His previous trilogy – The Lotus War – just finished. I talked a little about the first book, here. Short version: Japanese Steampunk! I enjoyed it enough that I put in a plug, suggesting it for one of the “Current SF/Fantasy” reading classes for the MFA program.)
He recently talked about the new project, Illuminae, and the origin of it’s title here. It involves music. Tool, to be precise.
So. Early on in the piece, I was tossing around the word “Illumine”
because it’s the name of a song by one of my favorite bands, and the book is about shining light on the awful truth about what went on aboard this refugee spaceship fleet, what with the conspiracies and plagues and insane artificial intelligences and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAA. But as a title it was a little meh.
So then I go to a Tool concert.
Tool are one of my favorite bands. They’re as close to religion as I get. So they’re up there playing a song called Lateralus, which (I suspect) is a song about opening yourself up to random possibilities and contemplation of the constant expansion of the universe and along with it, our consciousness as a species (they’re punching a little above the weight of your average top 40 song, is what I’m saying). Anyway, they’re playing Lateralus and there’s this amazing, mind-bending light show…
(Follow the “origin” link for the full story.)
I can relate. I am with Rush as he is with Tool. It’s not unusual for writers to use code names (aka – “Working Titles”)… I think it’s playing off of a psychology thing, where we can call be (slightly) emotionally detached to something, knowing it will be changed later. I have at least three projects (at the moment) that started with working titles culled from titles of Rush songs (one of which, with how the project has since developed, I know for sure will have to be renamed).
Are you a writer? What do you do for titles? Leave something “untiled” until the muse strikes, cull from pop culture, or slap some unsexy buzz word as a place holder? [Buzz word example: my MFA Thesis went by “Contact Center” for most of the early draft, because the main character works in… a call center. Or, I’ve read of authors under contract calling WIPs “summer vacation” or similar.]
Just over a week ago, I finished my final Residency for my MFA… sadly, likely the last time all of us (collectively) will be together in the same location at the same time. I found the video around Christmas, and the melancholy encapsaulated the moment I was going through at the time, was an undercurrent during the build-up to the week on campus, lingered at the fringes with each moment that passed while there.
For our honeymoon, MC and I went on a cruise around South America – including around Cape Horn and the Beagle Strait. This one, I think, was from the Strait, and I’m particularly proud/plased with the way the light was captured across the slope, and is one of a series taken as we sailed by.
This week’s selection is a little more personal… It’s one I actually saw in person! A few weeks ago, I was driving to Pennsylvania for my final MFA Residency. Normally in the winter, I go straight up 95 then cut across. This time, though, since the original plan was for MC to go with, we looked at cutting west sooner. (Those plans fell through, but I opted for the alternate route, anyway – heading west on VA 64 to 81N… then took 81N to pick up the end of my usual route along the PA Turnpike – because: Tunnel!)
A pit stop was required, and when I stopped at a Sheetz in Staunton, I saw this building just around the corner, along a dirt road connected to the service/exit road from the gas station. Context: There’s a story that’s I’ve kicking around, an opening that’s been very rough-drafted, set in an old, abandoned school [at the moment]. I saw the above, and it had the right kind of feel for what I was looking for, I had to take a few pictures. It was ball-shrivilingly cold at the time, so I only got a few external shots, including some landmarks to look the place up later.
Lo, through the power of the internet, I discovered the place is the original location of the DeJarnette Sanitarium (natch!), but even better, found a site that has some interior pics (click the “Gallery” link at the bottom of the page).
Ironically, this picture actually fits with what I had already drafted:
Darius Rucker, frontman for Hootie and the Blowfish, went country. As someone that was in college when Hootie’s first album dropped, it was a slight surprise, but only in one of those, “Huh, so that’s what he’s decided to do now” ways, much like Metallica deciding to cut off all of their hair between “the black album” and Load. Unlike Metallica’s stuff since their change, Rucker’s is something that I’ve added to my collection, and will regularly play entire albums while at work. (The key there: I think the entire albums are just that good, instead of only being interested in a handful of tracks.) This particular track is from his third solo album.
This was one of those moments, driving through western (note the -ern, not West) Virginia. I can’t remember where, exactly, but the inciting incident stemmed from a combination of cold weather (hence thin foliage), and the trio of horses by the river. The white one (to the left) moved just before I took the shot. Before I could adjust to get them all back in the farm, the other two moved as well.
One of my interests has always been nature, and landscapes. I’m not sure if this stemmed from my D&D days in high school – playing Battlesystems (miniatures, LONG before the current iteration of mini figs and rules), and an interest in dioramas (again for gaming, but also for use with models & trains) – or from an inherent “world-building” mindset of a really young writer.
True story – on a field trip, in 8th or 9th grade, I think, we went to an old civil war “fort.” More of a collection of hollowed out dirt mounds, compared to what would normally come to mind. I used at least a full roll of film (24-exposure) just on the surrounding terrain. Yes, roll of film. Let’s just say I’m quite happy with the advent of digital photography, and available memory capacity.
So what this series will include are snapshots that have been taken on my own equipment (mostly by me), from places I have travelled, things I have seen, or experiences I have lived.