Off the Map

Sunday was a much more productive day for creativity. I got an e-mail about a flash fiction market at Wormhole Books, and after confirming that this limited e-mail solicitation was open to new writers, I wrote a piece called “To Be Human.” I revised it a couple of times that day, then read it to my wife and son. Based on their reactions, I tweaked the ending a bit and sent it off as an electronic submission. Hopefully something will come of that, but if it doesn’t, at least I sent it off.

I also wrote about 300 words of “Sphere of Success,” the next story in my Fear Spheres series. It’s funny how stories work sometimes; I had a vague outline in my head of where I wanted to go with that story, but when I started writing, the main character kind of took over and is sending the story in a different direction. It may wind up where I originally wanted it, but it’s taking a different road — one that’s not on my map!

Gaming

I’m a couple of days behind in updating this page, and I don’t remember doing anything creative other than playing Morrowind and Magic: The Gathering on Saturday. I did enjoy seeing my old friends and playing Magic with them.

Namedropping

My friend Mary expressed concern that her name isn’t mentioned more in this creativity log, so I’ll make up for that now. Mary Mary Mary Mary Mary. There, that should keep you happy for a while, Mary. 😉

Actually, Mary is a very encouraging and inspirational member of Melanie Tem‘s writing group, and she manages to make it to the group a few times a year despite living on the other side of the Great Divide from us. We keep in contact through e-mail, and she has been very supportive of my writing and music. Thank you, Mary.

I think about the only creative activity I will be engaging in today is making it through the day. I have plans to go watch Dot Com play at No Excuses tonight, but life may intervene.

Planteing Rumors

Today an excellent e-mail conversation sprung up concerning a website by a writer named Brian Plante, whose work I’ve never read. On those pages, Plante chronicles his experiences with a local writing group which he basically infiltrates, hiding his status as a semi-professional writer from the participants in the group and then posting comments about them and their practices on the weblog. It seems to me he has a specific idea of how a writing workshop should be run, and he’s unfairly grinding his axe on the members of this unsuspecting writer’s group.

I am a member of three writing groups (and a non-participating member of Andrew Burt’s excellent Critters.org group; I just couldn’t keep up with the pace and maintain the others as well.) It seems to me that the most important aspect of any critique group is honesty. Critiques should be civil, but honest. If a piece is written poorly, the writer needs to know so s/he can fix it; the writer won’t benefit from false “I liked it” criticism. The writers putting their work out for critique have to trust that the other members are going to be honest with them. By posing as a novice writer and then exposing the group’s goings-on in his weblog, Plante is betraying that trust, even if he has changed all the names to protect the individuals involved.

Plante claims to have posted notices about this blog on the Speculations website, but I didn’t see them in the Rumor Mill. If he did post them there, I have to wonder about his motivations; by advertising this, he has to know that he’s coming across as duplicitous. Does he think that other writers — and especially editors — are going to find this to be an admirable trait?

All this discussion about blogs made me question whether I am being fair in mentioning friends occasionally in this creativity log. I think I’m okay, because when I do mention my friends by name, it’s only in a positive context, and generally only in relation to how that friend has affected my creativity for that day. This is not a personal journal, like some blogs. It has a theme, and I think it’s smart for me to keep it that way, after reading Diane Patterson’s excellent essay “Why Web Journals Suck..” I stumbled across that while reading a journal recommended to me by my friend Michael Main. Bluejack is an online journal that seems to be intentionally anonymous; I couldn’t find the writer’s name on the site at all, and rather than dig through the WhoIs records, I’ll just take it on faith that the writer would like it to remain somewhat anonymous. The writer of this journal is currently attending Clarion West in Seattle (lucky dog) and I think I will find his daily journals to be inspirational.

Fogelberg and Inspiration

Gee, where should I start? Today felt very creative, primarily because of the Dan Fogelberg concert that I attended at Red Rocks. The weather was perfect, the seats were great, the talent was mindblowing. (Those sentences were weak.) I took nearly 500 words of Graffiti notes on my Handspring Visor, using the backlight after the sun went down. The lady next to me finally leaned over and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was taking notes about the concert and the set list so I could post a review on the Living Legacy website. “Good,” she said. “I was hoping that you weren’t trying to conduct business in between songs.” I smiled, and for some reason I felt like a real writer. I hope to have the concert review written by the end of the weekend, and I will probably post a version of it on this site, as well.

I made it a point not to play guitar when I got home from the concert. I have learned something about attending inspirational events; it’s important for me not to go home after a concert or reading and immediately try to write, even though I may feel inspired to. When I do, the stuff I write or play pales in comparison, and I dive from an emotional high to a depressed, inadequate feeling. The poem “Inspirational Inadequacy” came from my experience after attending the 2000 World Horror Convention here in Denver. Rather than trying to capitalize on that inspirational energy right away, I’m working on saving that energy up and drawing upon it later. I think this relates to Wordsworth’s “spontaneous overflow” quote again:

“I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility; the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of re-action, the tranquility gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind.”

— Wordsworth, “Preface to Lyrical Ballads”