May Means Binary Explosions

Don’t mind the O

it’s just the last stop before the crow

spring-topped shower in all its finery

coded delicately for its binary

debut, in the showers and flowers

rising up like sandy towers

no blood where they lay,

just another seedling for the play

of petals on the fettered den

the nightly contrition of the zen

tools trailblazing incisions

into springtime’s timeless revisions—

they’d say we’re all within a trance

if our bulbous natures didn’t love to dance.

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Good News, Everybody!

Curse you, blue screen. Curse you.

For those who met my announcement a few weeks back with scorn, derision, or at least a quirked eyebrow or two, let it be known that the issues of technological explosiveness have since been corrected. After a few days of hyperventilating and making crude gesticulations at the fickle computer gods (You, Microsoft, are nothing if not Fickle; don’t ever tell me otherwise), the problem was identified, the cause rooted out, and my files secured. Also, a neat little back-up program was to (hopefully) prevent that terror from happening again, but it is what it is.

The writings have been saved. As has i-Tunes, though I suspect that interests you less. A fellow needs some Mumford and Sons for the writing process, though, among other things…

The Problem:

  1. Norton. Norton. NORTON! It expired. It was reinstalled. Somewhere in between it had a heart attack looking at itself in the mirror and caused the blue screen of death. Suffice to say, a shiny (other) antivirus has been hunted down and installed.
  2. Failure to back-up. My silly self (thoroughly chastised and thwacked at this point) had fallen into a regiment of “every month.” Well, when you get on a writing streak for a few weeks a month may not be enough now, huh?
  3. Solved thanks to: the excellence that is a tech-savvy brother (also a writer, whom you may remember me mentioning before…*hint hint*).

So what now? Well, more writing, certainly. Despite my moans and groans in our previous meet and greet, the scribbling kept up strong during the last few weeks. Note pads and journals–they are a writer’s friend. Several new short stories (mostly comical–an odd binge for me–some dark; some sci-fi, some fantasy) have arrived, along with ideas for a stack more. Where they came from, who knows, but when the muse dances a jig on my back I certainly don’t complain. Likewise, I’ve dispatched another batch of those scribbles to some SpecFic mags, whilst my editor drums his way through to the final notes on At Faith’s End.

Also amongst the good news:

  1. I got a gig that’s actually major-related! Huzzah! Copy editing was to be had during the week, of the freelance variety (coincidentally, hey, I’m on elance: https://www.elance.com/s/galfordc/), with a potential for more to come. Details on the lovely art and insights I got to see during that time will come once the end results are out and available for all to see. (Art Majors, be still your beating hearts.)
  2. Joblessness has been temporarily corrected, at least through the month of April. More editing, this time for schools. Cubicles, computers, and essays for the classic 9-5 (alright, actually 8-4, but you know what I mean). It’s a start.

Suffice to say, they’re needed boosts. While the computer thing was a blow this month, there’s other things lurking behind the scenes as well. General joblessness is enough to stand anyone’s hairs on end after a while, but when you toss in medical things (yes, some are related to the recent poem), a person starts to feel like their day is nails on the chalkboard. Another doctor’s appointment in a few hours that will (hopefully) lead to corrections of at least one of this brand’s downswings, though.

I realize there’s little physical substance going along with this article, but it’s an update piece–mostly wanted you all to know I hadn’t quite dropped off the face of the earth. With luck, I shall be doing some lurking about in days to come, and will have some more substantial posts to come. Meanwhile, hope everyone’s spring is gearing up (Wednesday, fools) for a better opening then it is here. In Michigan, they’re predicting the next four days shall be given over to the snow.

Point of reference: at this time of the year last year it was 80 degrees. Winter is determined to stalk me.

White Walkers optional. (24 Days of Christmas – The King in the North http://awhoreslies.tumblr.com/tagged/%2Achristmas)

Revision

If you’re a writer, you know the word already. Hell, you probably dread the word. Time for budget cuts.

Or if you’re like my brother, every revision adds still more to the tale. C’est la vie.

“In Wilder Lands,” my brother’s book.

The fact is, at some point, we come face to face with the specter of our finished draft and we are forced to ponder: how shall I be altering you today, my sweet? Will you be carving out some of the old? Adding bits of new spices? Or simply flipping some of the meaty bits and shifting the details around?

Hungry yet? Good. So am I. Make yourself a snack when we’re done here.

The purpose of revision is, above all else, to hone what you have to…well, let’s call it the purpose of your novel. Revision is removing the extraneous and shoring up the rest, smoothing your characterization, action, and all the other good bits to flow into the heart of what makes your novel so special.

The ultimate goal is to make your novel the best it can be. Tragically, you will lose a lot of good stuff to get there—not because you found fault with the words even, no, but because it didn’t add to the book. It may not harm it, all snuggly and warmly tucked into your book there, but unfortunately in the novel business you have to do one better than “but it doesn’t hurt!”

Ruthless. Potentially with a side of crazy.

When it comes to revision, you must get ruthless.

You will lose pieces of humor, doses of character interaction that swell your own self with pride at how they shone—but if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. If you’re smart, you’ll stick these little gems into files or folders or cast them to the world for nostalgia or entertainment. But you have to realize that cherish them as you might, you may also never see them again.

Now, while some of the younger audience (I’m looking at you, reader #3) pauses to consider what that little rhyme was a reference to, I’m going to go take a scalding shower now, as I know all too well.

But before I go, and perhaps most importantly, I know that many authors look at their books, their poems, their essays and what have you as their children, their lovers, their…well, you get the sappy little picture.

Don’t.

I say this not because I’m a heartless fellow, but rather because I recognize the woes of having too much heart. Cherish your creation as exactly that—your creation, your accomplishment, but if you begin to add such words to the thing, binding it ever more dearly to your heart, then you’re going to feel the part of a bloody murderer when you have to take an axe to it.

And you will. It’s part of being a writer. You write, you chop it up, trim the fat, and shape it ever so carefully into what you truly want it to be. That’s revision. Then you watch someone else take a chainsaw to your carving and play around with what comes out.

No one likes to think they just chain sawed their kid. Although, in hindsight, it probably does explain why we drink so much. Also: why editors get such a bad rap.

A bottle of American rye whiskey

The whiskey. Coming for writers since…the dawn of whiskey? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Get your picks–it’s off to editing we go…

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

…or editing, in my case. Been editing for three different associates in the writing field (which really cuts into my own writing time, mind you, while also balancing that job hunting…), and I have to say, I’m beginning to gain a new appreciation for that particular toll. Writers work to see their plots realized, their characters surging with life, and the logic sound (mostly). Editors are the ones that go over things with the fine tooth comb, connecting the dots and working to actually make things easy on the eyes.

Flow, people. Some have it. Some don’t.

Of course, Hemingway’s old maxim doesn’t help matters here, either: “Write drunk. Edit sober.”

Editors don’t get to escape!

Inspiration

“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time…the wait is simply too long.” ~Leonard S. Bernstein

I write in mountains. Don't you?

Inspiration is the great provider to us lowly writers. Prometheus, if you will. The problem is that inspiration is never a constant. While months and years may go in its passionate embrace, there will be those days–inevitable and infuriating–where inspiration withdraws into the shadows, to leave us cold and alone.

The question this leaves us to face is thus: do we press on without it, or wait for its return?

Some people wait. Personally, I’ve always found it silly. Growth happens regardless of whether or not you’re “in the zone,” and I daresay that if you find yourself, in that lonely forward push, stumbling through the writing, that as frustrating as it may be, it’s good for you. Failure reminds us we’re human. It also pushes us more forcefully toward self-improvement, in a way that success–or the appearance of success–never could.

Writing, as any skill, must be honed through constant practice. If we start taking large swathes of time off simply because we don’t “quite feel it,” we have the temptation to get lazy, and the writing itself could suffer. Do you want sloppy prose to be what you greet inspiration’s return with? Seems like a terrible welcome to me. Besides, there is the fact that inspiration could actually be summoned by your writing, rather than needing your writing to be summoned by inspiration. Immersing yourself in the world, in the characters, in the poem, what have you, could draw back inspiration as quickly as anything.

The other side of this, of course, is that if you don’t get a part just right, if you press through the numb of non-inspiration and end with a few thousand words that don’t quite capture the personality you know it needs, you’re not doing yourself justice. That is the beauty of writing: editing is a key part of the process. If you’re not going back and re-reading yourself anyway, you’re doing it wrong. When inspiration comes knocking again, return to any points you were concerned about, look over it with that newly stirred creative eye, and adjust accordingly. It’s not hard.

And don’t tell me “the moment is lost” if you must go back and do that. How many edits do you make at the end of a product your creative spirit told you was gold in the first place? Your editor?

Just write. Outline. Create something. Writing is not a one shot game. It’s many layers of writing and rewriting, editing and editing again. Breathe. Everything will be okay.

Hopes, Memories, and a little Creativity…

Michigan State Capitol Building, by Chris Galford

No Present

Caught himself along the past–

years passed before he ever realized

No Present.

So many are consumed by the past, and what has gone before, they forget to live in the present. As 2011 looms, I hope you reflect, but I also hope you take the time to look around you and enjoy a touch of the now.

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!

Image care of Demotivational Posters.

I’d like to thank you all for all the support you’ve shown as readers, and peers…fellow writers and photographers all. That you’ve shared your works and encouraged and supported me in the sharing of my own has been a joy without end. I wasn’t sure how well the whole “young writer hitting the Big Bad Web” angle would go for me…you seem to see everyone everywhere trying it these days, and it certainly seems daunting to try and wade into such a hefty mass–amateurs, experts, and all manner of unseen forces lurking in the background, with the looming horror of plagiarism and creative theft.

And yet, things have gone better than I ever could have imagined. When I first started the Waking Den, I never would have dreamed there was such a vibrant and accepting community out there, just waiting to nurture and support fellow creative types. It has been an honor, yes, an honor, to read your comments on my own work, and to see and to read and pick through yours. There is a lot of talent out there, and it’s always a pleasure to discover new gems.

The One Shot Wednesday Mike

Another thing I never could have anticipated this year: One Stop Poetry. When I first started posting my poetry, and my photography, I thought I would be lucky if anyone swung through. I would have been happy with a couple comments here and there, be they critiques or praise. Yet then Leslie Moon came along, and through her I met the other wonderful founders of One Stop: Adam Dustus, Brian Miller and Pete Marshall. To be a part of that community, of such an up-and-coming site for creativity, was a joy among joys. Suddenly all those fellow poets were in one places, and they were sharing, and reading, and writing…it was the promised land.

When Leslie asked me on-board as a fellow manager, I was not only stunned, but ecstatic. Never in a million years could I have predicted that – and I couldn’t have asked for more. Since then I’ve gotten to work with Gay Cannon and Claudia Schoenfeld as well, two more managers added to the One Stop family. Between them and the founders, it’s a team without equal – and the experience has been both a blessing and a treasure. I get to interview photographers about their passion, see into the minds behind an art that has always fascinated and intrigued me. I get to share something I genuinely enjoy with the world-at-large.

And one can’t put a price on that.

Pure Michigan, by Chris Galford

Joy? I have a lot of it from this year. 2010 was a great year. I graduated, and not only that, I did so while acing every class. I had a great internship with the Lansing City Pulse that showed me first-hand how a real news organization works, and gave me an

See that guy in the fancy hat? That's me. Post-graduation with my father.

opportunity to flex my knowledge of the arts, as well as my photographic eye. I’ve climbed mountains, wandered beaches. I finished my first novel in a trilogy, “The Hollow March,” edited it, and gotten quality reviews back from its first readers. I’ve met new friends, joined a community of fellow writers, established a writer’s group in my own town, and have set about the ground work for hunting down publishers for short stories, poems and that fancy novel of mine. I’ve applied to law school, gotten my letters of recommendation, and now…I’m ready to hit the ground running.

If 2010 was a great year, I plan on making 2011 an amazing year. I hope you all will continue to support me as I do so – I couldn’t have come so far without all your kind words, your critiques, the inspiration of your presence.

And I hope above all that you all will have a wonderful year ahead as well. Here’s to the old year, and to the new – Cheers to all of you!

 

"Foggy Notions of Photography," by Chris Galford