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Being Fiction, Instead of Writing It – http://wp.me/p2atwI-3Du

You know those posts you happen to run across after you’ve had a heart-to-heart with yourself because you just read the last post from your own blog (which is over a year old), and you’re STILL in the same writing limbo you were then? This is one of those.

Thanks to the writer for plucking these thoughts from my brain and slapping them on the table in front of me.

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Submitting Short Stories: Snail Mail or E-Submit?

It’s probably because my internet connection is rated “caveman” on a 1-10 scale, but I still prefer to submit via snail mail. I prefer getting my rejection slips via mail, too. That way I can save them to wallpaper my future office…or something.

Having said that, I’m currently searching for online submission slots because I’m out of ink and I’m too lazy to go to the post office. (True story.)

How do you prefer to submit your stories/articles/poetry?

Fantasy Friday: My Earliest Experiences

When I was a child I thought I would grow up to hunt monsters–all manner of beasts, and evil men as well. I thought I would be a righteous force in the world, that I would wield a blade like an overzealous paladin in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign to sort out the wicked from the goodly. (It bears noting I never played D&D until I was well into my 20s). My sense of morality then was certainly more black and white than it is now, and maturity has made the legality of certain dreams abundantly clear before my tired eyes. But I can’t help but wonder what else might be out there–things we can never fully understand about the world and ourselves, things that we don’t need to understand, only to feel.

It pains me to admit it as a scholar and a man of reason, but I fully believe the greatest wonders lie in mystery. To understand and explore the physical universe is one thing, and most assuredly it is a good thing, but to convince yourself that that is all there is seems (honestly) monstrous to me. Now, I am not a particularly religious person, but I wonder at the mysteries that still persist that we have not fully explained away. I find it thrilling to consider that there might still be some little glimmer of magic, of the supernatural, out there in our world. And deep down I hope that within that hidden world there might even be the monsters that so filled me with a sense of purpose in my youth.

Is that perhaps a bit off the mark? Does it sound insane? Selfish, in some odd ways? I think all of these might be true. After all, we are mere mortals–we’re all a little off the mark, a little insane, and a little selfish, at least sometimes. And it’s in that world of sometimes and maybes that fantasy will always thrive.

To paraphrase a saying from G. K. Chesterton, fairy tales (or fantasy stories, if you will) do not teach children that dragons exist, but rather that dragons can be defeated. I have learned to see monsters in a different light as I have gotten older. True, I have always known the most fearsome monsters were human beings themselves, but I have deepened my view beyond that. My monsters–those I have sworn to smite down and slay–are those things that stand in my way, that make me unhappy, and that prevent my enjoyment of my life. Most assuredly, other people stand in my way quite often but I do not do harm to them. Even slaying has taken on a different meaning as the child within recedes. In our world, where we are forced to be pacifist and complacent for most of our lives, the most heroic actions most of us will be able to commit all involve personal choices–and I equate slaying a monster with limiting negative influences in my life. I think that this is a point worth considering.

So what are your earliest experiences with the fantasy genre? What made you wonder if there was magic in the world? What are your monsters? Below, I also want to share with you three things that helped make me a fanatic of fantasy in my youth.

A book:

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The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore

The Crystal Shard by R. A. Salvatore was the first of his books about the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden, and it taught young me a lot about honor, integrity, friendship, and acceptance. Though I’m sad to say I’ve outgrown a lot of Salvatore’s work, I owe him a debt for helping to expose me to a wide world of fantasy novels.

A video game:

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Diablo title screen

I recently wrote up a nostalgia post about Diablo over at quaintjeremy’s thoughts. Go and give it a look when you have time, but the short version is that this game–a classic of dark, supernatural fantasy–entered my life at an appropriately dark time and provided me an outlet for my feelings, allowing me to feel powerful in a powerless situation.

And a film:

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The 13th Warrior

The 13th Warrior, a 90s movie starring Antonio Banderas based on a novel by Michael Crichton entitled Eaters of the Dead, is not a true fantasy story, but does share the same roots. Aside from being the only truly good Viking movie ever made, The 13th Warrior is also a re-imagining of the story of Beowulf, which many rightly argue was an inspiration for many early works of fantasy. I would say it is a close enough fit, though, based on the criteria I listed in my last post. Give it a viewing if you haven’t seen it and you’ll see what I mean.

And that’s what I have for this week. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thoughtful Thursday: Material Things

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My son recently had a birthday. He’s officially at a stage where I toe the line between being awesome and being a total bane. Sometimes the harder I try, the more estranged he gets. This is parenting. It welcomes with open arms and stabs you in the back.

I presented my growing boy with a kindle fire as a gift this birthday. I’m happy to report that he loves the gift. A thank you is always preferred over a set of eyes rolled so far to the back of the head that only the whites show, so I felt pretty proud of myself.

Last night, however, the boy dropped the kindle. It was more of a horrific, slow motion fumble like they replay during the big game. Of course the screen is now spiderwebbed. At only a week old.

I grew up in a low income family who didn’t have much. I valued everything I had, and I still do. As a parent, I want nothing more than to give my children things and opportunities that I didn’t have growing up. Only, there have to be limitations in place. To my son, the kindle was like receiving a new laptop. And it felt that way to my wallet when I bought it.

But now it’s broken. He’s upset, I’m upset. It’s something new and fancy and you don’t take care of anything!

I’m not replacing it. I’m not repairing it. I’m disappointed at the way in which the accident occurred. Better choices and more thought would have prevented it.

So, now, I’m contemplating what I feel is an utter lack of regard for how hard I work to provide things for my children. I can’t help it. And I don’t want to spend another cent on electronic things that will end up in the trash. But in a material and increasingly electronic world, how do we, as parents, monitor these things? How do we regulate them?

I see kids younger than my son who have iPhones, and I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on something that will probably lead to more trouble than anything else.

So, parents, can you relate? What limitations have you set? Or do you provide all the hottest new electronic gadgets your little darlings desire?

*image via Pinterest*

Time to Write

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Time to Write

I like to think that one day, when my children are grown and making their transition into adulthood and the real world, I’ll not only have time to write, but I’ll make time to write.

While some people can juggle being a single mom with a full-time job, countless daily chores that begin as soon as the work day is over, AND a fruitful, satisfying writing schedule, I’m not one of those people. If I can get the kids to school with clean clothes on and homework done, I consider that a job well done. If there’s food to cook and clean dishes to eat from, well, that’s a good day.

More often than not, when I do scratch out a moment in which to write, I spend the majority of the time thinking that I should be doing something else. Or my mind is blank as to what to write about.

One day, though, I’ll make time to write. But today’s not that day.