Friday, April 26, 2013

Moving to Wordpress! Follow me!

After a few days of contemplation, I've decided to migrate over to Wordpress to continue my blogging. All of my friends who regularly blog are on Wordpress and I had been struggling with the format of Blogspot for quite some time now. While I liked that I had the capability to customize my blog however I wanted, I do feel like Blogspot is quickly becoming a relic of the past and that professional writers tend to veer more toward Wordpress; it's easier to receive notifications, follow people, and stay in touch. Wordpress feels more like a community, and that is what I am looking for at this juncture in my writing career. It is an end of an era!

Long story short, if you would like to follow me over there click the link below and I will see you on the other side.

http://sorrysongbird.wordpress.com/
http://sorrysongbird.wordpress.com/
http://sorrysongbird.wordpress.com/
http://sorrysongbird.wordpress.com/
http://sorrysongbird.wordpress.com/

-M Weaver

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A shameful admission and a writing exercise for you (and me)

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read anything by Stephen King. No The Stand, no Carrie, no Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (even though I'm over the moon in love with its film adaptation), and only snippets of On Writing. Other than never having read Steinbeck's East of Eden, this is decidedly my greatest literary flaw.

However, I won't be able to pummel myself for this fault any longer: this week, my classmates and I are reading The Gunslinger for our wonderful American Gothic capstone class. It is the final reading of the semester, and I am absolutely ecstatic. How have I managed to avoid reading it for so long? I am writing a weird western. The Dark Tower series is the quintessential weird western. I inexplicably have two copies of The Gunslinger hanging out on my bulging bookshelf. And it's Stephen King. I don't know what I've been doing for twenty-three years, but my dallying has come to a (momentary) end. At last, I will be able to check "Read The Gunslinger" off my imaginary list. I will be posting an informal review some time next week.

A couple hours ago I read through the introduction written by Stephen King himself. He states that he started writing The Gunslinger when he was twenty-two years old, and he still considers The Dark Tower series to be his magnum opus. Because I'll never be as prolific as Mr. King (or as good), I don't think striving for the completion of the first installment of my magnum opus, Boot Hill, by the age of twenty-four is totally out of the question. Do you?

Oh, King and I. How I will enjoy his company this week.

---

On a totally different note, I feel the need to include a writing exercise that my mostly terrible intermediate fiction professor gave to us last week. Initially, I read through the prompt and scoffed; it looked like I was being asked to write a bunch of unrelated, overly flowery and overly specific sentences one after the other. However, as I started writing, I found the exact opposite happening: the sentences linked together quite beautifully and were more or less concise.

The purpose of the exercise is to establish a scene in 20 sentences. It might not be an entire scene--maybe just a skeleton of one. When I did the exercise in class, I wrote the skeleton for a scene in Boot Hill that I'd been dying to write for months. Now I have a perfect starting point for adding necessary content and some lines that I'm very happy with.

The book recommended that you write the sentences with two characters and a designated point of view in mind. Other than that, the world is yours.
  1. A sentence with a wall or boundary in it
  2. A sentence with weather (temperature, wind, air) in it
  3. A sentence with a sound in it
  4. A sentence with a gesture in it
  5. A line of dialogue of six words or less
  6. A sentence with light in it
  7. A line of dialogue of ten words or more
  8. A sentence with a ceiling or floor in it
  9. A sentence with a texture (the feel of something) in it
  10. A sentence with an object smaller than a hand in it
  11. A sentence with an allusion to literature or art in it
  12. A sentence fragment
  13. A sentence with a piece of furniture in it
  14. A line of dialogue that is a question
  15. Another line of dialogue that is a question
  16. A sentence with a hand or fingers in it
  17. A sentence with a dash in it
  18. A sentence with an allusion to a current event in it
  19. A sentence with a metaphor in it
  20. A line of dialogue that is whispered

Challenge: Try out the exercise. Post it here, post it to your blog, I don't care. I'd love to see what you've written, though. Do a little writing with me if you can!

You have my sword. (And my bow! And my ax! Fellowship of the ring, etc., etc.)

I will be posting mine either tomorrow or over the weekend when I come up for air again! I've spent too much time writing this posting to find the exercise that is crushed somewhere in my beat up messenger bag and type it out. 20 sentences is far too much for my little, overworked brain at the moment. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Small victories and crushing defeats

I'll just come out and admit that I've more or less abandoned this poor, fledgling blog over the last six months. But it is not forgotten! In an effort to revive Word Drop Soup, I might as well update everyone as to what I've been up to lately. I am currently taking an intermediate fiction class, which has allowed me to churn out a fair amount of creative writing. I've completed two short stories, entitled "Glow in the Dark" and "Yellow Jacket." "Glow in the Dark" is about a girl who is spirited away by her older brother and taken on a short road-trip to Roswell, New Mexico, USA,  providing a momentary escape from their overly protective mother. "Yellow Jacket" is about a young boy's experience with the sting of first love--literally and figuratively. Unfortunately, I will be seeking publication for both pieces, so I will not be posting them to the blog for your reading pleasure (though I can always e-mail you a copy if you request it).

I have also made a pact with a wonderful friend of mine to write the majority of Boot Hill this summer. He is writing his own, incredible post-post-post-apocalyptic novel(la), and I am over the moon excited by what he'll produce. So be on the lookout for tiny snippets from Boot Hill as I write, starting in the first part of May. I hope to get a lot done, no excuses.

This semester at NAU has easily been the most difficult so far. I've barely had time to sleep much less write for anything other than academic pursuits. I've clocked in more than 125 double-spaced pages of analysis and creative writing during the semester, though I'm happy to say that most of the intimidating deadlines have passed.

I am honored to be the recipient of Northern Arizona University's 2013 Charles E. Bull award, recognizing the best short story and the best poem submitted by an English major or English graduate student. I submitted what you guys would recognize as "The Record Keeper," and one of my professors, a member of the Board of Scholarship for the English department, informed me that she had to speak up and vouch for the quality of my writing because her colleagues doubted my work could have been written by an undergraduate. I'm not sure whether that's an insult or a compliment, alas! The award is more or less a scholarship that can be used toward my tuition. Every little bit helps.

In the not so successful department, I sent out "The Record Keeper" to at least eight literary journals as of January 1, 2013, and I have received all eight rejections back. I am going to try again with some lesser known journals; I think I was aiming a little high the first time around. I'm starting to become immune to the stings of rejection, which is giving me a tough skin. I've printed out every rejection letter and I will be posting them around my room as reminders.

That's about all I have to update. I'm so sorry if I have cut off communication with any of you; I'm hoping you will be understanding and that we can resume after the semester is over. How is everyone? Does anyone still read this blog? :P

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

THE RECORD KEEPER, 4,100 words

I'm very sorry if you're here expecting to read the short story, "The Record Keeper." I have indeed removed it from this blog, as I am seeking publishing opportunities for it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Then and now, continued: a comparative look at exposition over the years

I'm about halfway done with my short story assignment for class, and I'm having a fantastic time. It feels so good to write.

The first part I posted has been altered a bit based on some invaluable feedback; if you were among the ones who commented on the last post (either on deviantART or here), let me say thank you. I learn so much from you all; your input makes me a better writer overall. The fact that anyone is willing to take time out of their busy schedules to help me grow as a writer is one of the biggest compliments I could ever receive. Every word means the world to me. So thank you.

This will be in the same vein as last post. I'm going to take the second half of the introduction I wrote in 2009 and post it, with the rewrite beneath it. As always, any and all feedback is appreciated!

****

Original, dated January 2009:

The receiver clicked and the sound of static silence rippled from the earpiece. I hung the phone up and wiped my fingers on my pants, still unsure if the funeral was in the morning or the evening. Seven o'clock is uncommitted. It goes both ways.

I hate phone booths. This one was like every other one I had been in: the clammy, stale air that ruminated inside the booth reeked, though instead of donning the common dirty hobo odor, this one was much more reminiscent of two dollar hooker and nauseating perfume. An uneven layer of condensation clung to the walls and if I were feeling a bit more festive, I would have written all over them with the tip of my finger. But my mom had just died (four days ago, I kept telling myself) so I let them be. Besides, this particular phone booth already had its share of defilement. Each side of glass was riddled with amateur graffiti and crude drawings: a penis, random names looping in bastardized cursive, 'Mike wuz here.' Mike is everywhere. In the corner, the words 'Fuck me,' were written in bold black marker, with the latter word crossed out and replaced with 'you,' which was also crossed out and replaced with 'God.'

I shrugged the accordion door to the side and stepped out, pulling gloves from the back pocket of my pants and thrusting them on in a single, practiced motion. I've never cared much for the cold, but then again, my fingers and toes are always cold no matter what the season. Bad circulation. It's in my genes.

****

Rewrite, dated October 13, 2012:

The crack of his phone slamming against the switch hook is the last thing I hear before silence ripples into the earpiece. I hang up the pay phone and wipe my sweaty palms on my pants. My hands are shaking. I stand in the phone booth and stare at the bright yellow handset, replaying the conversation in my head over and over.

The dim halo of light above me flickers like it’s straight out of some cheesy horror flick. Stale air trapped inside the glass walls of the phone booth reeks of cheap hooker perfume. One side of glass has a crude drawing of a penis and the words, “Mike wuz here.” Mike is everywhere. In the bottom corner of the accordion door, the words “fuck you” are written in bold black marker; the latter word is crossed out and replaced with “me” and an accompanying phone number, which is also crossed out and replaced with “God.”

Before I leave, I make sure to check the return coin slot; when I was seven, I found three quarters at a subway station, which has always served as a personal justification for my habit since—even thirteen years later. But I don’t give a shit about quarters now, and I fully expect the slot to be empty. To my surprise, my forefinger stumbles over something that is decidedly not change. It’s smooth but textured, like dense paper. I feel around its oddly shaped edges for a couple seconds, unable to identify the object simply from touch. Then I pluck out my prize. A white puzzle piece.

As a child I’d made a pastime of watching my dad sort puzzle pieces on the cleared dining room table according to size, shape, and color, slowly working his way from the inside, out. Using the border was cheating. When he wasn’t looking I would steal important pieces and hide them in my pockets to see if he’d notice. I wanted him to scour the house looking for the pieces he couldn’t do without: a heavily made-up woman’s eye; the hour hand on the face of a melting Dali clock; New York City on a map of the United States. I’d had it all planned out: he would ask me to help him find it, I would save the day, and we would work on the rest of the puzzle together. But he’d never even so much as asked me when a piece went missing. Not a word. All of his puzzles remained incomplete, and I was left with a box full of important pieces that meant nothing without the others.

Unlike the ones I stole, the evenly white piece I turn over in my hand is underwhelming. Maybe it’s snow at the top of the Himalayan Mountains or the bottom right-hand corner of the Beatles’ White Album. Nothing special. I slip it into my jeans pocket, shrug the accordion door to the side, and step out.