Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Goal

I'm announcing a new goal (which I actually set last week, but anyway) of giving myself sixty days to finish the first draft of my next book: The Chronicles of Hendricks. This is a rather daunting task, since not only is Hendricks envisioned as a lot longer than Lepus, but I'm still working on some basic details. There's certainly a lot that I know will be going on, but the story's anchor, its theme so to speak, still eludes me at the moment. Nevertheless, I'm plugging away at it as best I can, and hopefully I'll come up with a good solid truth to wrap the story around before I get too much farther.

The goal is to finish the first draft by July 23rd. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Cemeteries

                Yesterday I attended Mass at the local cemetery and then took a while to wander the graves, reading the headstones. It was very moving, reading the names of people long dead, seeing the dates of their lives marked out. Some lived well into their seventies or eighties, others barely lasted a few days, but each was laid to rest here in this peaceful piece of property. Some were marked with identifications like “U.S. Army” or “SSRGT U.S. Marine Corps,” together with the war they served in, if any. Most of them had small flags stuck into the ground next to them. Many were double markers for husbands and wives, complete with the date of their marriage.
                The overwhelming idea that struck me again and again was not the fact of death, but of life. Here were people who had lived, bled, loved, and died, who had run the race and fought the fight. Here their lives were summarized in a few names and dates, and yet I could imagine or picture them as clearly as if I had read their biographies, if not quite in the details then at least in the feeling, the impression of their lives. Life in all its complexities, struggles, joys, and pains was made manifest to me in a way it seldom has. There are few places where the reality of life is made more tangible than in a cemetery. It felt to me like I could endure all the pain and suffering that is to come better for knowing that these resting souls had done so before me.   
                As I walked along, I was remembering something that Abraham Lincoln said once. He and his wife were driving through a cemetery, and he was so struck by the tranquility and beauty of the place that he had the driver pause for a while. “Mary,” he said. “You are younger than I, and you will outlast me. When I die, lay my remains in a place like this.”

Friday, May 18, 2012

On Epigraphs

Lepus is essentially complete, or at least ready to be sent out for its first test in the real world with unsuspecting minds. I'm eager (and a little nervous) to see how it's received, since, like most of my stories, it's kind of an odd little duck. Not to mention that this is the very first feeler of the massive 'Tomiverse' to be reached out into the world at large. Success means that more will follow. Failure...well, I'm not really sure what will happen in the event of failure, to be honest.

The only thing that's really left to do is to finish adding the epigraphs. See, I've decided that every book, chapter, and short-story that I write will be preceded by a short quotation, and right now I'm struggling to find the right ones for the two chapters of Lepus that still lack them.

I really enjoy the process of collecting epigraphs. In the first place it gives me an incentive to read more classic literature (I've read two new Shakespeare plays over the past couple weeks) and collect tons and tons of quotations. Also, I love the symbolism, the play of subtlties involved in finding just the right quotation for each chapter. I try to pick quotes that don't just allude to what will happen, but which actually lend deeper meaning to the events, or foreshadow future developments, or hint at an unexpected interpretation. When I find the perfect quote, it's like finding the right piece of a jiggsaw puzzle or the solution to some brain-teaser: a combination of delight at my own cleverness and gratitude that such a quote exists and fits my story so well.

Though it's not just classic literature: I've made it a rule that nothing is out-of-bounds or unworthy to be a source for a quote, only provided that it fits. In Lepus, for instance, I've got quotes from Confucius, Dante, Iron Man, I Was a Teenage Werewolf (seriously) and, of course, Watership Down among others. I'm going by the same rule that applies to "Catholicity of Taste:" whatever tells the truth and tells it well is acceptable.

The delay has also given me a chance to make some last minute edits and adjustments before sending it out. I'm hoping to settle on the final two quotes this weekend and send it out for critiquing either Sunday or Monday. Exciting!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I'm Insane

I've known this for a while, of course, what with the voices in my head, my second personality, massive mood swings, and that three-week killing spree I blackmailed the media to cover up...sorry, said too much there.

But now it's been officially confirmed: I've started a personal project for fun and education of reading and summarizing the entire Summa Theologica. I'm on Question 3 of Part One right now. Somebody stop me before it's too late...

Incidentally, I've already discovered that St. Thomas eschews racism. Prima Pars Question 3, Article 3.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life Update

I've been sick for the past couple of weeks, and while I am feeling much better now it threw off my monthly goals considerably. I have a tendency to seize excuses for not getting things done, a habit I really need to break.

In the meantime, I've reached a rather daunting decision: I need to learn how to draw. See, I have determined to illustrate my stories in addition to writing them. I tried a couple of 3D art programs (Poser, DAZ, etc), but found them disappointingly clumsy and wholly inadequate to my work. So, the only alternative is to bite the bullet and learn to actually draw the illustrations myself. As all my pencil-related-skills are woefully lacking, this is going to take a lot of work, but no alternative.

I've been doing a good deal of self-reflecting recently, and have found that I have a curious kind of permanant tenseness. Not quite sure where it comes from or (more importantly) how to get rid of it, but I know it must go if I'm ever to make any progress in crafting the life I want. More on this issue (let's call it 'the Knot') as it develops. I've also realized that I enter every conversation under the assumption that no one really wants to talk to me, but is putting up with me out of politeness. That's something rather

With my return to relative health, I have again embarked on the slow, painful process of crafting a daily schedule. So far I've had some success with working in prayer and exercise, but less with writing, reading, and studying.

The good news is that I did finish Lepus, so now I just need to go back and revise it a little (I'm redoing the whole opening, for instance) then I'm going to send it out to family and friends for review.

So, goals for May:

1. Learn Italian: need to imerse myself in la lingua Italiano.
2. Study drawing: already had some success practicing on my own, and now I'm looking to take a course at the local community college, so we'll see how that turns out.
3. Schedule. Same as always.