Scrap Writing (9.30.2015)

More writing scraps to discard!

I may re-purpose this piece into a fully fledged short story, but for now I’ll leave this.

 


Scrap Writing

                Lady fingers and a hasty blonde ego pushed milk, cheese, and eggs across Vanessa’s belt line.  Vanessa smiled with her courtesy, scanned with her habit, but her eyes followed a snowflake down hairs as nightly and drawn as her own.

                A young raven woman swayed between handmade, wood-made homes; wandering through a world that longed for the electricity in its past. She held her hands up to the clouds as they fell down around her.  And then Little Sister looked over her shoulder: through the iris emeralds that had watched Vanessa grow tall and cynical; and she smiled to Vanessa from the grave.

                The sky wisps had heralded snow and a shivering shellacking; as did her phone’s meteorological report.  The posthumous would forever tease her with bygone happiness, but she could, at the least, capture fragments of her favorite memories falling past the window panes.

                Anticipation for the night nearly ruined it though as she picked up the carton of eggs to bag it, but pink hairs barged into her vision as Lylette entered her space to intercept the damaged goods.

                “This one has a broken egg.  Can you get another?”

                Vanessa scurried off to the refrigerator and flipped through the last six cartons, but at the end of the day the lot had been picked through and the imperfect batches remained.  She shuffled eggs around to make a good eighteen and hurried back with apologies and bows.

                The lady looked ready to vent over minutia, but she left without spoiling Vanessa’s evening.

                “Thank you”, Vanessa said, “I have bad eyes.”

                “I think they’d work better if you used them.”

                Vanessa would more easily manage this grocery store than execute its functions, but she lacked ambition for the real world.  She lived in her mind, and she’d likely land the homeless shelter if not for Lylette’s hand tugging on her leash once in a while.

                “What were you thinking about anyway?” and Vanessa talked of snow, but not sister, and Lylette looked out the window and wondered.  “It’s cold, but I don’t see anything.”

                Vanessa sifted through applications on her phone and showed Lylette her Weather App.  A physicist by name of “Lazy Hazy” pointed to west-moving cold fronts and said, “Like, a nine-five chance of snow, dudes”, before kicking back airs that were bad for his brain; and left Lylette wondering how someone so high could engineer radar and computer programs to extrapolate the weather.

                “How does he predict the weather anyhow?”

                “Calculus”, Vanessa said, and just like that Lylette lost all interest.

                Lylette knew math and snow from her window sill: always threatening to pile over her; but Vanessa had to chase down her numbers.  Other kids played; she went the library with her pencils and scribbled all over their excess text books.  “Math is fun”, she had said, and thus her days of sociopathy began.

                Vanessa and Lylette chatted idly about non-math things till they were told to close the store.  “I’ll leave the eggs to you, calc girl”, and Vanessa moved all the good eggs into fresh plastic cartons that she labeled as mixed batches.  The six cracked shells she put into a cardboard container and took with her as she and Lylette checked out.

                “Are those the cracked eggs?”

                “Yeah.”

                Childhood treasures grew into her vices and values, and any meat had been a treasure.

                When they got back to their apartment, Lylette dibbed the hot water, while Vanessa took over the kitchen.

                Two sloppy yolks she threw away.  The intact four she scrambled and cooked extra brown -just in case-, and chopped them up on her spatula.

                Sesame oil in a wok; brown and red rice from the day past; Vanessa waited till heat left a mark on her rice before tossing it around.  She opened two cans of sliced pineapple and poured the juice into the fry.

                Chop, sort, slice; she pushed her pineapples off her cutting board.

                Too much liquid; she cranked up her heat.  Crack, crack, sizzle bop: better than brass to her midnight ear, but she turned on some ZUNpets anyway.

                The best food was timed with a work-weary appetite, and she had her fillings ready in the cold.

                Onion, pepper, mushrooms and squash -yellow stuff and zucchini green too- diced and sautéed early in the day.  She tossed them in… tossed the egg in… tossed in peas, corn, and a whole bag of kale ‘n greens from her frozen stores.  She laid her pepper blanket red, black, and thick; pinched her salt; and stirred the spicy season in with tamari, tamari, tamari.

                She never got enough tamari in.  She threw half a cup in -maybe two-thirds-, too much for sure as she tossed and turned till dryness and fluid mediated an accord.  Vanessa served up two bowls in time for Lyllette, and one bite later Lylette said, “Needs more tamari”, but that didn’t stop her feasting.

                Fried rice spun nicely in a microwave, but fresh off the burner they shoveled it in.  The mushrooms and eggs bounced around so spongy and soft and carried the sweetness of the pineapple.  The rice didn’t muddle or mush and it fluffed up in her mouth.  The chaotic dispersal of carrots and onions and pepper gave each bite a different chew; and the greens and squash extended the soft texture of the dish without dumping in more rice, more carbs.

                A peppery heat soothed her icy breaths, and she settled into winter and whiskey under a blanket as she closed her eyes and whispered, “PSHUU!”

End


So there’s this little anime called Wakakozake.  The episodes are two minutes long, and they follow an Office Lady after work as she eats out by herself.  She talks about the food, makes you hungry, and goes, “PSHUU!” when she feels happy.

It’s silly, it’s cute, it’s kind of pointless; I like it.

I wanted to cap this piece off already, and Wakakozake came to mind so I just gave Vanessa her “PSHUU!” moment.

On that note, I don’t think I’ve written a cooking sequence before!  I deviate from my usually slow prose style, but hey, cooking is fun and energetic!

Let me know how I did!  Like something?  Hate something?  Say so!

Also… I used “ZUNpets” in a writing piece…

ZUNpets…

Have some ZUNpets.


Speaking of Touhou, I listened to some Touhou arrangements while writing, because I always listen to Touhou music while writing, and this particular arrangement stood out to me:

Alice Magica Spei by circle: Secret Messenger

If Yuki Kajiura ever arranged Touhou, I wager it would sound a lot like this.

I adore this music.

I also listened to KOKIA, who I learned about over at OtakuLounge.

Tatta Hitotsu No Omoi by KOKIA

I normally don’t listen to Japanese music because I don’t understand the words, but this song relaxes my usual tension; and Japanese phonetics have a way of melting into the sounds.

I let the auto-play on Youtube take me to some other KOKIA songs.   Vocalized music in general has a very low success rate with me, but I found myself liking about 3 out of 5 KOKIA songs, with the rest fairing no less than a neutral response.


I’m going to start my re-watch of School-Live!  I prefer to watch something twice over before critiquing it, as the first viewing will carry too much emotional reaction.

I liken it to studying an NFL game.

  • Enjoy the first time around for “what” it is and what happens.
  • Go in deeper the second time around, study the film, and seek out “why”.

I’m still debating whether to write a review separately, or combine a review and critique together and format my discussions into increasingly deeper layers of analysis and spoilers.  That way, if someone not familiar with School-Live! reads it, he/she can stop at a given point and say, “alright, I’m interested, I’ll stop here, watch it, and come back”, while maintaining interest to those who have seen School-Live!

Then again I feel like there are reviews everywhere for every show ever, so I may stick to a pure critique.

Impulsive Empathy; School Live! Reflection

Spoiler Warning: this post contains major spoilers for the Anime Series “School-Live!” up through and including Episode 10: Rainy Day

My empathy does not confer with my logical half.  It jumps from reality to imagination and abolishes the barrier in between.

When I read Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, I struggled to realize that Sarah’O’Rourke cut off her finger on that Nigerian beach; not me.  I started Borderlands 2 with casual interest, and my hatred toward Handsome Jack drove me to finish the game without rest or reprieve; not until I shot him in the head.  I feel the pain of nameless, random background characters that get slaughtered by trite Hollywood directors; and it doesn’t matter if I knew them not; I give them identity, story, sadness, and terror.

Habitual transplantation of character and feelings isn’t particularly new or odd -I think-, but I continually find myself struggling against empathetic recoil.  It’s a defining trait to me, but it’s also core to Kurumi Ebisuzawa’s character from School-Live!, and I quickly identified with her and became attached to her.

And oh, the feels…

Yuri Crying

More or less how I feel after watching School-Live! episode 10.


Cover of Gakkou Gurashi Volume 2, featuring Kurumi Ebisuzawa

Cover of Gakkou Gurashi Volume 2, featuring Kurumi Ebisuzawa

I identify with Kurumi.  I admire Kurumi.

Like me, Kurumi reads the memories dressed onto individual zombies; she imagines the terrors written into fallen furniture, broken barricades, and pools of blood huddled into the corner; and then her empathy pulls lost love and terror out of the grave.

Unlike me, she persevered the zombie apocalypse.  My default response to zombies is to end it all.  It’s hard for me to even watch zombie media, but Kurumi’s courage became my courage, and she became my emotional anchor in School-Live! when I would otherwise flip out because of… well, zombies…

I loathe zombies.  I hate the mouths, I hate death by gnawing, and I hate the one-bite-kill concept.  I’m fascinated though by far more dangerous and visceral fictional enemies such as the Tyranids.

So why Zombies?

Because zombies weaponize the most vibrant of our emotions: Love.

A child gets bitten… her mother grabs her and retreats to those who care about the daughter; and those the daughter cares about.  Love leaves her friends and family vulnerable.  She bites them, and then they retreat to their loved ones… and the cycle repeats again.

Of all the characters in School-Live, Kurumi is the one most identified by Love, and the most affected.  Her symbol in the opener is a heart.  She was madly in love prior to the outbreak, and she’s haunted by the memory of killing her crush/boyfriend.  When Kurumi, Yuri, and Miki discover the document that disavows individual love in favor of humanity’s survival, Kurumi reacts with rage.  Love has driven her throughout the series, and in the presence of her friends, she takes on the front and charges into danger with her shovel.

Alone, she becomes vulnerable to the tragedy in her environs.

In episode 2, Kurumi shovels a zombie in the head and it drops a cellphone.  On the phone is a photo of the-girl-that-was and her boyfriend.  Kurumi becomes overwhelmed by the emotional rush and nearly gets bitten before double-tapping the zombie.  This event revealed the impulsive nature of her empathy, and how empathy might serve as Kurumi’s fatal flaw.

School-Live! wrote Kurumi’s piece of the story with perfection.  Episode 2 showed you her weakness… conversations foreshadowed that Kurumi would get bitten… the temperature of the series grew colder… and then you watch her stand there: shovel ready as her beloved teacher’s zombie approached from around the corner… and you knew she was going to hesitate to kill Megumi’s zombie: Megumi’s memory.  And yet the traits that ultimately undid her… kindness, love, empathy… gave you hope, because she repeatedly displayed the strength it gave her.

But there’s a clear dichotomy:

When her friends are around, love becomes power.  Her empathy draws on the fear and hope of her friends and she quickly reacts to protect those feelings.

Alone, her empathy draws on lost love, and it’s not a choice.

All the counsel, the comfort, and support Megumi-sensei had given to Kurumi became Kurumi’s opponent… and Kurumi faltered.

And just like it always does, School-Live! keeps hope alive with the pause of an episode, the promise of “medicine” and a cliffhanger.


Despite how much it hurt to watch episode 10, I’m thankful for School-Live!, regardless of how it chooses to end.

School-Live! flipped Moe on its head and gave it something substantial to stand on.

School-Live! told its story well.  Bad story-telling is the failed crutch that repeatedly assassinates the anime and manga mediums; and so School-Live! has been a treat in that regard.

School-Live! also did something for me.

I’ve wondered for years why I have Neophobia, and School-Live! illuminated the reason.  I’ve been stuck in that room for days as Kurumi screams, her blood boils, and the infection spreads from her arm.  I drop myself far too deep into fiction and into my imagination.   I bring back all the feelings -all the despair and suicidal thoughts I would be having in Yuri’s position as she contemplates killing Kurumi- and then my common sense has to fight to try and remind me that fiction is fiction.

I’ve been shielding myself from potentially dangerous empathetic recoils, but fictional trauma led me to write my first short story Stitched Angel, and once again it’s got me writing.  Comfort is the last thing I need; perhaps it’s the last thing any writer needs.

So, thank you, School-Live!

Even if this breaks my heart.

Scrap Writing (5.27.2015)

Hello!  Hello!  I’m not dead!

I’m working on a follow-up short story to Under the Cherry Blossoms that is titled Paper Days.  I have qualms about writing Paper Days, but I’ll talk about those issues when I post it.

In the meantime, I have more scraps to discard.


 

Scrap Writing

                Love luscious lured Seresa from her hotel bed, and invited her to run down the hill slope and into a valley not yet tamed nor tampered by people.  She could run an asphalt marathon or beat up bullies in the boxing ring, but Nature offered her an unruly challenge and a chance to obtain the masteries locked by agility and fluid life.

                Seresa adjusted her footing for each sink into the dirt; bounced off the rock hidden beneath the ground.  Ferns and low plants routed her course round and round yet another obstacle.  The occasional tree offered a branch low enough to rush three steps up the trunk and then grab; grab and scale the canopy before dancing down to the earth.  She scaled a cliff of dirt and roots: five meters in five seconds.  She leapt across river stones on just her toes, and swam the spaces against rain swept currents.  She chased a deer, and though she could not keep pace, she could veer left to right to left with the beast without losing the wind of her speed.

                When her prey escaped her, she stopped and settled hands on hip.  She heaved for air, but felt comfortable in her lungs.  Exhaustion permeated her, and she shook it off by flexing and stretching her limbs.

                Seresa began her journey back to town, wandering haphazardly and seeking the dead.

                Life prevailed in this paradise, but so many victors required a sustenance, and Seresa sought out those poor souls: camellias ravaged by deer; a young oak starved by the growing giants around them.  She knelt before them, provided her sympathies and listened to the stories they left in the evidence.

                She touched what was left of the physical remnants and coaxed a spirit at peace to vacate this world; and the victims consoled left behind green and blue and purple wisps.

                Seresa materialized a crystal full of shimmers in her hand, and the stone sucked in each aurora.  By valley’s end she gained the magical essence of six flowers and a tree; and at the lip of her mind she wondered which of her clothes she should enchant.

End Scrap


I really enjoy Youtube’s auto-playlist feature.  Sometimes I forget about it and it’ll cycle along to vocals I don’t care for.

More often it leads me to some really, really cool Touhou Arrangements.

The Spring of Saigyou Ayakashi, by Dust Box 49/Ziki_7

If you do nothing else; at least listen from 5:30 till the end.

I’ll address how I came across this beauty in a later post 😉

Wheel of Destiny by Dust Box 49/Ziki_7

Eerie, elegant, cool… perhaps a bit threatening?

Sounds like Sakuya =P

Unknown, Little Scarlet by Diverse System/Yanagi

I never connected with the original U.N. Owen Was Her.  I found the instrumentation blaring and somewhat painful to listen to.  Remixes and arrangements enlightened me to the brilliance of the melody itself, but not even TAMUSIC could hit me with a tune that would stick.

Enjoy this one when you next study 🙂

I want to bring a different content to the blog… this week… tomorrow… today even…  I want to put my ideas on display.

They’re there, in my head… stuck behind self-consciousness, confidence crashes, and depression swings…

When others share their problems to me, I deliver answers cleanly, efficiently, and with great articulation.  I bumble sometimes, but I respond to others well.  Poke me with the right question, and you’ll receive an answer unique to me.

I want to talk to some of the questions that haven’t been asked; that I want to ask.

Hopefully I’ll have something soon.  Positive thoughts!

Enjoy your night 🙂

It’s Not Okay to Say Nothing.

So the Internet of writers blew up over an essay written by Ryan Boudinot called “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach In One.

I felt saddened that an Instructor would cling to the notion that “Writers are born with talent”; though I grieved more for the number of persons who consoled this concept of predetermination.


Indeed, certain mental attributes preclude writing mastery: analysis, theorization, extrapolation, recreation, innovation, and adaptability come to mind.  However, a lacking of one or more of these qualities can be traced back to various environmental circumstances or personable circumstances.

For example, America still lingers on the edge of authoritarian parenting.  One of the major drawbacks to this style of parenting is that it relies heavily on Negative Reinforcement.  Negative Reinforcement deters desire to commit an action.  When overused or used out of situation, this method of control damages a person’s sense of desire; and he/she may generally suppress desire altogether, or hide it, or feel ashamed to want something.

Desire drives intellectual skills, and a student raised from a heavily disciplined childhood will usually struggle in a creative writing course.  The student may lack confidence in herself, lack faith in her writing, or outright lack the prerequisite creativity traits; because she was too scared to exercise these traits growing up.

Now, I suppose these circumstances could be classed as Fate, but I don’t care; not in as it relates to teaching.

The teacher’s purpose is to identify weaknesses in the students, and help them to correct those weaknesses.

If an aspiring writer lacks key intellectual skills to become an elite writer, then help him/her to develop those skills!


Which brings me to the point that bothered me; and I speak not of the points he made, because he gives some good advice:

  • If you don’t have the time to write, make the time.
  • Write for yourself, not the teacher.
  • Make writing a passion first and a profession second.

I echo these sentiments.

This is what I found offensive:

“Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach In One.”

…Seriously?

He perceived improvements within students’ work/mindset/passion but to failed to address his qualms with those students?  To those students?

I don’t know what goes into the MFA program, but If I pay for assistance in achieving mastery in a craft, and you are my teacher, I am purchasing your subjectivity.  If you don’t like my writing, I expect you to tell me what you don’t like and why.  If you don’t think I belong in the literary world then you better tell me why; because your critique has been paid for and is owed!

Those students got robbed of their feedback; not to mention the assistance that could/would/should have followed pending said feedback.

/end rant.

/end topic.


I’m aware I promised a post within the last week and failed to meet that promise.

I don’t know if anyone holds me to that, but I disappointed myself.  I’m aiming to put up two short stories between now and next Sunday, and at least one other non-story post (I’ll probably share some of my favorite Touhou arranges).

For now, I’m going write and listen to Desire Drive, because I used the phrase earlier in this post 🙂

Desire Drive by ZUN, arranged by TAMUSIC

Finish your weekend well ^_^

Words Versus Pictures

After reading the article: Words Are Human, which relays pretty much everything I feel about the inundated notion “A picture is worth a thousand words”, I felt affirmed in my writers’ bias for words over motion pictures, but then I mulled over the idea for a few days.

My usual case-in-point argument for the sheer, irreplaceable power of words begins and ends with Martin Luther King Jr, but then I thought…

Not about whether words were truly so powerful, but that perhaps a picture could rival prose.


I once saw a picture of an angel getting her wings torn off; and a thousand words could not accurately describe the scene, because one thousand counts of abstracted physicality does not add up to the perfect physical definition of a picture.

One thousand pictures streamed at sixty per second though could not accurately describe in 16.666~ seconds my distraught reactions, because one thousand pictures of abstracted feeling does not add up to the perfect emotional definition of a prose, nor explain my revulsion.

A single picture possessed enough symbolisms to rile my ire in a way that words would not; invoking a web work of emotions that could only materialize words not suitable for any kind of substitution: pictorial, animated, or otherwise.  That one picture (that I don’t care to dig up) required an entire short story to reconcile, but the resulting short story would fail upon 60 frames per second…  I’ve always wanted to accompany Stitched Angel with some pictures, but only to assist those words making a physical account.


So right now, my working theory is that:

Words possess accuracy and truth over the immaterial, but through immaterial symbolism, words embody a great many pictures.

Pictures possess accuracy and truth over the material, but through material symbolism, pictures embody a great many words.

So which is better?

Words!  Duh!

How else would I transmit this idea to you?  🙂

Agree, disagree? Mine is but an opinion, and yours are welcome here too, so post away!

It’s Valentine’s Day!

It’s Valentine’s day!

For the many entwined souls feuding over foreign chocolates, today provides endless happiness and opportunities for culturally approved exploitation!

Reimu Hakurei 12

Hearts will frenzy,

Beat without refuse,

Borrow from future gold,

To give for love thereafter.

Veins will flourish,

Bloom bloody red roses,

Melt the snow,

And stain February,

In life’s favored color.

Reimu Hakurei 13

 Then the Wine flows.

That handmade scarf,

Purchased from other hands.

Those Belgian chocolates,

Ordered for home, from home.

Dishonest mistakes,

Shroud confused hearts

burgeoned with true feelings

and a fear for insufficiency.

So keep it in you to love and forgive :).

Unless, of course, you’re not counted amongst the coupled.

In which case you can join me and commiserate the end of oranges, football, and love’s calendar year!

The Specter of Love looms late in life,

Reserving its haunts for regretful pains,

Adding itself to the memories,

That could have been.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Giving up on a story: sometimes, it’s for the best.

So I gave up on the short story that bound me for a year.

After persisting for so long and so futilely, I decided to pursue volume writing and blogging. I wrote a fiction short short story, and when I cataloged it, I couldn’t help but notice the date of the last completed short story.

November 13, 2012!!!

I realized then, that giving up was absolutely the right decision.

I started Waltz on Water during WCU’s Spring Literary Festival. Listening to all these awesome writers speak charged me with writing vigor and inspiration, and I hit 3,000 words within two days, but then as the festival wound down so did my muse. I hit about 6,000 words by the end of spring and then I kept getting stuck at the same damn point.

I’d write, feel good, and then go back the next day and recognize some flaw so subtle but not in line with the rest of the short story. I kept repeating this series of “try again, fail” until I evaded writing outright.

I can’t identify the problem, because I think Waltz on Water simply surpasses my current writing skill. Maybe hanging around all those great writers allowed me to channel their grace and unlock my full potential, if only for a moment. I lost the beautiful spirit that I drew from those writers and now, Waltz on Water evokes only a gray pain.

When I listened to Paul Harding speak at the Aspen Literary Festival (On Youtube), he was asked the question, “have you ever abandoned a short story?” and he answered “no” quite emphatically. That drove me to finish my short story, but I just kept getting stuck at the same point and I realize now that I don’t have the answer. I attribute some of my stubbornness to my own little ego, which absolutely adored Waltz on Water.

I write because I can’t find what I want to read, what I truly love to read, and if I just finished this short story I could just point to it and say, “I love stories like this.” It would define me as a writer, but I realized now, quite late:

I’m still not sure who I am. I know the parameters, and could tell you what I’m not, but I could not summarize myself with a single statement.

Fairy tales? Magic? Fantasy meets reality? The merger between surreal worlds and realistic people? Yes, but there’s more, and I wrongly assumed myself complete.

You can’t shortcut sheer writing volume.

To borrow from the Bill Bellichick school of thought: nobody makes a Super Bowl team. Create the best team possible that can take a shot year after year, because even when you go all-in you’ll probably fall flat on your face, as I did.

Here’s to quantity over quality! Or at least enough quantity for said quality to matter.