…and I could smell the milky moon and the hardness of stars.

The above title is the last line I read last night before I went to sleep. From Ray Bradbury’s The Rocket Man. I really don’t care for space, or rockets, or anything of that sort, but I like The Golden Apples of the Sun and the many stories contained therein. The Exiles is my favorite, but I also like The Murderer and There Be Tygers. He generally has a good writing style, and sometimes he comes up with a line or two that I can almost taste. Such as the one I mentioned above. It’s like literary M&M’s.

I’m really jealous of him, though, for having the ability to write so many short stories– enough to make a book out of. I’ve written maybe three short stories, one novelette, and I’m in the process of novelette #2. Novelettes are UNSELLABLE, I tell you. I just spent the last hour and a half scouring websites of small presses, literary magazines, agents, whatever– and guess what? White Funeral fits nowhere.

Leave it to me to write completely outside all acceptable forms and genres.

Now, I know that Apricotpie is… well, “Apricotpie”, as the DHFs and I say. (When we want constructive criticism, we say, “Don’t be Apricotpie”, because AP tends to give great encouragement while lacking the critical side. Which is not a bad thing; when you’re in the middle of something, you sometimes need a group of people cheering your story on unabashedly.) But anyway… I still wonder, How can all these people think that White Funeral should be published, and all these people really like it, and yet no one will publish it? Just based on length, they won’t even look at it.

I don’t understand why novelettes and novellas are so apparently unaccepted. Sure, they’re not mainstream, but maybe they would be if they could actually get published. Maybe it would be nice to pick up a thin volume once in a while. To read a story in one day, in a few hours. To pick something up and read it, the core of a story– only just enough background, just enough characters. Short plots can take twists, too, you know; and maybe not every YA fantasy has to fit into the same cookie-cutter mold of 80,000 word tome.

Even the Comic Sans publisher guy won’t accept anything shorter than 50,000.
That’s just depressing.

And literary magazines? Well, their guidelines are even harder to follow. Most of them want the quirky, the strange, the offbeat– which, you’d think, perfect. But the storyline of White Funeral is pretty straightforward, not weird enough, not cutting-edge or contemporary. It’s only the format, the length of it that’s bizarre. And besides, there are about 3 YA literary magazines. Wow. Great odds there.

I’m about to give up. 

Except not.

Because I still have some faith left in White Funeral. And a lot of faith left in readers. Real people in the real world want good stories. Period. 

At least, I hope so.

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what’s on the telly?

I’ve puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore…but I finally posted a poem on Apricotpie! That must be the longest it’s ever taken me to write a poem in my LIFE. Sad. Usually it all just pops so easily into my head in somewhere between 15 minutes to an hour. But this time it took quite a bit longer! Of course, I did keep getting interrupted. It seems my brothers have forgotten that my writing time is non-interruptible. I’m about to “sock ’em one in the face” as Poncho says. It might alos be my fault, because I’m so easily distracted, but still. I’m trying to get back on track, all right? White Funeral editing is done for now and two people from my writers’ group have offered to read it, so all I can do is wait on that one. Guess that means I’ve got no more excuses. Time to crack the whip on the noveling. The weather sucks… might as well spend some extra time in front of the computer doing something productive.

I HATE THIS KEYBOARD! Grrrrr. Typing on it is like when you try to run through waist-high water.

But anyway…  In other news, we got a new TV!

It went from this:

to this:

Much improved! No more lines creeping down the screen! No more speakers in their death throes. And best of all, no more converter box! Of course, reading still provides better picture and better sound than any technology… ;)

If only I had a good book right now to prove it. I quit on 1984 already. It’s just kinda dumb. It’s so obvious that it’s a dystopia that it’s not even interesting. It’s like the author had all these great concepts– the people are being spied on by the government, the telescreen thing that you can’t turn off– but he made it so obvious. Wouldn’t it be more sinister if the people were so brainwashed they didn’t want to turn off the telescreen? Or if they thought it was a good thing they were being watched? (Both of which I think are plausible… most of the time we are spied on anyway, there are cameras everywhere and the internet stores your searches– and people think it’s good because they’re so flipped out about safety. And the telescreen, well, people are already on the computer or their phone 24/7, and they don’t want to unplug.) Step it up a notch, dude! However, I will give him a small break because it was a long time ago and maybe back then people still had a sense of privacy and the need to not be bombarded by noise and other stimuli all the livelong day. But whatever. 1984 isn’t as relevant to here and now as it’s cracked up to be, that’s all.

Well, I think it’s time to break for lunch. Then I’m going to sit down and crank out some serious writing.

Yours till the roof tops,
Pen

I shall be telling this with a sigh

On Monday, I had a writing day with my writers’ group (well, some of them), and it felt so good to focus and get through a bunch of things I’d been stuck on. I even did a little editing to White Funeral, although I have to say I feel a teensy bit guilty whenever I take my writing time to do that. I guess because I never took White Funeral all that seriously until after it was finished, because I never thought it would turn out to be this well-recieved. So of course now what do I dream of? I dream of getting a novelette published… Why must I always go off the beaten path, eh?

“I took the one less traveled, and that has made all the difference…”
One day in the fall there was some discussion as to whether Frost meant that it was a good difference, as it is always interpreted. Maybe he meant it in a bad way, like if he had taken the one more traveled he would’ve had an easy life. Or maybe he meant it in a literal way. “Gee, wish I’da taken that there paved path, then I wouldn’ta got all lost in the woods ‘n stuff.” or maybe he just meant it made a difference and it wasn’t good, bad, or literal. It was just different.
OR maybe he had a secret evil plan… “I will write a poem full of ‘symbolism’ with a ‘vague’ tone, and an ending about a road less traveled, oooh, the teachers will like that. Then they will force the students to read my poem! Memorize it! Rip it apart and decode the symbolism! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”
His poem may or may not be a coded message about taking over the Tri-State Area. 

It’s funny how poems always get interpreted in ways the writer never intended. Most of the time, I don’t care how other people interpret my poems because that’s what’s fun about reading poetry, you bring your own perspective and, like art, the poem takes on a different meaning for you than it does for the next person. And I love when people point out something about my writing that I never even noticed or thought of, but it fits so well or it’s such a cool concept! Because a lot of the time I just write whatever comes to mind and figure my subconcious probably knows where it’s going. That’s what it’s there for, right? So I’ve no idea as to the “meaning”. My poems are never written to be “taken” a certain way. (Unlike my emails. But that’s a different– and rather traumatic– story.) 

I think you can’t say to someone else, “read this, it’s about such-and-such”. Then they’re looking for things to fit the meaning, instead of looking for meanings to fit the words. It’s like science. You can’t look for facts to fit theories; it must be the other way round. Never read the comments before the piece. Never read a review before the book. Never read people’s interpretations of a song until you’ve heard the song clearly at least thrice.

Writing things with secret meanings is fun, though. Can I tell you a few secrets? Indeed, I never said anything for or against Bronach being Queen, so did I imply it? Or was it all a dream?
Hey, that kind of rhymed. Maybe I’ll make it into a poem…

“Was the story as it seemed?
Was Bronach the Queen?
Or was it all, as Poe once said,
but a dream within a dream?
And Frost, you can deem
to take the less-traveled road in your scene
and while you’re walking on it
I hope you fall into a ravine.”

Love,
Pen

PS: I am leaving for winter camp on the morrow… :)

Phew.

I finally finished White Funeral!
That’s right, people. And now I have carpal tunnel. I think. Ow. All I know is that my shoulders hurt. Stupid non-ergonomic computer.

Whatever. Go read it! I’m excited that I finally wrote the ending. But also pretty scared that everyone will hate it.
Such is the life of a writer.

Oh, and to add a new fear that just occured to me: that no one will even read it.

Ugh. The pain.

Could it be true?

There may be a second chance for AP…… Though it be a slim one, I have high hopes. I’ve been sighing gloomily every time I look at my links page here, imagining finally deleting it; or sometimes I imagine accidentally typing it in on November 3rd or something, and seeing nothing but a black, buzzing screen. Shudder.

I hope we can pull through…

Requiem for ApricotPie

Yesterday we all got word that ApricotPie will be closing. This elicited responses of shock, disbelief, thanks, and efforts to carry on in a different way. All of that went through my mind, which sort of pushed all my other AP thoughts out of my head for a while, but now they’re coming back and I want to write them down.

Remember how I used to talk about AP’s Magic Box? The simplicity of the box where one writes in their post… Just a blank, white box with B I U over it, surrounded by apricot-colored background and the homey blue-and-white sides. The blue and white made it feel almost like you were looking into a cozy little room. Anyway, that magic box earned the ‘magic’ part because evey time I was stuck, or uninspired, or had only a vague idea of what I was going to write, I would start typing in the box and voila! something good would come out of seemingly nothing. In truth I think the simplicty– no messing with fonts and sizes and all that other stuff– helped clear my mind and focus my thinking, so that I could use my full energy toward putting word after word and creating.

I just counted: 122 posts of something like that. 200-some favorite words. Would I even have started collecting favorite words if not for the (too small) favorite words box on AP? I know I wouldn’t have written a speck of poetry… Well, maybe I would have written it, but I definitely wouldn’t have written as much of it, or found how much I really enjoyed it, or been encouraged to keep at it. I would definitely not be this far along in improving on it… Looking back at some of my first poems, I can’t believe how far I’ve come, and how much farther I can still go. Oh, possibilities!
The same goes for short stories, which are a more recent development. In my past years I wouldn’t even touch short stories. How was it even possible to make fiction short? I believed it wasn’t. Short fiction was like, um, I can’t really think of a clever metaphor, but anyway it was a nice idea but pretty daunting and impossible. Then along came AP, where I read more short stories and finally decided to try my hand at it. I’m still rather proud of Norwich, my first short story.

Through AP, I was exposed to a lot of different types and forms of writing. I was able to experiment, learn, and be creative. Plus, I was able to read the words of so many other creative homeschoolers, which was really fun. And there’s something to be said for a website dedicated to literature, which is a slow thing, and too long for other websites of today, like facebook and twitter. You could never put up a poem on Facebook, first of all because no one’s in the frame of mind to read and think about it, and secondly because it’s too long. It’s not a little blip. It took a while to think about, and then to write, and then to read and understand. No one seems to be interested in trying to decipher things, they just want to comprehend instantly. Personally, the deciphering is what I love about poems and songs. I think it’s why Jars of Clay is my favorite band; so many of their song require you to think. Lost was my favorite show because it required me to think. I could go on and on with a list of things I loved because they made me think (Lilith!! Except my thinkng totally failed me at the end, sigh), but I’ve made my point. There are not many places out there where someone can write, read, and discuss all in the pace and space required.

Sure, I’ve had my tiffs with AP over the years. The comment and post limits nearly killed me. (I managed to adjust; clearly I’m still alive, unless I write this to you from the Beyond, woooooeeeeeeeeooooo.) There was once an unpleasant episode concerning something of Eliza’s that will still, quite some time later, make blood rush to my ears and make me snap and claw like a Jabberwock. But hey. I turn into a Jabberwock when someone messes with my friends. (When someone messes with me, however, I turn into a mome rath– not helpful.)

But despite the problems or the drawbacks, AP continued to be a really cool place that brought together people and their wide range of opinions, backgrounds, ages, and writing styles. It’s like we all came to the blue and white room to hang out. I’ll miss the place. Still, there are ways to go on… Like this blog. Once AP closes for good, I’ll be putting the things I would have put there here. One less link for my blog-readers to click. (Optimism. I can’t help myself.)

Hopefully I’ll be able to continue writing poetry, and finish White Funeral [let me diverge from the topic for a minute to say: every single time I try to write the ending, it refues to be the actual ending!! I thought it was going to be three parts originally, then I thought, okay, maybe five, and then it became ten, and now I think I’ll have to write an eleventh or a twelfth! Why? Why? I do hope it doesn’t turn into a novel, I can’t handle a second novel right now. A novellette, a novella, fine. Fine. Oh, the pains of writing sometimes.]. Hopefully I’ll be able to create more short stories, and keep expanding and experimenting, and most of all improving.

Thanks ApricotPie, and I’ll enjoy the last several weeks of you.

Love,
Pen

PS… Now I’m thinking of all the goodbye-ish poems… Like the “still she haunts me, phantomwise”, though it’s not really fitting, and of course the “though time be fleet, and I and thou/are half a life asunder… Even that now thou wilt not fail/ to listen to my fairy-tale”. That fits a bit better, yes?
PPS off to pack for camp!! YAY!

what does your writing say about you?

Lately I’ve been considering the above question. What does my writing say about me? Since I think it’s a pretty interesting study, I decided to go deep and make you a little essay instead of just rambling. Soooo… here it goes. :)

Main Characters: Who are my main characters, usually? Well, usually they are girls in their early/mid teens. OK. So at first thought it seems like my characters are usually like me. But then I look at their personalities. Often, they are shy.
Now, I am not a shy person. In fact, I take after my grandfather in the way that I can talk to just about anyone just about anywhere. I make friends easily. I’m not afraid to speak my mind, stand up for someone, etc. I love the spotlight, love performing and being on stage.
But, looking at my characters, I wonder if maybe somewhere inside me there is a shy version of myself, just cringing away from the world. I mean, there are times when I’m nervous or awkward in situations, but I work through it pretty fast. However, perhaps it is through some of my main characters that the shy girl inside me gets out. Maybe that’s even how I manage to shove down my insecurities when I have to. Because I’ve already worked this out, through my main characters. 

Antagonists/Evil:
When I was a little kid, I was horribly, horribly afraid of fire and heat. Anything that burned. The oven, the stove, these heater things we have, fires in hearths, even birthday candles terrified me. I remember sitting in front of a candlelit cake, leaning away from it and cringing until I got to blow it out.
Nowadays, my fear is not so extreme. But I will admit that I am still pretty daunted by our old stove and oven. I’ve worked out a system for getting my baking out of the oven, but I’ll only se the thickest oven mitts we have and I still lean back from the heat and force myself to breathe.  But I do like candles, and campfires, and the fire in the grate at the DHF’s house.
Looking at the evil in my books, I realized that a lot of them use fire. In my current novel, that’s basically the whole concept, the evil fire people and fire!! I began to wonder about that. In the past, in earlier novels and in novels I’ll probably never finish, fire pops up a lot on the dark side. Maybe it’s because I do still have this big fear of fire and being burned. Perhaps the fact that I’m able to let it run wild in my writing helps me control it in real life. Maybe the fact that I can have some outlet for it in writing is the thing that allows me to reach into the oven, cook over the stove, use a hair blow dryer/straightener.

Those were the main things I noticed about my writing, novel-wise. But I am sure that if I analyzed my poetry, I could see a lot more, since I approach it differently than I do my novels. My poems almost always reflect what has been happening to me, even if I mask it in such a way that only I know what I was talking about and to others it’s just a poem they like but don’t quite understand. I guess that’s why it was easy for me to just sit down and write a poem on AP, what made me realize that I liked poetry. It was a way for me to talk abut something without having to completely explain it. I just had to paint the emotions and the details and not worry about plot or anything. That’s why I can sit down and shoot off a poem in about a half an hour, because it’s straight from the heart, mind, and gut reactions. I guess it’s sort of bad of me to post without editing, but that’s just how I do things. If I ever submit poems somewhere or make a book of poetry, though, I promise I’ll edit.

I guess my poems don’t show my innermost fears or secret personality the way my prose does, but looking back at the ones I’ve written over the past year (2009) I can see how far I’ve come. I can see how I’ve stayed the same and I remember what was going on in my mind when I wrote those poems. But I can look at the past objectively through the poems I’ve written. I don’t relive the experiences or thoughts, just view them. It’s good, I think, to be able to see things as though you are a stranger looking at your past self. But it also can be a little bothersome when you notice a typo or something, and think: ‘how many times have I viewed this and I never noticed!’ Ugh. Plus it’s a little depressing to read depressing poems and that’s what a lot of mine are at the end of 2009. I don’t know why. I guess I was just out of that happy-happy-rhyming phase that began my career on AP. I still wonder why Ben let me be a Monthly Writer based on that stuff, it was… it was… young. I was younger and so I’m going to not read them anymore and not loathe them and their cutesey rhymes. Though there were a few that I think reminded me of Shel Silverstien, so that makes it OK.

I just hope that my poetry doesn’t say I’m all teenage-angst now. UGGGHHHHH. *sudders disgustedly* Please let me never be that way in poetry. Everyone has their angst-moments, but pleeeease let mine stay a moment and not be an eternal blemish on Apricotpie and literature in general. ugh ugh ugh.

You know, I could talk for ages about AP. There’s so much that could be said about it, and how it’s wonderful and amazing and should never ever die. It’s taught me a lot. Lately it’s been teaching me the art of suspenseful chapter/part endings, mwahaha! But I would never stop, and it would lead me to other topics, and so I will log off now and go write a novel or perhaps Part Six of “White Funeral.” 

Ta-Ta!
-Pen

PS: you know that Irish Blessing, may the road rise up to meet you blah blah blah? Well, I have one for writers. Ahem:
May your page rise up to meet you,
may your pen never run out of ink;
and when someone is discouraging,
just tell them that they stink.

Beautiful. Tear Tear. 
Ha. Riiiight.

We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!

I really need to work on pitching. No, not baseballs!! (I was once in softball, though, and I never could pitch there either.) The kind of ptiching I’m talking about right now is for ideas, concepts, novels. You see, my friend Cory was asking me what Oak Heart is about. I found myself completely unable to explain without going: “Oh, well, I should have said in the beginning…” or “Wait, back up. What I mean is…” So I just said, “Uh…. I can’t explain!!!” And then promptly shoved more pizza in my mouth.

That was some good pizza.

Anyway, after that I got to thinking: what happens when I want to query agents for this? Or if I win this contest, then how will I pitch it? It’s got to be like the paragraph on the back cover/inside flap of a novel on the library shelf. In that paragraph, the reader decides whether or not they’re going to read the book. It doesn’t explain the plot, list the characters or even sometimes make sense. It gives just enough away of what the book is generally about to make the reader go, “COOL!!! I MUST HAVE THIS!!! oh, crap, where’s my library card?” And then if they forgot their library card, that paragraph makes them toss and turn in bed later until the next morning when they find said library card and RUN over to the library RIGHT NOW becuase THE WORLD WILL COME TO A SUDDEN AND TRAGIC END if they don’t read the book.
Or at least, you want them to say, “Cool! I’d read this.” and then get it.
Reel ’em in like a pro, I tell ya.

So if I can’t even explain the main character to my friend, that means I have (as they say in To Kill a Mockingbird) another think coming.
Where do I turn in my hour of need? Why, Apricotpie, of course!
That magic, blank box…. what would I do without it? Uh, probably sit around sulking. (Especially because I have a cold today and my brain is feeling muddled. I hate being sick. :( )
Anyway, I had a record number of TWO posts like all week or more!!! That never happens!!!! I’m always waiting impatiently for it to say, “you have one post” and then I go crazy and write something and post it asap. But this past week I’ve been busy and frankly uninspired.
But anyway, witohut any intention of really posting, I clicked on Poetry and just sat there staring at the screen for a while.

Thinking.

And then suddenly, my fingers started to type. I didn’t know what they were typing, only that it rhymed, and it was about Oak Heart. When it was done I added the title, the author’s note, posted it. I shut down my computer and went to sleep for like 2 hours.
When I awoke, I felt better. I clicked on AP and looked at my poem. I read it about 3 times.
I am pretty rpoud of myself. :)
And I think I have a great pitch in the works. Oh, it’s there, jelling in my brain. All thanks to poetry, rhyme, and that little magic box.

:D

“Kill all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em…”

I love the Bellman. :) Just gotta say that. Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark” shall always and forever be one of my favorite stories told in poem form, or one of my favorite stories altogether.
which reminds me…

For school, I’ve started reading Harper Lee’s first and only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. I was reading it about an hour ago, actualy, but i had to stop becuase I was getting waaaayyyy ahead of my study guide. Those things are such killjoys. >:(
But still, the novel is quickly becoming one of my all-time favorites, an honor reserved for such masterpieces as grace my most accesible bookshelves. Soon my copy of Mockingbird will be well-worn and dog-eared as the rest. It’s paperback, so I try not to be too rough with it, but I have a habit of taking books everywhere with me: the car, the kitchen, reading while eating or walking, or spinning in circles. Sometimes I catch myself humming tunelessly as I read a very tense part of a book. It’s like my subconscious is trying to relieve my stress or fear a bit by making background noise. Whatever, subconscious.
To Kill a Mockingbird really has no major action yet, but just the characters and everything unfolding is making it so irresistible. I’ve wanted to read the book since I was about seven, anyway. I heard that my older cousin (whom I adore, she’s in college now…) was reading it for school and I thought that it really was about mockingbirds. My whole family tried to explain that it’s not really about killing mockingbirds, and that it was just a metaphor, but I got all hung up on the fact that it was suuposedly a sin to kill a mockingbird, and I was so fascinated by that idea. Like, if a really mean poacher type saw a mockingbird, would he kill it? Or would superstition kick in, causing him mto allow the thing to pass by unharmed? Even if he was starving?
I guess the idea of villains being susperstitious seemed like it happened very often. In my old Madeline movie the bad guys wouldn’t crash into Miss Clavelle’s car becuase she was a nun, and then as I got older I read such books as Inkheart where Basta, an awful character with absolutely nothing good about him, was very superstiious and would not kill a fairy, among his other superstitions. And he seemed like a fairy-killing type!
So… I was very attracted by the cover of my Mockingbird copy. It has oinly like 3 or 4 colors, and it looks both modern and old, which is quite nice. The back just has the simple quote, in stately black letters: “Kill all the bluejays you want, if you can kill ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” It seemed so simple and yet so drawing and mysterious. Ooooh! That I could do something like that!
I maybe could. If I keep studying the greats. :)

Speaking of novels….

*drumroll*….

NaNoWriMo is starting in like fifteen minutes! That’s basically why I came here. I wanted to write, but I’m waiting (impatiently) for midnight to strike before plunging into my novel. So I ate some Halloween chocolate and did juming jacks to keep myself awake, though staying up till midnight is no strange occurence for me. I used to do that every night last year. Now I find myself curling up at about 11:00- 11:30, which I consider early. BBC World News is putting me to bed, instead of beginning my night! Bizarre! I like falling asleep to that, though…. British voices and the weird beeping in the theme song… or I watch POV or Independent Lens, except when they have to keep using subtitles becuase it’s in a completely foreign language. Then I get too tired trying to keep up with them, and I just roll over and listen. Once it was all, totally and completely, in French. They were talking very softly and nicely, though, so it lulled me right to sleep. When Mom woke me up to lead me to bed from the couch, I felt like saying something in french but found I could not, and I was sooo tired, and I think I dreamed in french that night. How glorious to dream in a foreign language. It was probably my brain repeating everything it just heard, but still… oh lovely notion, you inspire me to poetry…. Maybe I will write that poem sometime.

I carry thoughts in my head for a long time before writing a poem about them. Usually. Of course there are exceptions, like when I hear something and then it’s like a firecracker, boom crackle sizzle boom and then it’s up on Apricotpie for all my homies to view. (haha get it? Homies?) But usually it’s like a really good stew. It just kind of sits in there bubbling for days and days, getting botter and hotter, and occasionally new spices are added, and then I’m finally ready to serve it up via that magical box on AP’s website.
That box is magic. I am telling you it is.
If I feel no inspiration, I type within it. Even if I don’t post, I write there. If my mind was blank, I find my fingers flying with ideas that came from– where? I don’t know. Do you know where such things come from? Or if my mind was too full, too burdened or chaotic, I find that the lines of poetry or prose set things in perfect order once again–how? I don’t know. Do you know how such things happen?
I think it’s the box. The fact that it’s completely blank, with no distractions of font and format, color and size. And if you don’t like it, you can just click that convienient little red X at the top right hand corner, and blip! There goes the disarray of sub-standard words, gone forever and not luring on my computer, taking up space. Indeed, there is magic in that little box and the freedom and creativity that comes with it.

Now I’m off to NaNo-NaNo Land. (haha get it? Okay seriously I need to stop making weird jokes. It’s getting late… it is, as my dad calls it, “The Witching Hour.”)

Oiche Shamnha Shona

Happy Halloween!!!
Good night, everybody!