inspiration

Creating Space

I don’t need to wax poetic about the fact that life is busy, and continues to be happen-y or busy or full as long as it extends. I won’t even go on about the fact that it’s sometimes vexingly difficult to find time for creative endeavors…particularly when we’re often convinced that there are Much More Important Things To Be Doing. Life hits hard sometimes, and we can so often be left examining the cracks in the pavement, stubbornly planting our creative gardens in the tiniest spaces. And that’s okay…even from those ittybitty spaces, big things can grow. Creating space is about seizing any opportunity we can to express ourselves–to think, dream, paint, write, sing, dance, move…to exist in that place where we are the makers. I’ll just leave this little image here in closing–my notes from a meeting where I was fully aware of the agenda content and discussions, but let myself also free-hand doodle through the facts, figures, and bullet points (I had SO much fun looking back over them). In the Venn diagram of life, there are many odd and wonderful places where the colors of “daily routine” and “creativity” intersect. Where do you create the space for imaginings? Where do you make the time to create? I’d love to hear in the comments. Be well all, and happy creating! <3

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#TastyTuesday Writing Prompt

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Nothing brings people together like food. We all need it–there’s no getting around that fact. Beyond simply existing as sustenance, food is such a wonderfully rich expression of our humanity–we share our cultures, our family traditions, our own joy in the creating and sharing of something that does far more than keep us alive.

Which brings me to the matter at hand: your oh so yummy, #TastyTuesday writing prompt! Getting to know our characters can be as simple as knowing their favorite foods. Food is also a way to ground difficult or abstract narratives or complex worlds…showing what keeps your characters sustained and living contributes to world-building in the most relateable, practical ways. Think about the following questions for your main characters:

  • What is your character’s go-to comfort food when stressed?
  • What meal do they absolutely dread but know they can expect (and that they must partake of for fear of alienating others, hurting feelings, etc.) during family, civic, or social events?
  • What types of meals do your characters associate with major life events such as deaths in the family, civil unions, or celebrations of birthdays or career achievements?
  • What would be considered a super-rare delicacy in your character’s world? Is it a chocolate bar in the trembling hands of a world-weary dystopian society rebel? A rare, cave-dwelling fish or a moonflower that can only be harvested on the night of a lunar eclipse? Would your character have ever tasted such a thing, even?
  • What food would be your character’s biggest “guilty” pleasure–as in, something they are embarrassed to admit to liking as violently as they do because it’s considered icky, weird, gauche, or any other number of reasons?

Have some fun thinking about these little things a bit and maybe even write a drabble, paint or draw an image of or create a collage for what mealtime looks like in your world. I know it’s helped me make my worlds more real and alive than they would be if my characters didn’t take a moment to sit and smell the legume protein mash or delicate star-blooms or fried green tomatoes. Happy creating, and if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to raid the cabinets. <3

Robin McKinley Said It So Well-A #FridayReads Quick-Post.

So often, I feel like what I am, what I do, how I exist is not enough in wake of the Big Bad in this world. Then I remember a quote from Sunshine by Robin McKinley, one of my favorite reads of all time and something I’m planning to treat myself to re-reading for #FridayReads after some editing. We must use what we are given, and we must use it the best we can. I hope this Friday finds us all using what we have and being who we are as best we can to make the world brighter, kinder, and more full of win. Happy Friday!

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Sidereal

I’m so excited to note that my poem Sidereal is live in the ever-wonderful Apex Magazine…WOO!

I loved writing this piece even more than most. I’d been playing a lot of Mass Effect, reading sci-fi and space opera, watching Star Trek: Voyager, and dreaming about a quietly empty, regenerating, far-ish but not too far-future earth when most humans have gone elsewhere…the constellations the same as ever, the earth fallow, waiting to thrive again with water reclamation plants and careful tending. And in the muted night, an Operator and a Specialist tending the machines that coax the world back to health–a soldier and an engineer in a quiet and generative love.

I remember once hearing someone going on about how romance has no place in science fiction and fantasy writing. That got a legit lol from me–as long as I’m writing about humanity, I’ll do my damnedest to create well-rounded and believable human characters. We (humans) love fervently and dangerously and quietly and unwisely and well; we form attachments, friendships, rivalries, and ultimately rely upon one another when things get dangerous or weird. If anything, these relationships and attachments in fiction make for life-rich characters with hella motivation to do what they do in moving a narrative forward. Now, I don’t expect alien species, every artificial intelligence, or other life-forms in speculative fiction and poetry to behave the way humans do–not unless it’s part of how the writer has imagined the species and world. But my favorite science fiction, space opera, fantasy, anything-I’m-reading humanoid characters often act from places of emotion, making decisions because of their human attachments. And yes, sometimes they fall in love. Exploration of this humanness is why Sidereal was such a joy for me to write–I reveled in exploring how two people in this future full of extensive tech and galactic conquest could grow close in the framework of lonely, dangerous, and sometimes painfully exacting work.

So, readers…any sci-fi romances out there that make you swoon and rock your galaxy? I’d love to hear about them!

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My Hypercolor Heart: Muse/Music, Synth And Swoon Edition

It took me a week to write this post but I have a confession: I’m an addict, and music is my drug. Always has been.

I was that one kid–intense, straight A’s but dreaming through class while movies played out in my head to “Space Age Love Song” by Flock of Seagulls and Thompson Twins’ “Hold Me Now.” I related to Duckie in Pretty In Pink though I was a lot girlier, being a chick and all–splayed on my eyelet comforter, ceiling-gazing while Moz crooned. I was that spaced-out girl at the skating rink, sunburned, my hair too wild to hold curling iron curls. I held my friend’s Coke while she skated backwards– her bangs were so perfect, her makeup sparkling in the light-glitter of the big ball and I just I sat there, my heart giddy from OMD’s “If You Leave” shimmering over the loudspeakers. I was the couples-skate voyeur watching the world spin in punchdrunk circles. And I didn’t care… I was lost in music the way others were lost in grasping hands and kisses that smeared away the glitter-gloss. I lived for New Wave, New Romantic–for the poetry of synth and lyrics of love. And I still do. Synthpop, swoony shoegaze, electronic daydreams…all these years later, I’m still in love.

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I had two very early crushes I can remember–Han Solo, and Bono’s voice. The mile-wide reverb on Bono’s vocals and those Joshua Tree guitars were my little-girl drug (even better when I daydreamed about Han Solo tearing through the galaxy to U2’s music). Soon, mix tapes were my obsession–guys, I was good at it. Cover art and everything. Cyndi, Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, The Cure. Depeche Mode if I was feeling darker, Simple Minds and Crowded House, Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, Prince, OMD, Cocteau Twins, Echo and the Bunnymen. Music shaped my aesthetic sensibilities and colored my dreams. Day after day, I sat on the bus with my headphones crushed to my ears. I lost myself in those voices…clean, idealized and distant versions the man or woman behind the mic who was now a totemic symbol of slow dances and borrowed jackets scented with cheap musky cologne, of field trips to the harbor when I smelled late May in my hair and all around me, sunblock and ocean-salt on warm skin.

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Music made the crappiest school day into a movie and we were all important to the plot. Even when I’d been made fun of for earnest nerdiness, or when I’d had to give my meanest murder-eyes to the jerk that was messing with my friend–it was okay when I could escape into lyrics and hooks. (See Donnie Darko and the right-on use of “Head over Heels” by Tears for Fears). Sometimes, it even made the pain kind of beautiful. And those sounds sunk in. They beat in the blood of my nascent writing, tangled like roots beneath my ideas. Like “Push” by The Cure. I swear, half of my thesis bloomed darkly from a dream that song lodged in my psyche.

Music also helped soothed the violence of my youth. Driving home, listening to The Smiths “There is a Light,” or the Pixies UK Surf cut of “Wave of Mutilation” in my piece of crap car with its temperamental tape deck, racing from one orange puddle of street lamp radiance to the next. . .I could face the discord around me much easier with these songs in my life. I could process the vehemence of my own awkward feels. To this day, “Bizarre Love Triangle” is still like that rollercoaster gut-drop of first-blush crush. When they walk by, smiling, sunlight through the windows gilding them and it’s so perfect–

Yeah.

These past few years, to my delight, there are spiritual successors to the music that gave my writing its glimmer–music with splashes of electropop, dreampop. Synth-heavy, open-reverbed, sounding out layered vocals and daydream-swoon. M83 and their soaring, glorious walls of sound, Chvrches’ perfect candy-necklace hooks, Washed Out and vocals like something from a half-remembered dream. Hooray for Earth–“Sails” is a perfect song and their entire catalogue is awesome. And The Chain Gang of 1974–my god, his voice is cotton candy and spiced rum and forever-summer and I’ve put both albums on every writing playlist in the entire world and will add the third when it comes out.

This music Is Important. I’ve been writing to a soundtrack of synthpop since 5th grade. Poems drenched in Love’s Baby Soft, Bonnie Bell mirror-kisses and tear-smudged mascara. Stories I dreamed up with my friends on merry-go-rounds in weedy parks, the sun-hot metal burning our hands while we held tight and spun, dizzy and giggling about the word ‘love.’Maybe it’s the optimism of this music–or something as simple as vocal treatments. This stuff’s mic’ed differently than a lot of 90’s-00’s garagey music (which I love for different reasons) and the new New Wave is no exception–at least as far as I can tell from talks with my hubby who has some pretty good audio-engineering training. Maybe it’s layering of sound that can somehow splash late summer sun over my senses and wash my world in a 35mm memory-haze of wonder. Whatever it is, it’s my best writing fodder and my truest Muse (I’m imagining him in Dockers and Drakkar Noir).

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The other day, I read a forum thread with people whining that so much of ‘music now’ has ‘already been done.’ Whatever–nothing new under the sun is old news. Good new music is a welcome variation on an already awesome theme. New takes, new songs, new styles, new voices–it doesn’t mean that what came before is diminished, or that what has come after is derivative. And people always find ways to mix it up. I love things like the additions of dirtier guitar over clean synth and drum machines, of slinky trip-hop elements that sneak in, of industrial grinding beats with dubstep overlay. I mean, hell yeah. Go on, musicians, mix it up. Make it new. Give me my fix. As long as it’s rad, I don’t care. Maybe it’s that 80’s mall-girl niche of my brain talking, but my Hypercolor heart knows what it wants–more of a good thing. More, more, more…

(If you like any of this music, go buy it. All of it. And buy music like it. It keeps these acts in business, which keeps me in writing music…)

So, dear readers. what music inspires you to do what you are driven most to do? <3

Arty Post PSA: Julie Dillon

Hello!

I love you, Intarwebz. You bring me beautiful things. Like this…I found the most remarkable, most wondermous, most talented artist this past month and I have to share. Maybe this is old news to others but for all of you speculative fiction and poetry writers out there, her work is sure to be a source of inspiration–I promise.

Julie Dillon, whose work can be found on DeviantArt and featured many other places, is simply amazing. She creates stunning and diverse characters and settings. I cannot help but most of all love her women. They seem so real to me. Beautiful in myriad ways, young and old and daring and just fantastic and believable.

Can you tell I’m fangirling?

One of my favorite pieces to date is Launch Point:
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Launch Point by juliedillon on DeviantArt

I highly suggest checking out her work. It’s well worth the time–I am so glad I discovered her art!