Writing While Sick

On the whole, it probably isn’t a great idea to push yourself to keep writing while you’re sick. But during the revision process, I find it puts me in a particularly merciless mood that makes me less precious with all my favorite little bits, most of which should probably be cut in service to the story.

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My Pirate Ramen Recipe

Fellow author Fran Wilde invited me to participate in the “Book Bites” series on her blog, where authors can share recipes related to their books. My recipe is loosely based on a traditional shoyu ramen recipe. I’ve been making variations on this dish for the past year or so and have tweaked it extensively to work better in my tastes, budget, and dietary needs. So I’ve decided to call it:

Pirate Ramen!

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Eligible for Decapitation

“Dante’s children had led an inevitably precarious life since their father was sent into exile. Their inclusion in the new decree meant, among other things, that all three were at least fifteen years old, this being the age at which males became eligible for decapitation.”

– From Dante, A Life by R. W. B. Lewis

Switching Gears

I’ve always felt like I have two modes: input mode and output mode. In output mode, I write. A lot. Like all the time, compulsively. Even if it’s not any good. It’s like a firehose. During that time, I don’t actually read a lot, or consume much media of any kind, really. TV, film, comics—none of it holds my attention for long because the urge to write is simply louder than anything else.

Then there are periods were the whole thing flips and I become so hungry for story and information that hours of reading and watching and listening seem to fall into a bottomless hole. It’s never enough. I never feel sated. During that time, even short periods of writing (like this blog post) feel laborious.

Sometimes I think I should try to find a way to balance these two things out more. Maybe I will eventually. But not today.

Today I can feel those gears shifting inside me in the same way I can see Winter shifting to Spring. I’m in the revision stage of Blood and Tempest, the third book in the Empire of Storms trilogy. We sold the first book, Hope and Red about two years ago and my editor at the time set an incredibly intense release schedule of 9 months apart. So far we’ve managed to keep up with that, and I’m petty sure we’ll be able to do it for this last book, too. But what that’s meant is that I’ve been stuck on almost perpetual output mode for the last two years, give or take a couple months here and there while waiting for revision notes. I also wrote a short story for Stephanie Perkin’s Summer Days and Summer Nights anthology somewhere in there. So a lot of output these last two years.

But now that the trilogy is winding down, it’s time to start considering what comes next. And with that comes a great deal of research. Deep, strange, unsettling research. And I find that I’m relieved.

Incidentally, the picture of those flowers comes from my “garden”. I loathe gardening and have no idea why these damn things come back every year. Maybe just to irritate me.

New Music – March 7, 2017

Few things in this world keep me sane better than music. Here’s a few new tracks that have come out in the last couple of days that I’m excited about.

Girlpool

I loved Girlpool’s first LP, When The World Was Small. It’s spare and simple and perfect. They’ve got a full band on their forthcoming second LP, Powerplant, but if the first single is any indication, they haven’t lost that earnest, spare sound:

alt-J (∆)

alt-J’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, was singular in its scope and vision. It was like nothing else and I loved it. Their second album, This Is All Yours was…well, not as impressive. Which isn’t to say it was bad by any means. There were a couple of really great tracks, but as a whole the album wasn’t as consistent. It felt like there might have been a little too much studio meddling, now that the band had made a name for themselves. We’ll have to wait and see what their next album, Relaxer brings later this year. Here’s hoping this first single is an indication of the whole album:

Diet Cig

When Diet Cig’s first EP dropped in 2015, my son and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s so much like the jangly grunge pop I grew up with in the early 90’s that it made me feel young again. Alas, it was only fives songs! But now, after two years of patiently waiting, their first full length is only a month away. They already released “Tummy Ache” last month, and now here’s another track from what I suspect might well be one of my favorite albums of the year.

Restless Drive

There was this book in college. One of those thick, hardbound, coffee table books that you leave out so that people you don’t really know all that well can page through them while you’re in the toilet or something. I think it was called The Book of Birthdays. Or maybe The Secret Language of Birthdays. I can’t remember exactly, and when I searched for it just now, the covers look equally familiar to me, perhaps because they are so similar to each other. Whichever it was, it told you what sort of person you were based on what day of the year you were born. As far as I can remember, it didn’t take year into account, which for some reason made its accuracy even more dubious to my mind.

So this was back in college, and one of my roommate’s friends had the book. My friend Gabe’s birthday was called “the day of Quixotic dreams”. Man, we got a lot of laughs with that one, mostly because there actually was something sort of tragically romantic about Gabe. Mine was “the day of restless drive.” I claimed not to have any understanding what it was talking about.

And yet, here I am making a brand new blog expressly for the purpose of having something to write every day even when I have nothing to write. I don’t like “not writing.” It makes me anxious and irritable, which is especially problematic while parenting. But right now I have so many projects already out there—so many things that I’m waiting on—that to add one more writing project to the mix would be a terrible, and possibly ridiculous, idea.

And so…a blog.

I haven’t had a proper blog in years. I’m not sure what I’ll put on here, but as the name implies, I want this to be fairly focused. It’s a play on the main character’s name in my Empire of Storms trilogy, of course. But the intent is a curated collection of things that keep me from falling into that deep well of despair on a daily basis. It won’t necessarily be pretty, or uplifting, or even comprehensible to anyone other than me. It’s just a space to work things out in my mind, and the idea that someone might stumble across it tends to sharpen my intent.

So here. Some bleak hope for me:

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas