Posts tagged Fiction
Posts tagged Fiction
I recently passed one of those milestone birthdays and, much to my chagrin, my old DC crew was hell bent on commemorating it. I was adamant they would do no such thing.
We had our annual spring weekend in New Orleans this year, far enough after my actual birthday that I thought I’d safely dodged their good cheer. Mercifully, they made little noise about it until Saturday afternoon, when they told me they’d gotten me a gift.
But not just any gift…
Fans of this blog and those who know me are aware of the fact that one of my favorite bands in the world is Cloud Cult. If you’re not familiar with the band, you need to know that whenever they do a concert they have two artists who paint canvases during the show. At the end, they auction off the paintings. It’s an amazing visual complement to the audio experience, and it’s part of what makes every Cloud Cult show a unique and memorable event.
Anyway, as my friends snooped around for a gift, they stumbled across the Cloud Cult website and noticed that the artists are available for commissions. Unbeknownst to me, they contacted one of the artists, Scott West, and arranged for him to create a painting based on any concept I had in mind.
They told me this as we sat around a bar with a balmy New Orleans breeze wafting through the open windows. Then they looked at me and asked if I had any idea what concept I’d want him to paint for me.
All at once, it hit me…
I’ve got a novel manuscript that’s right now looking for a home with publishers. Why not give Scott the manuscript, have him read it, and create a painting based on whatever ideas it brings to mind? When I told the crew my plan, they were speechless. They knew they’d gotten me a great gift, but I think in that moment it struck them just how amazing it was.
Later that next week, when I proposed the manuscript-based painting to Scott West, he loved the idea. He told me he’d always had a narrative element in his work and this should play right to that strength.
While Cloud Cult did a west coast tour swing last week, Scott read the manuscript. This week, he’s going to work up some concept sketches. If he agrees, I’ll share some of them here.
It was an amazing present. Unexpected and incredibly thoughtful. Old friends really do know us best.
Not much to say here, other than Things Fall Apart is one of those rare books that sticks with me years (decades?!) after I first read it. In honor of the passing of a great writer, I pass along here my favorite quote from TFA, the words of which are terrifying, mysterious and true all at once:
“I am Evil Forest. I kill a man on the day that his life is sweetest to him.”
The audio lit journal WordPlaySound has come out with a new short story of mine in its June issue. It’s a bit of an unorthodox piece for me, in the sense that the story is told from the first person perspective of a non-human narrator. Though it’s never explicitly stated in the piece, the narrator is, in fact, a bigfoot.
Now, I know it might come off sounding like kind of a stunt to write a story like that, and it certainly leaves open the possibility for jokiness and goofballery. But the approach I decided to take was to write it with absolutely no irony — the feelings and emotions of the narrator are as true as those that anyone else might have. My goal was to, at a certain point, have the listener forget that they’re listening to someone non-human and simply allow themselves to immerse in this slightly foreign perspective.
Go here to give it a listen.
I just got word that the audio short story I recorded for WordPlaySound has been accepted for publication next month. Actually, I’m not sure if publication is the proper term for a recording… Maybe I should say my audio short story drops next month. Anyway, the upshot is that people will be subjected my superfluously enunciated podcast diction and my nascent audio mixing skills. Should make for an interesting listen.
A while ago a friend who runs the audio literary journal WordPlaySound asked me to try recording a story of mine and last week I finally had the time to sit down and give it a shot. Here are a few of the takeaways from the experience:
1. Garageband, which is the program I used to mix the audio, is incredibly complex but once you get a feel for it, it’s also maddeningly addictive. The more I toyed with using different tracks and inserting sample loops and varying the volume on the individual tracks, the deeper down the rabbit hole I fell. Then, once I’d learn some other new trick or doo-dad, I’d want to go back and add it to all the previous stuff I’d recorded. The final mix ended up being kind of a Frankenstein’s monster, which likely got better sounding as it went along.
2. It’s super disorienting to record your voice. As a kid, I always thought my voice sounded strange when I’d hear it played back. Such instances were usually limited to home movies of birthdays and Christmas mornings, so at least they were a natural representation of my voice. It’s a different ballgame when you’re recording yourself for the purpose of being played back. I found myself weirdly over-enunciating certain syllables to a point where I sounded like I was talking in this absurdly affected British accent.
3. If you want to improve your writing, read it out loud. This is something I say to my composition students all the time and one of the tricks I use when I’m tutoring developmental writing students in the writing lab at school, but it applies just as equally to advanced fiction and nonfiction writers. Something about hearing yourself read your own writing helps cut right through the most wooden-sounding dialogue and spotlights the weakest turns of phrase. I can’t recommend it enough.