Happened Before It’s Happening

We’ve already had our tree and house fully decorated since last week. Our Christmas shopping seems nearly finished. This year has happened before it’s happening. An internet god must have clawed his way out and deleted November from real life too somehow.

I’ve noticed a lot of bloggers and websites composing their “best of” lists already. I think I will wait a bit for that. I’ll probably do like I did last year and combine books with movies and music and other memorable things. We will see. To be honest, I may not have that many books to list simply because this year has been a much more fruitful year in regards to my writing instead.

Speaking of which, I received my contributor’s copy of Foxing Quarterly. You can now order a copy for yourself here. It features comics, photography, fiction, and poetry. It’s all in full color and it’s gorgeous. Well worth the price. You should also read Jim Rugg’s blog about the art in the issue, which includes some of the designs included and some unused logo ideas.

I also had a short story published in Literary Orphans. It’s dark and moody and features misfits who find each other. It’s also loosely inspired by science fiction books that are more soft with the science part. Mainly things that William Gibson would write. Also a club in Miami that I went to. The character Yukimi is named after the lead singer from the band Little Dragon. Of course, fictional Yukimi is nothing like her and I never got to meet the real one, just in case you were wondering.

Although I haven’t been reading many novels lately, I have been reading a lot of lit journals. I updated my reading section if you want to see what exactly I’ve been making my way through.

Carousel #14

  1. A book-loving teen discusses how he has to deal with “dumbing himself down” and pretending to be someone else while among his peers and growing up in an environment that doesn’t particularly encourage reading.
  2. My sister showed me this art blog and I fell in love. I especially love the art of Dima Rebus.
  3. Here is a great quote by the always quotable Anaïs Nin. My sister has been misquoting it for quite some time and I managed to decode what she was talking about, finally.
  4. Here is the fiction editor of the consistently fantastic Indiana Review talking about what types of stories they don’t like because they’ve read variations of them a thousand times in their slush pile. You can also see their take on poetry. In fact, you should just read their blog in its entirety. A lot of insight into how a literary journal works, writing and submission tips, etc.
  5. This year’s MacArthur literary genius grants have been announced. Writer Junot Díaz is among them. Look here.
  6. Speaking of Junot Díaz, here is some of his advice to young writers.
  7. Here is the list of confirmed authors for this year’s Miami Book Fair, which I’ll hopefully be attending. Some great writers to see, along with some of my past creative writing professors.

Writing and Loneliness

I’ve been extremely ill this past week or so. I could barely even talk. All I’ve been doing is watching DVDs in bed and trying my hardest to sleep the sickness away.

Fortunately, I’ve been doing a lot better lately. I’ve finished reading the newest issue of the Indiana Review, which I highly recommend. After entering their annual poetry contest this year, I’m going to be getting a few of their next issues. They publish some really fantastic writing.

In addition to working on some of my own writing and trying to find good homes for it, I’ve also been busy with my newest project: a blog that will focus on writers and the spaces they write in. It will be called (surprise!) Writing Spaces. I plan on asking for submissions soon. I’d really like to turn it into a cozy hub where writers can find each other and share some kind of community. This writing thing can get so lonely sometimes, and it’s nice to find new kindred spirits every once in a while. When I have it all set up, I’ll be sure to make a post about it here. And of course, you’ll be sure to contribute, right?

What else? Oh, I recently won a painting.

It was from a great video blogger named Stephanie. I’ve been following her adventures on Youtube for a while now. She graduated from my alma mater a year or two before I did and decided to leave Florida to teach in Japan (something a few fellow English majors I know have considered doing too). The painting itself doesn’t have a title, but I came up with the theme for it originally: loneliness. I guess I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

Carousel #7

  1. Mark Z. Danielewski, author of House of Leaveswrites a letter to a girl from OKCupid and it’s pretty hilarious.
  2. I came across a really fantastic blog called The Book Cover Club, where people read books and then design new covers for them. Check it out!
  3. I’ve always been a fan of surreal art. Here’s A Cadeira Alta, by Brazilian artist Marcel Caram.
  4. The details about J.K. Rowling’s newest novel were recently revealed. She has written an adult murder mystery, which is what people were speculating. It’s called The Casual Vacancy and it will be released on September 27th of this year.
  5. I found a generator that emails you rejections. It supposedly prepares you for the impending pain of failure. I’m sure I’ll be making proper use of it soon.
  6. Lately, there have been a lot of creative projects popping up all over the place via Kickstarter, plenty of them book-related. I really wish I could support them all! One of them that drew my attention in particular was Wollstonecraft, a charming series of children books about Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley, dedicated to teaching young girls about history and writers and giving them positive real-life role models.
  7. This week, a post of mine went up over on ReadLearnWrite. It’s about growing up as a boy who really didn’t read on his own until much later than you would think. It’s also about getting other less enthusiastic people into books (including my own family).

Swimming Through the Cesspool

I was having a conversation with a game developer friend of mine recently (aspiring – still learning the ropes, and there are many of them) about the problem with stagnation in the video game industry. It’s sort of funny how often you see a lot of people talking about these enormously successful game franchises with such blatant contempt – even gamers themselves who actively play them. A lot of what is being churned out again and again by these immense companies is the equivalent of completely forgettable action movies, he says to me. Where are the other genres? Where are the games that are trying to push the medium forward? How will games ever be taken seriously if they keep resorting to formulas and tired tropes that seem to cater mostly to twelve-year-old boys (or men who think like them)?

Although the games industry has its own set of problems to confront, I don’t think this one is particularly unique. Because, just like all other forms of media, there’s always going to be copious amounts of entirely forgettable, expendable trash. Most of it will be mindless escapism because that’s usually what people want when they sit down with a piece of entertainment – an enjoyable respite from reality. A lot of it will also be safe and rely on formulas because people who sink so much of their time, money, and energy in creating it obviously want to see it get something back. Familiarity is often the ideal because there’s less chance to offend and challenge the audience. There’s less risk-taking because creators are just too afraid (especially if they’re aspiring) or too comfortable (if it works, why not keep milking it?). Movies and television suffer from this issue too.

But I get it. It’s easy to get lost in the cesspool sometimes and forget that there is also incredible art out there too. I think it’s extremely important to point out what things need to change in all media in order to make any progress (in the case of my friend’s problem: why aren’t there more black protagonists in games?). These challenges need to be acknowledged. But it’s not enough to just talk about it – we also need to make our own books, movies, games, and share them with others as much as possible. I think it’s much more important to focus specifically on what you enjoy most (and what you’re good at) and to never apologize for these passions. If there’s a relatively unknown book or movie or game that you’ve fallen in love with, tell your friends about it! Spread the love. Help make it seem worthwhile and get it the recognition that it’s due. Don’t just criticize – create as much as you can yourself. If you have a friend like I do that needs some help getting the word out, share it with anyone who you think might give a damn.