Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Post From Turkey Break

Thanksgiving Break is anything but (well it is Thanksgiving, but it is sorely lacking in the latter part of the title). This is, of course, not all true.

Things I've done over break:

Things I still have to do before break ends:
  • Finish reading the Lord of the Rings (I started it back in August and I'm getting antsy to start something different)
  • Finish reading for class
  • Write a 5 page paper
  • Play a show with my band Anomaly
  • See other friends I haven't yet
Actually looking at those lists it would appear that Thanksgiving break has in fact been a break. But faced with the looming of the end of the semester and that final push to make awesome one the scholastic front, the list doesn't quite do justice to where the weight of the priorities need to be focused.

I wanted to work on my novel and I haven't done that.

Mostly it's the fault of Fallout 3, which is, in the next couple days, going to become not a time threat. This is mostly due to the fact that it has to go back to the rental store, and I have to buckle down on school.

Redundancies abound redundantly.

Next post is going to be a followup to the American Gods roadtrip post I made earlier. Going to start looking at the possible location of Lakeside.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Writing is what I do

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I decided to give it a shot again this year, thinking I could rip something out in 30 days, giving myself a month off from The Rider. I decided to not stray too far, attempting to adapt a story about a guy who gets seduced by the devil, based from Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell album trilogy (an idea I've mulled about for a long time).

10,000 words and two weeks later I found myself thinking again and sitting in front of my laptop working on the rider. Edmund will not leave me alone.

I went to Chicago last weekend to see my old roommate graduate, and also to have a whirlwind trip through the town that I hated at first, but now miss so much. I saw a few, but not all of the friends that I wanted to. I ate at a few, but not all of the restaurants I wanted to. But nonetheless it was much needed and a very cathartic send off to the end of my first Semester at SI.

On my last day there I got a call from my writing buddy, Lane. He's now down at SIU doing his masters in creative writing, and teaching an undergrad course in the English Department. We've been unable to get back together on the couple of trips I made south, and spent a long time catching up on writing and what we're doing. He mentioned the rider alot, using his actual name, Edmund, which was very endearing, and I ended up walking away from the conversation charged up to start writing again.

So here I am, almost through November, failing again at NaNoWriMo, and not really caring because I am further into the rider than I've ever been.


I tried something new, realizing I had a large number of unwritten or unfinished short stories. I took wall tack and 3x5 cards and on each card wrote a one sentence synopsis of the short story idea, and a hook if I could come up with one. Next I stuck the note cards on the wall in no particular order.

My plan is, starting in December, to take one card off the wall on the 1st, and by the end of the month have a first draft of a short story finished. Do this for each month, if only as an exercise to keep my skills sharpened while working on the rider's story.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

American Gods Road Trip: A Proposal

I first discovered American Gods in the summer after my Senior year of high school. I was taking my baby steps into the world of comics, reading some of the newest staples, the Ultimate Universe, DC New Frontier, Earth X, and one story titled Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman (at the time I thought it was pronounced G-eye-man at the time). The writing was sharp, the story fresh, and the art was eye catching. So naturally I returned to the catalog to find what more I could by this author, and it was then that I stumbled upon this little (har har) book called American Gods.

I don't usually do audio books. I'm very picky about my readers, and there is something about having someone else's imaginings of characters swirling in my head. Reading is a very personal thing for me. I get emotionally involved in the characters and their stories. Audiobooks sort of shatter that illusion. But on some unexplainable whim I got my hands on the behemoth 19 disk audio recording of American Gods read by George Guidall.

It was a chance worth taking. George Guidall breathed a life into the book and characters in a way I've yet to experience since. His gravelly, almost world-weary drawl fit Gaiman's wandering organic pace perfectly. Since finding the book I've added a copy to my iPod and have listened to the story on an almost constant repeat, and can now quote extended passages verbatim with Guidall. But I do have one nasty secret to admit... I've never actually read the book on paper. Every time I try, I end up starting it once more on my iPod, not wanting to lose the essence that Guidall brings to the story.

Almost as long as I'd been listening to the book, I've been dreaming of doing a road trip that explores most of the major areas in the story. It is a road trip book. A long, picaresque, wandering story that stretches up and down the midwest with stop overs all across the US. It sees many locales that are off the beaten path, and really gets at the heart of America.

So with that preamble I propose a modified version of the American Gods road trip. In a nutshell this trip would follow a more linear route, north to south, of the path that Shadow and occasionally his companions followed.

As an initial reference I am using a site that I stumbled to through the Wikipedia article. Only the Gods are Real has an interesting, but incomplete geography page (the above picture comes from that page). It breaks Shadow's journey into three major legs. Examining these maps reveals a central area down the midwest around the Mississippi River where the bulk of the journey takes place.

The trip I am envisioning starts at the fictional town of Lakeside (Through examining geographical references in the text I've found a town that seems to match the location (This will be discussed in latter entries) and make my way all the way south, ending at Lookout Mountain in Georgia

Along the way we will hit major stops from the book. These include (in a rough order)

  • The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • The Center of the US in Lebanon, Kansas
  • El Paso, Illinois where Shadow picks up Sam Blackcrow
  • Red Bull, Illinois where they stop for lunch
  • Cairo, Illinois
Other thoughts were maybe ending in Fort Pierce, Florida, but that would require an extra day's worth of travel for a very minute part of the book. Once itineraries get hammered out, we'll see where that leaves us. The above list was generated using the rough travel plan made on the website only the gods are real.

The trip as envisioned would last roughly a week (hopefully less if I can swing it). For cost saving most nights would be spent camping, or if cost is really an issue (and time) shifts could be taken for driving duties.

In upcoming entries I'll start to take on the nuts and bolts of the journey. Route plans, locations, and more. I'll do entries about major stops covering history and how it relates to the book. For the next entry I'm going to discuss the search I've been doing for "Lakeside" Wisconsin, and what real towns have turned up to be the most likely.

Until Next Time!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Turning the Safety on Usually Helps

I shot myself in the foot (figuratively)

I've been reaping the fruits of my labor (or lack there of). Dropped the ball once this weekend on a group assignment, but I did manage to salvage it, and I think we're fine there. Got an assignment back from a week ago and it was a 60%. The middle of my semester has been one giant slack fest, and it's now coming back to bite me in the ass.

Now at the end of the semester I'm staring down the sights of hopefully 2 A's (one of which is a pass fail) hopefully 2 B's (low, but hopefully a B) and probably one C (well, we're not sure, but we're in bleak mode right now).

It's one of those reap what you sow situations, and i sure sowed a lot of crap. So now I've sprouted a crap tree.

It's time now to buckle down and rock the shit out like I always do.

In writing news I started a NaNo, but I doubt, unless i can organize my time for the rest of the semester better, that I'll be able to finish it. I've also not touched the rider since the start of Novemeber...

I just have to keep telling myself that this semester is almost over, and I can step it up over the next 3 to do alright.

And the beat goes on.