Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dystopia 3 - The first challenge

So, the first challenge I am going to set for myself is attempting on a daily or near daily basis to write a fictional newspaper article for an imaginary dystopian world. I think this might be a worthy technique for generating material aiding any sort of eventual world building. Also, I believe this will be a great exercise for creative writing in a general sense. Most newspaper articles are 3 to 5 paragraphs long. I found a simple paradigm online for the creation of newspaper articles. It this works, after a couple of months I will have a wonder pantheon of articles/ideas to use as leaping off points when the workshops begin in April 2008.

If any body wants to join in on this writing exercise, please let me know. It could be something fun for a bunch of us to attempt.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dystopia 2

Alright, i think we've got a handful of people interested in the dystopia project (we'll come up with a better project title later. First thing I think we need to do is generate a notion of what dystopia is, where the genre has been. In order to do this, I will begin linking to source material on the web and putting a quick short list for reference in the right hand margin. If those of you out there have ideas or suggestions of what to include in this dystopian reference guide, please let me know. Also, I am interested to know what sort of topics or narratives interest you as possible targets for our dystopian vision.

Wikipedia's list of dystopian literature.

Monday, November 26, 2007



I have been tossing around the idea of starting a bi-weekly workshop in the new year. The focus of this workshop will be to find interesting, provocative, captivating ways to stage dystopia in front of a live audience.

Not only we will look at ways to stage preexisting dystopian visions, we will attempt to define and create a novel dystopian narrative. We will look at the science fiction dystopian genre and attempt to find new ways to approach it, new angles, new elements.

Rather than merely repeat the excellent paradigms already saturating modern thought, we might strive to see what sort of potential for evolution that medium/genre has.

Another question I am interested in is how those of us can transcend the "Cassandra complex" and hopefully suggest or inspire further conversation that goes beyond a mere performance. I am interested in working with people who want to use the stage use live theater but are excited at the notion of using kindred mediums to expand upon the participants avenues as storytellers and as potential activists.

So, I want to know if this sort of project appeals to anyone else out there. I want to know what sort of dystopian narratives in any sort of medium appeal to those of you who read this blog. And I want to know what are the elements of dystopian narrative that seem to have endless appeal to you and/or the elements, ideas, etc in these types of stories that you feel are too repetitive/played out.

The goal will be start meeting in April of 2008 and use the remainder of the year building a production of Spring 2009.

Who likes this idea? Who is in?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Potential Set Design 2

Both productions of the original Clay Continent were performed in a small (very small) storefront space. The space sat only 20 people and we sat them at a diagonal so that we could have sight lines that enabled us to use the back room at the space in a interesting voyeuristic sort of way. There was a huge piece of plastic drop that was stretched at a diagonal as well but it ran parallel to the front row of seats. The remount in April will be in a more traditional space and I'm not so sure that we have non traditional non proscenium options when it comes to the audience's relation to the action and the spectacle. Still I wanted to attempt this scenic design model to see if it inspires new thought as it reminds us (the Mammals) of what was achieved in the past.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Do you believe in NaNoWriMo?

So, I was hanging out with a fellow writer the other night (you know who you are!) and I was telling her about NaNoWriMo and the whole sort of philosophy behind it. The philosophy that if you just keep putting words on the page until you have 50,000 words you'll have sometime of value (at the very least personal value). She smiled a wry smile (I thought it was wry) and asked me if I really believed that.

And, I do. Now, I am not saying that you will have a publishable manuscript at the end of 30 days. In fact, the idea that you could just sit write for thirty days and hand it to a publisher or anyone else to read seems foolhardy Mr. Kerouac.

But, if you have a story in your mind or at the very least a character in your head that you want to know better...sitting down with a goal and deadline of course will have advantages. If you have any sort of savvy as a storyteller then you have an even greater advantage. I challenge those of you who read this blog, who fancy yourselves storytellers to write down 50,000 words. Not every word is going to be gold, but there is going to gold somewhere in those 50,000 words. There will be diamonds in the rough. You will feel a story or a shape or a character solidify.

Alot of people like to shit talk Thomas A Edison as a theft or what not. I haven't read the history so I don't know for sure. But the myth, the tale of Edison and the lightblub, that stick-to-it-tiveness does reap rewards even if they are merely personal gains.

I have asked a number of my friends to attempt this with me. I just like sharing things, especially things that I feel can be transformational like the sense I got after finishing the first draft of Seven Snakes in novel form. But people don't 'buy' it. They can not conceive of creating a prose piece of novel or novella length and it being any good. They don't believe that turning off the internal editor and letting words pour onto the keyboard irregardless or hap-hazardly or with extreme quantity will lead to worthwhile text. Or they just don't want or can't conceive of setting aside the mythos they bought into about how one writes a novel, of how one sweats over it, frets over, punches their solarplexus in self loathing over the process.

Not everybody is born to write or to tell stories. I understand that, but those of you who are and have never written a novel or anything longer than a short story...I say to you ext year...try it! You will learn things about yourself, about how you want to tell a story about the tactics you depend on, about tactics you might never had considered except that you have to get that word count up and fast.

Some people think that NaNoWriMo will take something they love and make it in a chore like cutting the grass. For me nothing could be further from the truth, and even though I have doubts about whether or not the gentlemen in my half finished novel are worthy of being in a story, I have written some turns of phrase and scenarios, and sequences I am damn proud of thus far that will make it into the final product of something I write and share with others.

So, yes I believe in NaNoWriMo. I am a true believer who will one day soon within the next 12 months have a fully edited Novel (From my first year, this year is my second) and a scripted version of the same story for the stage.

Writer's block? Try the following prescription...

On sheet of paper write down 3 lists of words side by side. Make each list of words at least 8 words long. Write down words that you like. Just words but words that you enjoy. Now take these list of words, take a word form any list and then another from any other list and compound them. Also take 3 to 5 words that you like from any of the lists and write a sentence using those words. Keep doing this until the writer's block goes away.

The visual artist has a sketchbook and they keep sketching until the image that want to focus on appears in the charcoal infront of them. Why not writers?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Tin Can Forest, this stuff really moves me.

Clay Continent aka

Mosquito Ouroboros
Shadow Puppet Projections during Clay Continent
Late last night couldn't sleep too many images and ideas in my head regarding Clay Continent.

i must try to get them onto paper tonight. Make something concrete. Just do it!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Random Items

No Country for Old Men was excellent. Saw it on Friday.

My NaNoWriMo novel this year is frustrating me. I am having fun with it, and I believe I have to get to 50,000 words. But at the same time, I don't know where it is going. I know where the narrative is going, I just don't know where the point of it all is. I have an outline. I have various side plots and a main arch main Aristotelian curve to cling to

There is the potential for it to say something about the path of an artist in relation to the hero's journey.

There is the potential for commentary on eroticism in art and its purpose, side effects, etc.

There is a possibility of commenting on the nature of how we perceive art/sleaze etc.

But none of it seems to be rising to the top for me. I am creating these characters and throwing them into various situations like I used to throw action figures in an ant hill. I am playing with language and imagery and discovering, at the same time. I am the same time I still have not typed out my first draft of Animal Control, I still haven't finishing preparations for Clay Continent, nor have I finished editing The Meatlocker's second draft or finished editing the first draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from last year, Seven Snakes.

So, do I keep plugging away waiting for social or political or philosophical relevance to take shape in the piece, do I just revel in the fun taboo depravity of the characters and the world, do I get busy finishing other projects?

I haven't abandoned the possibility of the Puppets, Peyote and Wink having relevance aside from being just titillating.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

14308 so far!

little bit of the juice..

Icelandic Astronaut - A puppet show

The Icelandic astronaut has climbed a glacial stairwell to where there is not air anymore so high. He was sent up to do his time on the tip of the world it took weeks months even more to climb all the way up there. Planes could not reach the heights to which the Icelandic astronaut was trying to travel so his government had to be very careful about using cannons to shoot much needed supplies all the way to the Ice Naut.

The plan was he would get to the top and assess the military scientific and philosophical value that the highest glacial peak would afford his Icelandic govt. He was supplied a bungee cord so that he could repel from the top when his term of service was over. He drove his spike deep into the mass of the cliff so it would hold when all that momentum jerked it hard. When the spike was immobilized our ice naut made a quick prayer and jumped off the cliff getting ready bear himself against the first 10g bounce of bungee. But he was so high up he floated straight up off the ice cliff. He had to sip beer through a straw cause of the near zero gravity that high up. All of the ice naut's sustenance had to be provided in govt issued bladders.

From this height individuals are too small to see but when two or more come in proximity of each other then they manifest on the ice naut’s retina like morning dew. All kinds of people coming together in all kinds of ways

High fives, Eskimo kissing, leapfrog, sumo wrestling, double dutch, frenching, zygote conception, birth from water breaking till the cord gets cut

These sort of couplings capture his attention ripples in a body of water, but once the couple separates the ripple rewind back to the smooth lonely surface like thin gray lips thin and breaking on a seashore.

He dreams that the Icelandic population all gather beneath him to compose a love letter.

The people he has watched over the couples he has blanketed with true tears and blown kisses and well wishes. They spell out words for him like a marching band, the nocturnal procession spells out the words ‘come home, we miss you’.

In dreams he prays. He selects five stars at perpendicular right angles and prays to his own invented constellation in the shape of a cross in the dream his prayer is answered suddenly he is caught up in a wave or a bubble or a ripple and gravity brings him down down down. He is coming home hard and fast, a comet at suicidal speed.

All the grandfathers of the world simultaneously take off their toupees and hurl them into a pile hoping that that much fur and netting and sweat and glue will break the ice naut’s fall.

The fall does not kill him but breaks a bunch of his nervous cells in the spinal cord. He is paralyzed. He can not move anything not a piece of his body at all. He can not even blink. His meal time sustenance bladder all punctured in the fall and he covered in red meaty protein paste that the people of Iceland mistake for his gore.

They hold a funeral and put him in a casket. Each person has a turn at he microphone during the pre burial wake and after telling stories of how they love him, dreamed with him, through him touched the heavens, old school days, prom night, how they lost their virginity under his watchful eyes while he gazed at the back seat of their oldsmobiles.

Though still paralyzed he is so moved by the stories he involuntarily weeps. But what is this, in the weeping perhaps there might be a glimmer a tiny bit of hope. If someone can see the stream of tears running down his inaminate face they will know his is still alive. They will know not to close the lid of the casket. They will know he is still there with them. But fate plays a trick and the clouds gather above quickly and start to rain. No one wants to let the torrent pour on the honorable remains of their beloved ice naut, their fallen friend father uncle and a multitude of umbrella pop open like champagne corks over the open casket. Through the tears in his eyes and the few drops of precipitation there is nothing to be seen but dozens strike that thousands of umbrella standing sentinel watch. Like bats stretching their wings. The tears that can be seen are mistaken for rain drops that snuck through the fabric.

And over the thunder and the lightning and the flapping of umbrellas and the creaking hinges of the slowly closing casket lid the Icelandic astronaut can hear the barking of his very best friend of all the running and barking of the dog running down the glacial stairs howling at the top of its canine lungs a discernible sort of doggie shout out almost human almost forming the words do not do it! He is not dead? The ice naut is alive!

The dog a st Bernard who ran supplies up and down the ice cliffs when cloud cover made cannon and chute delivery to dangerous, the dog tears through the breaking the bat spines and leaving dead crippled umbrellas in his wake and just as the tiny last beam of light is about to disappear, the dog uses its snout as a pick axe and shovels its nose and jaws into the closing maw of the premature casket.

This when the Icelandic astronaut wakes up, afraid to more his fingers his toes.

The dog Is a big dog trained to climb the ice shaved stairwell and deliver bladders of red beefy protein paste in govt issue bladders and gray pillowy bladders of stout Icelandic beer.


His name is dan james. I dig your stuff man!

11004 so far.

Last night I broke through 11000 words. 11004 to be exact. Already I'm surprised by alot of events and characters that suddenly appear when I am forced to just sit down and write. I think that I have to find a way to take the drive, the engine that works for me during the NaNoWriMo and apply it to other projects throughout the year.

Last year, I would say that at least half of the writing I did was between 9 to 5. This did not bother so much since I was going to be leaving that office in a matter of weeks, had already given my notice, and was without any projects to take up my time. I feel slightly different this year. I like this new job and my work environment and so feel a little more guilt. So, I've done the writing this year mostly at home. If I am sitting at the desk and get hit with a great idea or turn of phrase, I will email it to myself and work on it later.