Archive for January, 2009

B is for Books

Posted in Alphabet, Writing on January 30, 2009 by oneoveralpha

If you’ve ever been to my Shelfari profile, you’ll know I love books. There’s just something comforting about their presence. I think books are a better connection to the world and the past then say, buildings. There’s only one Eiffel Tower and unless you live in Paris it can be a pain to visit. But as I type this up at home (I wrote this in a bookstore) I’m less then twenty feet from the Pyramids, Imperialist Russia, and Tranquility Base.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, my parents went to a property auction of a neighbor who had died. Among all the stuff this man had accumulated over his life, was about 40 large boxes of books. I think my mom bought half of them at a ridiculous price of, I think, $5 a box. For weeks my family dug through the boxes looking for anything good. Among all the biographies, histories, and manuals of machines built in the 50’s were a few dozen books on mathematics. I grabbed these, put them on the bottom shelf, and haven’t really thought of – let alone opened – them since. When I was home this past Christmas, I was digging through all my stuff that doesn’t fit in my apartment (It’s a good thing my parents don’t charge for storage) and came across some of these books. Some of them are textbooks from the 30’s, and I wondered how much I could get for them on eBay. But the idea of selling such an old book almost sickens me. I admit that I will almost certainly never read any of these books or even put them on my bookshelf for others to see them, but I can’t imagine ever needing money so badly to give up such a connection to the past.

A is for Alone

Posted in Alphabet, Writing on January 27, 2009 by oneoveralpha

I’ve often heard that writing is a lonely profession. I think that is very true for me. On the literal side, probably 99.9% of my writing has been done with me sitting alone before my computer or sitting alone in a coffee shop or bookstore scribbling in my notebook and ignoring the other customers. But on a more figurative side, since I write mostly scifi, I write about people and things and worlds that don’t exist outside my head. Little of what is actually in there makes it to paper, yet I have had people tell me that they “felt like they were there” when they’ve read a story of mine. I don’t want to contradict them, but I feel that even my best writing is just a snapshot of something so much bigger. They say a picture is worth a thousand words (which, oddly enough, is probably the average length of most of my stories) but do you know how many gaps there would be if you tried telling someone’s life story just using photographs?

Before I get too far off track, this reminded me that someday I would like to get business cards made up reading, “Stephen L. Thompson: Professional Dreamer and Destroyer of Worlds.” (Creator and Destroyer of Worlds is too wordy, so I had to pick one, and why not be ominous?) Professional dreamer, I think, is a good poetic description of writers, especially fiction writers since we deal in the ghostly world of imagination. As to the destroyer of worlds, not to brag, but with my bare hands I have driven humanity to extinction – twice. You know, that might explain why I’m alone. 😕

Alphabet Blogs

Posted in Alphabet, Writing on January 27, 2009 by oneoveralpha

Some months ago a friend of mine wrote a blog for each letter, as in “C is for Cats,” “M is for Mother,” and “Z is for Zeitgeist.” She seemed to enjoy it and they were fun to read, so I’m stealing the idea. Since this blog deals with writing, they’ll be writing oriented. My friend got through her 26 blogs in about a month, but I’ll probably take a little longer; right now I have ideas for six letters. 😀

A potential first

Posted in Writing on January 24, 2009 by oneoveralpha

Today, Saturday, January 24, 2009, marks the first time – at least the first time I remember – I spent seven days in a row going to either a coffee shop or a bookstore to order an Earl Grey and work on my writing. Why is this important? Are you’re reading a blog for important thoughts? Anyway, I have a hard time revising or critiquing work when I’m home; there are too many distractions, like the internet and TV. I need to get away from all of that to really get some work done. This week I’ve worked on my novel, revised old stories, worked on a new story, and written up several blog entries. All good. But a problem comes in when I get home and don’t feel like turning my scribbled pen strokes into clean words on a screen. That’s why I started this blog the way I did. I’ll have to type it up when I get home.

I wonder how long I can keep up this daily writing over tea? Is it possible to tire of Earl Grey? I think I’ll have to find out.

Consequences

Posted in Writing on January 18, 2009 by oneoveralpha

Over the years my filing system for my stories – especially on my computer – have become rather convoluted. The last few months I’ve been slowly reorganizing all of them. This is good. It will make things easier for me. But there have been consequences. Along the way I’ve come across several stories that I started years ago but for one reason or another never finished. There’s nothing special about unfinished stories, but I can usually ignore them. But now they are in my hand and I can’t help but read what I already have, which reignites my desire to finish them. “If I spent a couple days on this, I’m sure I could finish it up.” That wouldn’t be bad, but I already have a pile of stories I’m trying to finish or revise. So by organizing my stories, I’ve ended up with more stories to work on. I think I can live with that.

A tad depressing

Posted in Writing on January 17, 2009 by oneoveralpha

Over the years I’ve had a few computer mishaps where I have lost stories. I think in all the cases I’ve had printouts I could type up again, but I have been a tad nervous about the possibility of something happening to my computer and loosing everything. So tonight I finally got around to buy myself a USB Drive.

quarter-life

The depressing part is that once I loaded all of my stories and a copy of my website onto it, I still had room left. A lot of room.

life-on-screen

I guess it’s a case of too much storage space, too little to store. I’ll have to work on that.

Shredding

Posted in Odds, Writing on January 12, 2009 by oneoveralpha

Over the weekend I was cleaning my apartment and I came across a bunch of poems and stories by other people I had collected over the years. Some were by friends, some were by an ex-girlfriend, but most were by people I had met in various writing groups over the years and somehow I still had them. I can’t remember why I kept them, but I decided I should get rid of them, and since they were works by other people, I should shred them. (I’m talking about the writing group people’s work, I kept the ones by friends and the ex.)

While I was shredding these papers today at work, I started thinking about all of my papers. I admit, I’m a tree killer. When I write a story, I’ll print out two copies: one to keep clean for my records and the other to make revisions on, which I also keep for my records. If I go through several revisions of a story, I end up with several clean copies and several revised copies, all of which go either into a folder in my file cabinet or into a box. (I started using boxes for my bigger story projects so I don’t fill up my filing cabinets. As it is, I have about a filing cabinet and a half filled with stories.) I think the biggest reason I keep all of that is I’m a bit of a pack rat but also a sentimental attachment to my stories. But there is also the vain hope that someday – after I’m famous – somebody will dig through all of my paperwork to write papers or books on my evolving writing style. It’s a warm, little fantasy that almost keeps out the cold, realistic possibility that after I’m dead some poor schmuck is going to spend a day shredding my life’s work.

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