Is this really the only post I’ll have for April? What the hell have I been doing? (Hint: not writing) (Super bonus hint: it’s the last month of Spring Semester, so it is safe to guess that I’ve been doing a stupid amount of homework)
I’ve been dissecting a baby fetal pig. As part of a class assignment, not a grotesque hobby. I’m hovering at a low C in my Biology class and tomorrow (Thursday 4/27) I go in there, take a dull medical apparatus and point to things when my Instructor names them. I imagine it will go something like this:
“Jejunum.” … “Uh, what?”
“Cecum.” My brain will picture some obscure, dark nub somewhere in the large intestines. I’ll probably point at the liver.
“Anus.” I’ll giggle, and then forget what they asked me to point at.
Warning: there is a picture of a dead pig (sort of) below this line.
I worked on a presentation for my Death and Dying class (we got an 85% on the actual oral presentation, now all that is left is the Final Paper which we have mostly done). I have one Math Exam (I bombed my last one, got a 65% making my grade in the class an 86%), one Math Final, one Biology Exam, one Biology Final, one last paper for my American Indian Studies class and then, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I’ll be done with Spring Semester and 15 credits.
And Now For Writing News
Last year I read aloud to a group of (mostly) strangers at the Trestle Creek Review launch of Issue 30. My English Teacher had invited me to read and it was easily the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I still remember shaking as I went. This year, I’m the Fiction Editor of the Trestle Creek Review and have a Non-Fiction piece that’s getting published in the Trestle Creek Review’s Issue 31! But since I read last year, I am off the hook for reading this year. Thank goodness. This upcoming Tuesday May 2nd I’ll be joining my classmates and friends (no longer strangers) in presenting an issue that we all worked really hard on.
I had a small team of people at my disposal and together we poured over submissions and cut them, one by one, until we curated Issue 31. I’ll admit it hasn’t all be pleasant and I’ve learned a lot about myself and my literary preferences over these past few months, but overall, it was a great experience. I met some wonderful people. I know that I could never be an “editor in real life” because murder is not an option.
I’ve become an unofficial Vice President of the English Club at North Idaho College. We’re re-writing the club constitution this summer and I’ve made a proposal to re-title all of the positions:
President shall now be referred to as: Queen or King of the English Club
Vice President shall now be referred to as: Princess or Prince of the English Club
Treasurer / assistant to the President shall now be referred to as: Master of Coin of the English Club
Secretary / assistant to the Vice President shall now be referred to as: Scribe or Page of the English Club
And, as I do, I made some special buttons:
I make buttons (1.5" and 2.25" round), keychains (1.5" round), magnets (1.5" and 2.25" round) and you can see them on my website: www.DistractedDragon.com (shameless plug!)
Back in March I was nominated by my English teacher for the “Lori Wallin Award for Outstanding Creative Writer” for the 2016-2017 year. On Friday May 5th, I will discover if I have won the award, was a runner-up, or not selected at all. I am excited, no matter what the result. Of course there is that lingering, giddy desire to win, to wave around a shining piece of paper that tells everyone I have worth as a writer! Or, at least, my English teacher thinks so. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care if I won, because I absolutely do. I’m a kid who only ever got “Participation Ribbons” in school, and one single writing award that hangs near my writing desk to this day:
I met with my English Teacher (the same one responsible for everything in this blog) today to work out a plan for my Independent Study in the Fall. He asked me: “What do you want to do?” I really hadn’t thought about it much. No, that’s not true, I had thought a ton about it—but I wanted to do everything. I can’t just say “I want to be a damn good writer.” I mean, I could, but that takes more than a single semester can offer. I cannot claim this 100% but he is very much about the literary side of Fiction, not necessarily the Genre Fiction side, like I am. He’s not going to try and re-program me or my writing style—he knows and respects me enough not to try and alter my voice—but he is going to help me guide my writing path. We discussed that the prospect of revision is so daunting and it is quite possibly because I wait until the end of the story (60,000 or 110,000 words later) before I really start to look deeply and realize I need to make changes. He proposed that I take the semester to write 1-3 chapters that we’ll spend time looking at and polishing and re-working and honing so that by the time I have three chapters done, I don’t necessarily have to worry about looking at 15,000 words to revise because I’ve worked that into the writing process. Now, this process doesn’t work for everyone—and it may not work for me—but I know for sure what doesn’t work: writing 110,000-word manuscript (The Trials of Blood) and then getting to the end and realizing I didn’t like it because I hadn’t paid careful attention to how it was built, and then realizing there was simply no way I could recover from the loss.
My current solution is to re-write the story from a broken foundation, saving the characters I love so dearly, saving my blood magic and my demons and adding cats. Because cats can fix anything.
I’m meant to write a proposal and submit that to my English teacher about what I’d like to accomplish, and to help him work on a reading list for me. So far he has suggested an author named Kelly Link and her book Magic for Beginners (which I bought during my recent Portland Trip).
My eventual answer was that I believed that Genre Fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Mystery, Horror, etc.) has value, and that I don’t read literature, that I don’t want to write it. (And to not tell my teacher that the only literature I read willingly is that assigned for class). He was gracious and didn’t flip the table over in disgust (I am sure some of my Literature Major friends are twitching right about now). He doesn’t read Genre Fiction for pleasure and I will not say or assume that he cannot fully appreciate it, it is no secret that we are both from opposite literary backgrounds. Atheist-Christian, Literature-Fantasy, but I know from experience that we can all get along. I don’t read Literature for pleasure, either, but nearly every time it has been assigned—I have enjoyed it. I just don’t want to have to layer my stories with… meaning, and motives and secret codes to enable empathy. Well, I do, but I also want dragons. And blood mages. And demons. And sweating, bald men with nice calves and—
If I gain nothing else from my Biology Class except for obscure pig-anatomy knowledge, I will also have gained invaluable information about the human heart. I’ve since used that information to formulate a new structure for my blood mages and their Citadel. Going forward, the Blood Citadel is now known as the Atrium. I can name half a dozen Fantasy/Sci-Fi stories that use a Citadel as the name of their building and none come to mind (immediately) as using an Atrium. I’m modeling the new structure after the four-chambers of the human heart; the Atrium being a space for Blood Mages. I’ll have a whole post about how the heart is working to aid my Fantasy work soon.
In Other News
We got a Petzi (Petzilla) Treat Cam for our cat. Because he is spoiled rotten, and because I worry about him when we are away from the house. It's a one-way audio/visual system (stationary) that lets us chime in when we connect, view our cat from our smart phone, and even shoot out treats. The down side is it shoots a lot of treats (10+ like a shotgun spray) so Boo gets a lot more than he probably needs... but it is worth it. The camera isn't amazing, but all we really need to know is that he is safe, that the house isn't on fire, and that he is still at home. Some photos:
Season 10 of Doctor Who started. It’s lovely.
I’m listening to the third book in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series and it, too, is lovely. So far I’ve encountered rogue wizards, werewolves, vampires in tennis outfits, demons from the Nevernever and a ton of fun stories. I’m not usually a fan of first person stories but this is just a really fun romp, I’m glad it was written that way.
I decided to drop my Math class for the summer (oh yeah, since the last blog, I decided to take a Math class in the summer… and have since… decided to drop it). I’ll have the whole summer off. I’ll be doing more work for DistratedDragon.com working on getting to some more craft fairs or bolstering my sales online.
I’m a few hours into Mass Effect: Andromeda. I don’t love it, and that makes me sad. I’m a serious lover of video game romances (it should be an entire Genre). “There is no Shephard without Vakarian.” And every person I want to romance in this game either doesn’t swing my way or is… odd. (I’m looking at you Liam)
I went to the walk-in clinic for a sinus headache. Discovered the beauty of Flonase, and the disturbing fact that I now weigh 175lbs. That’s the heaviest I have ever been. Freshmen 15? Freshmen 30? I was 145 when I started school. What bullshit. So now I am looking at a membership to the YMCA to see if I can swim some of this weight off. I don’t have extreme body image issues, but my metabolism isn’t working like it did in my 20’s.
I saw LEGO Batman at the discount theater, Beauty and the Beast and Ghost in the Shell (loved it) at the “normal, over-priced” theater.