Aďvúrun, a Plant in N’Zembe

I created a few plants while writing The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan. Today I spent some time sketching one of them, aďvúrun (athvurun).

Aďvúrun is a ground-cover plant like grass on earth. It is found on Fohrtiil, Qarlilian, Arshilkrin, Slyrpfyrn, Xhorgliff, and Irqulnirn.

Athvurun seed

 

It starts life as a tiny seed, only 3mm long and 1.5 mm wide.

About three days after lodging in soil, two small shoots break out, one that will become a root and one that will break the surface.

 

Athvurun sprout

 

 

 

Another six days and it has a 4 mm coil above ground.

Six or seven days later, it unfurls.

 

 

 

 

Athvurun matureAthvurun flower.jpg

Two weeks later, it matures, producing a flower. It will either be male or female, and produce it’s flower accordingly. Once the female flower is pollinated, it will produce a small red berry containing the seed.

Wind is the primary pollinator Aďvúrun tends to grow in large groups, creating a “carpet.” Sometimes the flowers may brush against each other and not need the wind. Additionally, there may be some animals similar to insects on earth that act as pollinators. I haven’t created any animals yet, so this information will need updated later on.

 

The Nature of Inspiration

For day 50, I started a new series Behind the Scenes to give a look into what inspired my fiction. That post was about The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan (that links to part 1/3), my recent novella.

For Praxis this month, not only are we blogging every day, but we are reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It is a collection of short essays on the resistance everyone faces regarding their calling in life, how to beat it, and part three is called “beyond resistance.” After I finish the book I will write a Recap post on the book.

I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration lately, in part because I’m reading The War of Art, but also because of Inside a Writer’s Head and drafting a piece about why I blog every day.

I frequently get random, sudden ideas for a piece of writing, new or in progress — this is what I call inspiration. I have little control over what ideas it gives me or when it presents them.

What I do control is my response. I either accept or reject the idea. Then I either use it, lose it, or record it.

I’ve gotten ideas from shows, movies, video games, advertisements, research, books, short stories, articles, blog posts, conversations, and more. My brain takes the input and says, “Hey, we could use that combined with something else or modified in this way and write about it!” for fiction. Or it says, “We should respond to this, or share this information, or write something combining this with the other information we have on this” for nonfiction.

It can be really messy sometimes. Sometimes I have the skeleton of an idea and no clue how to flesh it out.

Based on my experience, inspiration seems to come from my subconcious working to connect things and when it finally does, it feels sudden and unexpected. Because I’m not conciously working to connect, say, elephants, time travel, and romance, inspiration strikes when my brain does connect them.

Inspiration is usually an idea, but sometimes it is a sudden overwhelming desire to write. It’s a compulsion to sit and pound out words.

I felt this very strongly after the first Praxis Wednesday I attended. We met with Rob Goodman, who co-authored A Mind at Play, a biography about Claude Shannon. I recommend this post from Jimmy Soni, his co-author about their experience writing the book. I was inspired by Claude Shannon’s life and the focus he had on his work. I felt compelled to get to work on my writing.

This is a more infrequent form of inspiration for me, but it does happen.

When I get inspired, I’m infrequently able to write at that exact moment. That or I recognize that I shouldn’t start a new piece of writing yet. I have a lot of stories that are in progress. Too many. So often, when I get a story idea, I shelve it for later on.

Overall inspiration can be complicated and unreliable, but it can also be really helpful when I’m feeling stuck and need new ideas.

My Views on Authorial Intent

In my video reading poems from Inside a Writer’s Head, one of the poems prompted me to think of the authorial intent vs readers’ interpretation debate. This tends to be primarily in the realm of written work, but it could also apply to shows, movies, and other media.

In this post, I’m going to focus on my views as it relates to my own work, as that is the main application for me.

My take is a middle-ground, mixed perspective. There is support for both sides, and historically which side prevails has flip-flopped. For a long time before the recent rise of fanfiction authorial intent was king and readers’ interpretation was of lesser importance or didn’t matter at all. What the author meant by their work was what mattered, not how you or I interpreted the work to mean or convey.

I don’t think there is a dichotomy or that we have to pick one.

Both what the author intends and what the readers interpret in a given work matter. They’re both important and give insight into the work.

For example, if I employ heavy color-driven symbolism in a work to speak to characters’ emotional states or journeys, that’s my intent. If you read that story and don’t pick up on the symbolism, you’ll interpret the story based on what you did pick up on, possibly including other symbols I didn’t intend. Someone else could pick up the color symbolism and interpret it differently than I intended. There is support for all of these. None of these is “right” and the others “wrong” per se.

Everyone has different experiences, different perspectives that they bring to a work. What I bring as the author is not the same as what any of my readers bring.

Because of this, there will be different interpretations of a work. What speaks to me in a book may not speak to you. What I think is the most important part of my story may not be the most important part to you. I can hinge the plot on it, but there could be subtle elements that give a reader argument for something else being more of a driving factor.

My main point in that is art is not cut and dry or straightforward. It speaks to people in different ways based on the influences in their lives that change their perspective.

When I was twelve I got into fanfiction, both reading and writing it. That has undoubtedly influenced my perspective on this debate.

I’ve read fanfics in which I really enjoyed an unconventional take of a character and fanfics in which I really hated it. It adds so much depth to a work to see the characters in different contexts or interpreted differently or in situations they didn’t experience in canon.

Additionally, it gives writers practice maintaining consistent characters of all stripes. It is largely an outpouring of love for a given work, and it’s hard work. Sometimes fanfiction is harder to write than original work, becuase of the confines of the existing work. Keeping characters to bounds set by someone else is difficult.

Lastly, I’ve come to see fanfiction as comparable to free advertising. I have found new books, shows, and other work because of fanfiction. I’ve read fanfiction that was not obviously branded as such by the title that was fantastic and sparked interest in the characters and where they came from. And it was done for free. No one paid that writer to spend their time and effort on fanfiction. They chose to do it because they love the characters and the original work.

I can see and understand both sides of this debate in large part because I’ve written and interacted with original and derivative works.

As far as my own work goes, it’s open to interpretation. I have what I intended, but you have what you bring to my work and may take away something else. I’d love to hear about that. I want to be open about what I intend as well as open to readers’ interpretations.

[Authorial Present] Dream Investments (Poem)

This is a poem from Inside a Writer’s Head. Read more from and about the collection here.

What if I begin

to write once again?

To refine my craft

each day with time?

I’ll find myself,

one day, with such a store

of experience and writings,

Oh! such galore!

I’ll not regret that time well-spent

My investment in

my authorial present.

For a writer’s not born

with talent and skill,

but honed and created

through the daily toil.

[Thought-Block] Partially Formed Thoughts (Poem)

This is a poem from Inside a Writer’s Head. Read more from and about the collection here.

Just too far from the reaches of my mind

An idea formed, it won’t come to my eyes.

Almost inspiration, trickling perspiration

As I work to overcome the thought-block

That prevents me from unlocking

The partial, half-formed thought I had.

It’s still not quite there,

As time passes, it fades into air,

Drifting further from consciousness,

From any semblance of acknowledgement

That I caught a whisper, a breath

Of whatever was there.

I simply didn’t catch quite enough of it.

Nonsensical Sensicality (Poem)

This is a poem from Inside a Writer’s Head. Read more from and about the collection here.

So many expressions,

why can’t we say what we

Mean?

Our language is all skewed

together,

no clarity outside of the surreality.

The dream-like sensicality of

Nonsensical things.

The not-really’s of this world are

all but

Few and far between.

No wonder language is the

hardest

of all things.

[Self-Scripting Poems] Sands and Words (Poem)

This is a poem from Inside a Writer’s Head. Read more from and about the collection here.

Why do I so often

write poems about poems?

Why can those words

not stay locked inside my head?

I don’t know,

but they find their way to paper

on their own when they make a flow,

a river of words

etching into my mind,

my internal fabric.

Sometimes past poems

will flow again, partially,

never in whole.

Yet somehow I avoid writing

the same lines twice.

Amazing how that can be

when sometimes creativity

it is fleeting and fleeing.

But something springs up,

gains life and warmth,

later depth and breath,

gaining a voice I cannot control.

The words, the words

on their own

have always flowed

without my personal intervention.

I don’t know how,

but everything

writes itself,

though I may have said such before,

I cannot place quite when.

The words are

my Power,

but the sands of time

is all they bring.

Module 2, Week 3 Project Update

This week has been the most problem-free so far, but still had its challenges.

I mentioned in my first project update that I had problems with my proofs from BookBaby. I actually found a new problem in the new proofs they sent me.

I had written the acknowledgements before I knew who was designing the cover for Inside a Writer’s Head. I thought I’d be working with Alexandra Wagner, so I wrote her name in. I ended up working with Jacob Beman, as I’ve mentioned. That was great and I shared that information. But I forgot to update the acknowledgements.

I noticed that it was wrong and had to message the BookBaby support team to figure out how to resolve it. I submitted a new book file, and they agreed to fix that one mistake in the ebook for me. They have a fee for additional changes or for submitting a new file, but they made an exception because it was just one mistake.

I got my new design proofs back, and I should get the books I ordered by the end of the month. I’m still not entirely sure when the ebook will be available for sale, though.

Last week I had the idea of running a giveaway of the collection. I acted on that the day after having the idea and posted about it on Instagram. I made it possible for any person to have three changes to win, one from each social media platform I’m on — Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To enter people have to like and share the post and follow my account on that platform. Then I send them their entry number(s) as a direct message.

Right now I’m tracking entries in a spreadsheet recording the person’s username, the platform(s) entered on, and their entry number(s). I also expanded the possible entries to my blog and pinned the post with the explanation of how to enter each way. So far only four people have entered. I’m trying to keep talking about it so people will be more likely to see it and enter. I mention it in my photo posts with poetry quotes on them.

I’m not sure if my audience is currently too small to run a successful giveaway or if people don’t care or both. That’s something I’ve noticed about my project. Because I’m just starting out building my platform and interacting with people on social media and sharing my work more, I have a small audience and very little incoming interaction. 26 people like my Facebook page, 27 people follow me on Twitter, and 41 people follow me on Instagram. I get the most interaction on Instagram, but I feel more limited by the necessity of images. I need to practice creating photos for my blog posts in order to promote them on Instagram as well.

I’ve realized during this project and from the Praxis Wednesday last week that I’m really building my creative brand. I initially wanted to sell my poetry collection, but it’s not available yet. Yes, I’ll be selling a product, but to interest people in that product, I have to sell them on me and my work more generally.

Because of that obstacle, this has morphed a bit in my mind into building creative habits, connecting with people on social media to sell myself and my blog. That will take time. It aligns with my longer-term goals of being a freelance writer or making money doing creative work.

For the video and blog content directly tied to my project, I talked about how I completed my poetry manuscript in two weeks. I made a video on the same topic, which is embedded in that blog post.

Next week, which starts Thursday, I plan to post some of the poems in Inside a Writer’s Head to this blog, so stay tuned! I want my video to be me reading those poems.

I’m thinking about posting recordings of me reading my work, from Inside a Writer’s Head, other poems, and short stories to SoundCloud, but I’m not sure if it would be worth the time. I also found out that there is a 3 hour upload limit for free accounts, which may be a problem if I do pursue this.

Behind the Scenes: The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan

This post contains spoilers about my novella. If you haven’t read it, check out parts one, two, and three before reading this post.

Yesterday I released part three of my first novella, The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan. I posted it in three parts because of the length. I wanted to break it into manageable chunks, and two parts were still not right.

That all happened after the story was finished. This post is a look at ideas and inspirations I had while writing.

I don’t know the exact timeline, but quite a long time ago, a few of my writing friends and I were choosing writing prompts and sharing short stories. We all wrote from the same prompt and had the same amount of time to write. We started with every two weeks, then realized we were too busy for that to be adequate. It switched to once a month, rotating who chose the prompt.

Someone chose this prompt: “It’s been so long that no one knows why the walls were built. Nobody wants to leave.”

I recall wanting someone to pick it. I don’t think I chose it, though, if I remember correctly.

At first I didn’t have a clear plan. I just started writing and went where my thoughts said to go.

Then I named Kaashif Sarwan. Both parts of his name are related to exploring or adventure or discovery. I don’t remember exactly what meaning I chose, but both parts have the same meaning. Because that’s what he is.

Around that same time I realized this story should take place on Irqulnirn, in the N’Zembe system. I’d been thinking about the star system and how far away Irqulnirn was from the star. I created quarzyls to be the solution and explanation for how Irqulnirn could support life. I decided/figured out what was outside the walls and why they were built. That led me to write the Apocalypse of Irqulnirn, the background for this novella.

Once I knew how and why the walls were built, I had to go about the business of writing Kaashif through his journey to the top of the walls.

When I first had the idea for the dead world outside the walls, the conclusion was going to be bleak. Hopeless.

But because of how quarzyls “work,” and their life-giving abilities, I was able to work in a hopeless, depressed period for Kaashif and end with hope.

This story is as much about Kaashif as it is about my own journey with depression. Not literally or even symbolically, but experientially, to a degree. I wrote my depression into Kaashif as part of his journey, including the hopeful ending.

I changed as my vision for the story changed.

When I thought the ending would be bleak, I was in a dark place and wanted to reflect that artistically.

When my vision morphed to something more hopeful, I’d come to a more optimistic, hopeful place in my own life.

This post is a bit different compared to my other posts. I’ve never written about what the nature of inspiration in writing stories is for me.

This post also marks 50 days of blogging! In another 50 days I could do something like this again, provided I have a new story to write the behind-the-scenes for.

Journal: 24 February 2017

This is a new series comprised of past journal entries I wrote followed by some current thoughts about it, if I have any. The reason for sharing a particular entry will vary. Some may be recorded story ideas, interesting events from my past, or some weird or fun thought I had that I wrote down.

Image result for knockerballIdea for a species that is overprotective of children, so makes them live in knockerball-like aparati (the plural of aparatus). Time passes and the species develops severe germophobia. The “knockerballs” increase in tech and soon allow the individuals to do everything, like the chairs in Wall-E for the humans. The species hates interacting with others outside of their bubbles and having actual contact with them — this culminates in a population crisis of some sort because so few members of the species actually reproduce.


Image result for wall-e

I had this idea with two of my friends at a get together where we played knockerball. Parts of the idea were mine, parts of it weren’t. I really like this idea, and wanted to co-write something with those two friends, so I should reach out to them and see if we could do that.