Thursday, January 21, 2016

Eulogy for co-creation


My former novel critique partner Karen and I created Hot Pink Books last year as an experimental imprint based on an idea she had to write choose-your-own-erotic-adventure novellas. We each wrote a few novellas, and Karen designed the website, some gorgeous covers, and we played with social media.

We saw a number of copycats spring up on Amazon after we published our novellas.

Our writing for HPB tapered off after the spring; I personally discovered that the muse for writing erotica is even more erratic than it is for my usual spec fic genre. Although I have to put in almost no effort at all for plot and just a minimum for character development, what writing erotica requires for me, more than any other sort of writing, is that I feel like doing it. I haven't been there for a while, and neither has Karen; and yesterday, we decided to close the website and discontinue writing these books.

It's gotten me thinking about how lovely it was to conceive of the elements of that project and to execute it--and how most of how fun it was had to do with collaborating with someone. It was inspiring and motivating to share what we were writing, to critique each others' works, to improve them and in the case of our sample novella, to write something together. It was good to have someone on my side and who totally knew how I felt when we faced some of the issues around revealing to the world, under our real names, that we wrote what we were writing.

In a bit of synchronicity, I read Barbara Marx Hubbard's Conscious Evolution this past week, and I took notes on what she said about co-creation.
Co-creation happens in the convergence zone, when two or more pioneering souls (imaginal cells) are drawn together to co-create, to fuse genius, to work on an activity that actualizes each person's unique potential...We experience resonance, a re-sounding, or echoing, of each other's higher qualities.

Two or more gathered in resonance form the basic building block of the integral culture. In this field of resonance, our self-expression is amplified and flows naturally. 
In the convergence zone, we do not solve problems in the same state of consciousness in which we created them...something greater than ourselves emerges from our union with other kindred souls.
Entropy is the state of gradual decline into disorder, and when we are in a state of separateness, entropy is what we embody. Convergence eats entropy. Hubbard talks of our heart's desire being social convergence--when we experience synergy (flow state where we experience being part of a greater whole), synchronicity (events occur as needed), syntony (guidance/intuition/knowing, from being interconnected in a larger field of intelligence) and suprasex (when brilliant ideas, a joined genius, are triggered by the presence of others who reinforce our own potential).

Convergence and the desire to cocreate is what draws us to have relationships with others. I experienced this in my collaboration with Karen, and it makes me look at the project as entirely a success, and a model for a sort of creativity I want to engage in again and again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Interview with Valentine Lahey, winner of the "Draw Minimus" Contest

Here it is, from Valentine Lahey, the winner of Montag Press' "Draw Minimus" Contest!

In Dysmorphic Kingdom, Minimus is Prince Magnus' princely penis, who because of some strange magic has been detached from his body. 

MeOne of the reasons why I like your drawing is that it represents a penis without being pornographic. Did you do that on purpose? 

Valentine: Yeah, I think so. There is an overflowing universe of salacious material present nowadays that tends to obviate the novelty of porn in art.

Me: What do you think of Minimus’ character, and how does that translate to this picture of him? 

Valentine: Minimus keeps developing, deepening until he transcends absurdity. It’s why I gave him eyes. I imagine there would be something wistful about him in the midst of his rampaging lust; a spiritual yearning for reunion. I also think that his ambition must be acknowledged, so I drew Minimus with his attention on the taking of political power in Malland.

Me: Why is there a rainbow in the background? 

Valentine: Rainbows simultaneously evoke wishes and barriers.

MeCan you say something about the development of your distinct style of drawing? 

Valentine: It’s deliberately feeble, in a way. I use my wrong hand, the left one, and a cursor pad instead of drawing straight onto a screen, so it’s very hard to control the line or even see where it’s going. Everything is colored with a flat paint bucket fill, which is usually a bad way to operate because it is so limited. I look for constraints that force choices to make the process more immediate. Even if the result is loaded with illustrative errors and visible corrections, it is hopefully more memorable as a result of this method. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review of The Red Light Princess

The Red Light Princess takes place in the No Go Zone, a high-density ghetto that has sprung up in the ruins of the old world that lie outside the separation barriers of civilization.

The story begins with the narrator, Kai, being chased across the slums of old high-rises, the skywalks above them, up and down and over buildings. Body-modification has developed beyond art to practical usage. Launchers and boosters, talons and weapons fused into muscle and bone allow free-jumps, flight, attack and defense. The ability to sense magnetic fields and metals facilitate tracking for both pursuers and pursuit. Kai’s body modifications are less technologically advanced than those of his pursuers, but he has two advantages: the first is that he’s very good at running away. The second is that it’s the Night of the Clean Hands—a holiday from killing, one night of freedom from the fear of death. Old debts are forgotten on this night, payback is forbidden, and killing is outlawed.

Ironically, many people die on this night, both accidentally and on purpose, in the violence of the festival. Still, if anyone breaks the rules and intentionally kills, they are to die in the ring with the Mecha Beasts—cyborg animals who fight, gladiator-style, for the entertainment of viewers.

Kai manages to escape his pursuers temporarily, and he witnesses the death of a girl hung from a skywalk. Her murder begins the unfolding of the mythology and the mystery of the Red Light Princess, another girl who died in exactly the same manner as this one, and, as this one, wore a mask, had her hands and tongue cut off, and was covered with tattoos of roses and vines. Something about the original Red Light Princess sparked a devotion and a following—nearly a religion—amongst the people of the No Go Zone, and the imitation of her death has an ominous significance.

Because the girl has died in the district of Kai’s gang, he is ordered by his boss to find, before dawn, the person responsible for the death. Tracking the murderer leads him to a brothel where he discovers that the girl is one of three sisters who did a Red Light Princess act. One sister is dead, with two more to go. As Kai continues as both pursuer and pursued, the interconnections between both roles are revealed, along with the reasons for Kai’s personal obsession with the Red Light Princess.

This grim, dystopian story is a fascinating read. It takes place on one night, over probably less than a 12-hour period, but is multilayered and intricate in both external plot aspects and as a commentary on aspects of being. The setting itself is like something from a dream—the way the characters free jump across a ruined city seems like it must have been born of an astral experience from the author—and yet it speaks of a vision of a different way of seeing our own world. “Cities aren’t just systems that control the way we move through space. They can be much more—free spaces that elude the formal structures of control.”

Kai is a flawed non-hero who represents an Everyman inside all of us—the disconnected, insecure part of us who has lost touch with all meaning aside from that animal spark inside us that desires life. He is an addict. He has an inferiority complex, constantly comparing himself to a dead brother whom he imitates whenever he wants to hide his own weakness. He wants his luck to change and will enter all sorts of games of chance, all the while knowing he cannot expand beyond his universe of ill luck and mistrust. He has never wanted more than his life here, never wondered what lay beyond the No Go Zone. He’s like a hamster on a wheel and knows it, but hasn’t the lucidity to desire anything different.

The disfigured Red Light Princess, her death, and her near deification offers a troubling metaphor, perhaps, for what the masses will cling to when they feel they have nothing else. I didn’t quite understand what she could mean, but that might be because I was too busy trying not to vomit whenever I read descriptions of her.

Because yes, The Red Light Princess is highly graphic and often disturbing. It is not a comfortable read. The plot is somewhat dizzying and sometimes got too surreal for me to understand. Still, the writing is effective, powerful, and rarely gets in the way of what it’s expressing. It’s hard to stop reading it even though one knows it’s probably not going to be a happy ending. It’s a story that will challenge its readers, whether they enjoy it or not, and its images will remain in their consciousness long after the read is done.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

IWSG and Review of 2015

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Happy New Year! I'm still insecure enough about blogging that I am not doing it regularly!

I thought I'd combine my IWSG post with my customary year-end summary, as this past year has had a great deal to do with both writing and insecurity.

This was a good publishing year--I self-published three novellas in a new imprint I started with my friend Karen. Then I published my first novel with Montag Press in July. I did a some half-assed marketing and got to explore the worlds of additional insecurity that come along with publishing larger works. Checking my sales on Amazon. Checking reviews. Taking a deep breath an googling myself and my novel. It is a slow process, allowing oneself to be seen, and thickening one's skin to both potential and real criticism.

I also changed my career around a bunch which has given me more time to write. This has had me face a lot of my anxiety around production, my erratic muse. I've spent the last few months vacillating between spurts of sporadic productivity and long, bitter periods of brain-fogged procrastination. I've wanted to beat my head against the wall and demand of myself--why am I still dealing with this shit?!!! Hasn't it been like two decades of the same crap?!!!! But then I remind myself that writing never gets easy. I just get a little more used to dealing with the same hurdles.

And I fell into a tumultuous but amazing relationship, which has taken up far more brain space than is probably healthy for me, and eats up many hours that I could have spent writing. Not that I've minded at all, but I'm still adjusting to how to create when one is in a blob space 75% of the time. It is because I was in blob space on NY's Eve that I forewent my customary ritual that has generally culminated in a headstand of varying lengths as the clock strikes midnight.

Anyway, a good year. I won't mention the various fails, but I'm reorganizing things in my head to do better.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nonviolent self-communication as I insecurely write

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

I vaguely recall, but am mostly repressing thoughts of, several recent posts in which I said I was going to do this or that. I haven't done any of it at all. I quit Nanowrimo 20K words in. Haven't written a word since on any of my projects. Blaaaaaaaaargh!!!!

I suck! I'm a loser! Lazy-ass...

So goes the internal dialogue, all culminating into a crescendo of failure that makes me aware that I never really stopped feeling it at all...

Fortunately, I am the queen of analyzers, and I just attended an excellent talk by Yvette Erasmus about nonviolent communication, which I will apply to the situation:
  • We are schooled to comply with cultural standards and enforce them on each other. Keep your promises, society tells us. Will yourself to success. Do what you say you're going to do...But I am thinking about how people with my particular human design chart, in which the ego center is undefined, should abide by the rule of the undefined ego--"don't make any promises." It's actually not good for me to try to keep my word when my inconsistent willpower peters out, because when I no longer have the will to do something and I keep doing it, it's for the wrong reason--not because I'm willing it, but because I'm trying to prove myself to something external to me.
  • Empowerment isn't about forcing others to do or not do something. Our intention should be to connect and not control. This applies to ourselves as much as others. We are drawn to control and micromanage our own lives, but the real goal is to connect to our selves. We do this by tracking our feelings so we stop "numbing out and acting out." 
  • When you neutrally observe, without moralistic judgments, you come into a space of mindfulness--of releasing the internal habits of seeing what you expect to see. When we apply this to ourselves--goal fulfillment without making promises isn't about giving up the goals altogether. We can still make goals, but we make the path to them just as much about recognizing what we're feeling while we're working on them, and honoring those feelings by changing what we need to in the process toward the goals. 
I'm frustrated at my lack of discipline, I'm afraid I'll never be able to write anything again, I'm embarrassed at claims of what I'd do that I haven't yet touched. I'm slightly alarmed at my publisher's efforts to promote my book because I'm afraid I can't live up to their faith in it, or keep up with my own inconsistent marketing. I'm defensive, guarded, and slightly needy about its being read, which makes me almost not want people to do so at all. 

But that gets rid of some of the noise, so maybe I'll be able to do it now. No claims today of what I'll achieve by tomorrow and no using my audience to witness my intentions--it'll be what it is, which is perhaps best summarized as Always Under Construction.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Draw Minimus contest!

The publisher of my novel, Dysmorphic Kingdom, is holding a Black Friday contest on Facebook. Draw Minimus, the animated detached penis character, tag Montag Press and win!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A bit of sunshine-shoving and Nanowrimo

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

I'm insecure this month because I'm actually writing! It's the best sort of insecurity, trying to give up the internal editor and allow myself to make a shitload of mistakes.

I signed up for Nanowrimo, got off to a late start but am caught up for my third day with 5000 words. I can't express how happy this makes me, because it's been months and months now that I've been utterly stuck, flittering aimlessly from one project to another an unable to make headway on any of them, or to even gather enough enthusiasm to make anything seem fun even in theory. I especially feel good about writing only 250 words on the first day, which normally would have made me give up right away. But I did 1800 the second day and the rest today, and I am back on track.

I've signed up for Nanowrimo nine times now. I think I may have finished only twice. But it's about resetting an intention even when things falter, and staying true to that space of insecurity which is actually the space of flow...

This is a paragraph from Kali's Odiyya, a unique and rather amazing book that I recently read:
Minute amounts of life-energy are used to perform the acts of daily living that define the life of a normal person. Life-energy powers countless interconnected mechanisms driving the human body in its movement through space-time. When the limited power of a normal person is drawn through the extensive meshes of a person's body-mind, he or she just exists driven by a million motives. People drain more power reacting to others, or to their environment. A person is left with no power for transformation or proactive change. Such a person is powerless. But when a person halts the process of draining power through such reactions, then he or she begins to gather power. Existence of gathered power is evident when a person is able to effect changes in habits, lifestyles, and character. When a person is able to project their power into the surroundings to manifest certain life goals, then this power becomes concrete. A person becomes power itself when he is able to transcend limitations impressed by gravity and space-time. 
These past months, I've been using all my life-energy driven by a million motives. Gathering enough power to change a habit can be done by recognizing the harmful things we're wasting time on, and then resetting an intention again and again.