Saturday, September 17, 2011

Writing Life: Class Progress - Part One

I started a writing class.  It's only the second one I've taken in my entire life.  The first one I took at San Francisco City College when I got here seven years ago and it was pretty bad.  The instruction, if you want to call it that, was non-existent.

At the time I thought I could teach the class better even though I didn't have much writing experience.  Now I know I could teach it better and I haven't published anything.

This writing class is taught by Tony DuShane.  Check out the link there if you want to know more about him.  He's published a novel and has his own interview show, etc.  I decided to start a new novel for this class instead of working on one of my existing ones.  I have plans for them and don't want to show them to anyone right now.  I was feeling a bit cheeky about that, truth be told.  Sure, yeah!  A new class, new novel!  No problem.

However, last Tuesday I sat down at my Galaxy Tab and stared at the blank screen.  I realized I had to pull an entirely new novel out of thin air and I wasn't sure if I was up to the task.  To top it off, this novel will be critiqued so I can't write a new novel and allow it to be a major mess no one looks at.  There has to be something for people to work with and it has to be of reasonable quality so no one's time, especially mine, is wasted.  The only thing I had to work with is I decided it was going to be a haunted house story.  I knew I wanted the setting to be a huge, sprawling estate.  I had an idea for the opening sequence but no ideas for the characters, the story, or even what the house looks like.

Almost everyone else is working on novels/memoirs they've had for a while so they're all farther along than I am and (presumably) their stories are going to be more polished.  I stared at the blank screen of my Tab, place my fingers on the keyboard, and started pounding out a story.

The story isn't terrible so far.  I decided to completely go for it with this class.  If people are going to be critiquing my first draft I might as well push myself to produce something and not rely so much on the revision process before I do any polishing.  I'm uncomfortable with anybody looking at my first draft so this will be a valuable learning experience.

Tony's approach so far is spot on.  He requires that we work on our novels everyday for at least 20 minutes and that we critique our fellow students' work every week.  This is going to be a difficult thing to maintain for eight weeks but just these class requirements alone should seriously improve my writing, editing, and ability to produce quality material.

I'm going to have the first ten pages of my story reviewed during the second critique session.  I have to email everyone my draft this Monday.  I started this novel last Tuesday.  Tony asked for volunteers and once again, I just fucking went for it.  For myself, and this may not apply to other writers, I think the ability to pull a story out of thin air, write it down quickly, and make it into something good in a short period of time is a worthwhile skill to have.

Stay tuned for more on this class.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Short Term Stability

Lately I've been wondering what's going to become of me.

I have a good, stable temp job right now.  A six month gig in a nice company.  The job isn't too taxing. the commute is easy, and the people are nice.  This job could extend another six months but that would give me only a year of stable employment.

What happens after that?  I don't have any more savings.  I burned through it when I was unemployed the last time out.  Three jobs in four years.  Is there something wrong with me?  Am I too old?  Too expensive?

A rep from the recruiter who put me into this company called me this morning to ask if I wanted to go to an interview at a law firm.  I explained I was at this company and, therefore, committed to this six month job.  She said she understood and would update her records (!).   Then she asked me again if I would consider interviewing for this firm.  I told her no.  When they put me into this company, my other rep for this same recruiter said they expected me to work the entire six months and I said I would.  Besides, the firm who wanted to interview me gave me the runaround about six weeks ago.  Yes, no, yes, then a last minute, same day interview cancellation.  They can go fuck themselves.  Who wants to go interview for a bunch of arrogant attorneys who think it's all right to treat people like that?  Not me.

What companies/firms don't realize is how they treat the interviewees becomes a clear indication of how they treat their employees.  And maybe even how they treat their customers.  Sure, they're in the driver's seat right now but there's no reason to behave like arrogant fucks about it.

As for what will become of me, I don't know.  I might find a good, stable job by the end of six months or as this temp gig is coming to a close.  I may have to leave my beloved San Francisco and go home to my parents so I can get back on my feet again.  I may win the lottery or publish a bestseller.  Yeah, right.

For now, I'm happy to have this job.  It doesn't require a whole lot of energy and there's plenty of energy left over for writing.  For the next six months I'm going to enjoy myself and try to get some good fiction work done.  My job after this one may be some ballbreaker situation where I have to work tons of overtime and particularly sell my soul so I can pay the rent and some bills.  You never know.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

City Life: The San Francisco Bay

So this is interesting.  I took the photos below of the San Francisco Bay at high tide along the Embarcadero not too long ago.

This was was taken the my phone camera.  It turned out all right though it's a little dark.  The dark blue of the water works very well here even if it's not accurate.

This one was taken about two minutes earlier with my regular camera in the same spot.  It's a very accurate view of the color of the water.  I was lucky with the cormorant.  It had just surfaced when I took the shot.  A moment later it dove back down into the water.

Some pilings in the water.  I think that's what they're called.  The tan in the water is a reflection from one of the pillars of the Bay Bridge.  The light and reflection on the water was just right at that moment.  Less than a minute later the tan in the water was gone.

Sea Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto is a photographer known mostly for his seascapes and theater photos. This is my inept attempt to emulate one of his seascapes. This is the San Francisco Bay as seen from my new employer's lobby.  I took this picture with my phone camera. How the hell it came out so pink is beyond me. When I see the photo on my phone it looks gray. I'll take another one with my good camera later.

Note:  I posted the above photo and a variation of the accompanying paragraph on Facebook a little while ago.
And the experiments continue.  I started posting pictures along with a short blurb on Google+ rather than try to mimic my Facebook feed.  It seemed pointless post statuses there too.  I was kind of taken with the idea of having my Google+ account become a short form blog with just pictures and short blurbs to accompany them.  The problem is there's no one hanging out on Google+.  This is a shame because I really prefer that interface and I like how you can control who sees your posts.

I decided it would be a worthwhile experiment because I take hundreds of photos, sometimes in one session, and only share a fraction of them (the percentage has to be less than 25%).  I posted a photo yesterday on FB and this one today but I'm not feeling it.  I might just ditch that idea altogether and start posting them straight to this blog.  It's kind of where they belong anyway.

Shit.  I say to hell with FB.  Here's another one from the same session that I didn't add to my FB status feed.  What is UP with the pink in these photos?