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From the Burrow Hole

February 11, 2010

We peeked out of the hole, knocking loose the plug of ice and snow that sealed us within the warm embrace of our lord and terror, the Jackalope.  For so long we have been down here, with nothing to hear but his malign whispers.  We have clawed at the stony walls, desperate for freedom, but only here may we stay safe.  Only in his warm and terrifying presence can we protect ourselves from a world choked in ice and snow.  Even now, with our three sets of eyes that have seen too much, we can’t help but notice shadowy figures drifting across the white shroud that’s been draped across this broken land.

We know they come for us, and only our faith in His need for listeners keeps us from running.  So long as he has stories to whisper to us, we might be safe.

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quick sumthin

October 13, 2009

Terry Jones on Douglas Adams

Douglas’s writer’s block, I believe, was not because he was short of ideas.
It was because he set himself such a high bar for writing that he was
forever failing to clear it. He approached prose as if it were poetry, in
which every word counts, every phrase must bring together a new and
original combination of ideas, and every sentence must justify its place in
the book by achieving some sort of surprise or revelation.

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JPS Meeting Minutes (09/16/09)

September 17, 2009

Members Present:

Mark Felps, Deacon McClendon, and Christopher Gronlund.

Members Absent:

It’s just the three of us, but Mark’s wife, Brigitte, is an honorary member. It’s not a JPS meeting without her there until we start. She was present.

Procedings:
Meeting called to order at approximately 7:00 p.m.

Critique:

No critiques.

New Business:

No new business discussed.

Old Business:

No old business discussed.

Other Business:

For the first time in years, the evening’s meeting was not really about writing. Deacon talked about ultrasonic holograms and reality.

The JPS crew just…chatted.

And it was nice.

Assessment of Meeting:

The board did not discuss whether or not it was a good meeting.

But it was.

Meeting adjourned at approximately 9:00 p.m., when Deacon needed to get home to his teething daughter.

Addendums:

  • After the meeting ended, Mark showed Christopher BEATLES ROCK BAND.

Minutes submitted by Christopher Gronlund

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Jackalope Burrow #

September 15, 2009

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s meeting of the Jackalope Preservation Society at undisclosed location #731.

– Christopher

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The Power of Lunch (And a Link)

August 27, 2009

The Jackalope insisted, and I obeyed.

I’m back to writing during lunchbreaks.

As the people I used to go to lunch with head out the door, I go downstairs to a little breakroom, listen to Zoe Keating on the headphones, and write for an hour in the middle of the day.

Writing at work is a great way to lose myself in something I love. It helps my regular work, too; I return from lunch focused and calm.

There’s a quote by Somerset Maugham about writing novels:

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.”

I know what they are:

  1. Put your ass in a chair.
  2. Write.
  3. Repeat often!

Writing during lunch has helped me in the past, and it’s helping me again. It makes me sit in a room, ignoring the distractions of people talking or walking by, and focus on what really matters to me.

It’s a good habit, and I hope I have a large chunk of the novel in progress to plop down in front of Mark and Deacon soon…

*          *          *

And just so I have it for future reference, a link: Why are artist’s poor?

– Christopher

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Working Lunches

August 24, 2009

The Jackalope told me that I must return to writing during lunch breaks.

My second novel was written primarily on lunch breaks.

It’s a great way to get in some extra writing time.

I will obey the Jackalope…

– Christopher

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Bleeding Research

August 23, 2009

A man will turn over half a library to make one book.
– Samuel Johnson

I’m not a fan of researching things for stories.

I like researching, and I like writing stories, but I don’t like doing the two together.

When working on a story, I want to just tell the story; I don’t want to stop and research. So when I reach a point in a story requiring information I don’t have stored in my head, I make a little note in brackets, highlight it, and later research what I need.

And then, I only find as much as I need to tell the story…

*          *          *

It’s been suggested that I research before writing the story, but I’m not a fan of researching before telling the tale. That leads to one of my biggest pet peeves as a reader: sections of a story that are obviously the result of research.

Nothing pulls me from a story like a technical description that goes beyond what the narrator would know, or talk about. It’s jarring when it’s clear that the author is dropping as much information culled from research that they can; after all, they put in the time, so why not put it all down on the page?

Because it’s usually too much.

I recently read the first chapter of a story that started out with an undertaker preparing a body for a funeral. I enjoyed what I read…enough that I will eventually buy the book. But there was a scene describing the tilted examination table “for maximum blood drainage.”

It’s a given that a tilted table used by an undertaker draining somebody from the carotid artery is tilted to aid in the bloodletting. But the author felt the need to drop in that extra tidbit of information, to make sure that everybody knows that somewhere in her research, she found out that tables used during autopsies and preparing bodies for funerals are tilted to aid with draining the body of fluids.

It just didn’t seem like something the narrator would have said.

It went one step beyond what was necessary, and it was put there, I’m guessing, because the writer wanted to be sure everybody knew the research was done.

If somebody shoots somebody in a story with a shotgun, why not just say they were shot with a shotgun? Or maybe a Mossberg 500 shotgun if the author feels it adds something. But don’t say “a Mossberg 500 pump action 6-shot Roadblocker with black matte finish, heat shielding, a bead sight, and a pistol grip.”

That’s just too much.

Unless there’s a character who really would go into that much detail, it’s best to leave the majority of what is learned in research off the page.

The trick with researching is to make what goes on the page sound like it was common knowledge to the character or narrator sharing the information–not something the author learned the day before and wanted to share with the world.

– Christopher