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Archive for September, 2014

RLSATPNotes

In addition to the 13,600 words I already have written, I now have eight pages of handwritten notes to bring my story to probably a little past the halfway point. This part is based on Stevenson’s The Amateur Emigrant and Across the Plains, through which I’ve read and marked up considerably. Now that I’m plotted up to that point, I’m sitting down with two books: Silverado Squatters (with which the story will end), and Alexandra LePierre’s A Romance of Destiny: Fanny Stevenson (which is a terrible title). The Fanny bio should balance out what I’ve read about her in various RLS bios, as her character, good or bad, is famously (in some circles) debated. Ha…I realize I’ve given myself three days to do this. But Squatters is fairly short, and I only need to read the Fanny bio up until the point that she marries Stevenson and they go off on their honeymoon. I probably won’t make it, but that’s okay. I have more than enough to start writing on October 1st.

Here’s my plan. I’m writing at least 2,500-3,000 words every day of the month of October (except my birthday, the 18th, and Halloween). I have enough notes and enough plotted out to keep me well busy at least until my birthday, so when I’m not writing, I can finish up this reading and making the notes for plotting forward. By the time I take a day’s break and turn 40 (really? Really.), I’ll be set to finish up writing the final 3rd of the book. I expect to have a first draft (75,000-85,000 words, 20,000 words longer than the first novel) by the day before Halloween (celebration/party time).

I think maybe it sounds like a lot, or pretty ambitious, but remember I already have the thing started. Plus, there’s actually a lot of built-in wriggle room in terms of word count every day. Technically, with what I already have, if I wrote 3,000 words for 29 days, I’d end up with 100,600 words. And I don’t even want it that long. So, yes, wiggle room. Though, with the notes I’m making, I might very well write 3,000 every day. Maybe more, depending on the day and how I’m feeling. I’ve got my notes so that, at any given point, there’s room for change–freedom to be spontaneously creative–but basically there’s really no way I can get stuck.

I realized the other day that November is NaNoWriMo, and I’m a month early. I’ve always meant to do one, to officially complete it and blah, blah, blah. But oh well…I’m ready to get going on this. I’m not waiting a whole other month just to take part in what I should be doing a few times a year. Am I right, writers? 😉

So, yes. We’re just about ready to get going on this again. October, look out. Age 40, look out. 2014, I’m not leaving you until I have another novel fairly well written. At least a second draft. Then I’ll be looking for beta readers in 2015. Any takers? =)

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Horror Flicks and Gender

CHicks HorrorI had the pleasure, last year, of having my story, “The Obstruction,” published in Postscripts to Darkness 3, edited by Aalya Ahmad and Sean Moreland. That is how I know, and respect, the author of this article.

My objective for “The Monstrous Feminist” was not to “convert” feminists into horror fans, although that did sometimes happen, but to open up horizons for both horror and feminisms. Firstly, I wanted to offer horror as a site of critical reflection to students who might be unaccustomed to combining their feminism with film or literary theory and cultural studies. Secondly, I wanted to expand on well-known feminist theoretical analyses that seemed to lock feminisms into perpetual struggle with horror, raising intriguing questions of gendered spectatorship. In what follows, I will briefly review a few of these theories in discussing the experiences of the “Monstrous Feminists,” who repeatedly demonstrated that the feminist classroom can engender interpretive strategies beyond the scope of the “male gaze” first conceptualized by Laura Mulvey in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975). Mulvey’s influential essay tends to exclude the possibility of a gaze that is not only acutely aware of what horror does with and to women, but also of what feminists might do with and to horror.

I suggest having a read. It’s fascinating overall to read how this incredible class functioned and, clearly, thrived (still thrives, I hope, if not this semester, then another soon), but equally fascinating (and stemming off into a thousand different directions of thought) are the concepts considered within the class. I wish (and you do, too, admit it) that I’d had this class as a choice during my undergrad and/or grad years. Honestly, it’s amazing where your thought processes can go when you stop considering females in horror (whether in front of, or behind, the camera) as defined strictly by the male gaze, or by the female gaze as influenced by the all-powerful male gaze. These women, and horror in general, open up significantly if you consider these characters and filmmakers as operating under their own volition and with their very own sets of ideas. Wonderful.

As mentioned at the end of the article, an earlier version of this paper appeared in Fear and Learning: Essays on the Pedagogy of Horror, which Aalya again teamed up with Moreland (they sure make a swell editing team).

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BeastGevaudan1For this was the land of the ever-memorable Beast, the Napoleon Bonaparte of wolves. What a career was his! He lived ten months at free quarters in GĂ©vaudan and Vivarais; he ate women and children and “shepherdesses celebrated for their beauty”; he pursued armed horsemen; he has been seen at broad noonday chasing a post-chaise and outrider along the king’s high-road, and chaise and outrider fleeing before him at the gallop. He was placarded like a political offender, and ten thousand francs were offered for his head. And yet, when he was shot and sent to Versailles, behold! a common wolf, and even small for that.

–Robert Louis Stevenson

I just finished yet another revision of this story, the title of which has been changed a hundred times and, at this point, stands at The Wolves of GĂ©vaudan (still not satisfactory). Although I am leaving for a week-long mindfulness retreat at the Blue Cliff Monastery from September 10th-18th, I still have a few days to work on the second Stevenson novel I’ve got in my head. It’s sort of in my head.

While Wolves is basically set against the template of RLS’s Travels with a Donkey Through the CĂ©vennes, this second story will follow Louis to America–this time I’m using The Amateur Emigrant, Across the Plains, and The Silverado Squatters. Right now, I’m just figuring out the timeline, which characters I want to use and how I want to use them. In this book, we will actually meet Fanny Osbourne, so I’m thinking a little extra reading is in order. I think my favorite part of writing something like this is all the research/reading associated with it.

So, last time we had werewolves (and you really can’t go wrong with werewolves). This time, I think I’m going to be exploring a variety of geography-dependent folklore. Who’s with me?

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