March 15, 2007 at 6:37 pm (announcement, meta)

well it’s official. both “sense of self” and “self-control” are going to be in the next publication of the st. ambrose creative arts journal quercus. that’s pretty cool, i guess. i’m fairly happy with how the whole thing turned out, and i’m glad that i’m not the only one who likes what i write, though i did gather that my stories were a bit controversial. its not like the group was unanimous in wanting them in. still, they did get in, so all in all, i guess i win, or something. whatever.

now i gotta decide if i’m going to read them at the reception/showing thingee they do at the end of the semester. i probably will, i guess, though i’ve always been a bit hesitant to read in front of groups. i doubt the quercus reading/showing is attended by huge numbers of people, but i’ve only read my stories to the 10 or so people in my fiction workshop last semester and like 4 people who came to a creative writing club meeting a month back, and in both cases i knew most everyone there pretty well. oh well. according to one of my favorite writers, greg stolze, doing readings is something you generally gotta do if you want to try to be writer who makes money at it, so i suppose i might as well get used to it.

anyway, once i confirm that the last things i submitted are the official, final versions of the stories i’ll do updates here so everyone can see what made the final cut.


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on the value of the conclusion…

March 12, 2007 at 6:02 pm (meta, rant)

so i’ve got two stories on here right now that i consider more or less complete. “sense of self” and “self-control.” “sense of self” has a definite conclusion. a paragraph that wraps everything up. “self-control” didn’t, originally, but the version on here now does. the final cut of that story, the one that was actually submitted to quercus, has nothing of the sort.

i’ve been speculating on the value of conclusions the last few days, primarily due to this. it’s a bit of an odd thing to be involved simultaneously in english classes which require formal essays and also creative writing. formal essays demand conclusions. you spell out your objective in a thesis statement in your introductory paragraph, then you lay out your points in a nice, neat, well organized, logical manner, then you reiterate everything and hammer it home even harder in the conclusion. you want to make sure everyone gets the point.

i think this tendency has bled over in my habits with creative writing as well. although my stories might not have a “point” as such when i begin, they often acquire one as i go. while i might not be aesop and trying to include some kind of blatant, uplifting, edifying moral with every thing i write, for some reason when i wrote “sense of self” and when i revised “self-control” i felt like i should make sure everyone got the “point” of the story. i think “sense of self” is probably okay as is, and to a certain extent i like the conclusion i wrote for “self-control” but i am also starting to think that putting a conclusion like that on a piece of fiction is kind of silly. after all, people are probably just as likely (if not more likely) to read fiction for simple amusement and entertainment than for intellectual exploration or to ponder moral conundrums. amusement is certainly the reason for which i write the stuff (that is, i write it because i find the process of doing so amusing. i don’t care so much what anyone else gets from it afterward).

so does a short piece of fiction (or even a long piece, i guess) need or benefit from some kind of conclusion? does an author need to spell out the point, the moral, the lesson, etc. to all the stupid, mindless readers or should he or she just let them figure it out on their own, let them take from it what they will?

at first i was upset that they wanted to cut back “self-control” after asking for more. this was partially because, well, they’d already asked for more and i’d given it to them. but it was also partially because i’d kind of liked the conclusion i’d added. i still do. but on further thought i’m not so sure that it actually adds anything or benefits the piece. maybe it’s just better to show some stuff, tell the readers, “hey, this happened,” and then let them decide what they want it to mean.

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killing more

March 12, 2007 at 5:48 pm (meta)

so the cool kids have told me that wordpress’s “more tag” which lets a person put a little intro or whatever at the top then a link to, i dunno, “click to read more” or something along those lines kinda sucks when you’re reading a feed reader. i’d kinda noticed this myself with my own reader rss bandit (which is a pretty decent one as far as i’ve noticed. if you use windows and don’t already have a favorite news reader, check it out). with some feeds i can read the whole post right there in the reader window, with others i need to click the post’s link and open it in firefox. this isn’t a big problem – i always have firefox open anyway – but i still prefer the convenience of reading it right there in the reader window. apparently one of the culprits with this problem are things like the wordpress “more” option. so i’m killing it. it made my blog page look more neat and tidy not to have the entire contents of the longer posts splatted right across the main page, but whatever. chances are i’ll decide to switch back in a couple days anyway. i’m like that.

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question for my reader(s)

March 8, 2007 at 2:07 pm (meta)

do you use feed readers/aggregators?
do you have a preference for the feed syndicating whole posts or just summaries?
i ask because i’ve been fiddling around with the feed a bit today as i try to get facebook to import my posts here to my notes there.
so anyway, i’m going to try syndicating my entire posts instead of just the short bits. we’ll see how that goes.

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self-control – the editor’s cut

March 8, 2007 at 12:58 pm (meta)

so this is cool, right?
shortly after i turned in the extended version of “self-control” that was requested by some of the people on the quercus group (because they were confused and said they wanted more information) i am informed that a couple of the votes needed for the piece to get in are contingent on my making another alteration. specifically they want it to be SHORTER again. shorter even than the original!
very weird.
when i first heard this i was frustrated and angry and tempted to tell them where to stick it.
but i also had only had 4 hours of sleep, so that might have been part of it.
anyway, i did cut the story and i guess it still works, but i think i liked the longer version better.
but it does mean that both of my stories are probably (as far as i know nothing is for sure yet) going into the journal. which is cool. i’ll post the final version of both of them here once it is for sure.

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are you kidding me?

March 8, 2007 at 12:51 pm (nonfiction, personal, rant)

my computer angers me.
windows angers me.
windows media player and itunes anger me.

normally i don’t complain about computer things. as one of my brothers put it fairly recently, since i use windows so i pretty much expect computers to suck. but not QUITE this much.

i buy music from itunes.
there are a lot of annoyances associated with this, but despite them i have continued to do so. in fact, i don’t think i’ve bought a physical cd since i aquired my ipod.
itunes is kind of bastard. it pisses me off that they want to control what i do with my music after i have paid them for it, but i continue to utilize their store anyway because the music is cheaper and i can find all kinds of stuff there that i could never find in a physical store in my area.

so i just recently went on a bit of an itunes shopping spree. among other things i bought the album “Taiga” by this japanese group OOIOO. i don’t have anything else by them, though i think i may have heard a song or two before. apparently they are an all girl group and a side project of the Boredoms. i don’t have any albums by the Boredoms either. so don’t really ask me why i decided to buy this except that it sounded cool.

and it does. i listened to it last night and it is totally awesome. i do not regret this purchase whatsoever. in fact, i’ll almost definitely have to check out more of their music and maybe the Boredoms as well now.

one of the steps i take whenever i buy something on itunes is to burn it to a real cd. after all, if my hard drive and ipod both die, i don’t want to lose all the music i have. a common second step is for me to rip the newly burned cd into mp3s. i don’t really like the itunes m4p format. the drm is annoying as hell, plus the format just isn’t very universal. anyway, i’ve done this with a lot of my cds and never had any problems.

but today windows media player, which i use for the ripping, decided to choke on track 2 of taiga. the first time it did this it just froze WMP. i had to kill it and it wouldn’t come up again. i rebooted the computer. second attempt it chokes on track 2 again and this time freezes the WHOLE SYSTEM! i reboot. again. now i’ve decided that either my blank had a problem or itunes screwed up in the burning. so i reburn.

this time everything seems to work okay.
but, as i’m writing this and i decide to check some things in itunes and play a song, the whole thing starts getting choppy and unresponsive and just slow as hell.

stupid, stupid itunes. stupid, stupid windows.

why the hell can’t WMP recognize when a track on a cd is corrupt? does this happen with other media players? i just can’t believe that a flawed track on an audio cd can cause an entire computer operating system to lock up completely and utterly. what the hell!? are you kidding me?

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self-control – the extended cut

March 1, 2007 at 12:14 pm (meta)

okay, so i turned in one version of the story “self-control” to quercus and then last night one of the people i know who is on the group that picks the stories that will be accepted talked to me online and told me that some people were confused and wanted more information. so i tweaked it a bit more and added more on to the end. i’m not going to post the story twice because very little about the part that was originally posted here was changed. mostly just stuff was added to the end. so i revised it on here as well, and i’m making this post so that you know to check it out again even if you’d already looked at it before. it’s different now! i’m not sure if it’s improved but it is different. and longer. mostly longer.

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