or remain obscure and mysterious. I mean, whatever works, really…
So what’s going on with me right now is that I’m right at the end of the uni semester. One short essay over the weekend and I’ve got six weeks off. And then a year from now I’ll have completed my undergrad creative writing/literary and cultural studies course. And a year after that, I’ll have completed my creative writing honours. That’s my plan for two years from now. It’s good to have a loose plan, although I won’t be surprised if things go off on a tangent…
But it helps to try to do as much for myself now, to have a few nice achievements under my belt by the time I get there. So right now, I’ve got three short stories awaiting further details from the places I submitted them to. The Expansion Peach has gone to the bizarro flash fiction blog/journal, The New Flesh; Pterodactyl Eggs in the Supermarket has gone to the central bizarro community – appropriately named – Bizarro Central (which I contribute non-fiction writings to); and The Slow Hanging has gone to the Australian speculative fiction print journal, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. I’m fairly certain some, or perhaps all, of these submissions will be rejected. But it’s not my first rejection, and surely won’t be my last. The idea is that I’m sending my writing out there and at least getting people to consider my writing, to think about that.
Now, over the next six weeks, I plan on making use of my time off from uni. I’m working three days on and four days off, so I’ve got a lot of time to myself. I’ve bulked up on books in preparation for the break, and I’ll most likely get around to watching a lot of movies/tv shows too. And most importantly, I’ll be spending a lot of time writing. I’ll hopefully keep on submitting short stories everywhere, and fingers crossed, one publication picks me up. But all this time is really great for working on something a bit more ambitious than flash fiction.
First, I’ll set the scene with a bit of music:
For me, writing is about style and imagination. Finding something unique and saying it in an interesting way. Or taking ideas that are already floating out there and giving them your own unique kick, producing something that is inimitable. So why the Cowboy Bebop theme song?
Because it’s fucking awesome, that’s why!
Well, there’s a little more to it than that. I’ve recently had the urge to check out some anime and manga. It wasn’t something I was interested in growing up, so I thought it was time to see what the fuss was about. So I started reading the manga series, Akira, and I watched Cowboy Bebop and completely adored it. Over the past couple of years I’ve taken an interest in sci-fi subgenres, and genre-blends. Steampunk, cyberpunk, biopunk, etc. Not a fully fledged fandom, but an interests in the aesthetics of what’s going on there. It’s a ‘style’ in addition to being a ‘genre’. And my latest thing is the space western.
I’ve started watching the odd western film here and there, a bit of spaghetti western, a bit of acid western, and now with Cowboy Bebop, I’m getting into space westerns. But being a space western isn’t the only reason I like the show. It’s heavily stylised in the genre, but it also goes out of its way to establish a solid musical style, too. I went for Cowboy Bebop because it seemed like more than your run-of-the-mill anime series. As with any genre/art form, there’s the stuff that’s entertaining and easy enough to watch, and then there’s shit that takes things to another level. Cowboy Bebop felt a bit like that for me.
And half way through reading Akira, I’ve got a sense of “holy shit, that’s epic” going on, a sense of style and a drive to tell a story that is beyond the capabilities of other writers. Of course, other writers have the capability to write their own masterpieces or whatever, but what I want to do is find my own style and tell my own story like no one else can. Mostly, what I like to do is play around with genres and styles, and my latest thing is the space western, so that’s where I plan to start my six weeks off. I’m using my short story, The Slow Hanging, as a reference point to where I am and where I want to be, and I think I’ve got a pretty good idea as to what I want to do over the break.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) twice now, and if it’s taught me anything, it’s that planning helps a lot. Which is a little difficult for me at times because I write a lot of stuff off the cuff, take ideas and just run with them, and I have the problem with longer projects of either dwindling out aimlessly or twisting a story to fit what I planned for it, and causing it to lose its spontaneity and excitement and fall flat. What’s worked well for me for my creative writing over the past semester is to make notes when I’ve got ideas, and branch out from those and link ideas together in a way that feels natural to me. Although, my new technologies final assignment almost broke me, with a choose-your-own-adventure blog that required careful planning which at times didn’t look too far from this:
I’d love to write a novella in my six week break, a bizarro space western that expands on my short story and fleshes out those themes and expands on some plot points and ideas and develops the style into something a whole lot more rewarding than a short story. I’ve planned a lot of “big projects” over the years, novels, novellas, poetry collections, short story collections, verse novels, and back when I wrote more music I wanted to do albums and soundtracks and stuff like that. My main problem with almost all of these projects was that I didn’t really plan for them. I started then got distracted by something else. As you can probably tell by the amount of tangents I tend to go off on.
I think I’m probably going to do a fair amount of brainstorming, developing ideas, making notes, scribbling on paper, and probably writing a few interconnected short stories before I start writing a novella. The writing part isn’t hard. Getting a decent word count up isn’t hard. Getting a decent story and working on it and making a piece of writing that is not only drawn out to some length, but also well written, stylish and unique is the part that causes the most problems. And finding time and motivation to put in all the work for it.
What I find really helpful is knowing people are reading my work, and being able to get feedback from them. So hopefully, I can get other people interested in my project to spur my interest on, and hopefully these six weeks won’t go to waste.