The Defeatist

Just downloaded a free Kindle book from Sophie Bowns, “The Defeatist.” The novel begins with a brief prelude that I didn’t find compelling, but the first chapter is complex and taught, and has me hooked. I’ll follow with a more detailed review once I’m finished.

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods

When linking to another blog, I typically include an original work of fiction or (usually bad) poetry inspired by that link. Making an exception today, because the focus this time needs to remain on the source rather my own efforts.

Cheryl Moore writes an ongoing series of what she calls disconnected stories, assembled under the title Unbound Boxes Limping Gods. Each story is short (very lunch-break friendly) and strong enough to stand on its own, yet also has connections to a larger narrative. After finishing the most recent story, I found myself clicking through more episodes (each illustrated with a delightful pencil sketch), never attempting to proceed in a chronological fashion.

Cheryl’s blog is a fascinating experience, and is inspiring me to reconsider my strategy for drafting my novel. I occasionally pursue side projects, using characters and scenes from the main narrative in order to explore some idea or theme that interests me. Most of these side projects won’t make their way into the novel (although several were incorporated during the massive revision effort I undertook the previous two months), but they have been very productive. Yet lately these projects have been rather lengthy, taking a week or two to complete — too much effort, it seems, for what’s essentially scratch pad work.

These disconnected stories I’ve discovered have shown me a different approach — vignettes that can stand alone, yet provide connections to a lengthier work that readers can explore if they choose. Not sure I can pull off this technique with the expertise displayed in Unbound Boxes Limping Gods, but it’s an effort worth exploring. 

Ancestry

Corngoblin just posted an elegy to his laptop, and has invoked the ghost of a story idea from many years ago.

Knew going in that the few hundred in obsolete computer parts and hours of online research, could have easily proved fruitless. Zeroes and ones, stored on thin magnetic circles enclosed in flimsy plastic sleeves, ancestors of today’s USB drives like a horse-drawn carriage is to a Ferrari. How long can this technology store data reliably — a year? Two? Five?

Twenty-nine seemed a stretch, I knew that going in. But the moment I found that box of floppies — instinct had compelled me to sort through the carton I had lugged around unopened through I can’t recall how many moves, their data created on a computer with a proprietary OS, both long abandoned — there was no choice for me but to explore whether their data could be restored on a modern system (Yes!) and if my PC maintenance skills were still sharp (Of course!). A journey that’s lead to this moment, reclining back into my home office chair as the first floppy (labeled 1987) spun noisily in its drive, the sound like a small animal squeaking with exertion, followed by the names of forgotten files dancing on the flat screen:

BUDGET.87

CHRCTRS (my abbreviation for Characters, working within the 8.3 naming restriction)

CHRCTRS2

CHRCTRS.OLD

DARNOLD (Darn Old? D Arnold?)

Thirty-four files on this floppy, the first of seventeen. Digital artifacts from a younger version of myself, a me I can barely remember. Someone less secure, yet more confident than the person I imagine myself to be now. Less afraid to take chances, make mistakes, of which he made many. Less inhibited, especially when writing.

Am I ready to confront that person who used to be me?

A rhetorical question at this point, for sure. But one worth asking, as I right-click my budget file for 1987 and select Open.