A friend wrote a poem in Chinese one day because she was bored. I asked her to translate it into English, and I wrote down the translation, then took a photo of both. Can you guess what it is? (I had no idea!)
Identity is fascinating. If we didn’t find it fascinating, there would be no interviews, no memoir, no ‘I’, as such. To identify each other, we talk about interests, beliefs, our dreams, our likes and dislikes, our passions. We talk about where we think we belong, what our past has been, what our present is, and where we think we’re going. Or we are ‘rebels’ in some sense of the word – setting ourselves apart from the culture we grew up in, or apart from the culture that people attribute to us.
It fascinates me because I’ve noticed that my identity has shifted, along with how I define myself at any one time. I used to define myself by what I consumed: my favourite TV series, my taste in music, what I wore.
Nowadays identity is something I consider deeper, rooted in a sense of my experiences and how I’ve responded…
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I was reading the short story “The Sandman” by E.T.A Hoffman (1817) and found a beautiful passage in it. Just thought I’d share – it’s an amazing piece of writing.
…Have you, gentle reader, ever experienced anything that totally possessed your heat, your thoughts and your senses to the exclusion of all else? Everything seethed and roiled within you: heated blood surged through your veins and inflamed your cheeks. Your gaze was peculiar, as if seeking forms in empty space invisible to other eyes, and speech dissolved into gloomy sighs. Then your friends asked you: “What is it, dear friend? What is the matter?” And wishing to describe the picture in your mind with all its vivid colours, the light and the shade, you struggled vainly to find words. But it seemed to you that you had to gather together all that had occurred – the wonderful, the magnificent, the heinous, the joyous, the ghastly – and express it in the very first word so that it would strike like lightning. Yet, every word, everything within the realm of speech, seemed colorless, frigid, dead. You tried, tried again, stuttered and stammered, while the insipid questions asked by friends struck your glowing passion like icy blasts until it was almost extinguished. If, like an audicious painter, you had initially sketched the outline of the picture within you in a few bold strokes, you would have easily been able to make the colors deeper and more intense until the multifarious crowd of living shapes swept your friends away and they saw themselves, as you see yourself, in the midst of the scene that had issued from your soul… you are, however, surely aware that I belong to that remarkable species of authors who, when they carry something within themselves as I have just described it, feels as if everyone who approaches – indeed, everyone in the whole world – is asking, “What is it? Do tell us, dear sir!”…
Like I said, an amazing piece of writing. 🙂
Another beautiful bit of literature, this time from “The Lady With The Little Dog” by Anton Checkhov (1899).
…In Oreanda they sat on a bench near the church and looked down at the sea without saying a word. Yalta was barely visible through the morning mist; white clouds lay motionless on the mountain tops. Not one leaf stirred on the trees, cicadas chirped, and the monotonous, hollow roar of the sea that reached them from below spoke of peace, of that eternal slumber that awaits us. And so it roared down below when neither Yalta nor Oreanda existed. It was roaring now and would continue its hollow, indifferent booming when we are no more. And in this permanency, in this utter indifference to the life and death of every one of us there perhaps lies hidden a pledge of our eternal salvation, of never-ceasing progress of life upon earth, of the never-ceasing march towards perfection. As he sat there beside that young woman who seemed so beautiful at daybreak, soothed and enchanted at the sight of those magical surroundings – sea, mountains, clouds, wide skies – Gurov reflected that, if one thought hard about it, everything on earth was truly beautiful except those things we think of and do when we forget the higher aims of existence and our human dignity…
I’ve finished writing my manuscript, and apart from editing it, I need to figure out how to get it published. All the information I’ve gotten has led me to realise what I need.
The dreaded Elevator Pitch.
The concept is simple; you’re in an elevator, on the ground floor, and then your dream publisher suddenly walks in. He/she presses ‘2’. You have until you get to floor 2 to sell your book to this person. Easy, right?
Every second counts, so every word counts. An elevator pitch is only a sentence or so long, because you don’t want to be wasting your breath on the convoluted brain garbage that spills out of your mouth as soon as you get asked, ‘So what is your book about?’ An elevator pitch is designed to be condensed awesomeness.
For Jay Kristoff, it was two words: Japanese Steampunk.
I’ve been umming and ahhing over my elevator pitch for ages, but I’ve finally managed to come up with one!!! HOORAY!
‘Earth’s last supersoldier is reluctantly drawn into an interplanetary war.’
I’ve also decided that this blog is going to be a way to keep track of my progress, since the likelihood that anyone is every going to read it is about zero and it’s more entertaining than looking at my aforementioned mind garbage splayed out on graph paper or in a word document.
So: rewrote my prologue today (finally, it’s good!) and rewrote my last chapter yesterday. Editing will continue after exams pass. Plus I’m printing out a copy to scribble all over.
That’s it. I’m done.
Just went to the Supanova expo (is that the right word for it?) in Adelaide.
Met Chewbacca again, got photos like I did last year. I just managed to avoid getting force-choked by Darth Vader and teamed up with a Stormtrooper to take on the Seperatists. Didn’t get any autographs from film stars – I just admired them from a distance… occasionally standing on chairs to try and get a look at them… then realising that I needed my glasses to see that far into the distance…
However, the highlight of the day was meeting Jay Kristoff, the author of the Lotus War Trilogy (Stormdancer and Kinslayer are the first two books). Got a lot of good advice, including interesting links to follow up on to find out what the hell to do now that I’ve written a book.
Yes, non-existent reader! I have written a book! Insert applause here.
Now I just have to figure out how to get it published, my science-fiction novel about the super soldier who is abducted by aliens.
There has to be a better way to put that.
Note to self: come up with a better one-sentence synopsis. And find a literary agent.
After I do all of my homework, that is.
I’ve never done this before.
Here goes nothing…