July 22nd, 2010

Baby and me

30 days on writing: Entry #1

Yoinked from a number of folks on my Livejournal friends' list.

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you've worked with and why.

I think this is a sort of disconnect I'm going to come up against more than once with this meme. Many of the questions seem to presuppose that the writer is dealing with one or more ongoing series, rather than distinct stand-alone stories or novels.

Fortunately, my sporadic outpout consists of both stand-alone items and a more-or-less interconnected series of stories and at least one unfinished novel ("unfinished" in this case means about two and a half full drafts, none of them satisfactory).

And, since it keeps coming back — or rather, since I seem to keep coming back to it — I suppose "it" sort of qualifies as "a" project or a personal universe, a sub-creation.

That said, it's a pretty unimaginative place, one based squarely on myself and people I know or (more often, now) have known. But! But, but, but ...

I said it's a universe "based squarely on myself and people I know" but the key word in all that is based. I've only occasionally stooped to dressing up autobiography as fiction and though I've based characters on (mostly) composities of people I know, the situations — what passes for plot in most of my stuff — tends to be more or less invented from the whole cloth.

Which last maybe helps to explain the Why? part of this first question of the meme. I keep returning to this universe of heavy drinking writers, ittinerant lesbian poets and earth-mother hippies because it is a world (more or less) familiar to me and so, one easy to write in or about.

Or so I thought when I started typing the paragraph above. Now that I think of it, if that were entirely true, the last story I wrote in the "Orson and Ash" universe probably wouldn't be five or so years old and probably wouldn't have started as an attempt at seductive pornography.

It sometimes — often! — seems to me that I'm done with Orson, and Ashera, but then I remember that unfinished novel set on that Northern Ontario commune and damn it, it still seems like it could be a bloody good piece of work if only I get it right.

0. Explain yourself! In which Young Geoffrey explains the meme and his reasons for exploring it.

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His Dark Materials reviewed

His didactic materials

When story-tellers fail:
On Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials

I'll never forget the shocked silence that greeted my ingenuous kindergarten announcement that, "I don't believe in God".

My class-mates, and even my otherwise perfect teacher, Miss Matthews, simply didn't know how to process such a shocking proposition. In Quebec in 1970, a five year-old atheist was nearly as strange and terrible a creature as one with green skin, fangs and a devil's tail. (I exaggerate, but not that much.)

Philip Pullman seems to have shocked much of the Christian world in the same way that I did my kindergarten class. His Dark Materials, a fantasy (or science fiction; see sidebar below) series whose plot revolves around an attempt to kill "god" is obviously at least in part a direct reply to children's books (or "young adult novels") probably best exemplified by the likes of C.S. Lewis' soporific apologia for Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia.

In any case, the series has been taken as anti-Christian and a quick Google search will quickly find all sorts of horrified and angry reactions to it.

So I, as a both a life-long atheist and a long-time reader of F and SF, am (but for the fact I'm neither a father nor a teenager) am pretty close to Pullman's ideal reader. I approached the first volume with a lot of curiosity and no small amount of hope that I would enjoy it quite a lot.

Read the full review at Edifice Rex Online.

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