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The not-entirely-random thoughts of Chris Brecheen about writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Burning Man Debriefing

I survived!

I'm home from Burning Man, which means I have showered, eaten something that wasn't pulled out of a cooler and sniffed to see if it had gone off, and slept blissfully in my own bed, but it doesn't mean much more than that. I still have to unpack, and the Hall of Rectitude has four days worth of messy super heroes to clean up after.

But when it comes to my readers, I just can't quit you, so I pause in the process of the massive de-dusting and catch up to give you a quick life update.
  • If the artistic goal is to feel alone in a crowd, this year was an unmitigated success. The loneliness went up to eleven, and I experienced it early and often. Despite being a very difficult Burn for me on a mental and emotional level, it was phenomenally crucibleish (it's totes a word). I got more out of the sense of isolation this year than I ever have before. Arguably even more than I could handle. Lots of deep introspection...and then lots more.
  • The benefit of this is that I think I'm ready to start a major piece of fiction about Burning Man. It's an idea I conceived two years ago, got ready to write last year (but then, suddenly....baby); however, now I have really spent some time in the head of the character, and I'm ready to get to work. It will probably take me at least until next year before it's ready (and 2015 might be ambitious) but I feel more focused and less distracted than last year.
  • Every year I take my Kindle (wrapped up in plastic baggies to protect it) or a book and never end up having time to read. This year I took one paperback figuring that it was probably unnecessary, but what the hell. I ended up in camp due to a misunderstanding and I was waiting for someone I thought was going to be back "any minute now" for the entire day. I realized that I have been so busy, I haven't really done much binge reading lately, and I vowed to set some time aside for that.
  • I had the most surreal language/feminist moment at Burning Man (so naturally I must share): I thought going to be one of my friends (who knew my proclivities) saying "It's okay for you to look, Chris," when she had on nothing but fishnets and underwear; however, it actually happened the next day in the line to the porta potties when a woman caught me trying very hard to look at anything but her, she struck up a conversation with me and we talked for a while about male gaze and unwanted attention, and the line between dressing to impress and wanting to be admired but not leered at. She asked me if I would like to stare, and I think I blushed and nodded or said "Uh-huh" or something stupid. She responded, "I *want* you to objectify me." I quickly (and clumsily) changed the subject to how that word probably actually meant GRAMMATICALLY objectify rather than some sense of treating them like a physical object and how if she wanted me to objectify her, it made her the subject of that desire and might destroy the universe as easily as dividing by zero. She didn't let me get away so easily though, and playfully insisted I tell her how hot she was in very...explicit terms. I was probably a deep shade of purple in the middle of a graphic description of oral sex before she finally let me off the hook with a very huge hug (and a bit of a wiggle). This is just shit that happens out there. Like...every hour.
  • There is always one more piece of art you haven't seen. Always.
  • The weather was almost impossibly mild this year. Seriously, I feel bad for people who think that's how it's always going to be.
  • Sleeping three to a full bed is possible (and not nearly as risque as it sounds like it should be), but the person on the edge is going to have dreams that they are Tyrion Lannister in the Eyrie Sky Cells for pretty much the entire night.
We'll kick back up Writing About Writing's update schedule in earnest starting tomorrow.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The 11th Hour

So I am on the playa, unaware of what is going on in cyberworld.

We almost certainly failed Blogust. Numbers were great even before I left. Better than they've been since last year when Creepy Guy was still doing the rounds, but with 15,000 left to go, it just doesn't seem possible.

I have pretty much done my "We did the best we could," deep and heavy sigh (while striking a look of complete ambiguity with exactly equal parts satisfaction and disatisfaction). I am content. Perhaps even zen.

I don't want to sound like a broken record, and many of you have already been far too kind about sharing articles, but you want to see Writing About Writing, somehow pull out an 11th hour win, it's going to take a lot of love.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Will We Make It?

By now, I am either out on the playa or in a stuffed car on my way.  I suppose there is a non-zero chance that I am descending into maddening frustration at the fact that the car isn't loaded yet and we still haven't gotten on the road, but I'm hoping for the best.

I'd ask you to do me a solid, and share this post, but it would be pretty boring for your friends. It may just have to be a post that only the dedicated Writing About Writing fan knows about.

I won't be home until the first or the second and you might be wondering how to know if I've made my goal for Blogust of 50,000 page views. Or, more likely you're wondering how to find out just how badly I'm going to miss the mark.

So if you go all the way down to the bottom of the page, you will find the total page views of this blog. It looks like this.

This was on Monday when I wrote the entry, so it's probably bigger now.
If that number is over 860, 375 by 5pm on August 31st then I have (somehow) managed to succeed at Blogust.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Off to Burn the Man

Writing About Writing is about to go on a small break as I head to the Black Rock Desert to go be A Writer At Burning man for the 13th year in a row.  

I shall return with poignant tales of moments at the temple and the renewed fire to write a certain story that I started last year (but which got put on the back burner due to the coming of The Contrarian). 

Vigor: it shall be renewed.

I may not actually leave until tomorrow, but I need to pack and prep and I teach tonight. I might have a moment to continue my Tabs Menu clean up of The Cast and Crew, or I might not. It depends on how quickly I can stuff rainbow costumes into plastic baggies.

There is at least one post scheduled for while I am away, but I will have no way to promote from a land with no internet. So you'll have to check back (or follow us in one of the auto-update ways) if you're curious about whether or not we hit our Blogust goals.

As of this writing, I am 16,800 page views shy of Blog's ambitious goals for August. Short of the viral spread of Changing the Creepy Guy Narrative last summer, I have never seen traffic come anywhere close to this. However, you will all know before I do if I made the 4,200 hits a day needed. So stay tuned.

There is a non-zero chance that I will be back Monday, Tuesday is most likely, Wednesday at the latest.

Take care, and keep writing!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Worshiped (Some Call Them Cats)

You can tell how much I hate her.
Princess Mononoke- I rescued an orange tabby girl (rare, I know) named Mercedes from a friend whose partner thought it was spiffy to abuse animals. Orange girl immediately informed me that she needed a new name to go with her new life. She liked to run around at night, starting at exactly ten and going on for six hours or so, and changed direction so fast that she reminded me of San (from the Miyazaki movie Princess Mononoke) running across rooftops and dodging bullets. She became Princess Mononoke. Unfortunately, the minute she found out that she was a princess, she seized upon her birthright, and relegated me to slave. (Like, even more than a normal cat.) A decade later she is old and crotchety and meows like a cranky elderly woman to get off her lawn even if all I did was shift in the bed. Her kidneys are slowly deteriorating and she tells me her blood hurts in order to get almost anything she wants. Her room smells like old lady cat.

James Bond- A sweet cat started poking around our yard in 2011 with tuxedo markings. Not just "Hey does this cumber bun fit?" tuxedo markings but "Damn I make this look good!" tuxedo markings. We named it James Bond, later to discover that the sweet James was a girl. Fortunately, James rejects society's gender binary, so she's totally cool rocking a name that's typically male. She strolls around acting like she owns the place and calling everyone Moneypenny.

Moneypenny, I could use some scritches under my chin. Shaken, not stirred.
Oh and tell me I'm not rocking this tux on the brown background.

Benjamin J Cat- The J does not stand for anything. It's just a J.

Benjamin is fuzzy.

Also, Benjamin is probably not college material.

I'd really like to snuggle you.
To death.
To understand Benjamin, you have to personify him in sort of a soft "Lenny" voice from Of Mice and Men. "Hey guys. It's really silly that you think I'm not college material. Colleges are made of wood and stone and stuff. I'm made of fluff. I like snuggles. Do you guys like snuggles? I also like soft things. You know what I really like? I like snuggling on soft things." Lately he sounds more like Doug the Dog from Up.

Don't be too hard on Ben. Early in his life there was a door to a bedroom that he could open by slamming his head into it--Alien Queen style. Unfortunately it took him a LONG time to learn that it was JUST THAT ONE DOOR, and that all the others were going to stay closed. There were some serious head-banging sessions in his early life. Ben has no delusions of power or nobility. But he does like snuggles. Also....he is trying to murder me.