Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Year in Review

For those interested, here's a look back at my writerly-related 2013.

Books

The following are the books, or plays, I finished reading, or rereading, in 2013, 25 in total. I was hoping for thirty, but I greatly surpassed my goal for short stories and that makes up for the books, I think - and I was finishing up my master's thesis! Some of the books were read for school, some for pleasure. Some books I read this year that I didn't finish and so are not listed. (Underlined is my favorite book of the year. I wrote a post about the "experience.")

Exodus (Bible)
Origin of Species by Darwin
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Crane
My Ántonia by Cather
The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald
The Crying of Lot 49 by Pynchon
The Sun Also Rises by Hemingway
Dispatches by Herr
Billy Budd by Melville
Beneto Cereno by Melville
Red-Burn by Melville
Moby-Dick by Melville
Murder in Amsterdam by Buruma
Choice Theory by Glasser
Norwegian Wood by Murakami
Hamlet by Shakespeare
I, Robot by Asimov
Leviticus (Bible)
How We Decide by Lehrer
Macbeth by Shakespeare
Animal Farm by Orwell
Kokoro by Sōseki
To the Lighthouse by Woolf
Middle Passage by Johnson
The Word for World is Forest by Le Guin
A Scanner Darkly by Dick

Stories


I greatly exceeded my number goal for stories this year: 30. However, being how most were for school, by classmates, I won't list them. Instead, the following are the other stories, or famous papers/letters, I read, or reread, this year, about 21. (Favorite story, obviously doesn't include non-fiction, is underlined.)


"Computing Machinery and Intelligence" by Turing
"Beautiful Boys" by Goss
"Pale Horse, Pale Rider" by Porter
"Cock-a-Doodle-Doo" by Melville
"Letter from Birmingham Jail" by King
"Nightfall" by Asimov
"Ceiling" by Adechie
"Refuge" by Stumacher
"Robbie" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"Runaround" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"Follow that Rabbit" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"Reason" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"Liar" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"Little Lost Robot" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"Escape" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"The Evitable Conflict" by Asimov (I, Robot)
"Mastiff" by Oates
"Coming Sun. Mon. Tues." by Delillo
"The Adjustment Team" by Dick
"The King of Norway" by Oz
"Town of Birds" by Monley


Writing

I wrote a lot poems. In fact, I recently self-published a chapbook containing nineteen previously unpublished poems entitled Remember Me like This. I wrote several stories. Currently, there are two under consideration by editors. One recently got accepted. And still others need revising, thanks to the comments received in workshop my last semester. I'm still working on my first novel. I will have a completed forth draft this year and who knows? In addition, I have a second novel I've already written the first quarter of (the first draft).

Readings

I did one reading, my first, this year. It was for Say What! Productions. It was a great experience. Another classmate (not former classmate) was there reading, too, coincidentally. I read my story "I Love You More," which is a rather creepy story about a guy who loves his mom, inspired by a news article. Everyone seemed to have liked it. "Haunting" was a word I heard a lot. 

Predictions

For fun, I like to do this and demonstrate how, sometimes, just guessing works. I do this in honor of the SGU, who promote skepticism.

Last year's predictions:
  • Celebrity death (old): Clint Eastwood
  • Celebrity death (young): Seth Green
Both are still alive, unfortunately. :( That means I was wrong twice.
  • Realistic prediction: Another substantial terrorist attack in Europe
  • Unrealistic prediction: Absolute war between the US and Iran.

Luckily, I was wrong about the second one. Actually, we are moving closer to peace as of late, which has certain Republicans really upset. As for the first prediction, unluckily, I was right. The recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd, Russia confirm this. (Volgograd is west of the Ural Mountains, which traditionally separates Europe from Asia.)

Final score: 1 out of 4. Given how people tend to remember hits and forget misses, I think I did really well.

This Year

I want to read at least forty books.

I want to read at least thirty stories.

I want to do well in the GRE Literature test.

I want to write a fourth draft of my first novel. Finish at least two stories. Write, say, at least half a dozen poems. Maybe a complete draft of my second novel. Then explode like Murakami unto the literary scene with the publication of my novels!!

Predictions:
  • Celebrity death (realistic): Miley Cyrus 
  • Celebrity death (unrealistic): Chuck Norris (unrealistic because, really, he can never die)
  • General prediction (realistic): Worst hurricane-caused disaster (in monetary terms) ever (because global warming is real!)
  • General prediction (unrealistic): Obama tells the American people that the current doings of the NSA are unconstitutional and ensures that measures are put in place to prevent suspicion-less surveillance on everyone (phone calls, texts, email, Web searches, Web use in general, you name it). Oh, and he stops spying on world leaders.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Publication: Remember Me like This

So I published via Amazon KDP a chapbook containing 19 previously unpublished poems, called Remember Me like This. It's free for Prime members. The first few poems are free. It's my first book. It really obsesses over death, which might be weird considering I'm relatively young, still in my twenties. But because of personal problems and a hermetic habit, I've been looking at writing a lot more like living beyond my years. Michelangelo said something like, I've wasted my youth on these stones. Yes, but those stones extend your life. All writing is a epitaph of the author.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Post-Semester Post: Fall 2013

I. Am. Done. Actually, it felt like I was done as soon as the final week came. But I soldiered on. And now, today, I can say I am done! I have finished all my work. I have handed in my mater's thesis. I feel like celebrating. Of course, there's still much work to do. A chapbook to publish. A novella, as well. Some stories. And a new novel to write. I'm studying for the GRE Subject Test. I need to apply to get my PhD. I need to apply for a teaching job. A lot of stuff. But I must celebrate. Somehow. Don't know yet.

Fiction Workshop

I submitted a version of my story "Imitating Life," which actually needs more work than I'd hoped. It's a story about my particular alienation as a light-skinned Hispanic estranged from his Hispanic culture. I also submitted two experimental pieces: "Island" and "Chosen," one about science and the other about religion, respectively. They're short, so I did them together. The feedback is always awesome and overwhelming. There's so much to fix that I question whether I can do it. But I've learned not to worry about perfection. I CAN NEVER MAKE A PERFECT STORY! This should be the mantra of every writer. Stop trying to write perfection. Do your best. Rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. Take your time. But I don't think a story is ever "finished"; it's let go, and you move on, as in life.

Past, Present, and Future

A very cool class focusing on how time is used in narrative. We've read a couple of SF pieces and everyone wrote their own SF piece. Really, just great stuff. I'm stunned at how many good writers there are at CCNY - and really, by extension, there must be in the world. I submitted an excerpt from my new novel (an introductory story and three chapters), nicknamed Alternatives, inspired by I, Robot in a sense. People really liked it and I'm very hopeful about where I can take it. Out of all my attempts at writing a novel, this one has come along the easiest and most natural, #WriterGrowth. I'm guarding details about it, obviously, sorry.

Thesis

So my thesis is a combination of my novella (the third draft), codename Notorious, and the excerpt of my new novel, nicknamed Alternatives. Altogether it's about 115 pages or so. Both things I wrote entirely within those two years at City. And they would not have been possible without everything that I've learned. It might sound cheesy, but the MFA experience has taught me a lot about writing - I've really grown and matured as a writer. I've learned why I write. My stories, all my stories now, mean something special to me. And as far as craft is concerned, while there is always room for improvement, I feel like, just by looking at my writing at the beginning of the semester, I've improved immensely.



Now, I'm on my own, as it must be for my kind, the writer specimen. Everything I write is primarily for me. I hope you enjoy it, but I'm very selfish. Life is short. I write what I like and feel I should write, and I hope you take something away from my experience/philosophy written into narrative. But if you don't, and I know I did my best and that it means a lot to me, well, then I don't care. This is, I think, how we should live regarding what others think of us. When we write or experience life, we explore ourselves, and there is no end to that journey but death. So we must endeavor to honesty explore ourselves (whatever your method) along the journey because "the unexamined life is not worth living."