Sunday, April 28, 2013

Introduction and Update

This blog is a journal, a podium, a place for thoughts and rants, ravings on part-time writing for no money, posts on fiction and life, shitty jobs and meandering my way through my early twenties, figuring out just what I'm going to do with a bachelor's of english, how to get a teaching job, which graduate program to apply to so I can more easily acquire a teaching job...etc.

Over the years, it's become a catch-all for whatever I happen to be thinking about, sometimes with regular scheduled posts once a week, and other times whenever I happen to feel like it. I finally changed the title recently, and found out there was almost a 100 viewers the other day. That was surprising. I figured I might as well write an update on my life and my writing and what this blog's all about then. 

I'm on my third or fourth edit of Blood and Ashes, a novel I wrote two or three years ago now. This time, I'm completely adding a new character into it that I feel should be there, and cutting out some weird relationship that feels forced. There are times when I wonder if this novel will ever be 'complete'. Will I just keep coming with new ideas to make it better? I know it will never be perfect, the question is will I ever stop trying to make it perfect. I think after this pass through, I will send it to a few beta readers and barring any enormous errors, the only things left to fix will be little things. As much as it has changed since the first draft, I think it's all for the good. 

The question after it's done is how to publish it. Self vs traditional. I'm leaning towards Self-publishing because generally it's easier, I can market it on my own in my free time, and since I'm not expecting my writing to support me, it doesn't really matter how much money I make. Anything I make will just be extra, on the top after my normal job. Traditional, I'd have to send it to traditional publishers and wait for months on end to hear back, and maybe get an agent and who knows what all. Anyways, this question can come later, once the book is finished. (if ever.) 

I'm getting an itch to work on new things though, or rewriting old ideas. I really like the idea of starting a serial story and adding a chapter a week, or every other week. It'd give me something concrete to work on every week, new and fresh. Right now, a supernatural mystery has been brewing in my head, a mixture of an old half-done novel and other half-baked ideas. It sounds fantastic in my brain. Now to just get it down on paper. That's the problem with most creative ideas, isn't it? Getting the work started, getting it done. Putting thoughts down on paper. But that's what this blogs all about. Write first and figure it all out later. Get going and figure out the specifics on the way. 

So that's what this is, I guess, to any and all newcomers. A place to write and talk about writing, among whatever other random subjects and things that come up. Feel free to come back or not. I'll be here, writing whatever I feel like. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I don't know how to write about tragedy. I feel conflicted. I want to write but words seem...inconsequential. Unimportant. What happened seems beyond words, beyond explanation and understanding. But what am I going to do? Say 'it's beyond me so screw it, let someone else talk about it'. I could. Others have and will, and will probably sound smarter or have more meaning in their words than mine, but who cares? I decided I want to write about this, so I am. Instead of asking myself "Who am I, to write about such a tragedy?" Or "What can I even say about this horrible event?", I'm just going to write, and ask questions later.

I was going to go to the marathon. I'm on break from working at the school and had nothing better to do while my girlfriend was at work. I figured I'd go, watch a bunch of runners, then meet up with work friends after the red sox game for a beer or two. Ended up taking the wrong train and getting out at the Prudential Center Stop. I was frustrated by that point and tons of people were walking everywhere. It was probably close to 2:00 and I knew the red sox game would be over soon. I also saw tons of runners already done and so wondered if I had missed the majority of it. I figured I'd head over to fenway and meet up with friends.

See, things could have gone very differently. That's something I kept thinking about yesterday. If I'd gotten on the right train, gotten off at the right stop, and realized the majority of the runners would still be running, I very well might have gone to Copley Square to watch the finish line. If I had, and walked by the wrong place at the wrong time...

It's crazy. It happened not a couple miles away. I sat in a bar near fenway while rumors started, everybody was on their phones and finally breaking news scrawling across the bottom of the tv's said there were two explosions at the marathon. That's what I kept thinking yesterday, that a few different choices and I might have been there.

It's selfish. There were people who were there, dead and hurt, with families. People who actually witnessed the explosions and the trauma. I was at a bar drinking a beer. I should not be thinking of me, I should be thinking of those people.

But that's part of what we do when something like this happens. We imagine ourselves in the situation, that could have been us or family or friends. That's how we feel empathy for the victims. We can imagine them as our friends and family and ourselves, and feel at least a part of their pain and sorrow. I'm sorry for any and all involved. The first responders and those who helped in such a crazy fucked-up situation are amazing and should be praised. Those who run towards a disaster, when everyone else is running away, are incredible.

The truth is the vast majority of us are decent people, but with people's access to information and the technology we have now, a very few can hurt very many. It's important to remember we as a species are becoming less and less violent, but the weapons used are becoming more and more potent, more destructive, as well as easy to create on your own. Add that to the all-encompassing media we have now, showing and reshowing brutal clips and pictures, speculating and talking about nothing....It can seem like the world is ending after every terrible catastrophe. But it's not. It's good to remember this in bad times.

Think of the ones who are hurt and hurting, and the ones who helped and are helping. Be nice to people, everyone and everywhere. It's crazy, but we'll deal with it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Write First, Ask Questions Later

This blog really needed a revamp. A new name, a shiny new background, and here's the new post to introduce it. Ben's Blog 2.0! Now with more pizzazz! Shazam! Huztpah! I don't know what that word means. Anyways, the blog needed a change. The title was old and boring. It communicated nothing about the blog, or what it's about, not very attention-grabbing or note-worthy in any way. You don't have to lie to me, I know it was a bad title.

After brainstorming with friends, I feel like the new title is monumentally improved. Write First, Ask Questions Later. BAM! You know the blog is about writing. My work here is done.

The title also makes perfect sense. It's a motto. A phrase of wisdom for a writer. You know what writers always complain about? Writer's block. The demon of all authors, the black pit of imagination, the black hole of creativity. It sucks life out of the creative work, drains the fun from fiction and drags us kicking and screaming out of the zone, out of our focus. The veritable kryptonite for any author. You know oftentimes where that writers block comes from? Questions. What do I do now? Where does this character go from here? How do I solve this plot hole? How do I get past this scene? How will the character get out of this situation? Blah blah blah. The questions add up and the answers elude us. So we put off writing. We say 'fuck this, I can't write right now, I've got writer's block! I'll think on it some more, wait until this mysterious block goes away and then I'll get right to it!' But you know what it is? Bullshit. Writer's Block is bullshit. A vague all-encompassing excuse not to write. Well you know what you can say to WRITERS BLOCK? FUCK YOU WRITERS BLOCK YOU WONT TAKE ME THIS TIME! So here's what you do. Write First, ask questions later.

Basically, screw the questions, screw the block. Just write. Keep writing. Who cares how the situations going to resolve, how to solve a plot-hole, etc. It doesn't matter. Just write. Write about something completely unrelated, write bullshit, write nothing, write anything, it doesn't matter. Skip to another part of the piece you're working on and write that. There is no true excuse to simply 'Not Write'. You can always write. Writer's Block cannot take over your entire imagination, your entire creative mind. It cannot stop you from writing, only you can stop you from writing.

So yeah, I like the new title. It makes sense. It fits, in many aspects of life. You're never going to know the answers to all the questions you want to ask, so screw it. Forget the questions. Do whatever you need to do. The questions can come later.

There it is, the title, the revitalized blog, new and improved. Here it is. Note the change in the url. It is now, you will need to re-bookmark it and such. You can also check out my tumblr at Tumblr is...difficult to describe, like a mini-blog.

Anyways, that's all for now.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Metaphorical Java

I love putting cream or milk into a cup of coffee. This probably sounds strange, but it's true.

Coffee is a revered beverage in our society. We drink it more than water, we guzzle cups and cups and want more. It fuels us. It keeps us going, energizes us, makes us happy and alert. It also twists our stomach if you have too much. It gives us headaches and migraines and makes us feel generally unpleasant. The drink that provides our good mood can corrupt it just as quickly.

Does anyone know the exact measurement of "one cup of coffee?" Is it a mug? What if you have a large mug? What about the sizes at the coffee shop? 12 or 16 or 20 ounces, which is a single cup? Or is it less of a perfect measurement and more of a subjective 'idea'. A cup of coffee is perhaps not strict in its definition but allows for a wide range of actual sizes, a personal measurement, one cup of coffee to you is different than one cup of coffee to me. And what about ice coffee? Does it matter how much ice is in it? If you just have cold coffee with no ice, is it still ice coffee? What the fuck am I talking about? Let's get back to the point.

Why do I love putting cream in the coffee? Because of the conflict. The battle between black and white. Before the cream, the coffee lies black and bitter. Dark and unchanging. Then the cream comes, dumping in. The perfect amount will pulse up to the surface and swirl around. Black and white coming together into a tan color, promising deliciousness. The tan billows up into the black, taking over. That's why I enjoy putting cream into coffee. That little explosion of color in the cup.

Equilibrium-Change-New Equilibrium. It's the form of the narrative at its most basic. At first there is the equilibrium, the status quo, before the story actually begins, the coffee before the cream. Then, change. Something happens. Something destabilizes the narrative, occurs in the character's life, upsets the normal way of things. The cream bursts into the blackness of the coffee, a tiny swirl of violence in a cup. The change is dealt with in some way and the story once again returns to an equilibrium, but one that is different than before, one that's been changed. The new equilibrium. Frodo was just sitting in the Shire not doing much until the Ring came along. The Change. He went on an adventure and eventually returned to the Shire, but everything was different. He couldn't live in the Shire so he went to live with the elves. That is the new equilibrium. In a narrative, things have to change, characters have to change and nothing is the same after The Change. The black coffee fights the cream but in the end the two converge, becoming different but settling into a new equilibrium, a new color.

Pretty lame, right? Don't listen to me, I'm just some strange dude that likes putting cream in coffee.