21 July 2014

Interview with writer Aaron Simon

Today I'm happy to welcome my friend and fellow writer Aaron Simon on the blog. (Don't let the grumpy face fool you; he's actually a very kind person. But we won't let on that we know that...)

I met Aaron through a former roommate when he first moved to Portland nearly a year ago. Aaron was a recent transplant from Nashville, but he'd also lived other places, including England, where he earned his Master's in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.

An enlightening anecdote about Aaron: While in his Master's program he wrote, directed and acted in a 20-minute spoof werewolf film. The part of the werewolf was played by a friend's dog (footage of the dog playing, rolling over, panting, etc). The part of the military personnel and innocent victims were played mainly by non-native speakers of English whose dialog was incredibly difficult to follow. And if memory serves, there actually was no protagonist, only extras. I believe this was all intentional.

Which is all to say that Aaron Simon has a sense of humor that is evident in his work. Gotta love that.

And now to the interview!

What do you write? 
I write bodice-rippers set in 13th century France (of course, it wasn't quite France then, but you get my drift), centered around the abbot of Cluny and a local peasant's daughter, Marguerite, who... Nah, just kiddin. I don't have a specific genre - or medium, for that matter - but I tend toward magical realism and short stories. Throwing spirit-possessed dogs into the mundane, conversations with muses, long-dead prophets trying to get through Immigration, that sort of thing.

Thematically, one of my profs called my style "utopian nihilism." Essentially: Camus, but with jokes! There's no point to life, so why not have fun with it - and make the world as good a place - as much as you can?

20 July 2014

ROW80 2014, Round 3, Week 2

This week was a busy one, but I'm proud to say that for once I didn't sacrifice the writing. Yay! I continued to enjoy a fairly free flow of creativity, which came out not only in the creative project that's a priority for me right now but also in some creative nonfiction captured in my journal and on the travel blog.

"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life." 

As I mentioned in my goals post for this round, I'm taking it a month at a time. My progress on this month's goals is as follows.

18 July 2014

Writing prompt 43

Ye ol' writing prompts are resurrected! Well, at least this week.

Today's writing prompt is inspired by some random thought train I was riding. I'm not sure where this line of thinking started; I only know that it ended in a mental image of some guy hitting Houdini in the stomach really hard.

For those who are not familiar, one of Houdini's tricks was to get the strongest person in the audience to sock him in the stomach and be unfazed by it. Apparently, one day an overly enthusiastic fan saw Houdini out and about and - perhaps as a joke? - walked up to the famous magician and...yep, punched him in the stomach as hard as he could. Unfortunately, Houdini wasn't prepared for it, and he suffered internal injuries and eventually died. (Okay, Wikipedia says it was a student in Houdini's dressing room who'd asked permission first and then delivered multiple blows while Houdini was lying down, but I like my version better.)

Which brings us to the prompt.

14 July 2014

Vanquished writer's block & a ROW80 update

On Saturday morning I woke up and spent the next hour+ writing down all the dreams I remembered from that night's sleep. It was as if, after a long dry spell, all the dreams came flooding in at once and clamored to be remembered.

But it wasn't until I wrote this post yesterday that it hit me: I finally have some mental space again. Space to imagine, to dream, to create.

For the past 3+ weeks, it's felt like my creative brain has been frozen in a block of carbonite. I'd sit down to write a blog post about what I was experiencing, trying to use my current struggle as inspiration, as I have in the past, but I couldn't get beyond the words "There's too much in my head."

But suddenly the carbonite is gone; my creative brain can move once again, and although it certainly isn't done thawing out, it's so good to know it's still there and functional.

Which begs the question: What changed? How did I unfreeze it? What have I been doing differently that helped me get my creativity back? The truth is that I'm not sure. It could be a number of things, but here are a few ideas: 

09 July 2014

ROW80 2014, Round 3 Goals

"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life." 

This next round of ROW80 is going to be an interesting and challenging one for me. This month (July) I'm in Paris and working on a couple of editing jobs, next month I'm going to be in Vienna and taking an intensive German language course, and then in September I'll be back home again in Portland, Oregon. Based on what happened last month, it doesn't make sense for me to try to set goals or a writing schedule that span the entire round, so instead I'm going to take it month-by-month...and take into account this time that I need 2-3 days when switching locales prepare to leave, travel, and then settle in.

Round 3 Goals