The first iteration of cover art for a future novel ("Blade Runner on the beach").
As some of you might know, right now I have a case of what could be called dueling projects. One of them, Charisma, I posted newly revised artwork for yesterday. The other is Pavilion 7, for which until now I had no artwork for. Silly as this sounds, that mere fact was reason enough for me to consider working on one over the other.
I can now safely report that playing field has been leveled.
Here's the full version with the spine:
One of the internal pitches/log lines I came up with for the story was "Blade Runner on the beach" — a paradisical island resort where the replicants (as it were) rise up, kick out their human oppressors, and now have to figure out the messy business of running their own society.
The base image, the render of an uncannily perfect-looking, androgynous form, was a good start, but I wanted to add some tension and irregularity to the image. That lend to experimenting with the overlay, which for me implied both uneasy energies and some kind of quasi-biological/mechanical flavor. Many earlier attempts in this vein failed, badly enough that I didn't even end up keeping them. (I know, I know, I should keep even the failures for reference, but these were awful.)
As with Charisma (see the previous post), there's a nonzero chance this will not be the final image, and that I will tinker with it a good deal before we get anywhere close to finishing the book and getting it out the door. But it's a good start. And, again, as curious as it seems, it's one of the bigger steps I needed to take towards writing the thing in the first place.
A newly reworked cover for my forthcoming novel "Charisma" was months in the pondering and five minutes in the making.
Among the near-future projects I have ready to start work on is Charisma. I've mentioned this novel before; the premise could be elevator-pitched as "what if fandom, especially cult fandom, were an actual superpower?" Much of it was inspired by a stream-of-consciousness set of ideas sparked by a remarkable piece of stock art I came across one day. I made a cover out of it, as for me visualizing these things helps realize them further:
I was convinced the picture by itself was enough to carry the whole cover. Sometimes, for a cover, you find a good picture and feel that's all you need. I wrote an entire blog post defending this. It was up for less than a week before I found myself looking at the cover again and thinking, "What else could I do with this?"
In theory I would love to be able to "just write", but in practice I know it is not possible to make it entirely goal-less.
I've been a student of Zen Buddhism for many years now, and one of the things they talk about often in it is "goalless practice" - just sitting zazen to sit, not to "get" anything out of the experience. The reason for this is to foster a state of mind where you're not trying to make something happen, but just to cultivate openness and attention to whatever does happen, and to meet it as directly and sincerely as possible.
I thought about this recently in relation to free-writing exercises — e.g., Peter Elbow's Writing Without Teachers, where the central tenet is to just give yourself permission to write. Elbow was certain one of the obstacles to writing well was having inhibitions about putting things down on paper, and thus the fear of failure. Therefore, create an environment where there is no such thing as failure, just experimentation, and give yourself the freedom to live in it for a few minutes a day.
The next e-reader I get isn't going to be one of these.
I've now owned two Kindle devices in succession — one a 4th gen and more recently a 10th gen — and the use case for this device gets less impressive with every passing year. Not because I hate e-books, but because dedicated e-readers have been losing out to phones and Plain Old Tablets for a good half a decade or more now.
It's always important to recognize creative envy and work with it instead of against it.
I spent some credit card bonus points and picked up a book I'd been eyeing for some time, the complete book designs of legendary Japanese graphic artist and all-around (counter-)cultural presence Tadanori Yokoo. There's another book that covers his poster work, and I have that pegged to pick up at some point in the future, but this cinderblock of a tome has enough in it to keep me busy for a while.
How the influences of 'Shunga-Satori' came together to form a surreal fantasy story.
In my previous installment in this series, I talked about the major influences on my forthcoming novel Shunga-Satori. Here, I'm going to talk about the way those influences came together to form a story.
A rundown of some of the other stories and films that influenced "Shunga-Satori"'s growth and direction.
Back in Part Two of this series, I talked about the bare idea behind Shunga-Satori, and the general outlines of the story it inspired. Here, I'm going to dive into some of the other media that influenced how Shunga-Satori took shape and direction.
Note that this is not an exhaustive list; for all I know, there may well be others I wasn't even aware of as I was writing the book. But they are the most significant ones.
Few things are more spiritually elevating than letting go of everything you are now firmly convinced you don't need.
I spent part of this week and the weekend pulling the last few bits of stuff out of the storage unit we'd rented on the other side of town. Even from that distance it all weighed on me, and not just because it was sitting in there to the tune of $115 a month. Few things are more spiritually draining than pawing through mountains of your own stuff. But few things are more spiritually elevating than letting go of everything you are now firmly convinced you don't need.
Most of the "hard goods", we gave to the animal shelter thrift store that benefited from all our prior philanthropizing. But much of it was "soft goods" — paper, trinkets, memorabilia that would have no value to anyone but the one holding it. I got rid of about 99% of that stuff. Every now and then I came across one or two things that I knew I wanted to hold onto, as some link back to a good moment in time, but the rest went straight into the trash or the recycling bin.
Then I found the swords.