The more things change…

It just occurred to me that this ongoing issue I have with all the action going on in people’s heads instead of on stage (so-to-speak) in the short fiction I write can be traced back to and most absurdly illustrated by the first short story I wrote, which was for my seventh grade English class. The story was set in England sometime between the 15th and 19th centuries. The plot (if it could even be called that) involved some young political radical who is hiding in a closet waiting to assassinate some member of the nobility and the King’s (or Queen’s) cabinet when that nobleman comes home and changes for dinner. As I recall, this young man basically talks himself out of the act, sorts some things out with his life (a lot of that happening via flashbacks, of course) and then bursts out of the closet when the nobleman arrives, thanks him profusely and dashes out in to the streets to live his life with renewed vigor and purpose.

Only I could have a hidden assassin with a knife and turn that in to a long interior monologue followed by a flash of insight and then a hurried, slightly alarming handshake and expression of gratitude.

So yeah, I just realized that this whole thing about needing to work on action and plot has been with me since the beginning.

 

Apologies to an upset roommate

Note: the following are written in different voices and genders, but they are all apologies to an upset roommate.

I’m sorry I drank your vanilla soy milk straight from the carton while munching on Cocoa Puffs because I was “too lazy” to wash a bowl and spoon and even though the carton was “clearly labeled” with your name.

I’m sorry I used the pouty photos of yourself that you took “ironically” for use in a “deconstruction of femininity” project for your “Body, Image and the Male Gaze” class and then posted them on a MySpace page and then hacked into your Gmail account and invited all your contacts to friend you.

I’m sorry that I gave ammunition to GoonSwarm for a bear raid against you, which led to you losing 1.5 trillion ISK.

I’m sorry I used one of your knitting needles to poke holes in a foil-wrapped potato, and to test if the brownies were done, and as an ice pick, and to rescue my earring from under the fridge, and to do an emergency tracheotomy on your cat.

I’m sorry I tore all the pages out of your Moleskine to make flash cards for the Spanish for Lovers class I’m taking at the Learning Annex.

I’m sorry that I shaved your mohair sweater and use the clippings to create a family of Wookie finger puppets. In my defense, the Youtube clip of them re-enacting the Community episode re-enacting “My Dinner with Andre” already has 373 views.

I’m sorry I used your cellphone to send flirtatious text messages to your therapist. I’m sure it was “like, the most awkward session ever.” I’m happy to hear that he took you to a really nice restaurant, though.

I’m sorry that I used your school e-mail account to respond to 160 missed connections items posted on Craigslist

I’m sorry that I used your All-Clad Slow Cooker to render the road kill I found. I’d be happy to give you the raccoon skeleton I assembled. Oh and, BTW, your glue gun is out of sticks.

I’m sorry that my girlfriend and I had “loud incessant monkey sex” the night before you took the GRE.

I’m sorry that I ratted you out to the RIAA and that the only illegally downloaded music on your laptop was C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” album and that I leaked the copyright infringement notice to p2pnews and then paid some 17 year old kid in New Jersey to get it on to reddit’s front page.

I’m sorry I blotted my boyfriend’s face with your Burberry scarf when I accidently tore one of his piercings out, but it was the closest thing and he was seriously bleeding. A lot. I’d let you borrow my pink knit one with the skull and crossbones, but it smells kind of funky and I know you have a sensitive sense of smell. Thus the three bottles of Febreze in our bathroom.

I’m sorry that I ran your phone charger through the wash even though I knew your phone was low on battery power and had indeed heard you announce at dinner that you were going call your mom later (for the 23rd time this week).

I’m sorry that I dumped your “super expensive” tub of Greek yogurt down the sink. In my defense, how was I supposed to know that the sour smell and clotted look are both intentional? Yoplait only looks  and smells like that when it’s gone bad.

I’m sorry that I Rickrolled your mom (and yes, she and I do e-mail, and I’m sorry if that makes you “very uncomfortable” but maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal if you called her more often) and that that awakened a latent crush that she had been carrying three decades and that she spent the money for the Italian vacation you two were going to take this summer on a suitcase full of lingerie and camera equipment and a plane ticket to England which eventually led to a restraining order and unflattering photos in the London tabloids.

What’s all this then?

Chances are good that if you’ve made your way here, you already know at least some of my other online presences, including my Mormon arts and culture blog and associated Twitter account and my professional blog (focused on higher education marketing as well as technology) and Twitter account. Those two keep me busy enough. Why add a third platform/blog/Twitter handle/online identity?

There are a few reasons:

  • I feel the need to define myself, or at least establish myself, as a fiction writer and critic under my own name.
  • Most of the reading I do is not related to Mormon arts and culture or higher ed marketing and public relations. It seems a waste for me to be doing all this reading of literary and speculative fiction and not use it in some way to be helpful to the key fields I enjoy and love and want to support.
  • Creating a platform means pressure to produce, and I want to be a productive and a writer, critic and editor and, in particular, in the field that’s of most interest to me right now, which I describe as “the intersection of the literary and the fantastic” but what I really mean by that is literary fiction that has elements of genre fiction (and, no, I’m not real keen on these terms, but I have no ready alternatives at the moment) and genre fiction that has literary elements (in terms of prose style, characterization, point of view, etc.). The truth is, though, that a lot of what I write about will be straight up science fiction and fantasy (with occasional forays into mystery and horror).

What to expect:

  • For now, this blog will be on a fairly modest posting schedule — hopefully at least one post a week, but not likely more. Posts will usually be short.
  • In the world of lit-blogging (genre or literary [damn, I hate that term. But neither mainstream nor contemporary works either, imo]), we tend to get reviews, interviews, musings about the industry, writing advice, and the occasional take down of a book or author, but not a lot of close reading. With my Appreciations series, I will provide a close reading or simple observation about particular texts or authors that hopefully illustrates something they do well; something that they do that makes me appreciate them.
  • The Twitter identity (WmHenryMorris) associated with this blog will be a bit more voluble than the blog, but I intend the keep the number of people I follow fairly low.  I’m currently more interested in Twitter as conversation than Twitter as broadcasting. Part of why I created a third account instead of broadening one of the other two is that I think I provide most value to others when they can choose to specifically interact with whichever of the three identities they’re most interested in (or all three).
  • Until Monsters & Mormons comes out later this year my output of fiction will be limited, but I’m going to scale some things back in 2012 and focus on producing some short fiction that I can submit outside of the Mormon market. Actually, it’s not even just about submitting — what I really need to do is figure out exactly what I’m most interested in writing and go a little deeper with developing my voice and style. And I may sometimes write about that process.
  • I occasionally get the urge to write humor pieces. When that happens, I will post them here. I will also write about humor in fiction.
  • I’m also a fan of food writing and am fascinated with the use of food in fiction so some of that may happen here. No, I won’t be writing restaurant reviews, but I may write about how food is depicted in fiction.

That’s the plan. Stick around if it sounds interesting. Or better yet follow me on Twitter or become a fan of my Facebook page in order to be updated when I’ve posted to this blog.

Appreciation: Blue and Gold by K.J. Parker

**Appreciations Disclaimer: an Appreciation is not a review, nor a summary, nor a fan letter, nor a critical essay (although it may contain traces of each). There may be spoilers — minor or major — ahead.**

It’s not just the lovely prose that unfolds in a utterly mad, yet lyrical way.

It’s not just the fast paced plot with it’s several twists and turns.

It’s not just the charming, wry cad of an unreliable narrator (Salonius).

It’s not just that beautiful design and packaging from Subterranean Press reinforces the richness of the text.

It’s not just that it’s a novella, a form that I love.

It’s not just that it’s about alchemy and aesthetics and love and greed and seduction and immortality. Nor is it that the allegory is there, but not overly pushed or extended.

It’s not just that it intersects the literary and the speculative in a seamless way.

It’s that, in the end, Saloninus escapes the situation, invents the titular blue, and retires in style. I love that Parker doesn’t cop out and end with ambiguity or everything in ruins or the hero/anti-hero all beat up (emotionally, physically) and barely functioning but winning. To provide this satisfaction (which is also, possibly, a defeat, albeit a comfortable one) in this way is to subvert both literary and speculative expectations, but only slightly and rather deftly. I found it quite delicious.