Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review of "Prisoners Exercising," short story by Sayuri Yamada

Summary:  
No summary available.


Review:
In “Prisoners Exercising,” a woman intent on keeping a perfect household is drawn into her own washing machine. Once inside, she experiences a series of events reminiscent of the old riddle about being stuck in a room with only a mirror and a table, the answer to your escape lying in a series of word games. As in the riddle, the reader has to suspend belief and allow the author creative license in transforming an unremarkable day in the life of an unremarkable woman into something enchanting.

The first time I read this story I was unsure how I felt about it. The riddle-like quality of the story’s action is combined with an almost Pedro Almodóvar-esque sense of entertainment: provocatively real characters are presented in situations that are so normal as to be mundane, until they are viewed from an alternate perspective. As with a Pedro Almodóvar film, this story has to be experienced once, mulled over, and re-experienced in order to be fully appreciated. It is both deceptively simple and deeply layered.

Yamada’s writing has a very particular style to it, an awkwardness that make the story read like an English translation rather than a story written in English. In this particular case, it makes the story all the better. Written with more smoothness of language or with more American-English phrasing, the piece would lose much of its appeal. A few editorial glitches show up, but not enough to impede the story.

Overall, this piece is artistic and literary, by which I mean it is both lovely and a bit weird. It is a style of story that will certainly not appeal to everyone, but is well worth the read.

3/5 stars
Reviewed by Aubrey Bennet

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writing Rut

I've been going through something of a writing rut lately.  No, I'm not out of ideas.  The problem is that I have too many ideas.  Every time I sit down to write I want to be working on four or five projects at once.  

No, I don't think it's ADD.  I think it's more just excitement.  I get so excited over all these things that could be published and will, of course, be the thing that makes me a bestselling author (ha!) that I find it hard to focus on just one project.

So the current result is that I have a whole bunch of active projects (ones that I'm actually writing as opposed to just sitting in the idea bank) but none of them are finished.  Annoying!

I think the problem is compounded by the fact that I write short stories.  In theory, I could crack out a whole bunch at once.  It's like the instant gratification writing of instant gratification ebook selling.  I basically created a psychological monster.

Anyone else going through/have gone through this?  Any tips?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Coffee Crawl vs. PJ Slumming: A comparative study

After realizing how productive I become when on a coffee crawl, I decided to do an experiment.  Usually I write in my office sitting in my desk chair.  Perhaps the scene change along is what inspires this flurry of writing?

So I heated up tea (to replace the purchased coffee on coffee crawl) and then actually changed into my pajamas before plopping down on my bed to write.  My theory is that pjs are both comfortable and they confine you to a certain extend.  If you want to go places it means you have to change out of them.

I got about twenty minutes of good writing time in before noticing that my tea needed refilling.  Which, therefore, led to going to the kitchen and thinking that I've been sitting for awhile so I might as well do the dishes.

Conclusion: pj slumming is infinitely more cozy especially when it is raining out.  If one is having trouble focusing on writing in the office, there will be a slight increase in productivity.  But not much.  In the end, coffee crawl wins out.  The peer pressure guarantees at least an hour or two of solid writing time.

What are your findings?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Allowing Your Short Story to Age

This is an interesting thing that I've started to notice now that I have a year of publishing under my belt (yeah, I know, I'm a total veteran).  Yes, I have noticed a gradual increase in sales as time goes by.  But I've also noticed that the stories that have been out the longest are my best selling works.

I almost never sell new stories.  When the story is first put up I'll get maybe one random sale probably from being ont he new release list.  But other than that, nada.  At first this really disheartened me.  I put all this work into my short story, so why the heck isn't it flying off the shelves??

Well, apparently short stories have to age a bit.  Ferment.  Pickle.  Marinade.  Clearly I have food on my mind.  I now am at the point where I sell things consistently, but the things that sell are the very first stories that I published.  I have slowly noticed an increase in other stories but, again, these are the stories that I published right after my first few.

This is something to maybe keep in mind.  If you write short stories you already have to embrace that they are not going to sell like a novel.  I've talked about this on numerous occasions on this blog.  But I think it's important to keep track of which stories are selling.

Don't dismiss a short story just because you published it four months ago and you only sold two copies of it.  There's a good chance the story may still sell.  It just has to age a little longer before it finds its audience.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Writing Technique: The coffee crawl

I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to get distracted just as I am about to sit down and do some serious writing.  I turn the computer on, tea in hand, glasses on and... oh, maybe I should check Facebook.  Fast forward three hours, all my dishes will clean and I've leveled up my sith assassin in The Old Republic but very little (translate as: none) writing got done.

It's so strange because I actually like writing.

So I've adopted a new technique: the coffee crawl.  The premis is relatively simple: you go to a coffee shop, order a coffee, get out your computer and write. For me, this works like a charm.  The sheer fact that I am in a non-home environment is distraction enough.  So I automatically focus on the task at hand.

There's also the social pressure going on in this kind of environment.  You can't go to a coffee shop with a computer and only work on said computer for 10 measly minutes.  No, you're committed to that spot for at least an hour or you lose some major street cred.

The cherry on top is that your productivity and trendiness levels increase.  Writing your short story in a coffee shop is extremely hard core.  I mean, you can't get much more artsy than that.

So if you're having problems focusing, I highly recommend this technique.  If nothing else, it gives you an excuse to shower and get out of the house.