Monthly Archives: April 2012

Writing about the Earth

As this past weekend was Earth Day, I wanted to reflect for a moment on the State of the Earth and how it relates to my writing.  I wish I could say that I planted a tree or cleaned up garbage in a national park for the event, but I think I just have to be happy that I stuck a cereal box in the recycling bin and planted some zucchini in the backyard garden.  I also went to see the movie Chimpanzee, with the understanding that a portion of the proceeds from the film during this weekend would go towards the Jane Goodall Foundation, so that was a good cause, I felt.  It was a good nature film as far as nature films go, and my daughter learned a thing or two, including the fact that yes, chimpanzees are similar to humans in that they do hunt other animals for meat–mainly monkeys.  And they also wage war on each other.

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So this got me to thinking about writing and the environment.  In the movie, one of the most amazing shots is the opening shot of the jungle, stretching as far as the eye can see.  It made me wonder–how many places are left on earth where you can fill a movie screen with nothing but wilderness, and no sign of man?  I can’t imagine there are all that many places left.  The other thought that came to me was how fragile this ecosystem is, how the animals depend on the trees for their fruit and nuts, how the population is carefully controlled by the old system of supply and demand.  The jungle can only support so many animals.  If they increase too much, they die of starvation.

How long can man continue to increase before we hit that wall ourselves?

I think unfortunately we’re going to start seeing the answer there, which brings me back to writing.  I know I don’t have nearly enough hours in the day to read all the short stories and novels written these days, but I haven’t really seen in my searches through Amazon or reviews of short stories on Locus about writers tackling this issue.  I write mostly fantasy and science fiction, and currently there are plenty of dystopian scenarios. But most of them tend to be more about how technology wiped out man.  Sure there are the natural disaster movies.  I enjoy many of them, including Day After Tomorrow.  But I don’t credit the movie for having much real science.

The idea of a world of scarcity, where nature has struck back and taught man the lesson of balance, is one that I would like to tackle someday, very likely in a novel.  I’m going to continue to look to see what else has been written on the subject.  Meanwhile, I’ll take a lesson from the chimps.

Manage your resources.

We have a fascination with fairy tales

 

I went and saw Mirror, Mirror over the weekend.  It was a cute rendition of the Snow White tale, and I particularly liked the actors who were portraying the dwarves, many of whom viewers will recognize from other movies.  The costumes were absolutely gorgeous.  And I found it rather interesting that they were driving hard on the 99% vs. the 1% theme which seems to be popular lately in liberal circles.

On the way out of the theatre, however, I passed by a poster for another upcoming rendition of Snow White: Snow White and the Huntsman . This rendition is supposed to be darker and features the Queen as a monster who needs to eat Snow White’s heart in order to stay young and beautiful. I also watch a few–and only a few–television shows, and one that I happen to watch religiously from week to week is Once Upon a Time . This one features Snow White again as one of the main characters along with the wicked queen and a host of other fairy tale legends living in a small town near Boston.

So why this recent fascination with Snow White in particular, and fairy tales in general?

One theory I have is that we are once again in depressing times with the Great Recession, continuing conflict in the Middle East, a political mess in Washington D.C., and the ongoing questions about our future with our use of things such as fresh water, oil, and food. Back in 1936, when the nation was slowly recovering from the Great Depression with Nazi power rising in Germany, America also had a fascination with fairy tales. One of the first renditions of Snow White came out, the first full length animated movie. I believe it was either that year or near then that Wizard of Oz also came into movie theatres.

But we see some interesting differences with this latest flood of Snow White and Grimm tales is that what used to be a helpless but beautiful maiden has been transformed into a warrior princess. One could say that our society so considers women as equals now that the audience would not tolerate a weepy weak wench. Or is it again that we sense war is coming, and everyone, man, woman, and child, must be ready to take up arms?

Fairy tales can be used as an escape from a difficult, even depressing reality. Or perhaps they ready a society for an upcoming challenge, clearly defining what is good and what is evil.

At any rate, I enjoyed the film. And I’ll keep watching to see what else Hollywood puts out in the latest versions of classic tales.

Breaking in the Blog

First of all, a little about me.

I am a writer.

Understand that this is a self-definition, unfettered by any societal labels or requirements.  Technically, if one judges by traditionally published pieces, I’m not much of a writer.  I’ve had a handful of short stories published in various markets, one nomination for a poetry award, and no books sold to a major publisher (as of yet).  My work has appeared in a few anthologies, and I’m just getting geared up to start my own publishing company in epublishing.  If you squint and look deeply, you’ll also find my work in a fair number of contracted work including research for the Agency on Aging (AoA) Performance Outcomes Measures Project (POMP), policies and procedures in my state’s Department of Transportation, and taking minutes for a state senate task force on English Language Learners.  Even taking all that into consideration, I’m not well known.

However, deep in my heart, I am still a writer.  I wrote my first book (all ten illustrated pages of it) when I was six, entitled “Houses” which was actually a poem.  When I was nine, my English teacher had us create our own books bound with wallpaper for dust jackets and lovingly hand-sewn pages.  I made two.  I wrote a 60,000 word novellette when I was twelve, and then a 150,000 book in high school, which I later stuck in a drawer knowing I’d never be able to sell it.  I then started work in college on a novel that I have yet to sell but that I actually do still like, and plan to epublish.  On the path from that day to now, I ran into several little patches of quicksand which delayed my writing career:  school, family, divorce, loss of job, new jobs, new relationships.  I have never, however, lost that conviction and that passion for writing.  Things slowed me, but never stopped me.

And so here I am now, twenty years later.  And this, my blog, is where I’ll continue to post on various topics, including reviews things I’ve read, other blogs I think writers and readers should take note of, contemplations on various trends and news items in current society, and comments on the writing life.

I welcome any comments and feedback.