Monday, June 23, 2014

My Upcoming Book "Queen of the Chess Cult"

My upcoming collection of short stories called "Queen of the Chess Cult and Other Stories" should be ready in a month or two. Here is a listing of the stories with a short summary. I'm still finalizing some of the titles. I could add or subtract one or two stories but this is the likely lineup for the book. No knowledge of the game of chess is needed. The stories are literary with aspects of other genres such as detective, science fiction, horror.

  • Introduction
    My ideas on the art of short story writing.
  • Queen of the Chess Cult
    The search for a beautiful queen who presides over a cult with a holy book listing the moves of the perfect chess game.
  • A Bowl of Stew
    A man and woman count down the progress of their dishes as the chef cooks them.
  • Klooster
    A sunny day at a lake house reclining in beach chairs with chess, sandwiches, beer, and a pretty girl.
  • Pawn Storm
    Falling from the sky are snowflakes like chess pieces.
  • The Chess Plague
    A plague devastates a town and especially its chess players.
  • The Old Player's Estate
    A chess player from the 1970s dies and his house and belongings are examined.
  • The Prisoner's Tale
    Terrorists capture a prisoner who explains his life story to his cellmate using chess pieces instead of words.
  • City of Chess Clubs
    A town with hundreds of distinctive chess clubs unlike anywhere else.
  • A Dimly-Lighted Cafe
    An old man waits vainly for chess opponents at a cafe.
  • The Man Who Gave Up
    A man gives up chess but is continually reminded of it.
  • The Screaming Cry of the Chessbird
    A giant bird terrorizes a metropolis.
  • The Unwrapping
    Friends unwrap gifts at a Christmas dinner.
  • The Infinite Chessboard
    This world is a chessboard whose squares change in size, number, and color.
  • Afterward
    My notes on the stories, their inspiration and so forth.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Writers Don't Need a Quiet Place to Write

Famous authors counsel aspiring writers to "find a quiet place to write."

I've been searching for this proverbial quiet place my entire adult life and haven't found it. That's why I stopped looking for it.

Most people, like myself, live in big cities, and therefore so do most writers. Noise is a common feature of modern city living. Many people live in apartments and condos. People live in close proximity to others. Noise is a common feature no matter where you go.

Who has an isolated log cabin in Vermont 50 miles from your nearest neighbor? Who has a soundproof room? Or an anechoic chamber? Very few.

Noisy surroundings are the daily reality of the modern city dweller and writers must adapt or simply stop writing except when you find that elusive quiet you "need" to write "your best."

The lack of a quiet place can be just an excuse not to write. You need to wait until you enter that rare environment where you have a bit of silence, otherwise you just can't write.

How can you be a writer if you only write when it's quiet? Writing while it's noisy allows you more time, more places, and more opportunities to keep writing. You aren't confined just to your "quiet den" at home, if you are one of the few who can claim to possess such a thing.

How much more writing can you accomplish if you wordsmith in a public place like a cafe, on public transportation, in a noisy apartment building or business office?

Every morning I write at various cafes around the DC areas, usually Starbucks. These cafes are always busy and people usually sit at the tables right next to me and converse with each other, yak on their cellphones, play music and whatnot. Yet I do most of my best writing right there in the midst of the noisy chaos. Most of the time I couldn't tell you what the people around me have said. That's the difference between listening and hearing. I hear all of it but listen to nothing but the words in my head.

I don't "wait" for quiet because, like Godot, it never arrives. I don't need quiet, and my advice to any writer today is you need to train yourself to write under noisy conditions because otherwise you won't write nearly as much if you wait for silence.

I've become immune to noise around me. It doesn't affect the words I put on the page. You create a "zone" for yourself despite the outside distractions. The point is to not be distracted by any type of noise. Anyone can do this. It takes the acceptance that the noise isn't going away and you need to spend time writing, and that means writing often while you are inundated with noise.

Train yourself not to be distracted or defeated by noise. Remain victorious over it. Write your best while people are shouting all around you.

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