The Writing of Blake Crittenden

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Taking time where I can make it

June 28, 2016

I keep roping myself into activities every weekend and having limited time to write/edit, but I’m getting in the time that I can. That being said, I haven’t made a post lately. I have some time now to do that though (not awake enough to do any productive writing).

The topics I wanted to mention were She Makes War, Penny Dreadful, and a short story I want to write. I wanted to throw that out there before I forget one.

So first, She Makes War. Google, listen. I’ve been listening to her nonstop for the past two weeks.

I’m going to be as brief as I can in my Penny Dreadful rant. Skip this paragraph if you haven’t watched through the end of the season. They basically just ruined everything that made the show good. In the end, Eva Green is too weak to save herself and in fact too weak to be saved, so Ethan has to do it for her. Which he can do because he was recently able to save himself. So the amazing strong character who kicks all the ass is too weak in the end. Lily, the character who has struggled to take back the power she never had in her life, ends up begging to be set free and loses all her power. And then we end the show with Malcolm, Frankenstein, and Ethen being the focus and all hanging out together wondering how to move on, completely ignoring the two new female characters who were introduced this season who were pretty damn cool. It was a total let down.

That being said, Game Of Thrones is finally giving some of the power back to its women. I haven’t processed the last episode all the way though, so I’ll leave it at that.

Insofar as the short story goes, it was actually going to be the first novel I wrote, but the World War Z movie came out and it had a similar theme, so I jumped to this idea instead.

But, I’ve been feeling the pull back to it lately, so I might write it as a short story and see how it works. The premise is your basic zombie apocalypse, but like many animals, the zombies don’t want to eat “sick” brains. This story takes place in the psych ward of a hospital, where the patients are basically safe from the zombies and the staff is not so safe. The challenge, of course, is writing characters with mental illness in a way that isn’t offensive.

I’m thinking I might write it from the perspective of a doctor or nurse or someone on the staff. I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll start it before I’m done with this book. I’d really like to finish this edit and start sending it out before I take on a new project. We’ll see how it goes.

Next Sunday is Toronto Pride and I’m going to march in the parade, so I may not get any writing done on Sunday. It is a long weekend though (Canada day is Friday for the Americans in the room), so I have an extra day to hopefully work on the story.

Either way, I’ll have a nice weekend and YOU have a nice weekend and I’ll catch up with you sooner or later.

I’ve been thinking

June 12, 2016

I don’t have a tonne going on in my life that’s relevant to my book aside from writing it. I only read a book every month or so and I read the same comics every month.

I’ve been having an issue coming up with things to say in my posts every week and I spend an hour of my writing time figuring out what to say and what pic to post here rather than writing.

So instead, I think I’m going to focus on the writing and only make a post when I have something interesting to say. If any of you have been particularly enjoying my posts every week, let me know and I’ll continue to make them. Otherwise, I want to bust through my edits and get my second draft completed so I can workshop it again.

On that note, I read Molly Crabapple’s book Drawing Blood (well, I’m not quite done yet) and I really think it perfectly illustrates the challenges that women face in so many (if not all) fields. It’s certainly not something I’ve been blind to, but the book really gets to the heart of it very well. In the book, Crabapple talks about Kim Boekbinder and while I was checking her out, I found a link to She Makes War, which is my new music for the week.

Been Busy

June 5, 2016

I did a bunch of reading in the past couple weeks. I don’t think I mentioned anything last week other than the Pan movie, so I’ve got some updating to do.

I finished Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I really don’t know what to say about it. I’m glad I read it, but I’m not really sure how to take it. The novel basically covers the English colonization period in Africa and follows a man’s life going through traditional tribe life and into colonization. There doesn’t seem to be any judgment though on which side was good or bad, it’s more just telling the story. It’s pretty harsh and really, the main character is the only one we really get to know at all. Everyone else is very superficial. I’m still processing the book.

After that, I started reading Drawing Blood by Molly Crabapple. It’s autobiographical and follow’s Crabapples’s own life and experiences. The woman has done a lot. I’m not quite done with it yet, but I’m sure I will be next week. What I’m really taking away from it is what a crap deal women in many fields get. I mean I knew this already, but this book really gives a good view into that. The art world is like a minefield for women. There’s an unwritten requirement for women to be sexual in order to be noticed and then at the same time, a condemnation for only being noticed because they’re selling their sexuality. Obviously, it’s not just the art world, but we get a really intimate view of that in Drawing Blood. Also, some pretty amazing art.

The owner of the local comic shop here in town has been suggesting different trades for me recently. I gave her a box of stuff to read from my collection and she tries to find new things for me to read. She was the one who suggested Locke and Key (which I’m still really bummed out that I’ve finished). Last week, she got in a book called Lazarus for me to read. It’s definitely a unique world that the writer has built. I definitely enjoyed the first one, although I can’t say it’s great yet.

Speaking of unique worlds, every issue of Paper Girls that comes out pulls me in more. We get (spoilers) to see a time travel story from the perspective of the same character at two different ages. I’m suspecting the story is really about the older version of the character, creatively disguised as being about the younger one.

I’m going to wrap this up. I apologize if it’s a bit brief on each topic. I hurt my back on Friday and I’m not as focused as I’d like to be. Have a lovely week and I’ll check back in next Sunday.

Pan Rant (also spoilers)

May 29, 2016

I don’t think I’ve done much blog ranting about pretty much anything. I’ve tried to focus my updates around the things that are inspiring me for writing and leave it at that. Today we’re going to change gears a little. I believe I’ve mentioned it at some point, but the original idea for the Litum Baltutu (I don’t use the full term much, but I promise you that it’s in the book) is based on Peter Pan. Litum translates as Victory and Baltutu translates as Living Ones. I honestly forget what language I was looking at when I found those words (maybe Aramaic) but the initials were intentional. L and B are also the initials of the Lost Boys. The original name for the Litum was Lilith’s Bastards, also LB. That was the starting place for this whole book. Asking the question of what the Lost Boys would look like if they were real and living in modern society. Obviously, there has been a huge departure from there, but Peter Pan is a big inspiration for me.

I tend to watch all the Peter Pan movies and I’ve read all the Peter Pan books and I’ve even watched a fair amount of video with the various Disney Park Peters. I’ve been waiting for the latest movie to finally pop up on cable and that happened last week. I was a little hesitant going into Pan because of Rooney Mara getting cast as Tiger Lily (honestly, do we need another white person case in a non-white role?), but I knew I’d watch it anyway.

I have to say that they created some really great characters. Peter, Tiger Lily, Hook and Blackbeard were all very interesting and engaging. The look of the film was beautiful. And that’s just about where the good stuff ended. I should have known from the moment we had a bunch of pirates and miners singing Smells Like Teen Spirit that I was going to have a bit too much cringe.

So just to give some background, this is a “before it all happened” story. Peter is just a boy, Hook is a slave and Blackbeard is the main pirate bad guy. The problem is that Peter isn’t Peter. He’s interesting and fun. He’s a good character, but NOTHING like Peter Pan. Not even remotely. And Hook is the same. He’s a hero and not British at all. There is no through line from that to becoming Pan’s great nemesis. I suppose the goal was to leave an opening for that story as a follow-up movie, but I see it as too much of a stretch.

But that all being said, if it’s way in the past, why does Tiger Lily have to be the tribal leader? Why not make Rooney Mara some prior leader and have an actual Native person be a young Tiger Lily who is by her side? Hell, we could even have the Rooney Mara die at the end and have Tiger Lily become the leader. I mean, the story was right there and they wouldn’t have even had to white wash the character.

My last annoyance with the movie was that both of the boys (Hook and Peter) both come to the rescue of Tiger Lily.

I mean thank god we have the ex-slave and the orphan there to save the warrior princess in a fight.
There’s no need to make just one person save the day. We’ve seen groups work together in movies. People like it (I hear the Avengers franchise is doing okay).

So yeah, big let down. They had all the right pieces and just did all the wrong things with them.

Next week, I’ll return to my regularly scheduled inspired self.


May 22, 2016

I finally finished the Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie last week (that’s the Lord of the Radch in the picture). I say that like it took a long time, but I actually just banged out all three, one right after another over the last 2 months. I really enjoyed the series, but I feel like the voice of the main character wasn’t as strong in the second two books. The first one was so solid. The other two were still really great, but I missed that one aspect in them.

I’ve shifted gears and moved on to Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. To be honest, Nigeria in the late 1800s is just as foreign to me as 5000 years in the future, with ship AIs that have humans plugged into them. My education really didn’t cover anything about African history and I’m fairly confident portrayals in the movies are at the very least inaccurate.

I’ve just gotten started on the book and I’m interested to see where it goes. I understand the context and everything, but it’s still frustrating to read about cultures where wives are treated as status and property. There’s been a fair amount of wife beating in the story so far, although not in any detail, which is good. It’s definitely a drastic change from the Radch where everyone is regarded as “she” and gender isn’t really a thing.

In other news, I feel like I need to watch The Force Awakens again. My Rey Funko Pop! is staring down, judging me. I think she’s disappointed. I haven’t really been excited about a movie since TFA. I haven’t seen Dawn of Justice or Civil War. I’ll probably catch the new X-Men movie in the theater, but honestly, I’m not going to be there opening night or anything. There’s just not a lot of movies that have me excited this summer.

I suspect we’ll get as many of the old World or Warcraft gang together to go and see that in the theater. I don’t think the movie will be that great, but I think we’ll have fun and I’m good with that.

So yes, more fun all around!

Time, I Need More Time

May 15, 2016

I was just working on a blog post and wrote way more than I was planning. I have this work thing that is going on this weekend. I’m trying to get all these things done and get my writing worked on today too and I’m running out of time.

I can’t think of anything really relevant or interesting going on. I’m still reading the same thing I was reading last week. I haven’t touched any comics in the last week. I’ve been obsessing over Lorde lately, which I find really interesting because she’s not the style of musician I’m usually into at all, but I think she’s just really good.

Sunny and I recently started doing Yoga and I’m enjoying that. I used to really love Yoga, but I fell out of the habit many years ago. And then when I went back to it, I hurt my feet, which is still a problem 2 years later. I’ve been really focused on not hurting myself during Yoga, which sounds really dumb but I want to keep doing it even if that means taping my feet every time and not doing certain poses that hurt me.

Wow, that was weird, I never talk about health in here, generally, just inspiration. Maybe a little zen helps the writing process?

I don’t think I have anything else really interesting to say this week. I’ll try and finish reading my book in the next week, so I can start something new and I promise to get caught up on comics.

Gimme Some Sugar

May 8, 2016

The worst thing about writing from my office as opposed to out in the world is that I never have good stuff to take pictures of for these posts. Luckily, I saw this at the grocery store last night. I haven’t seen Pixy Stix in so long. I don’t know if they’re still common in the US, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in Canada. I feel like I let down the universe by not buying them. I’ll just have to find some way to deal with being old.

The section of the book that I’ve been working on lately is where Antoine is telling Abel about his mother. What I originally had was basically a flashback chapter that was from the point of view of his mother. Which was definitely the easy way to write it, but in the end, I feel like I need to change that chapter into a conversation between Antoine and Abel. This involves taking out observations and emotions from his mother. Removing parts that only she would be able to see/feel/describe, removing her perspective.

In its place, I have to add dialogue between Antoine and Abel (Antoine dialogue is hard), which means I have to have reactions from Abel.

I have to do my best to understand what effect this information has on him. I think that’s helpful for understanding the journey he goes on in the story and relating to him in some way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not an easy process, although it’s a great exercise. I didn’t finish it last week, although I spent close to 2 hours working on it. I hope to get through it today. This will likely be the hardest part of the second draft and I’m really excited to get through it.

I’m pretty close to done with Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. I’m going to be bummed when it’s done. Leaving worlds sucks. I’m still mourning finishing Locke and Key recently. I’m going to switch gears for my next reading choice, but I’ll save that info for a post after I start reading.

I made a new playlist that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It mostly has Explosions in the Sky, An Autumn for Crippled Children and Lorde. This might seem like odd music to go together, but it’s really working for me this week. It’s time to see how this playlist works for writing.

Clowning Around

May 1, 2016

Sorry I missed last week. I took my kid to a prop festival last Friday and Saturday and was more or less wrecked on Sunday. Since I did miss last Sunday though, I’m going to do a quick update and get to the writing.

The D&D Adventure Writing Contest ended yesterday. It was a tonne of fun. The winning piece, which was the favourite of all the judges was basically an adventure that featured bards and was more or less a battle of the bands with some fighting at the end. Very creative.

The only problem is that playing it would suck since I already know how it ends. Life’s hard lol.

I finished reading Ancillary Sword, the second in the series written by Ann Leckie and I’m currently working on the last one, Ancillary Mercy. I’ve been enjoying them quite a bit. Next up on my list is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It’s nice to change things up a bit.

I’m over the moon that Orphan Black is back on tv. I’m not going to complain that Game of Thrones is back and I don’t have to wait for GRRM to find out what happens next. I have a tonne of stuff on the PVR waiting for me to watch. I finally finished Supergirl which I enjoyed quite a bit, but I believe it got canceled. LAME.

I’m listing to An Autumn for Crippled Children a lot lately. It’s definitely not going to be everyone’s tastes as the vocals are pretty raspy/screechy/unintelligible. It’s got good music and it’s great for zoning out to, especially while writing.


April 17, 2016

My wife gave me some flowers the other day and put them on my desk. Now my desk looks all nice and pretty.

I spent all day yesterday reading the D&D adventures that I’ll be helping judge for the contest at the local comic shop here in town. For a town of 2000 people, we still got 7 entries and I think that’s pretty impressive. I’m glad I agreed to help. It was a fun contest and a cool way to meet some of the other people at the shop. The contests official end is still a couple weeks away, so there’s still a little bit of presentation and such left to go. I look forward to seeing some people play some of the entries.

I have a stack of comics that I haven’t gotten around to reading in the last couple weeks. I have the #5 Locke and Key trade, the latest Walking Dead, Deadly Class and Pretty Deadly just waiting for me to have time. I’m not sure when that’ll happen. I kind of feel like the mess that is my desk is preventing me from getting anything done. Hopefully, that will be all cleared up on Monday when I go get my taxes done. Good times.

Insofar as the editing is going, I think I’m actually at the hardest part. I have a part that is told as a flashback and I want to instead make it one character relating it to another. I think it keeps the POV more consistent. In doing that though, I have to completely rewrite it as dialogue and add reactions. That takes a lot of work, which is fine. The other issue is that I have a very distinct change in behaviour for one of the characters and I need to find a good reason for it. I need to justify the change and not have it be completely cliche. That is a bit harder. I think I cut corners on the first draft and that annoys me because it basically means that I just didn’t want to do the hard work.

And I know why I’d do that. It’s because I can’t just write it, I need to think it out first. When I have one day set aside to write, using it to think instead feels like a waste. That’s what I’m feeling now. Do I sit here and try to hash it out or do I just skip this chapter and keep on editing during my writing time, then do all the thinking throughout the next week?
Generally, I do my best thinking when I’m not thinking about something. That’s true for both fiction and application development.

Taking a step back just seems to work for me. But I really hate the idea of skipping over something. I’ll sort it out sooner or later. What I really don’t want to do is spend all my time thinking about that decision rather than either writing or thinking about the issue itself.

On the reading side of my life, I decided to read the second book in the Ann Leckie Ancillary series, Ancillary Sword. I really liked the first one, so I should probably just bang through all 3 and get it done with.

On the watching side of things, The 100 is really doing some good work. I’m impressed and enjoying this season quite a bit. Daredevil season 2 was solid and a good follow-up to season 1. I’m going to get moving on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2 this evening. I’m still pissed about the Walking Dead finale and haven’t had any interest in watching Fear the Walking dead yet this season. Game of Thrones comes on next weekend anyway, so maybe I’ll just save it for the fall. I’ve really not been that interested in TV lately. I’ve just had other stuff to do (and I like that).

Part 1 Done

April 3, 2016

Last weekend I finished editing part 1 of the book. I added three chapters and combined a tonne of chapters. Even with the three new chapters, I am down to 15 from the original 19 in the first draft.

I’m really hoping that the editing goes in the same way that the writing did. It took me a year to write the first part of the book and less than a year to write the other two parts. If I can move forward in a similar fashion with the editing, I should have the other two parts edited before September. That’s the goal anyway.

The D&D adventure writing contest that I am a judge for has officially entered the reading stage. There are only 7 entries and we have until the end of the month to finish reading and rating, so it shouldn’t be too hectic. It’s nice that I have these to read because all my other reading sources have been really dry.

Only 1 comic that I read has come out in the last two weeks and I finished my audible book on the 14th of March and I don’t get my new one until the 8th.

I don’t think my writing playlist has changed at all in the last month. Nothing new on the music front. I’ve enjoyed writing to GodSpeed You! Black Emperor lately. Maybe I’ll go with just them today.

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