<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Thursday, June 30, 2005
I'm sitting here, windows open, the cooling night air seeping so sluggishly inside, and there are moments when everything seems to pause, all cars at stop lights, and I hear a sound, clack-clack, clack-clack, clack-clack, like a distant train. And I realize that for the first time I'm hearing the subway riding out over the bridge across the Humber, and I wonder what it says about this air, this night, this type of silence.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:28 PM (0) comments

Stories and Ghosts

How is it that I came to be a person who writes ghost stories? When I wrote the one, way back when, I thought it odd, a sudden twist for my writing to take -- and fully expected it to remain the oddity. And then I wrote another and found it funny, just to have one come right after the other like that, and wondered if something strange and ghostly was working its way through my brain. But it would pass, surely, and be gone.

Yet I realize that with the possible exception of "A Prayer of Salt and Sand," about everything I've written in the last two years has been a ghost story of some sort. And I can even make a good argument for "Prayer" being a ghost story of sorts too, if you'd like to sit still long enough for me to explain the backstory.

And that backstory, of course, is the one that got so out of hand that it needs to be its own thing -- yes, I'll say the feared word: novel. Its own novel. And it is this story/backstory/novel that has me so stressed at the moment, wanting to move forward but stuck and choosing to wash dishes and clean the bathtub and spend countless hours on the deck reading books instead. What always seems to be the problem when I get stuck like this is that I'm missing something key. Like in the bagpipe story; I stressed for months on that one, writing and rewriting, etc., until I realized something very important about the main character's mother and ding! Story. (Well, okay -- ding followed by another good few weeks of writing, rewriting and obsessive stressing -- not to mention another whole ghost story written start to finish and the bloody basement story to boot -- but story, still.)

And what is this story missing that all other stories I've written of late have had? Ghosts, of course. In some shape or form.

So the question that comes to me now is: How is this story a ghost story? Because it is, I think, somehow, from some certain angle. Not how will it become a ghost story, because that's all about what will come after, the far future of the world and the consequences of events. Not how is it like a ghost story, but how is it a ghost story?

And in asking that question I feel that I might be on the right path, simply because the asking feels like the ringing of a bell, or seeing the inside of a clouded glass.

(I also think that I might want to embrace these odd analogies instead of striving for more transparent ones, simply because how I think of "writing shape" or a story's shape is so closely tied to the shape of the magic in this world and ... yes. Yes. The ways and tellings of magic must be as odd and curved as story-shape. As the expression on others' faces when I try to explain story-shape. Yes. Thank you for listening.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:18 PM (0) comments

Friday, June 24, 2005
Let's hear it for the bagpipes!!

I just received an email. My bagpipe story, also known as "Safe Passage," and previously known on occasion as things that are inappropriate for me to type out, has been sold to Genevieve Kierans and Julie Czerneda for Mythspring, a speculative fiction anthology about Canadian myths, lyrics and legends. (Thus, my obsessive need to set this story in a real place and get as many little factual details right as I possibly can should be clear.) This makes me so happy for so very many reasons; I think it's going to be an amazing anthology, and I'm glad that I get to be a part of it.

And, it has to be said: huge thanks to friends Sid and Jaki, who not only let me stay at their house while researching the town of Kincardine, but they also arranged for me to visit so many places (including the lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's museum, the Walker House -- all of which were closed for the season), introduced me to so many knowledgeable people, and quite simply made this story possible.

Whew. I think that all the stress and false beginnings and fights I had with this story were worth it. Thank goodness!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:45 PM (0) comments

Demand Productivity

My two mental preoccupations have just collided.

The first is the writing. I've hit a point where reading books and cleaning and wandering around the city is not enough to keep me content. Yes, it's very good that I have shiny sinks again, but no, it does not make me feel in the least bit productive. Words. There must be words.

I have a project that I'd very much like to be working on. I have the time to work on it -- yes, plenty. And yet ... nothing. I feel like I'm standing beside a perfectly lovely car, empty handed, saying, "Go, car! C'mon, car! Go!" The whole process would go ever so much faster if I just had the key.

The second obsession: Doctor Who. Watched the final episode on Tuesday (yay, BBC!). Then again on Wednesday. Twice. Ditto Thursday. Suffice it to say, I love Doctor Who, and I love, love, love the final episode, even though it makes me sad. Frightening and funny, happy and sad and all sorts of other lovely stuff all at once. And because the CBC hasn't shown this episode yet, I can't say a damn thing more without spoilers.

So, as I'm walking home from an appointment this morning, still pondering Doctor Who (and mentally quoting lines to myself) and searching for the writing-key, I said to myself: "Right. That's it. No more watching Doctor Who until there is progress. Real progress. Words that form sentences that form paragraphs." And, unfortunately, when I said no Doctor Who I meant it -- and that means no watching Doctor Who Confidential or the online CBC documentary things or video clips or anything. And I was quite serious.

Damn me, anyway.

So: progress. Right. Now where did I put those keys?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:05 PM (0) comments

Friday, June 10, 2005

Disaster in the Making

Anyone have any recommendations for good disaster movies or novels? I'm pretty open to how you define "good" in this situation -- exciting, nice characterization, neat special effects, a memorable scene, whatever. Thing is, I don't watch a heck of a lot of movies, and am having trouble thinking of novels I've read that could be classified as "disaster novels," and yet here I am, suddenly facing the realization that I'm writing a disaster/love story/fantasy. Lovely.

So I'm on the prowl for inspiration. Anyone?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:23 AM (3) comments

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Received a rejection yesterday from the good people at Lenox Avenue. It was my first time submitting there, so I admit I wasn't sure what to expect, but I liked the look of the magazine (ezine, I suppose) and a good deal of the fiction that they'd published, so I thought I'd give it a go.

My response time is far higher than the average, and the story ultimately split the editorial team, I hear (hence the rejection), and yet the whole experience was very much a positive one. I got an email to let me know that they were holding the story for further consideration without my needing to send a query (or even get to the point where I was considering sending a query), and the rejection letter itself was polite, explained their decision and was in all ways professional. Based on these interactions, I think highly of this group and will be submitting to them in the future (when I get my lazy butt in gear and actually write -- but that's a whole other story).

Of course now I have no idea where to send this one. Any recommendations for a possible home for a science fiction story masquerading as a contemporary ghost story with some stylistic quirks?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:39 PM (0) comments


Unemployment RULES!
(... except for that whole lack of income thing ...)

I said the other day, I never thought that being unemployed would mean that I'd be more busy then when I was holding down a steady job. Sure, I've cut down on the commute, and yes, my hours are a great deal more ... interesting, and okay, if pressed I will admit that I'm not always exactly working, but wow, am I ever busy. In my first week and two days of unemployment I have:

And a whole ton of other stuff that hardly seems worth listing. I'm reading a lot. It's simply glorious. I've now read my first two Lois McMaster Bujold books, The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, and was quite delightfully blown away. It took me a bit to get into The Curse of Chalion, but once it had me it did not loosen its grip for a moment, and Paladin of Souls -- simply wonderful and in surprising ways. I got both out of the library (trying to respect the budget and all) and now have to have copies, simply because I know that they're both books that I'll read until the spine cracks and curls, the pages yellow and begin falling out. And then I'll buy new copies and read them again.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:36 PM (0) comments

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