felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy new year, and happy end to decade of evil and disaster. Somebody seems to have put the goddess Hera in charge of this decade: pointless Trojan-esque wars, suspicion and paranoia, scheming and bickering - but punctuated and relieved by some wonderful weddings, and the right to same-sex marriage.

(Let's hope Demeter or Artemis takes the reins of the next - we could use some progress on the ecological front. But I'd settle for Aphrodite. Making love, not war is certainly better than the alternative.)

I'm going to be ushering in this decade with Sean tonight, who I was with when this decade started. It's a nice bookend to the bad decade, and a good way of starting over the decade. Here's to getting a re-do on the last ten years.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
The Noughties are nearly naught, so I for one would like to welcome our monolith-hurtling overlords.

I have a feeling this year will be better than the last. There's quite a few things I'm looking forward to - the return of friends from Australia is one. As a demographics-loving geek, the census is another - though I'm probably alone there. Damn. It's 2011.

(I'm especially interested in changing religious demographics, but that census question appears only in years ending in zero one.)

Chrismayulahannakahmas with the family was good, all things considered. Once again, my parents tiny Tudor-style witch's house in Saanich filled up with people - 20 of us, half very elderly, with one bathroom to share. My sister and [livejournal.com profile] infinitecomplex got me World War Z, a Futurama movie, and Coupland's Generation A. Luckily I hadn't bought the last, last week - I almost had. I also have Dragon Age: Origins, and shall have a PS3 to play it on soon after my return to ex-Ville Marie.

I've been spending most of my days with Sean here, which has kind of been a refuge. I've also been writing - 101 pages on the new novel, but it'll need a lot of work after this draft is done. I am looking forward to going back to Montreal, though.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Christmas to those who celebrate it, and a belated Io, Saurnalia to those who don't. It's also my fourteenth year of being a Montrealer - I arrived on Christmas Day, 1995.

This is the first year that Yule has felt bigger than Christmas. I've been Pagan more than fourteen years now, too, but it takes a long time for a new set of traditions to become visceral, if that makes any sense. The last two years, I've held rits here when everyone is asleep. I don't know a single other Pagan in Victoria, though I know the community is huge, here.

I've been visiting Sean almost every day. He and his brother have a huge collection of games. One that's really captivating is Mirror's Edge, particularly if you like the Cyberpunk aesthetic - you play a courier running information for democratic dissidents over the rooftops of a shiny corporatist dystopia. I get a little vertigo watching that game, though.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I've got a confession to make - I put the novel through one more edit, and then the first fifty pages through yet another one.

I call this a confession because I'm pretty sure most of my friends have given up on my ever sending this thing for publication. And I had declared it finished.

However, I feel fairly safe making this admission today, because I sent it out to Arsenal Pulp Press - the largest publisher of LGBT fiction in Canada - for publication about an hour ago.

That makes it real, though it hasn't quite hit me yet.

Arsenal Pulp Press says they sometimes take as long as six months to get back, though they always get back. In the meantime, I've had a lot of other novel ideas in the queue - six to be precise - and I want to get them on paper before they're lost. So I'm going to set myself six consecutive NaNoWriMos, starting in December. I start the planning tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I want to celebrate. Anyone up for a café or restaurant this weekend...?
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So, yeah. I finished the novel about an hour ago. Not as in, pending another edit. Done done.

I'm reading up on general advice for submission. I'm going to keep studying up on it for another week or so. I've already selected a publisher for my first attempt, and gotten their submission guidelines.

That's the reason for my near-total radio silence this last little while on LJ, and the total deadness of my Facebook account. Well that, and all the overtime. I've worked six of the last seven days, and I've been bringing my laptop into work to keep up with the editing.

It's a little scary. But mostly I'm too busy to think much about it. I'll be full and more-than-full-time at work for the foreseeable future, I have a short story and poems to prepare for the CBC literary contest. Somewhere in there I'd like to sleep, too.

I hope everyone's doing well. I'm getting slowly caught up on friends' pages, I promise.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So the anniversary-that's-more-important-to-me-than-my-birthday just passed, when I hit the 16-year mark since I came out as gay. I came out at sixteen, so that's almost half my life.

Everyone's crazy-busy right now, including myself, so I elected not to have the usual party this year. I just treated myself to a dinner at Kilo in the Village.

I've used this spot the last few years to justify why that's important. I'm not going to bother this year, because I'm tired of explaining it to people who choose not to understand. Suffice to say, saying that the act of coming out is sacred sends gay yuppies, postmodernists, and fundamentalist Christians into conniptions -- for different reasons, none of them good and all of them hinged on the idea that they know me better than I know myself.

Last year I went over to list of how are battles are far from won, and it was a very long list.

This year I'd like to add the battles yet to be won aren't the only reason coming out was important to me. When I came out, I got to see one facet of who I really am -- an event which in itself is holy. The threats of violence, the loss of friends, the leaving home, and the poverty and struggles that followed taught me a lot more about what I am. I discovered I have a history, a culture, and (dare I say it?) soul.

I'm at age now where a lot of my peers are waking up to the realization that they don't really have a clue who they are, or what they want. Some retreat into postmodernism and claim there's no such thing as a vital essence because that's easier than looking for one. Others admit they feel empty, but aren't sure what to do about it.

For all the hell my coming out led to, by the end of it I knew who I was and what I wanted, and I was a person I liked a lot better. And I'm still that person. That's more worth celebrating than anything else.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
The second request for something outside-the-ordinary in my journal came from [livejournal.com profile] infinitecomplex:

"Blog about your plans for the future, and the steps you're taking to get yourself there..."

Actually, in a way I do that all the time. But in greater detail:

I've known what I wanted to do with my life since the age of six, when I wrote my first twelve-page fantasy novel. Problem is, it took me a very long time to admit that because I thought it was impractical.

At the age of 12 -- when all my classmates in the gifted program wanted to be world-class musicians, authors, painters, or rocket scientists, or find the cure for cancer -- I told people I was going to be a computer programmer, because it seemed like a nice, stable profession.

By the time I graduated, they all went into law and accounting, and I'd figured out I wanted to write fiction, and even made publishing a novel one of my goals. But I still insisted on trying to bend that gift to something safe commercially -- writing as a journalist, or analyzing fiction as an English professor. Finding out what goes on behind the scenes in the Canadian media killed the first goal, Postmodernism killed the second.

By the time I was thirty, and re-evaluating my life, I realized that there was only one thing I wanted to do and which felt engaging: writing fiction. By then I'd found a stable job at 20 hours a week that allowed me lots of leisure time, and being very frugal, it didn't really matter much that I wasn't above the poverty line.

I've cut back my hours on writing since I finished the last draft of that novel, down from 34 a week to about 20. I'll put it back up when I'm ready for the next re-write. Right now, I'm editing the current version while three long-suffering friends do the same, so I'll have four edited versions by the time it's ready and will be able to compare them. I guess that answers the "steps I'm taking..." part of the question.

That's pretty much it -- that one goal consumes so much focus and energy that there's little left for anything else.

The only other long-term goal I have is to find some guy and settle down, and toward that end I'm gradually getting myself used to interacting with people -- it's usually very painful for me -- and trying to be not so cut off emotionally when I am around others.

I have smaller goals, too -- learning all I can about x subject, learning a bit more of y language, and generally becoming more spiritual, and also more politically aware and engaged. I work on those consistently between work and editing.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So, yeah -- today's the 15th anniversary of my coming out. I've always sort of marked this day as a second birthday, since coming out so completely altered the direction of my life.

I sometimes wonder if that's the same experience now. It's hard to imagine now a person getting death threats, losing all their friends, and having to flee in the middle of the night -- which was a pretty normal experience when I was sixteen and coming out.

Intellectually, I know it's just as hard out in the boonies, out in rural areas (or almost just as hard since the internet is a mitigating factor). But Montreal has a talent for insulating a person, making it seem like all problems have been solved.

Sometimes it's hard to focus on how much this country is a patchwork quilt when it comes to change. Change has moved ahead so quickly in urban cores and liberal bastions like universities, while ideas now considered very conservative in those places haven't even begun to see the light of day in many other parts of the country.

Of course, since even progressive Montreal has a gaybashing a week on average -- and since a quarter of its street youth are there because they fled homophobic parents -- a lot of that insulation is just illusion, too, and not real change.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that -- whatever the elitists of our movement and the postmodernists in the universities say -- being out is still crucial, still necessary, and still just as radical as it always was.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Time Elapsed for all versions: Two years, three months
Number of pages in the current version: 213

For the third time in two year and three months, I got to lift my head from a finished product of a novel, and breathe again. I'll be printing it up this evening, after work.

It still flawed -- just how deeply flawed I'll leave to my three editors to determine. It is improving, however. For the first time I can actually imagine it as having a fan base for it beyond my circle of friends.

I picture them as very small in number, but quick to defend my work against the criticism of the majority who've read it.

I've also started comparing its flaws to flaws of the works of great writers I admire. This is progress. I doubt I'll ever see its best passages as on par with theirs, but if fails in the same ways that the works of the great fails, that's a step forward.

For my editors: I've tweaked the back-stories on several of my characters, so they won't be consistent with previous versions. Hopefully, they'll be consistent within this version.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I updated my other blog, with yet another historical entry. This one is about France's commoners. I meant to get it up this morning, but wordpress kept trying to re-write my HTML code.

I had to interrupt a perfectly good day to go and graduate. The event was so badly organized, I felt like I was inside a work of postmodern experimental fiction.

The first-come-first-serve process for seating families was downright Darwinian -- anyone who pays $700+ for a plane trip out to see their kid graduate will kill to get into an auditorium.

My university, apparently worried that it hadn't given honorary degrees to anyone particularly evil lately, decided to bestow one on Cardinal Turcotte. He's a Montreal cardinal who was a leader in the battle against same-sex marriage -- claiming it would lead to incestuous marriages -- and who wanted to (illegally) test potential priests for HIV before ordaining them.

He preached from the pulpit, and I refused to clap.

The insane number of people crammed into a tiny space, plus having to spend so much time around my own parents, brought me to the edge of a panic attack for the first time in ages. The photographer went home early, before I could get my picture taken in my robes.

All in all, if I wanted to spend all that time being hearded like cattle en route to the slaughter, I could found ways to do it other than paying thousands for a degree. I guess it is appropriate to feel I've wasted my afternoon, however, since I feel like I've wasted the last 3 years.

I did see two people I met at [livejournal.com profile] archdiva's last party, though, which was pretty much the highlight of the afternoon.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I'm back, and it's been a good 24 hours. I finally got official confirmation for graduation, so the ceremony will be in June.

And this morning, before work, I finished the massive re-write/re-structuring of my novel. Now I've got about two close edits and one quick edit. I'm taking a break from it for a week to work on short stories and do research.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Well, it turns out I passed my exam, so I have all my requirements for my Master's degree.

This means I've completed all my requirements to get my Master's in English.

This means I'm (not-yet-officially) a Master of English. So eat your hearts out, all you peons of English!

Of course, the inability to do anything with an MA in English is proverbial. Can't teach it in high school without an Education degree. Can't teach it overseas without a TESL degree. Can't teach it university without a PhD.

But it's not entirely useless. It can be used to smack people over the head with when they disagree with me about the interpretation of a novel. Then I can say, "Do you have an MA in English?"

I can attend seminars on endangered and extinct languages, and the troubles some languages face against the onslaught of English -- and wave it around, yelling, "Woo hoo! We're number one!"

I believe it also gives me the right to have people who misuse the word "ironic" executed. We have a secret English ninja deathsquad for that.

So it's really not all that useless after all.

Of course, the best use is making people squirm. Even before I got it, saying, "I'm doing my Master's in English Lit" made 90% of the people I told it to either a) list all the books they read recently, to prove they read, or b) offer their excuses and apologies as to why they weren't reading as much as they should. We make people as nervous as priests once did!
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Today is the fourteenth anniversary of my coming out as gay, at age 16, so I thought it deserved a post ^_^

It's been a quiet couple of weeks. Work has been non-stop lately, and we're mostly just trying to keep our head above water because the company is expanding so quickly. Everyone's a little frazzled. But I haven't been working as much lately, so it's taken less of a toll on me.

I'm almost two-thirds through my re-write. Some parts are being heavily re-written, others are mostly the same.

I finished Irving Layton. It's a little like reading poetry by the X-Men's Magneto, which makes me wonder who the Charles Xavier of Canadian poetry would be.

Otherwise, I've been quite immersed in Final Fantasy XII. It's a very long, very complex game. The story and character development are both good, but it seems that the main character gets the least development of all.

One aspect of the game that fascinates me is its use of archaic, rare, or very British words -- "sundries," "paling," "docent," "jape," "lambent," "grimoire," and "mummer" to name only a few. Only twice have I had to go running to a dictionary. They use "aceldama" as a general noun, and the word "togail" which seems to be Gaelic. Their use of "togail" seems incorrect. From what I can tell, the word means something like "building" or "construct," and the context seems to imply a part of a book.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So yesterday was one of the biggest days of my life. My first ever public reading of my writing.

I think I was expecting Zeke's Gallery to be dark and smoky, with lots of people who snapped their fingers instead of clapping. Actually it was brightly-lit and smoke-free, a cute little venue that couldn't contain the huge crowd. It was packed light a nightclub during a Montreal summer.

I was up second. I was shaking a little, but I think I delivered it well enough. I read my poem, plus the passage describing Esquimalt. I got a lot of clapping, and some people said they really liked it, but it's always hard to know who's just being polite. I clapped for every reading, except the homophobic one.

Thanks again to [livejournal.com profile] maidenoffirisa, [livejournal.com profile] melting_penguin, and PapaGnu for being there. It really helped. Don't worry about the little one crying, either. I often have the same reaction to poetry by grad students.

One thing I realized is that I'm really not such a bad writer. Some of the people there had rather dull efforts that they'd recently published, and I realized that if they're getting published, I probably can, too.

It also confirmed me in my decision not to do the creative writing option. Writing students who write for writing students are the most tedious writers in existence.

At least seven of the 15 writers last night were writing about writers who were writing. And the only thing more boring than a writer who writes about writing is a writer who writes about writers who can't write because they think they don't have anything interesting to say.

Those programs are halls of mirrors. And each reflection is more grey than the last. this is what happens when writing becomes a "profession" and not an "art," and why all the writers I've actually liked have come from outside those programs.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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