love like a shooting star across the dream-night of the world

This is the title of one of my short stories, published in the Momaya Annual Review, which had its official launch today.

Having a story published means a huge amount to any writer. It’s one of those small, beautiful increments, another step along the yellow brick road to the emerald city, the citadel that awaits the lucky few. As writers, we necessarily spend much of our time writing in the dark, as it were, without recognition, without anyone knowing what we are up to. But we continue to write, not knowing if what we are making will ever reach the outside world, will ever make that alchemical connection with the reader. When an entity like Momaya Press shines a light on our fictional universes, it creates a bridge between our writing and the world; this means everything to me. It’s often said that the words on the page (or the e-reader) are only half the equation, and this is to a certain extent true; when a reader takes in those words and makes them their own, the equation becomes complete.

This particular short story is excerpted from a novel in progress, which itself was inspired by the landscapes of America, the music of U2 (that wide-eyed, widescreen, exultant view of America), and the emotional beats of a daughter trying to connect with whatever may be left of her family. At heart, it’s about the many different aspects and meanings of family; it’s also a road trip and love story. Getting this story published, this preview of the main event, is thrilling. To see some of the characters on the page, is wonderful. It’s inspiring, a tremendous boost to finish the novel, which will also be a screenplay.

So this post is really a big thank you to Momaya Press for liking this story, for seeing something in it that they believed others should also see. It’s a beautiful moment for me, as it would be for any writer. These are the moments that keep us going; those beautiful glimpses of light in the dark that let us know that the citadel awaits.

Terminator Mode

It’s been a Swedish kind of week. I feel like I owe Stieg Larsson.

Here’s how it played out: low key, lots of coffee, read the last few chapters of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, completed the entirety of The Girl Who Played With Fire, started The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest, watched the Dragon Tattoo movie on DVD, and saw the Played With Fire movie in a beautiful old-school cinema like the ones I would go to in the summer when I was a teenager, taking a break from the books I was reading to go and sit in the dark and see other worlds (once the strangely loud local ads were finished running).

But… I also found out the wonderful news that I’m getting a story published in the Momaya Annual Review anthology. The story is called Love Like A Shooting Star Across The Dream-Night Of The World. It’s about dreaming of worlds and making them real, searching for truth, giving yourself to your feelings, and never giving up.

In some ways, this is what Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is about, and this is also a good way to think of the existence of a writer: we’re mystery-solving, obsessive fighters for new worlds. One of the sections of The Girl Who Played With Fire is entitled Terminator Mode; it’s perfect for that point in the story, and it got me thinking.

As writers, we must always be in terminator mode: we must not stop, ever, until we get want we want. Whether this is publication, a TV, film or stage production, or jokes in a routine, we must pursue it relentlessly and unflinchingly. We need to dream it and then make it real. We have to go to the third dream level every day and plant our ideas, achieve Inception. It can be dangerous and exhausting and requires infinite patience, adrenaline and verve. As someone once said, there’s a word that describes writers who never give up: PUBLISHED. You could insert “hired on a TV show” and “got a movie script made” there also. It’s talent plus luck plus persistance. This is the writer’s trinity. Creating and constructing a dream-reality is a painstaking, deliberate and sometimes overwhelming task. These dreams become real with many thousands of accumulating elements. They coalesce in small increments: a story published here, a script reaching the semi-finals of a contest there. (Thanks to sitcom screenwriter and blogger Evan Shaw for the increment idea). These increments are always deeply meaningful, because each one gets us closer to that promised land. There’s another blog to be written about the journey being the destination, but that’s another story: this one’s about that destination, arriving at the citadel of accomplished dreams.

Making It.

And the only way we can do that is to act like Lisbeth Salander and James Cameron’s Terminator. We must always be in terminator mode. We must be relentless until we get there. And even then, because this is what we do, we’ll dream the next reality, and we’ll fight our way towards it.