Entry 0023: Hail Eris, I Submitted a Short Story for Publication

tropicalia

LP: É Proibido Proibir: Tropicália by Various Artists

2005 Soul Jazz Records SJR LP 118

Favorite Track: Jimmy, Renda-se by Tom Ze

 

I am proud right now. In late January, my friend informed me about an anthology seeking swords vs. cthulhu stories. The deadline was March 1st. The start of February, my birthday week, and a Valentine’s Day spent playing Arkham Horror with my friends suddenly left me two weeks to write a fresh, original weird fiction meets Conan short story. And it was harder than I imagined, especially with the max 5,000 word limit. Writer’s block set in early and fierce like the winter storm that stole another writing day from me as I was only too excited to build snowmen. I struggled with finding atmospheric descriptions of a haunted forest, the massive length of a giant, and the sensation of a steel blade separating your tongue from the frenulum. How does a writer convey enough of a back story to a character in 400 words or less? Every sentence read like I was writing a Dick and Jane book.

Krom blessed me with some luck allowing me to schedule extra hours at work on days that I was already working. Another week passed and the two drafts I wrote were worthless. Someone asked me how I came up with the idea for my story. One of the requirements for the anthology was there had to be a fight scene. I figured that most people’s fight scenes were going to be full of disembowelment, be-headings, and necromancy. I paced my room listening to music. My brain racked itself of all the combat scenes I read in my fantastical youth. I had put the Tropicália LP on my player (more on this later) when a little scene popped into my thoughts and I gagged. I had envisioned a tiny female warrior jumping into a giant’s mouth, cutting its tongue free, and rolling it like a carpet down the giant’s throat where it would asphyxiate to death. The rest was just coming up with the reasons why these people would be fighting.

With two days left before deadline, I received a phone call from work asking me to come in for more extra hours. I had to tell them no. It was crunch time. I sealed myself away from society. I didn’t even know that Leonard Nimoy had passed away. But I re-wrote the story for a third time. I used a couple of sentences or phrases from the previous draft, but it was almost entirely new. Then during my lunch break at work, I fixed spelling and grammatical errors. Then I submitted it.

It was a rush.

And a rush job so I would be very surprised if it is accepted for publication, but fingers crossed anyways. The point was I succeeded. I didn’t back down even though numerous times I told myself I would. I will probably not re-read the story for a couple of months. When I am in the perfect mood, I will pull it out and re-write a fourth time and fix the lack of dynamic language. All of this has really made me want to play Arkham Horror again.

I learned a few things about my writing. I need to practice writing scene descriptions. Two or three times I described things being illuminated under the moonlight. Where were my other senses? What about the flora and fauna? I was a slow writer this month, averaging 1,000 words in 4 or 5 hours. I need to improve on that. It is very easy to think yourself into staring at a blank screen instead of just writing the bad sentences down and fixing them later. Another thing I learned was how to be adaptable. As typical with me, one scene was created inside my head with no thought about how the tale would start and end. As many writers would probably agree, the beginning was difficult: did I want to start with the warrior finding the giant’s lair? Or should it start at the very beginning with the giants slaughtering the barbarian wizard tribe? Or should a series of drunk townspeople be spreading rumors about the mad sorceress who can turn into a bat? I wrote all of those beginnings.

Now a little bit about Tropicália music. The collection for this blog entry is one of my favorite LPs. It comes highly recommended to me. I knew nothing about Brazilian music until around 2009. A co-worker told me that if I ever saw an Os Mutantes LP I should buy it immediately. Of course, Os Mutantes records would be re-issued that year and Shake-It Records had them for sale. I bought Mutantes along with some other records, but it was the first I put on the player. Another music-inclined friend was with me at the time. Dom Quixote was strange. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But then came the false start of the second track. The music was bouncy, carefree, perhaps even a bit reckless. My friend didn’t seem as impressed at first, but that second track would quickly win him over after it sat in his head for a while. I went ahead and bought the re-issue of the first album and that album quickly became a regular spin. I was impressed by the Baptista brothers and Rita Lee’s raw talent and ingenuity. They built their own instruments and invented a sort of mock-Sgt. Pepper’s meets Brazilian bossa nova with seven strong doses of weirdness blended in.

Months later, I discovered this compilation as a CD at the public library. I was blown away by Gal Costa, Tom Ze, Gilberto Gil, and others. I danced around my apartment, telling my friends about it, and using tracks from it on mixed CDs. It remains one of my favorite CDs to send out for the library’s CD of the Month club. I think more people should check it out. Sure you may not understand the lyrics unless you speak Portuguese, however, that is not necessary to enjoy it. If you like happy music to dance to, this is it.

There is not a bad track but here are my favorites:

A Minha Menina – Os Mutantes

Tuareg – Gal Costa

Procissao – Gilberto Gil

Jimmy, Renda-se – Tom Ze

Gloria – Tom Ze

Tropicália – Caetano Veloso

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