Michael Stubblefield Writing Blog

An Unexpected Story

by michael in Writing

Have you ever had an idea that was so driving, so big, you were compelled to work on it whether you wanted to or not?

For the last few months, I had been working solidly, if sporadically, at a certain story idea I had, about a girl I call Deidre Dashwood. I have been trying to keep focus on writing one thing as much as possible, instead of moving from writing project to writing project without finishing. I do scribble ideas that I have down in my pocket notebook, for new or existing stories. This has been working out well and I have made some progress on Deidre’s story.

Until a couple of weeks ago. That’s when the seed of a different idea, a different story, an unexpected story, lodged itself in my brain. I tried writing it down in my notebook for later, but it soon became clear that this was a story that I would have to write.

Since then, I have made pretty good progress on this new story. Easily outpacing Deidre Dashwood on the page already.  Part of the reason I think is because with Deidre Dashwood, and with other stories I had tried to write before, in the back of my mind, I was always trying to write a story that I thought people would like.  In this case, I know this story is going to be something that half the people in the world will hate.  Half may like it.  And probably the remaining half may end up being indifferent.  But it is a story that has to be written.

When I’m done with this one, and eventually turn back to my other creative diversions, I need to remember that.  That I am not writing a book for everybody, no matter what the story is.  It needs to be for my own, and for the story’s sake that I write.

The Blog of Geekiness

by michael in Updates

If you like geeky things, then check out my new blog I just set up at nomadhacker.com. It’s my new coding and technologizing blog. (Don’t worry, this will still be my musical-comedy and writing blog.)

If you don’t like geeky things, what are you doing here?

#NBCFail #hashtag #hashtag

by michael in Reviews

It’s probably pointless to complain. Since so many people are ranting with nothing to show for it. But the absolute crappy way NBC is treating the Olympics is shameful. Only a few of the ‘high dollar’ events get blessed by NBC (or No Broadcast Corporation) to show on TV.

When asked, NBC’s answer is to use their streaming website. Well I’ve tried the website. It is a confusing mess. Looks ok when you first load it, but good luck trying to actually find out how to stream anything you’re looking for. I’m a programmer during the day dealing with IPv6 networking systems and this site I can’t figure out. It’s been two years since their much criticized Summer Olympics coverage in London and NBC hasn’t done any better.

I’m off to find a BBC stream.

On Writing Tools

by michael in Pens, Typewriters, Writing

Ernest Hemingway would only write with pencils, or on Royal portable typewriters. Fitzgerald had some particular pencil preferences also.

Leonardo DaVinci was notorious for playing around with different mediums for his art.

There are letters from Van Gogh to his brother Theo asking for money for new type of paint.

Lots of great artists cared about the tools they used. Making art is a visceral process. Artists who care about actually making art instead of those who like having made it are more likely to care about how they make it.

Saying to a writer that they must use a computer to write is like telling Michelangelo to use a 3d cad program, or Rembrandt to use a graphics program. There are artists who can do good work that no one should deny is indeed art. But they are definitely not the same.

Where’s the Book, JK?

by michael in Book World

So you may have heard — if you’re the sort of person who cares about Harry Potter then you probably did — J. K. Rowling has just inked a deal to make a new Harry Potter spin-off movie, based on the fictional textbook from her own universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

But wait, there’s more!  Apparently if we act now, we also are going to get Quidditch through the Ages, another fictional tome from the Harry Potter world, made into a movie as well.  These two are probably just the first of many spin-off movies coming soon to a theater near us.

Both have already got some real fake books available on bookshelves.  That is, they’re fake versions of the real fictional ones from the Harry Potter universe. If you go to your local bookstore (if you remember where that is?) you can pick up an actual honest-to-goodness copy of both of these books conveniently transported into our muggle realm.

But that’s not what they’re making into movies, exactly.  Fantastic Beasts is going to follow the adventures of Newt Scamander (the fictional author of the fictional book), on his own personal journey through the wizarding world.  Presumably Quidditch is going to run the same way.

And now we come to the purpose of this empty rant into the inter-abyss:  Where’s the book?  Not the fake book that’s getting its title jacked for the movie.  I mean the actual story that they’re making this movie from?

J. K. Rowling built her personal wealth and popularity on the literary back of her Harry Potter books.  Made into movies later, yes (and probably raking her in a lot more money) but originally books.  Harry Potter did more to get kids reading in the last 50 years than all the nuns holding all the rulers and disapproving looks ever did.  Period.  Kids who otherwise probably wouldn’t have walked on the same side of the street as a library if they could help it were devouring these magical books.  And then many of these kids would go on to read other things, trying to find other stories they enjoyed as much.  If there’s one person who could easily get more books into kids hands simply by adding another one to the shelf, it’s Rowling.


Neil Gaiman Wrote With My Pen!

by michael in Book World, Pens, Writing

I am the sort of person who collects odd things that catch my fancy.  Usually practical, anachronistic things that are ‘obsolete’ by modern standards.  I have a collection of several nice hats for example (and I recommend all of you stylish cats out there take a look at Goorin Bros.).  Or typewriters–which I also collect and use.

Pens–in particular fountain pens–fall very neatly into this classification and intersects with my pursuit in writing.  And so I have a nice little collection of fountain pens and several lovely ink colors.

Neil Gaiman also collects fountain pens.  Although Neil Gaiman’s fountain pen collection most certainly dwarfs my own small handful.  He uses his fountain pens to write his novels and, more relevant to this post, for book signings.  Currently, he is in the midst of his Last Ever Book Signing Tour and is swamping poor unsuspecting bookstores with thousands of people.  Most recent stop on this bookstore massacre?  The Tattered Cover, right here in Denver.

And so, this Tuesday night I was one of the thousand ticket holders standing in what counted for a line but was more accurately an outline of the Tattered Cover, Neil Gaiman’s latest act of willful imagination in my hands waiting my turn for a signature.  Before I went, my wife suggested that I take one of my personal pens and ask if Mr. Gaiman would be kind enough to sign my book with it.  The simple brilliance of this suggestion nearly knocked me to the floor.  I chose my blue TWSBI Diamond 540.  It was a Christmas gift and my first ever fountain pen.

When it was my turn, I brought my books up, along with my oldest son who I’m proud to say was as excited as I was to get his copy of The Graveyard Book signed.  I asked if Mr. Gaiman (or Neil, for those of us who are close like that) if he would sign with my pen and he said “Sure.”  He looked my pen over, said “Oh, a TWSBI!” and nodded approvingly.

We got our autographs, and my son was so excited he started reading the Graveyard book all over again in the car.  When we got home, I showed off my autograph and the Pen Which Neil had Held.   Took pictures and sent tweets.

The Pen Which Neil Held

 Later, when it was time to do some writing, I took the old and new again pen and examined it.  It didn’t look any different.  It’s partly transparent too, so I held it up to the light.  Aside from the ink swishing around inside, I couldn’t see anything.  I took the cap off and looked at the nib.  About the same.  Maybe the slightest glow?  But no.  Still normal.

I put the tip down on a sheet of paper and waited to see what would happen.  The pen sat there immobile, point down on the blank page.  Perhaps I had to give it a little start?  I moved the pen in a straight line,  then squiggles and spirals and messy scrawls.  Nope.  Absolutely nothing had changed about my pen.  It still required that I do all the work.  My faint hope that tactile contact with Neil Gaiman would impart some supernatural properties to my writing instrument–not unlike something which may happen in one of his own stories–was in vain.

It is still a very nice pen.  And now it has extra reason to be my favorite.  Also, on the plus side, I am enjoying very much his latest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  My writing will have to continue to be my own, but I can at least find inspiration in good writing.


Tonight I’m Going to See Neil Gaiman

by michael in Book World

That’s right, tonight I’m going to see Neil Gaiman.  He’s coming to Tattered Cover here in Denver to promote and sign copies of his newest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  He’s one of my favorite authors–I especially love his short stories.  Not a lot of authors are considerate enough these days to offer short fiction–so I’m really excited.

I was pleased to see my son excited to go as well.  He’s going to bring his copy of The Graveyard Book for Mr. Gaiman’s signature-izing.

Greetings I come in Pieces (or: My new Writing Blog)

by michael in Updates, Writing

Lorem Ipsum and all that jazz.  Welcome to my new blog.

I’m creating this new blog because…well because you’ve got to have a blog these days.  You especially need a blog if you’re trying to write, apparently.  I had a blog before, but unfortunately I tried to be tricky and get really cheap VPS hosting.  Well, we can see how that worked out.  Let this be a reminder to you kids: backup your work!

I don’t mind so much though.  When my blog went down and all files were lost, I was upset, sure.  But then I figured it was probably a good excuse for a clean break and a fresh start.

So here’s where I tell you about myself: I’m a mild-mannered computer programmer by day–actually, that’s only the most recent in a string of jobs that also encompasses photographer, tour manager, truck driver, sales and marketing.  Within the last couple of years, I’ve started working on my writing again, bringing me finally back to my scriptwriting degree I got in college.

I’m currently working on finishing my first novel.  I’ve got several short stories written, though I’m not quite ready to do anything with all of those yet.  When I’m finished…well that’s a question that needs an answer still.  There’s a lot more paths open these days for a writer than just a few years ago.  There’s the ‘traditional’ route, with an agent and a publisher and all of that song and dance.  Or there’s self-publishing which has become more feasible and more respectable.  I don’t have the answers right now.  It’s like then ending of a book in progress.  I’ll just be learning as I go along.

Also on this blog you may expect to see plenty of ramblings and digressions.  Fountain pens and typewriters and writing paraphernalia.  And some technology related rantings as well.  Though those should be few as I’m thinking I will give those their own blog to run and frolic through.

Primarily, this will be my writing blog.  To talk about my travails and adventures and mania and despair, all while trying to figure out the hows and whys of being a writer.