The Woolf: Using POV as a Mask

I’m excited to announce I’ve just had another article published in The Woolf, Zürich’s premier English language e-magazine on writing.

Writers are very used to thinking about the various styles of POV as means to deliver information but often ignore their power to hide it. In the Masks edition of The Woolf, I take a deeper look at POV as a tool for mystery and subterfuge. If you’re interested, follow the link below.

MASKS

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Museum Vrolik

I feel different. Not much, but enough to notice. Change in people tends to happen in one of two ways, fast and drastic or slow and gradual. My change was neither. It was a small yet vivid moment of self-awareness and it was all thanks to Museum Vrolik.

My wife and I recently met up with our friends the Alexanders (writer K.M. Alexander and artist Kari-Lise Alexander). We were in Amsterdam for a good dose of adventure and shenanigans. As avid Atlas Obscura users, the Alexanders came prepared with a list of lesser known must-see’s and one of those was Museum Vrolik, the University of Amsterdam’s anatomical and embryological collection. This museum focuses on teratology or the study of deformity.

Science and history, especially old teaching tools and aides have always fascinated me and I jumped at the chance to see, first hand, the specimens used by the doctors and researchers of old.

As we entered the main door and the collection came into view, a feeling settled over me. It was a deep feeling of reverence. This was not going to be a fun experience. Most the specimens at Museum Vrolik save for a small collection of animals, are real human beings or parts from a real human being, preserved for study, learning, and research. As I took in each deformed foetus, dissected hand, or deformed skull, it was clear just how much respect the situation and the people behind the glass deserved. These people were not there for amusement. They existed to help others discover new ways to treat or prevent the afflictions that ultimately killed them. It was evident that for many in the museum, life, if they ever lived at all, was suffering.

I often feel the importance of a place but rarely experience the power. Museum Vrolik made me understand both. My time among the Siamese twins, elephantiasis ravaged bones, and flayed appendages was fascinating, awe-inspiring, and thought-provoking but it could never be deemed as”fun.” Was it enjoyable? Yes, but it’s important to remember that enjoyment isn’t always linked to a sense of pleasure. I felt intellectually satisfied. That’s a feeling I always enjoy.

I say that I was changed that day and in one specific way, I was. I realized why I have an affinity for the macabre. I realized the underlying impetus that drives me toward places like Museum Vrolik. It is the opportunity to learn from things so unlike me and my everyday life. It is the opportunity to experience aspects of reality that I hadn’t or couldn’t before. I will always take a window over a door, even it shows me the dark rather than the daylight.

In the Mean Time -or- While My Novel Gently Waits.

I’m in the throes of the agent search for my novel RADIO, a historical urban fantasy set in 1928 Paris. It’s full of gods, telepathy, jazz, and mind control. A little telepathy would be real nice right about now.

For the uninitiated, the query process is a state of being in which you desperately try to distill your novel into the smallest, most interesting (the query letter), and most boring (the synopsis) forms in which it can exist. You send these documents out into the world and hope they work. Most of the time they don’t and you receive a rejection letter. Mostly these letters are form letters letting you know that they’re not interested but including nothing to tell you why. Every once in a while, you get a rejection like the one I got today that not only detailed what wasn’t working for them, but also included some tips on fixing it and sprinkled in some market info to boot. Don’t expect this, but know that it does happen from time to time.

Speaking of time, the query process is long. Eight weeks seem to be the industry standard. I’ve had response times from 60+ days and counting to three hours. No matter how you shake it. The theme of the query game is waiting. So, what does one do while they wait?

The first instinct usually involves stress, hand-wringing and obsessive email checking. Once you realize it’s futile, your mind starts looking for other projects to occupy your time. Short stories are an obvious choice, not only for the practice but for the potential addition of writing credits. You’ve got more than enough emotional fuel for some wicked sweet emo poetry but it’s not necessarily the healthiest choice. There’s also the option of diving into another novel. I’m in that boat. Aside from short stories, I’m trying to decide which project is the right project to start or restart as the case may be.

RADIO is a historical urban fantasy. I’ve got an idea for another in the same genre but to even call the idea embryonic would be a stretch. I only have a faint hint of what it could become. I’ve got a much more fleshed out concept for a modern urban fantasy. I like the idea but I’m not totally invested just yet. Starting into a new manuscript with a plan but no passion is a recipe for disaster.

I’ve got past projects too. My political sci-fi adventure novel THE STABLE was put on hiatus at 40,000 words. I’ve since decided to shift the narrative to become a trilogy rather than one self-contained story. That’s plenty of material to dive into but it’s in a very different genre than RADIO. It’s still under the SFF umbrella but, I’m not sure it’s the right way to follow-up a historical urban fantasy.

I could also return to the world of my first novel THE COALS. That book will be split in two with both parts expanded. In total, there will be four books about that world. It’s post apocalyptic which is yet another genre under the SFF umbrella but fairly distant from RADIO. So, would this be the right path?

The answer is… I don’t know. At least that’s my current answer. So, while I keep on pondering genre, I’ve got short stories to fill the gaps and query letters to write. RADIO is getting published one way or another. In the mean time, I’ve just got to get my waiting game straight.