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Jim Van Pelt
Posted on Sunday, October 22, 2006 - 02:31 pm:   

I'm beginning two stories right now, and it got me thinking (again) about the source of stories and the feelings associated with creating. This is, of course, a slippery and subjective part of the writing process. Aren't they all? At any rate, for me there is always a time I think of as the ur-story, which is the story forming in my head before I actually begin writing. It may have a couple of really solid images in it and perhaps a sense of the story's emotional effect.

For example, one of the stories is tentatively titled "Pre-necromancy" or "Abandoned Cars." I know a lot about the story already, even though not a single word has been written. Tied up in my conception of the story, the ur-story, are also my hopes for it and thoughts about its influences. In my head it has a kind of Ursula Le Guin feel. It's topical, political and sad (sort of--I like the "sort of" feeling at the end, where emotions are mixed). I also can hear the story's prose rhythm. When those things are all together, I'm definitely ready to write it.

The bummer, or the reality, if you prefer, is that once the story starts, the ur-story is overwhelmed by the actual prose and my limitations as a writer. I often recapture the ur-story during the writing of the story while doing anything other than writing that keeps me alert but not mentally occupied, like driving, jogging, showering, mowing the lawn or doing the dishes. The shower is particularly good for recapturing the ur-story. I'll stand in the falling water and the story will rise again in full bloom with staggeringly relevant dialogue and heart-rending moves toward its denouement.

When I get back to my computer, sometimes with just a towel around me, I try to capture as much of that ur-story as I can. Most of the time the ur-story fades as I write, but other times the prose can catch me and I'll type until I'm shivering and I have to get dressed.
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Jim Van Pelt
Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2007 - 11:55 am:   

I'VE BEEN PODCASTED!

Shaun Ferrell at Adventures in Scifi Publishing interviewed me earlier in the month for his podcast show. That episode is now available (click on "listen" below the advertisement for the books) at his website. You can listen to it on your computer or download it to iTunes to listen via an iPod. It's a big file, so if you are on a dial-up system it takes a while at http://www.adventuresinscifipublishing.blogspot.com/

It's both cool and intimidating to listen to myself. I say "um" too much, and it sounds like I had a bit of a cold for the interview, but I was able to talk at length about my new novel, SUMMER OF THE APOCALYPSE.

Other topics we mentioned included the following:

- Publishing through print on demand
- Writing process
- Apocalyptic fiction and the ecology
- Fairwood Press
- Jay Lake, Ken Scholes
- Writing for young adults (even when you're not trying too)
- The future of publishing
- My upcoming projects
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Jim Van Pelt
Posted on Sunday, February 25, 2007 - 09:02 am:   

If you are looking for a GREAT way to spend a few days from March 22-25, you should check out the Fairwood Press organized Rainforest Writers' Village in Washington. I'd give small body parts to be able to go. Check the website for more info! http://www.rainforestwritersvillage.com/

There aren't a lot of spots available, so if you are interested you should let them know ASAP. The guest list is great, featuring Jay Lake, J.C. and Barb Hendee, and Patrick and Honna Swenson. You can see who is already registered to go at the web site. It's such a darned good group of writers, you could make a new and equally helpful list of speakers from the attendees. I'll bet there will be a ton of life-altering or life-affirming conversation going on there. If nothing else, with Jay Lake as a speaker, it will be like a regular writing retreat on crack.

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