Category Archives: Writing

My Steampunk Problem

I like the idea of Retro-Futurism. It’s just fun. The technology of our time is very dear to us all. There is nothing more personal than the smartphone we put in our pocket, or the screens we stare at. But the present is boring, and the future worries us, at the very least.

The Past! That was fun, right? When we merge nostalgia, technology and pulp fiction we get awesome, genre bending worlds. All other -punks aside, the one I’m talking about right now is Steampunk. In my opinion, this subgenre is one good movie away from being mainstream. I said good movie. So that doesn’t mean The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Van Helsing, or Wild Wild West.

If you’re unfamiliar with steampunk, essentially, it’s applying Victorian-Era aesthetics to modern day technology. Of course it gets deeper than that, but I don’t think I’m doing it a disservice at all by describing it that way. Yet, therein lies my problem with it.

Victorian” refers mainly to England, when the empire was under Queen Victoria’s rule in the late 19th century. It was the very peak of the Crown’s power over the rest of the world. The United states was recovering from a bloody civil war and hadn’t secured its place as a global power yet. The industrial revolution would not happen until after the turn of the century.

Despite those facts, SteamPunks are many amongst geeks here in the states, and elsewhere. Go to any Con’ and see how many leather corsets, goggles, and little hats you see. They might be pirates, adventurers, aristocrats, whatever. Take a look at what’s popular amongst YA fiction. Watch Felicia Day’s YouTube channel, tell me she’s not influenced.

Do you see the disconnect I have? I’m being all hipster-y about it. I really don’t care how much exposure it’s getting, beyond my already standing problems. If you haven’t caught it, this genre is, for the most part,  inherently Euro-Centric, make that Anglo-Centric. I am of Mexican/Spanish heritage. See it yet?


I’m not accusing steampunk or fans of as being racist. Don’t get me wrong. Of course I understand that nationalism has nothing to do with liking the look, or enjoying the stories. What I’m saying is I have a problem personally identifying with a genre that has very little to do with my own heritage, and in turn, part of my identity.

It’s the same problem I have with Tolkienesque fantasy. Those stories are all derived from the history and folklore of Western Europe. I’ll talk more about that on another day.

I don’t have this problem with Dieselpunk, which takes aesthetics from the time after the Industrial Revolution (Art Deco, BioShock, Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow). I can say that, as it’s very based in American history, which I identify with more, being a third-generation American (my grandparents were born in Colorado and Nebraska).

I must say here, that I’m not saying I don’t like this genre, I just can’t connect with it like so many of the fans I see. I’m not complaining as much as stating a point.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only one of my kind with this problem. I direct your attention to this awesome article I found on the blog Racialicious.com. The basic gist is that many Chicano/Latino/Hispanic people who want to claim fandom of Steampunk take aesthetics of what was going on in our history, instead of Anglo history: The Mexican Revolution.

This was no insignificant event. Some history, from the article:

The independence of Mexico triggered the independence of eight different countries. After the fall of the first Mexican Empire, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the republics of Yucatan and Chiapas, which later were re-annexed to the Republic of Mexico, declared independence. The Republic also still retained the territories of Texas, New Mexico, and southern California.

So, for my little conundrum, following in the footsteps of others might help:

Interestingly, it is this point in history that many Mexicans use as basis for its aesthetics and steampunk characters. This later time period that we know of as the Mexican Revolution in the early twentieth century also acted like a late call to join the spirit of technological renovation and industrialization that had been held by the European powers. The Mexicans of the late nineteenth century conceived many elements of progress and technological heritage from the French, who were a major presence in the country’s development during this century. Both the fashion and lifestyle, cuisine, style of education, politics, economics, and technology came from the French style.

But here’s where I make all this for naught: I don’t care. Steampunk is huge right now, and I can only see it getting bigger. Like I said, one good movie, most likely in the next year, would solidify it’s popularity for the time being. All the purists will hate it for stupid reasons, while everyone else will enjoy wearing their little hats. As for me? I’m going to watch from the sidelines.

Though I have found my entry point, what I’m saying is that I don’t need it, want it, care for it. Again, I have no problems with the stories, the fans, the aesthetics. It’s just not for me. I think it’s because it’s looking to the past. I’ve never been one for nostalgia, especially nostalgia of a time I’ve never experienced. And it’s always confused me why the Victorian era appeals so much to women. It’s so easy for them to forget how little freedom women had at that time. Maybe it’s empowering to erase that fact from current retro futurism. Just as it’s easy for people of other heritages who don’t share direct heritage with English descendants.

I hate to just chalk up everything that people like about it to a “look.” I understand how cool things look when it’s all wood and leather and steam powered. The anachronism of a steampunk Iron Man suit is intriguing confusing and exciting all at once. But without the connection that comes from heritage of any sort, I’m left confused and hoping there’s more. For the sake of how I see the fans, more than just “it looks cool.”

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Two Days ’til NanoWrimo and I Need to Sleep

Ugh, I’m tired. Do I look tired?

I don’t know what it is. I’ve not been sleeping well at all. Wait, I haven’t slept at all.

October’s already over, and Halloween and NanoWrimo are just days away. I think I’m ready. I don’t know. Just to add to things, I’ve decided to move North to Santa Fe in January. Ugh…

I thought it best to decrease my caffeine intake. So here’s my pathetic cup of green tea.

How’s your morning going?

This post originally published here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/117749506539166811165/posts/EZkZKcXDUt4

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My NanoWrimo Survival Kit

Apparently, these are things. So here’s mine.

Laptop

Modest 12″ Samsung “Princeton”. Basically, it’s a MacBook Air competitor before Intel came up with the idea of an “UltraBook.” Running Ubuntu, but I’ll be writing all my stuff in Google Drive.

Nexus 7 Android Tablet

Second screen and perfect for reading and proofreading my work. Also, games for distractions.

Cheap composition notebook and black Pilot gel pen

My particular notebook was made out of sustainable sugarcane, $3. And those are my absolute favorite pens.

Google Drive

See above. For something this sensitive, I’d rather it be stored automatically in the cloud.

Coffee and my giant writer’s mug

Frankly any caffeine will do, but coffee is my drink of choice. Black, bitter, very hot and very cheap. Dash of cinnamon for flavor. My mug was a gift, from Starbucks, but minimally branded.

Pandora and Songza

As far as writing goes, instrumental dubstep really get’s my creativity flowing. Don’t judge me. I also like Tool, Cake and the soundtrack to the french movie Micmacs

Messenger Bag and Duct Tape Attache Case

For a while I was obsessed with making things with black duct tape. One of the more useful things I made was a portfolio thing. I’ve been using it to carry loose papers, my notebook and my tablet around. I don’t always write at my desk. In fact, most of my best writing has been done at my favorite coffee shop or on campus of UNM. Those things are indispensable.

Steve the Dalek

It seems that a lot of people have what they call a “writer’s totem.” Well, I don’t have that. I have a plush Dalek, and he’s more of a slave driver/personal motivator. (I love how “dalek” isn’t a misspelled word according to Google’s dictionary.)

Originally published here. For original writing and NanoWrimo updates, visit writing.ravellopez.com.

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My New Writing Headquarters

My new Writing specific site is up! Check it out here: writing.ravellopez.com.

Until I get my stuff more organized, this is where my writing will live. All the writing I’ve posted here or on WritersCafe.org will be moved there. The works that are already here will stay here, but I will post no new pieces on this blog.

I will, however, cross-post my NanoWrimo progress on both here and my writing blog, just to keep up my followers.

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Watch me Write (and I’m moving my Writing to a separate Blog)

In light of NanoWrimo, I need some practice. So for the next few weeks, I will be live typing my current story in Google Drive.
Also, at the end of the year, I will be moving my writing content to its own separate blog. I have yet to find a good CMS, when I do, I will direct my domain to it.

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“One of Those Days”

Off the cuff, free-writing, (one-sided) dialogue practice. The opening lines came from an interesting discussion I was having with a stranger. Don’t ask. The person talking is inspired by a friend who has her clueless moments.

Tell me what you think.

Hello

It is one of those days, isn’t it?
One where you just can’t help yourself.
You know you shouldn’t, but there’s no one around to stop you.
In 15 minutes, all the wine and peanut butter are gone.
You’re horny as all get out.
There’s something in the wind, there is.
Something in the wind.

Really?
Well I can’t be the only one.
The only one who thinks adorable little otters would make great pets.
Who wonders how they would react to peanut butter.
Wine? No thank you.
The house isn’t so much as lonely as it is, vast.
Vast and full of possibilities.
Possibilities and pillows.
Not as mutually exclusive as you’d think.

Well don’t look so…
so…
I can’t say at the moment.
It may be because my toes feel like they’ve been dipped in ice cold water.
Oh, you feel it too?
No?
Must be the wine.
Or the otter.
Perturbed!

PSSSHT!
Did you feel that?
Well I did. In my bones, I felt it.
One of those days, a Thursday.
This must be Thursday
I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Now where have I heard that before?
Hah!
Where did you go?
Was it something I said?

Like/Comment/Share. I love feedback. Bonus points if you can spot the quote and name the source.

Creative Commons License
“One of Those Days″ by Ravel Lopez are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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“All I Have” – Short Story

Less of a story, really, more of an idea. I was inspired by a very beautiful song.

This was written a few years ago, when I first started playing with the idea of writing. I plan on revisiting this and expanding it into something. I’m not sure what, yet.

Enjoy.

All I Have

The water drops on the rooftops with a constant, light beating. Yet, the setting sun manages to break through the gray blanket of clouds giving everything an amber glow.

But the rain still persists, drowning and breaking off the delicate blossoms below my window. My gardenias remain untouched under the awning. Smiling to myself, From just inside my apartment, I admire their demure beauty. Perfect.

A whiff of smoke catches my attention. I turn away from the balcony and in the darkness, I see the small orange glow of the cigarette hanging out of an invisible mouth. As my eyes adjust, I make out his tall figure, standing in the door way. Soft, but piercing eyes materialize out of the black and turn me to stone. Our gaze remains locked as he flicks the cigarette and brushes my hair back, my behind my ear. His hand, now behind my (at this point I feel that I should soften my narration voice a little, not sure how though) head, gently guides my lips to his. His kiss, ooh his sweet, long kiss. It is all so intoxicating: the smell of his skin, the smoke, the rain and flowers, combined with his sweet lips. He pulls our bodies closer as the rain falls outside. The orange sun sets long before our embrace ends. Perfect.

I wake up, alone.

A cold, steely darkness surrounds me. I see the moon outside, peeking through clouds. She is alone too, ashamed to show her beautiful face. Her blue light illuminates nothing. I walk to the balcony where empty pots lay, broken.

“Why are you so lonely, so sad?”

No answer, but I know. I know. Her partner is gone. It has been cloudy and dreary for over a year. A year since the war started. A year without happiness, joy, dancing. A year without gardenias. A year without love.

A tear lands on shards of clay.

Please like/comment/share. The more people who read and like my stuff, the better.

Creative Commons License
“All I Have″ by Ravel Lopez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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