My Honest Author Bio

As I was traipsing through the wilds of the internet, I came across a post about the idea that most author bios are polished to a reflective, not necessarily realistic sheen. It seemed like a fun exercise to write my own “honest author bio.” Yes, I am five years late to this party, but this was a lot of fun to write!

And Now, the Bio

Aniko Carmean is a writer masquerading as a software tester. She is convincing in this role, having achieved sixteen years tenure and the level of “Senior Engineer.” There are days when she suspects someone might be onto her, and she distracts her interlocutor by cracking puns like the one she told on the eve of a co-worker’s visit to not one, but two bank clients, when she said, “We’ll get more bank for our buck!” Aniko is a water sign, and has the tenacity to prove it. She is married to an air sign, and between the two of them, neither has their feet firmly on the ground. This keeps things interesting. When Aniko is not acting in her capacity as diplomat in the Software Development Life Cycle, she can be found navigating Austin’s public transportation system, trekking through suburbia with three dogs, or being friendly on Twitter. Aniko writes surreal stories. They are strange and lovely chimeras who wish you would take them home with you. Care and feeding of the stories is easy, and after several professional edits, they are guaranteed housebroken. No messes! You’ll have less trouble reading them than Aniko had writing them, and after some of the dreck you’ve read recently, won’t that be a nice break? The next fact is not related, but is simply jammed here because this is an honest bio, and the wildflower garden of Aniko’s thoughts is disorderly. She once spent several days confused by the apparent apocalyptic disappearance of all the other thirty-seven year old women, only to discover all the women her age were trying (and succeeding) at looking nineteen. A stubborn proponent of caring more about the quality of her soul than her appearance, Aniko decided to stop dying her hair. You can spot her by what her hairdresser politely calls “sparklies,” but which are really the silver hairs Aniko has earned through the pain, grief, and disillusionment that come in any well-rounded life. In spite of this, Aniko smiles all the time. She is quick to laugh, often at her own jokes. If you buy her books, she will laugh at your jokes too!

As ever,
-aniko

Get three free stories, all of which are housebroken, vaccinated, and looking for a good home!

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Ourselves, Perfected

Copyright: aberration, via 123rf.com

Copyright: aberration, via 123rf.com

I love to walk. Quickened blood bathes my brain, carrying fresh oxygen to fuel my imagination. The unexpected sights and encounters of a walk can’t be planned; wooded path or city block, something will be revealed.

Walking is a primary component of my life. I have three dogs that clamor for their exercise. I also work a mile from the commuter train, and I walk that route ten times a week. There is joy to walking. It’s so simple, yet no two steps are identical, even when you walk the same route for weeks, months, years. Every walk is an encounter with the edge of the unknown, a direct entry into the future.

I have a pair of Docs, with Air Soles. I got them my Junior year of college (1998). My Docs have carried me across the beautiful bridges in Brugge, over the haunted, brick-laid walkways of Mary Washington College, and through the busy streets of the living, beating heart of Austin. I didn’t wear those Docs in Australia, Boston, the wilds of Maine, or Hawaii, yet in spirit, somewhere in my metaphysical reality, they were there. The Docs are the archetype, the Platonic ideal. All of my shoes are participants in the ideal of the Docs, carrying me forward. They were with me as a young girl in Budapest, tasting and breathing my ancestry. They were with me the night I went to the Blue Ridge mountains to see the meteor shower. They were with me in Kauai, a place that resonates with the depth-less soul of life.  In some future, I may walk in Italy or wander Kyoto. The ideal of the Docs will be there, too, always with me as I walk.

Walks transport not just the body, but also transcend time. I do not walk in some singular “now.” Every walk reminds me of some other walk, the same way strangers in an airport look familiar. I’ve been in LAX, DFW, O’Hare, and so many more I can’t remember, and in each of them I see the shades of former co-workers, friends a decade lost, the dead. The experience of strolling an airport concourse alternates between exhilaration and terror. There is a chance, however small, that you will see someone you know – unexpectedly, and possibly from beyond the veil. Airports are a concentrated nexus of paths, a place where all of us are take flight from walking, and “unstick” from that which literally grounds us in our humanity.

Even my daily walk from train station to office reminds me of other places. The columns on the Event Center evoke my brief time as a Physics grad student at Old Dominion University. The bridge crossing the Colorado reminds me of a river in Bangor, Maine and a larger bridge near Dahlgren, Virginia. The building I work in, from a distance, reminds me of another building on a hill, another job. There is an arrangement of trees that reminds me of Paris; the wrong type of tree, of course, but just as all my shoes participate in the Docs ideal, these trees participate in an overreaching, spiritual tree form. They are as unique as our stories and our souls, but vibrate with a shared harmony. Everything is perfect when it is itself, except possibly people. Our will and our greed and our envy make us less perfect, but we have the gift of walking. We can calm our acquisitive monkey-brains and get perspective when we walk. Walking reminds us we are a part of something vast and incalculable. When we walk we can simply be, simply breathe, simply move: ourselves, perfected.

 

As ever,

-aniko


 

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Is Fiction Frivolous?

Sometimes, I wonder if writing fiction is frivolous. In a world where animals are mistreated, and people are eating out of dumpsters, where does fiction fit? Stories don’t stop abuse. Stories don’t feed starving people. I am fairly sure the couple I saw taking turns wearing the one pair of shoes they had would prefer more sneakers, not a story. As a writer, it’s a bleak thought to wonder if storytelling might not just be a frivolous pastime.

I refuse to bow to bleak.

Art is a valuable expression of our humanity. Art transmits ideas, and fiction is the perfect vehicle for new modes of thinking. Stories are a way to put what is in my mind into your mind. The best art illuminates the mundane by refuting the very concept of “mundane.” Every moment is a revelation. Every experience is an opportunity to encounter the prosaic from a new perspective. Art gives us a way to share our revelations.

Do I think fiction is frivolous? No. I think we need more of it, and more of all other arts, too. I encourage everyone to create that which makes them excited about being alive. It will change the world. Your joy will spread to those closest to you, and your art will carry your message places you would never expect and could never plan. The seeds of changes are in your creative power. YOUR art is not inconsequential. It may bring a person out of the dark. It may bring you out of the dark.

I love the era of digital freedom. Now, more than ever, groups of like-minded individuals can “meet,” without leaving the comfort of their own continents. Ideas cross borders, and there is no reason for the masses to be homogenized into some manageable, marketable stereotypes. If there are seven people on the planet who LOVE making fake sausages out of textiles, and this brings them joy, those seven people can find the thousand people who want to support fake-sausage artists. We don’t have to understand what they see in it, but I believe we do have to encourage creative joy in all forms. The world is a better place when we are able to create and share. If small groups way out in the “long tail” of the creative markets bond and support one another, we stand a chance to solve those bigger societal problems, one situation at a time. The fake-sausage artists won’t let each other starve or go shoeless. They will have found their net, their way out of the dark, but it couldn’t happen if they didn’t reach out from their creative joy first.

I guess maybe it sounds a little Pollyanna (or Penny, from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog!) to advocate that creating even the strangest, niche art can change the world. But think about it: when I am a happy creative, I am not wallowing in self-pity. I’m engaging the world. I’m able to be aware of the plight of others because I am no longer wrapped tight in the winding-sheet of my own unfulfilled needs. When I’m creating, I’m engaged. When I’m engaged, I notice what others need. When I notice what someone else needs, I can do something to help. Small kindnesses, yes, but these are the foundation of a better, less painful world. I can’t fix everything wrong with the world, but I can make this moment better for someone, somewhere. I can do that in person if I am not wrapped up in selfishness. My stories allow me to be there for someone even when I am not there in person, and wow, isn’t that some powerful juju?!

Now that writers can go straight to readers, there is no reason for anyone to remained mired in that half-alive state of waiting for “acceptance.” They can share their stories NOW, and use the momentum of sharing to propel themselves into more empathetic modes of being. This means that some writers will, gasp!, publish things that aren’t as polished as you want. Personally, I like it that writers are able to make mistakes in front of readers. I like it, even though I’ve read several indie books that were huge disappointments in terms of craft. You know what? Despite the imperfection of their delivery, those stories are still with me. I love well-crafted prose, but even stumbling prose that tells me something new is a gift. I encourage those who are stumbling to keep on writing. If they are teachable, if they are willing to listen to their readers, if they keep following their bliss, they will improve. Their readers will love them for it, because they’ve been included in the journey. The world will be better because of those stories, and there’s nothing frivolous about it!

xoxo,

-aniko

 

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Silly Candid Video

The office is closed for Good Friday. A crazed dictator has my city on his hit list. I’d say there’s no better time to upload an old video I found in the dust of my camera’s SD card.

It is circa early 2012, and I am wearing my thrift-store find, grandpa style writing sweater. I am in my sun room, by the desk where all of my stories are born. Mr. Aniko is the off-camera voice.

“It’s possible to be emotive without being twitchy!”

 

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Aniko on the Go

Creativity's Turning Gears

The creativity gears are turning, and I must tend them or be ground to something less than myself and more than icky. To do so, I need to take a break from the internet. I will not be blogging, tweeting, or Facebooking. What will I be doing? Writing. I intend to finish my novel by the end of 2012. Please wish me luck! And keep the lights on, ya’ll: I’m with you in spirit, even if I’m not commenting.

I will miss you!

xoxo,

-aniko

To keep you busy, here are some links to a few of my favorite posts:

Out of the Ambition Room

The Adventure of a Writer Reading

We Are What We Say

Provenance

Reading the Bee Leaves

 

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Provenance

My Muse is abundant. She has an orchard full of crisp apples, plump blackberries, and chestnut trees laden with dreams of braziers on damp Parisian streets. At the very edge of the grounds, beyond the field of lavender and the beds of profligate zinnias, there is a bee hive. Five-pound glass jars full of golden honey slumber in the root cellar, summer’s sweetness saved. These are the elements of inspiration, the ingredients of artistic creation.

I have written before about wondering where stories come from, and have told you that when I write, it feels like a conduit opens up and the story is transmitted to me. It is a little like waking up each morning and finding a basket of fresh produce and a bouquet of wildflowers tied with twine on my doorstep. It is beautiful and humbling. Who am I to receive this largess?

More importantly, is any of it mine? Yes, I spend the time stringing words together. I give them expression, but the underlying form of the story is something that I believe – and quite literally feel – is beyond me. The story is independent of me. It exists whether I write it or not. It is a Platonic idea that my words only aspire to approach. In that sense, I am a conveyance, not a creator.

This leads to all sorts of awkward questions clustered around the concept of ownership. Can a story belong to any one person, even the author? What is the provenance of a story? Do I own the fruits of my Muse’s inspiration?

Maybe the most I can claim is that I own the final product because I harvested it, cleaned it up, and shipped it to market. I try to tell myself I am charging for the convenience of the packaging; i.e., you could have extracted this Platonic form from the ether yourself, but I have extracted it, translated it to English, and made it readable on a Kindle. I tell myself that because otherwise, I can’t justify what right I have to charge for something that belongs to the universe. I could solve the problem by not charging, but it costs me money to transfer the story from ether to Kindle, and I’m an obligate financial being like any other working Joette. I could solve the problem by not sharing the stories, but that seems even more of a blatant travesty. How selfish would that be, to take the bushels of apples, the jars of honey, the fresh roasted and still fingertip- scalding chestnuts and then keep them all to myself? If I did that, the apples would grow mealy, the honey would crystallize, and the chestnuts would grow cold and then molder. It would be wasteful and wrong to withhold the bounty. My Muse deserves better than that, and the stories she gives me deserve the highest-quality production I can afford. The question of ownership aside, it is my duty and my honor to share what I have gathered in the orchard of my inspiration.

 

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Doggerel

Thought-Gems

I find I have nothing to say. No, that’s not right. I have too much to say. There are too many different thoughts for me to hand you any one thought-gem, golden as honey and as satisfying as sex. Snippets I can manage, but not coherence.

Example:

Last night, I took the scenic route home. The road wends through blasted-out limestone cliffs capped with stunted cedars. The horizon is Hill Country. As I drove through the valley of beauty and wealth, the windows of distant houses reflected the blood-orange sunset. It looked like they were on fire.

Another Example:

The topic this week at Urban Zen was teachers and teaching. Consensus was that some of our most memorable teachings are gained by being around someone being herself. To which someone responded,

It’s awesomely terrifying to know that as long as I’m alive, someone might accidentally learn something from me.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and wondering what I am teaching the people who know me. I hope it is worthy of you.

And Again:

There is an old woman who walks her dog every morning. She wears color coordinating outfits (peach, blue, light green), and her dog has a thin whip of a tail that curls over his back. I hope that when I am that old, I will still be walking my dog and writing. I hope Mr. Aniko is with me. I hope that with another sixty years of practice, I’ll get really good at writing and better at being myself.

Finally:

My mind has these thoughts, and then there is the constant drizzle of partial thoughts: arugula and truffle-infused pizza, sadness at lost friends, excitement about going to Kauai, plots for novels years away from birth.

Coda:

Remember: I never promised coherence. This post is a Rorschach Test. Tell me what you see, and we’ll both know who we are.

 

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