|Each month the Renderosity community votes on The Renderosity Artist Of the Month — December’s AOM is author, jstro [Jon Strother]. We congratulate jstro for his outstanding collection of prose and poetry.|
We invite you to read Jon's interview,
and then visit his Renderosity Writer's Gallery
jstro's short stories and poetry.
Who is jstro and how did you come by your username?
My real name is Jon Strother. I'm an 8 year old kid trapped in a 51 year old body. By day, I work as a project scientist (and I use the term loosely) doing cool stuff with GIS software. By night, and on weekends, I dabble in writing, or just waste my time playing computer games. In fact, I waste entirely too much time playing computer games. Still a kid at heart, I guess. I was assigned the name jstro by Southwestern Bell when I signed up for DSL. So I just carried it forward into other venues. I've become rather attached to it, and get rather annoyed when I find it already taken.
How long have you have you been writing?
I have been writing for most of my life. The earliest clear recollection is an assignment I had in grade school — probably 3rd or 4th grade. We were assigned to clip out a photo from a magazine, and then write a paragraph describing it (Not a bad exercise for older writers too). I clipped out an advertisement for a refrigerator, which showed a nice kitchen, with a dog's chew toy in one corner on the floor. I wrote an emotionally packed short story about how, when the old man came into the kitchen, it still brought tears to his eyes to see Sparky's old chew toy, and how much he still missed that dog. The teacher had no imagination. I think she gave me a D, for not describing the picture. Funny, I still think I did.
Besides Renderosity, have you ever had your prose or poetry published?
Not really. The only claims I have to publication are two technical papers I co-authored and presented at GIS conferences, and the Wings 3D User Manual. And since I have not kept the Wings User Manual up to date, I just feel guilty about that. I've submitted a few things, and have a fairly nice collection of rejections letters to my name.
What are you currently working on?
Max Mann #4. I wrote chapter one of Max Mann and the Black Widow in response to Crescent's Bad Writing Challenge. I liked the character so much that I polished it off, just for the fun of it. Presto! It turned into a novella. That would be Max Mann #1. Then I wrote chapter one of Max Mann and the Alley of Death in response to another Writer's Forum Challenge. Again, Max got under my skin, and I felt compelled to finish it off. Novella number 2! This was beginning to look like a trend, so I started trying to think of Max Mann story lines. I have since completed Max Mann and the Mangled Mutt, and am now about two thirds of the way through Max Mann #4.
Do you also create CG images? What software/equipment do you use and why?
I only dabble in Computer Generated images. I was drawn to Poser long ago as a way to better visualize my characters and scenes. I still have my original Poser 2 CD in my software case. Since I did not like to use props made by others (for copyright reasons), I began to dabble in 3D modeling, and struggled with it until I discovered Nendo. Then Wings 3D came along and I got deeply into that, followed by Vue. All fine products, but I'm afraid I'm not very good at any of them. I have nothing but the utmost respect for artists that can make those applications sing! They amaze me. Rather than complimenting my writing, I found my 3D work was pulling me away from it. So I've pretty well stopped doing 3D, and have come home to writing. I do however enjoy digital photography, which I find very complimentary to writing.
What do you think your best piece of writing is and why?
I'm Not Suicidal © Jon Strother[jstro]
That's difficult to answer. I like to write in a variety of formats, styles, and genres, so it is very hard to say which I like best. Many of my best works are not posted on-line, because I'd like to get them published some day. But of the stuff I've posted here, I'd almost have to break it down into at least two categories — preferably three: poems, fiction, and essays. Of my poems I think I like Road Cloud best. Unfortunately, it's not in my Gallery. It's deep in the bowels of the Writer's Forum. For fiction, I think that would have to be Auger of Carthage, again not in the Gallery, but in the Writer's Forum Information Library Front Stage. Wow, that's a mouth full! If I had to pick one of my Gallery entries, I guess I'm partial to I'm Not Suicidal, a non-fiction essay.
by J. M. Strother
The morning begins in a slow drizzle.
The car is packed.
On the road before a muted dawn.
The girls in back, awake, then dozing – bored.
Vacation road trip.
Many weary miles to go.
The asphalt ribbon wends up and down,
This way and that.
Mountain road, seldom traveled.
My wife points ahead; the mountain hides.
Watch for Fog on Road.
She looks to me with worried eye.
No real choice, we carry one, slower now.
Road climbs into the mists.
“Hey girls”, I say over my shoulder, “We're in a cloud.”
Sitting up, they look around. “We're in a cloud?”
“We're in a cloud!”
Who/what inspires you?
People, places and things. Yeah, trite. I know. But it's true. Some of the people that have inspired me are J. R. R. Tolkien, Kim Stanely Robinson, tjames, dialyn, Crescent, and my friends and family.
I find that new places and experiences tend to inspire me. Coastal/desert California, the Rocky Mountains, and Appalachia have all done the trick. But if vacation's not on the horizon, then a walk in the neighborhood, or a ride on the Katy Trail will do me worlds of good.
Events, particularly emotional events, often inspire me to poetry. For example, when James Doohan died, I felt absolutely compelled to write One to Beam Up. I think someone once said, “Poetry is emotion, in written form.” I agree.
by J. M. Strother
You passed today from this shore
To take your place among the stars
An inspiration for an age;
That men may dream great dreams,
That man may go beyond the bounds
That have tied us to our mother globe.
We will miss that famous Scottish brough,
And the technobabble you spoke with ease,
For while it was all for fun
It left a mark on the hearts of men
And led them to do great deeds.
That's one small step for man, Scottie,
And one to beam up.
How has this online community (Renderosity) enhanced your work, relationships, and learning?
The Writer's Forum was instrumental for me to expand beyond what I typically wrote before joining it. As I mentioned earlier, I was inspired to try my hand at poetry, essays, and short shorts through Forum challenges and contests. I will be forever indebted to tjames, dialyn and Crescent for those. Looking back at some of my early posts, I see some God-awful stuff. Hopefully I've improved over time. But I have delved into realms I would not even have tried without the Forum. For that I am truly grateful.
Parting Comments/Advice to other writers?
Develop a thick skin. Find people that will read and comment on your stuff. If they give you comments like “Gee, I really like it,” find someone else to read it. Short of name calling, there is no such thing as non-constructive criticism. You don't have to agree with everything someone says (and probably shouldn't) but you want to encourage unbridled critiques. I suppose I've always found this easy advice to follow, since I would never have gotten out of grade school if my family did not read and critique for me. After all, if you can't spell (and I can't), you can't afford a thin skin!
Write outside of your comfort zone. I never wrote short stories or poems before joining the Writer's Forum here. But I took up the monthly challenges and began to do poetry and short prose only to discover I like them! Same goes for genres. Mix it up. Until I did the Max Mann piece for a challenge I had never written a mystery. Now I've got three complete noir novellas. Granted, they aren't published, but if I had not written outside the box I would have never discovered the joy of mysteries.
Always spell check before posting. It may not catch the homonyms, but it will catch a lot.
No matter what your chosen art form, be it writing, modeling, rendering, or photography: Practice. Practice. Practice!
Finally, I'd like to thank Renderosity and its members for selecting me AOM. It truly is an honor.
[Editor’s Note: The following is one of my favorites of Jon’s Renderosity poems]
by J. M. Strother
Poor old dog,
Dragging at the end of the leash.
I thought it would be fun,
What dog doesn't like a walk?
What a treat.
Alas, he's more out of shape than me.
Now he's limping,
And still, a half mile from home.
Poor old dog.
Poor old me.
I have to carry him home.
Dog, you need to lose weight!
To learn more about Renderosity's Artist Of The Month [AOM] award,
and to view our past AOM's,
please visit the AOM 2005 page,
which can also be found on the sidebar under Highlights.