Wide Awake but Dreaming

Slip into my thoughts and do watch your step


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Sky Captain and the Dark Witch

Here it is, Tuesday, and by this evening I’ll have the first read-through edit of the The Foundation Chronicles finished.  There are three and a half scenes remaining, and one of those scenes is seven hundred fifty words and a no-brainer to do, so I should burn through that in no time.

The scenes I was into last night were lovely:  Kerry way, way up in the air, and Annie suffering in some deep despair.  It’s an interesting metaphor, because until last night I didn’t realize that it’s a moment where Kerry is finally learning to soar, to accept that he’s not this huge loser that he’s believe he was for so long, while at the same time Annie’s sinking, telling Deanna the Seer that she wonders if she’s dragging him off to a destination not of his choosing–and then hearing of the report The Foundation put together on Kerry–and it doesn’t give a faltering description of the ginger lad.

It’s a nice dichotomy–not Die Me, Dichotomy, mind you–but it’s strange that until last night I didn’t recognize the inferences.  And these tie in with the scenes that follow, which bring a nice resolution to the prior four scenes.  If I’d actually considered writing it that way–well, it probably wouldn’t have turned out as well . . .

"I haven't seen something this bad since the last time I visited White Castle."

“I haven’t seen a mess this bad since the last time I visited White Castle.”

I’ve already started looking ahead to the next scenes, taking what the metadata is telling me and putting the ideas in my head.  I already knew them when I laid the novel out, but now everything is starting to gel in a good way.  I mean, take a look:

It all means something--doesn't it?

It all means something–doesn’t it?

Chapter Thirteen looks pretty straight forward–spells, something at the Madness, Nurse Coraline working her magic, and–oh, look, a Genesis song and someone must be having a birthday.  Yeah, those are easy to work out.  Now Chapter Fourteen is a little more difficult–there are labs and rhymes about September, and something about confronting students–doesn’t sound good.  And The Walking Tests?  Yeah, I’m having fun with that one.

What this tells me is that my kids are gonna have a busy September, and with that they’ll get the first month of classes behind them.  They’ll be well tested by them–maybe.  Who knows what’s going to happen with this stuff, right?  I do, but that’s because I’ve been living with this in my head for a couple of years, and now it’s time to let it out and run around the yard for a while.  Otherwise it’s gonna go nuts and start tearing up the furniture.

Today or tomorrow I end one segment of this story, and next Monday night I move on to the next.  I may do some editing passes on this once I start Act Two, or I may wait until Act Two is finished and do it all from the beginning once more.  Act One will go quickly because I’ve already given it a bit of a polish, and then I can go nuts on Act Two.  And then . . .

I can’t think about Act Three right now.  That’s off in the future and I’m not Deanna Arrakis–

Or am I?


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Twice as Fast Upon the Course

Writing isn’t always going to turn out how you want it to turn out.  Things tend to get a little crazy within the mind, and when that happens all hell tends to break loose.  It might just be hell inside your head, but that’s enough to make things crazy.

Which is funny, because someone found a post I wrote during Camp Nano last year.  The post started out with advice from Henry Miller on how one should write when they are writing.  It’s a good time to bring back those rules:

 

1.  Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2.  Start no more new books, add no more new material to Black Spring. (At the time this was his WiP.)
3.  Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4.  Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5.  When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Number one has always been important to me, because when I start on a new WiP, I tend not to deal with anything else.  There’s no point to working on three or four different things at the same time, because you end up distracting yourself to hell and gone trying to tie together all these threads that have nothing to do with each other.  And then you end up with crap.  Lots of crap.  And who wants that?

Number ten used to be a problem for me.  I’d find myself in the middle of a story and then–”Hey, why don’t you think about this story?”  Oh, sure.  Why not?  Because this is just like Number One, only with a zero after.  Distracted, distracted, distracted.  You don’t need that.  It’s like the people who say they have trouble working on a story because they come up with ideas for ten stories they should write:  you end up writing nothing doing that, my friends.

I will cop to this:  Number five happened last night.  I was editing.  I was doing a good job editing.  Things were coming along nicely, and then . . . I started thinking about yesterday’s post, and the idea of the course I’d created for a story that, were it to happen, wouldn’t come around for a few years.  I mean, to me some future history on my kids is a little more cement in their lives; it’s world building and it makes them become more whole.

Things took a turn, however:  a dark turn.

I was working, but I was also creating, and the creating side sorta pulled me away from the working side.  I starting thinking about this test run I set up for Annie and Kerry, and my Muse was saying, “You know The Foundation isn’t all rainbows and happy unicorns, that one of the mottoes of Salem is they’ll push you to your limits, and then push you beyond once you’ve reached them . . . so if someone really wanted to know how good these kids were, how far would they push it?  Knowing, of course, that no one is watching the watchmen.”

It’s a good question, and it defines the character of some of the people who aren’t connected to the school, but who are also responsible for keeping the world running as best it can.

How far would they push my kids?

Answer:  all the way to hell and beyond.

Oh, what I came up with was glorious.  It was a layer cake of hardship and pain.  You have a couple of advanced students who are touted as the best of the best, and people behind the monitors thinking, “Yeah?  We’ll see how good they are.”  And then the hike becomes a battle of wills with my kids figuring out how to game the course they’re upon–which, if you know your magic, you can totally do–and the monitors who are becoming more and more frustrated by the minute that they can’t keep up.

When that happens, it won’t take much for someone to finally say, “Screw it.  Time to pull the trigger on this lot.”

"Wow, it's really beautiful out here.  Though it'd be so much better of people where throwing fireballs at us every five minutes."

“Wow, it’s really beautiful out here. This would be a much better hike if people weren’t trying to kill us with fireballs every five minutes.”

That is the way of my world:  it’s not all nice, and if you gotta put kids through hell to test them, there are people who will do such a thing.  Naturally, there is a lesson learned at the end by one person, and if I’m right–and sometimes I am–this does set up my dynamic for the D Level experience they begin in a few months.

Really, it’s not wrong to torture your characters–

Not if it builds their character in the stories to come.


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Blithe Future

The night was not one of my best:  I woke at least three times, and there was a point around four AM when I didn’t know if I was falling back into sleep or not, and I considered getting up and doing something.  Which isn’t the best thing to do when you’re not able to sleep, because it makes for a very long day if you never sleep from that point on.

There were some disturbing dreams during the sleepy time moments, too.  These days most of my dreams see to revolve around rejection and loneliness.  I was getting that last night here and there; people just didn’t want to be around me, and dismissed my creative efforts.  It was quite off-putting, and there are times when I don’t want to dream because I’m tired of what awaits me on the other side of the curtain of dreams.

A long time ago in a high school far, far away, I took an acting class.  I was a bit of a puzzle for my instructor, because most people in the class thought I was one of the best when it came to acting (notice I didn’t say ACTING!  because that stuff ain’t for me), but for the life of me I couldn’t memorize my lines worth a damn.  Part of the problem was not being able to work with other people to get my lines down:  I was always at home, always alone, unable to hook up with the people who may have been able to help, and I was just too much of a mess to develop the discipline to get this stuff right.

I can still remember the first thing I did in front of the class:  it was a scene from Blithe Spirit, and I was acting opposite the ghost Elvira–well, the person playing her.  I managed to get half way through the scene, and then the brain locked up.  I couldn’t remember a single line.  The teacher sort of ripped into me for not bring prepared, and the girl I was acting opposite was mad because she had her part down cold and I ended up making her look bad.

Yeah, Elvira wasn’t happy with me, which sort of paralleled the plot of the story.  What a surprise, right?

"You screwed up my big scene, Cassie, and now I'm going to come and haunt you every night--just like in the play!"

“You screwed up my big scene, Cassie, and now I’m going to come and haunt you every night–just like the play!  Who says life doesn’t imitate art?”

You’re looking a little green, Elvira.  Maybe you should go lay down.

My sucking at acting literally coincided with my sucking at my first attempt at writing.  At least I kept trying the writing thing–and, let’s remember, giving it up as well–until I finally got good with myself and found I didn’t really suck all that much, but there still seems to be something going on in my subconscious that is keeping me from getting relaxed with this creativity thing.  The deeper I’ve ventured into The Foundation Chronicles, the more the dreams of, “You suck, you’re a failure, you’ll never amount to anything, shun the loser–Shuuuuuunnnnnnnnnn,” keep coming like an iTunes playlist on repeat.

Though there was a slight change in the tune this morning . . .

Yesterday, in the afternoon and before heading off to bed, I was working out a couple of scenes in my head.  I call them the Presents scenes, because that’s what they are about; one has a panicked Kerry beseeching Nurse Coraline and Professor Sladen to help him with getting a present for Annie’s rapidly approaching birthday, because he’s an eleven year old boy who knows nothing about what to get girls, particularly for one who a few weeks before told him she’d loved him all her life.  The other scene takes place after the kids return from Yule holiday, and Annie gives Kerry a belated Christmas present.

They’re sweet scenes, and both will appear in Act Two.  I was playing them out now because I’m bored, there’s nothing to do, and like I said yesterday, I’m always thinking about my stories even when I’m not writing.

On to the next part of this tale . . . During my four AM wake up I lay in bed hoping to fall back to sleep, and during this time I thought a little about the gifts Annie and Kerry give each other.  I thought about how they would feel receiving them, how they both added little touches to make them more personal . . . all sweet little touches that add to the characters.

I did drift back into dreams, and for a while I was feeling a little of the old sensation of being alone and somewhat unwanted.  Then someone started looking through a box I was carrying.  They found something I’d written, and they slowly read it over, turned to me, and said, “I would love to format this on a large square and hang it up for all to see–”  The person who was saying this broke into a huge smile.  “This is brilliant–simply brilliant.  You should be proud.”

I know what writing they were talking about:  it was the scene where Kerry gives Annie her birthday present.  And I know who the person was telling me to be proud of my work–it was someone I know, but whom I haven’t seen or spoken with in a while.  Even though it was a dream, I needed to hear those words, and I needed to hear them from her.

Even if it was a dream, so often we require validation from those whom we respect and cherish.  It doesn’t always happen, but when it comes you feel as if you’re dancing upon a cloud and nothing bad will ever happen to you again.  The doubt can keep tormenting you like a nasty spirit–but you also have to remember that the spirit may be tormenting you because it remembers all the great moments you shared, and it wants you back by its side.  It’s not tormenting you out of spite:  it’s doing so out of love.

You’ll never lose this spirit completely, so make the best of the future to come.  And try to convince that spirit that, yes, you do have your brilliant moments.

Maybe then she’ll send you off to wonderful dreams with a kiss.


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Hangin’ With the G Friend

Yesterday it was talking about bad teachers in dreams and all the crap I went through it fourth grade–not a pleasant recollection.  The thing is, that recollection didn’t stay long, because by mid-day yesterday my mind was on something else, and it was a far better time than I had in that lousy dream.

What I’m talking about is the next year, and fifth grade.

Fifth grade was completely different from the year before, because my teacher then was a great guy whose name is, unfortunately, lost to me.  I want to say “Mr. Haney,” but I don’t think that’s right, though his name started with an H, so I’ll just call him Mr. H.

Mr. H was one of those teachers who didn’t dumb things down.  He knew which kids were good and wanted to learn, and which didn’t give a single shit if they made it through the year.  He loved reading and he loved science, and that was good with me.  He’d lived in Japan for a while, and while he was there he’d recorded an interview with someone who’d been a school boy in Hiroshima, and who survived the atom bombing by hiding in a cave being used as a bomb shelter.  Though he spoke English well, when he tried describing how the mouth of the cave lit up from the blast he completely lost it and started crying and mumbling in Japanese.  It was a pretty powerful moment for me, considering I’d already done my own reading on what happened then.  (And believe it or not I eventually dated a Japanese woman whose mother also survived the Hiroshima bombing.)

Mr. H pushed me in history and geography, because he knew I loved the subjects, and that I wasn’t content to stop at a certain point and look no further.  One class assignment we had was to do a report on a country, and the country I chose was Macau.  This was 1967 to 1968, and when you said “Macau” the majority of adults went, “Whu?”  No one in the class knew where my country was, nor if it was even real, but I was given extra points because just about everyone else went with stuff in Europe, or if they did Asia it was Japan and China.

The best thing Mr. H ever did was tell the Daughters of the American Revolution about my grades, and they came into class and gave me an award for “Excellence in American History”.  I was given a book, which for me, at the time, was better than money.

But I’m not here to rap on about Mr. H.  No, I’m here to talk about someone else.

I’m here to talk about Kim.

Kim was in my class.  She was about my height, she had long dark blond hair, and she wore glasses.  I also wore glasses, so it was always a bit comforting to be around someone who also had crappy eyesight.  Kim introduced herself to me in a rather unique way:  she walked up to me on the playground during recess and said, “Hey:  you’re the kid who knows all about flying saucers, right?”  Indeed I did, because since I was reading a lot of science fiction then, I was also reading everything I could get my hands on about flying saucers and the paranormal and what we know call cyptozoology.  If there was strange crap out there, I knew about it.  Kim was asking me about a story she’d heard where a horse had its head burned off, and I instantly told her about Skippy, the horse that had all the flesh on it’s head burn away–some say by a portable vat of acid, some say by aliens with a death laser!

Whatever.  That’s how Kim and I met, and we were good after that.

I don’t remember Kim hanging out with girls a lot.  Back then we called her a “tomboy” because she liked wearing jeans and button-down shirts and tennis shoes.  But she never came across like that to me.  She wasn’t rough and tumble; she always wanted to talk.  She liked horses and the mountains, and she liked math and history, too, so we had stuff in common there.  She also liked reading, but she found the stuff I was reading then to be amazing.  She was a smart girl, which back then meant she was different.

Then again, so was I.

It wasn’t just headless horses and flying saucers over which we bonded.  There was something else, and for that I have to go tap-dancing back into all those little corners of my past that I’d rather not exist, but are just waiting to jump me the first chance I get.  So here we go:

Every summer, right after school was out, my father would take me down to the barber shop and basically have all my hair cut off, so that when it was over, I looked like Ellen Ripley from Alien 3.  I hated this, because as a young child suffering with Gender Identity Disorder, I wanted my hair to grow out, and it was that summer between fourth and fifth grade when I started having arguments with my parents about getting my hair cut.  Maybe that was one of the reasons I never left my room those summers and just stayed in and read, but I do remember it was the last time I let my parent do that to me.

My hair grew fast, so usually by Halloween it was longer than most of the boy’s hair in the class, which again made me stand out a little.  This led to “getting picked on,” which led to getting bullied and called a freak and crazy and a lot of other shit, but I spent that school year avoiding a lot of those idiots and staying to myself.

Kim, however . . . I do remember one point in the fall when we were walking and talking on the playground, and she turned to me and said, “You’re hair is so . . . pretty!  It’s so curly!  I wish mine was like that.”  Which was true:  I had curly brown hair and long eyelashes, something my mother was always going on about . . .

I told Kim that I wished my hair was nice and straight–leaving off that, “and long like yours” because you just couldn’t talk that shit then–and bam!  I bonded with her over hair, because we weren’t like all the other people on the playground.  At that moment I felt there was something special between us, because not only did we talk, but we didn’t seem to care about what others thought of us when we were together.

"Seriously, you have lovely hair, and if I can use an expression that won't become popular for another twenty years, your parents are dicks."

“Seriously, you have lovely hair–and if I can use an expression that won’t become popular for another twenty years, your parents are being total dicks.  But you know about time travel, so there.”

The moment I remember the most, because it was just so damn strange, was of Kim and I on the swing sets all alone, with there appearing to be no one else on the playground–or if there were, they were sticking close to the building because the sky that afternoon was a rather strange gray and blackish color that appeared as if it was about to unleash Hell at any moment, but if you live in the Midwest and you’re afraid of a stormy-looking sky, you best move the hell out ’cause that’s pretty normal.

We were alone, and swinging like mad, talking, laughing, going higher and higher all the time . . . it was one of those magical moments that you don’t ever forget, and there was a timeless quality to what we were doing, because it did seem to go on for a long time, though we were probably only on the swings twenty to thirty minutes.  But it has become a fixed point in time, one that I flash back on now and then, and though I can’t remember everything that was said in those minutes together, it doesn’t matter:  we were together, and it was fun.  That’s what’s important.

Kim moved away after the school year was finished.  I knew this was coming, as she’d told me months before.  The last day of school we found a spot out by some of the trees at the edge of the playground and talked for a few minutes.  I told her I’d miss her, and she told me she’d miss me back.  We didn’t exchange addressed and say we’d write, probably because deep down we knew we’d never do that–though I wish I had, because I would have totally done so.  Before we parted, she leaned in and kissed me on the cheek:  that was the first time anyone outside of my family had ever done something like that, and it made my eyes mist up.  Then she was off, back to class, and so was I a moment later.  She left class as soon as the bell rang, headed for her bus, and was gone–off to Colorado, if I remember correctly.

I, too, was off to my bus and back home.  The summer sucked, I stayed inside a lot, and sixth grade blew chunks.  I wouldn’t talk to another girl until I was a senior in high school–I literally mean this, because people avoided me, or I avoided them, not really sure on this point.  I had a few friends, but for the most part I was always that weird kid who read a lot and didn’t want to do any sports.

I also missed my friend, but I didn’t talk about that much.

These days I kind of realize that Kim was probably my first girlfriend, but not the “I’m dating her” kind of girlfriend, but rather “My BFF besty” kind of girlfriend.  She didn’t think it strange to talk about the thing we talked about, and neither did I.  She saw nothing wrong with complementing my hair, and didn’t consider it strange that I did the same for her.  If she’d hung around I wonder what would have happened; would we have spent sixth grade continuing to talk about the things we did, and would we have expanded the conversation to include us?

I can’t say:  that’s all speculation.  I leave that for my writing.

I have no idea where she is now, or if she’s even alive, but if she is I’ve been sending her positive thoughts for years, and I hope they’ve helped.  I don’t dwell on her, or those moments together, because they are far off in the past, and as my Phoenix spirit told Kerry in The Foundation Chronicles, “That chapter’s over; it’s time to write some new ones, kid.”

You were one of the few good chapters in the story of my life then, Kim.

I wish you well in yours.


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Relationship Bytes

While stepping out of my car into the snowy Panera parking lot about twenty minutes ago a crow flew directly over me and cawed several times, as if to welcome me back after missing last Sunday, and in general to give me a good blessing.  I gave the bird a wave, then cawed back–yeah, I do that–then headed inside.

We’ve a little snow falling this morning, but after a week of being stuck in the apartment I needed out.  What these people here call, “Oh my gawd, it’s snowing again!” I call “Saturday”, and I’m damned if I’m gonna stay holded up for another morning.  I need my time out, even if all I do is sit in a corner and write my blog.

With last night came the start of one more scene, one more closer to the end.  After the happiness of flying around the school with Kerry, I was back in Deanna the Seer’s office, with her spilling to Annie what she knew of The Foundation report compiled on her said main squeeze.  Now, one might question why she’s doing this, why she’d taking confidential information and telling it to an eleven year old girl.  It’s because these people are different.  It’s because you’re dealing with children who are all of above-average intelligence with varying degrees of emotional maturity, but who are ultimately carrying a power that, if turned lose without the proper training, could probably smack around with little or no difficulty–or even level a shopping mall if sufficiently provoked.  You know, like being told to turn down their iPod.

Deanna treats Annie not as if she’s a child, but rather a maturing girl on the verge of womanhood who is facing a particularly difficult moment in her two-week old relationship with someone she claims to have known all her life.  A girl who’s report says she’d been practicing sorcery spell since she was eight, and who was labeled in that same report as “emotionally immature”.

Now lets tell her that her boyfriend is suffering from depression, has spent years isolating himself from the world, and can be considered detached from any emotions that might bring about a modicum of happiness.  What could go wrong?

"The Foundation said he was most likely to fireball his gaming group after growing tied of their crap. LIES, ALL LIES!"

“The Foundation said he was most likely to fireball his gaming group after growing tired of their crap. LIES, ALL LIES!  They just don’t understand him!”

I’d actually dreaded writing the scene, but once I was into it, I found the going a lot easier that I’d imagined.  But then, I remembered something:  the Kerry that people had seen in the last week wasn’t the same as the Kerry in the report–and their must be a reason for that, yeah?  There are changes in his behavior, and it’s not that he’s really that detached from his emotions, it’s that he doesn’t know what to do with them.  He needed a new environment, one where he’d find himself pushed and given the opportunity to challenge himself–

To be made to grow as a person.

Though now comes an even bigger reveal, one that won’t see a conclusion until about mid-way through Act Three.

How can I keep all these secrets to myself?

Relationship Bytes


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Building Towards Excitation

Yesterday was busy; today is likely to be a bit of a madhouse.  Yesterday was taxes and medication, along with a little work that I didn’t want to do, but more or less was pushed into doing; today is going to be getting my car tested and shopping with other people.  The only thing that makes today a little bearable is that Doctor Who starts tonight, giving me something else to watch for the next seven weeks.

Oh, there’ll be writing as well.  What else?

I’ve the clock on me this morning, because I’d like to finished this post in another twenty-eight minutes so I can put my vehicle through some emissions testing.  So much fun, because you feel as if you have less and less of you own time due to these other obligations.  You have so many things throughout the day you wonder if you’ll get to the things you want, to be able to engage in the things that are important to you.

I do my best.

I’ve finished the edit on Chapter Three of Replacements, and things are going smoothly.  Last night was a real good edit, because I was seeing things that shouldn’t have been there, and a couple of clumsy passages that made me cringe a little on the inside.  How the hell did I write that and think it was good?  Well, it was a first draft of things that were written for another site, and at best I gave those chapters a good looking over before posting them online.

Its wasn’t a disaster, however.  I’t wasn’t as if I was embarrassed by what I’d written:  it’s that these days I know how to look at something and know it doesn’t look right.  When other writers say, “Get good at your editing skills,” they know of what they speak, because there is so much more going on in these phases than I’d ever imaged before getting serious about my writing.  There were many times in the past when I believed my first drafts were so good that I didn’t need no stinkin’ editing–how wrong is that?    If anything, I can look at something I wrote five, six, ten years ago, and know it’s a bit defective, and that it needs a good rub down.  (You know, a polish?  What were you thinking?  Naughty people.)

Tonight I’ll polish up Chapter Four, then tomorrow I’ll get into writing a new chapter?  What’s that, you say?  New chapter?  Yep.  Figured the story needed it, and I have an interesting idea that I want to put in that shows the developing relationship between my two main characters.  Shouldn’t be more than a couple of thousand words, then I can let it sit, I can do something else for a while, then go back and give it a major edit.

Mean and clean:  that’s how I like my chapters.

At this rate I’ll finish the edit next weekend.  Do I edit something else?  You know, there are a couple of stories that need a good edit, and I should get into them if I’m serious about getting stuff published this year.

Only if it’s ready to go is it ready to go.

Seven thirty to seven fifty-two:

Looks like I can check off blogging for the day.


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Love in the Shrunken Universe

Since getting into the development of Elektra’s life within Chapter Thirteen of Suggestive Amusements, I feel like I’m learning more about the state of New Mexico than I’d ever imagined I would.  When I put her together I created her home town on the fly, making her a Southwest Desert Girl from the go, so living in Las Vegas wasn’t going to be a huge climate change for her.

Culturally, though, I’ve got her growing in ways I wouldn’t imagine the rest of us would ever experience.  Then again, we don’t live in novels.  Or do we?

It seemed to take hours to write my eleven hundred words last night, mostly because I not only did my research, but I was doing my nails, too.  Hey, nothing wrong with a little base coat drying as you type away, right?  But for an hour or so I did a lot of set up, and then, when I was down to the last six hundred words, I imagined her visiting these different areas of the state, and before you knew it I had her hooking up with . . . Izzy.

Don’t laugh, but that’s her nickname for another person in her past who led her onto the Road of Kink.  Believe it or not, I took the name from a character that grew up in New Mexico, and I even mention that other character by name.  (I don’t need to tell any of you who it is, because I have very bright readers.)  So she and Elektra met, get to know each other, have dinner, get to know each other better, and before you know it, they’re meeting on a regular basis.

That’s how good relationships should begin.  Find your interests, get to know each other, and eventually end up on a side road near Roswell laying on the hood of a Jeep, staring up at the sky and holding hands while looking for UFOs.  That was how I left Elektra and Izzy last night, thinking it was a good place to jump out and gather my thoughts–and get ready for bed–because I needed the time to see where I’m taking this . . .

If you asked, “Straight into the gutter?” you’d likely be correct.

I like this chapter, and I like what I’m doing with Elektra.  All this, “What I did before I met you” stuff is giving her dimensionality, it’s turning her into a real–albeit kinky–person.  This is what we, as writers, strive to do with every character:  we want them fleshed out so when they turn sideways to us, we don’t watch them vanish.  Sometimes a writer doesn’t care if their character is two-dimensional, because the story is driving the character, not the other way around, but for this story, I’d like the characters to have a bit of thickness to them.

The question I have now is:  does Elektra think about some of the experiences she had with Izzy, and do I get into the fantasies she never got to experience with her?  I know the answer to both side, so it’s a no-brainer for me.  I believe the second part of that question should be shown in Chapter Fourteen, because that’s what we’re always being told:  “Show, don’t tell.”

Okay, I’ll do that.  I wouldn’t want to upset any writing instructors . . .


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Getting the Word Out

And now, a public service announcement!

My friend Amber, she of The Amber Light’s Blog, will appear tomorrow on “Indy Style”, which is broadcast on WISH-TV, Channel 8, Indianapolis, between nine and ten AM Eastern Standard Time.  She is a writer, a life coach, and an innovator of her own form of Feng-Shui.  She’s also someone I’ve shared a lunch with at the Weber Grill in downtown Indy, and I hope to be able to do this again in the summer.

If you’re down Indy way tomorrow, or you’re hacking signals out of the Circle City, check her out!

 


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Little Miss Hellspawn

So ya, thought ya, might like to go to the show.  To feel that warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow.  I’ve got some bad news for you sunshine, Cass isn’t well, she stayed back at the hotel, and they sent me along as a surrogate hack, I’ll find all the jerks and toss them out on their cans!

Okay, so I’m not gonna go all In the Flesh on you today; I couldn’t do that because I’m too nice a person.  But I’ve found instances, in my life, when I should turn around and become the raging bitch that some people think I am.  Which I’m not–you gotta trust me on this one.

There was one incident where I discovered someone had entered my author’s page and decided to spam it with a link about weight loss.  Yeah, that’s going to make me happy, she sarcastically said, referring to the spam, not link to some hoodoo weight loss scam.  For the first time since the author’s page went up, I had to pull out the Ban Hammer of the Gods, and smite his butt back to the woodwork.  I don’t stand for one to try and foster their crap upon myself and others, and I deal with it swiftly.

Then there was there other, more puzzling incident . . . needless to say, someone took umbrage with something I said, freaked out like a mofo, severed all links with me, and left me a semi-nasty message in the wake of their departure.  Oh, goodie!  Another dissatisfied customer who gives me no explanation for why they’re upset–they just wanna scream, “You’re an ass!” and leave it at that.

I had something like happen about eight, nine months back.  Someone from one of my writer groups started following this blog, and after a week they left a message:  “This isn’t just about writing?”  Sorry about that, Tex, but I’ve been known to roll off and start rambling about things that are non-writing related, like now.  Some of it is entertaining, and some . . . well, probably not so much, but I always set out to make it entertaining.

A few days later the person left a very nasty comment, something along the lines of, “I’ve try to help you, but you’re decided to hang with the kids at the cool table in the lunch room!” which was about as nutty as it gets.  I didn’t think anything about it until he posted nearly the same message in a writer’s group on Facebook, and at that point I sicced Mjolnir on his ass and put an end to intrusion into my life.  (As a side note I was told that he likewise pissed off other people in the same group with the same, “I’m trying to help you, don’t you get it, you idiot?”  Apparently they didn’t, and he eventually went away.)

I’m not above criticism; being that I’m in this writing game, it’s going to come, and some of it won’t be pretty.  Sometimes it’s going to take a personal turn, because for many people it’s easier to go for the ad hominem than to get into a well-constructed argument that might find them having large chunks of their ass being handed back to them.

But to throw out a, “I’m not going to read you anymore ’cause you’re a bastard!” without specifying the extent of my bastardy–please, show me the courtesy of at least telling me why I’m such a bitch before you call me one and slam the door.

I promise, this hellspawn will listen to you.

I might even write about it later . . .


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The Killing Inspiration

Much better today, thank you for asking.  I didn’t know if you were going to ask or not, so I figured I’d tell you anyway.  After all, if you’re coming here, you know I’m likely to sling something of a personal nature at you, and since I’ve been going on about my sniffles and sneezes, and shivers and shakes, then I have to tell you I’m getting better.  Almost good enough to head back to the office tomorrow.  Oh, joy.

Forward progression on Suggestive Amusements continues.  I had a short chat with someone last night, and mentioned that I had very little motivation to start writing.  She said that even when I say that, I eventually find my way into my story, then churn out a thousand words like a machine.  There are certain truths there, because after I’d opened Scrivener and brought up the story, I let it set for maybe fifteen minutes, then I was in the chapter and off, as they say, to the races.

The more I get into Erin’s story–which means, as it comes to me as I’m typing away at the keyboard–I’m struck by the sadness of her life.  Yes, she has her happy moments; she’s ever recounted a couple of them to Keith as they linger in bed together.  (Oh, wait:  did I just give something away?  I think I did.)  But she’s also recounting some hard reality that she knows, that her sister Talia knows, and the memory of one such reality left her with tears streaming down her cheeks.

Yes, I’m a total bitch:  I don’t cut my muse a break, and find her life full of pain.

It’s not fair, I know.  If you’re an immortal creature, you should live with joy and contentment.  Why get involved in tons of dramatic shit that’s going to bring you down?  There’s a simple explanation:  Erin is the embodiment of creativity.  That’s what a muse does:  she bring something to the table that’s going to help you find a way to drag those words out of your skin and put them on whatever writing medium one uses.

If you’ve never been creative, then you have no idea how much this act can hurt.  There’s a couple of lines in the U2 song The Fly that sums this up well:

 

Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief
All kill their inspiration and sing about their grief

 

Like it or not, we creative types suffer to make our creations sing.  In the process, we find a number of happy moments in our lives to write about, but at the same time, we dig deep into the crap heaps of sorrow that we’ve left behind, and a lot of that also ends up on the pages of our work.

Erin is almost always hurt by the time her charge has created their work, because they need to dig deep to find those moments that make up their story.  She is the inspiration, so it is she that must suffer for us to enjoy whatever is produced in the end.  Good or bad, she goes down at the end, even if her parting is a happy one.

Multiply that by a few thousand charges over the course of eight thousand years, and you have a muse with a history that would send most of us leaping off the nearest cliff without a second thought.

Maybe it’s not like that, however.  Maybe this is me finding something to pull out from whatever pits of fresh hell I’ve created over the last few years.  I know there are parts of Keith’s life–in particular a chapter that is coming up–that I can say come right from certain experiences I’ve had recently.

But am I Keith?  Well, yes, I am.  And I’m also Erin.  And her sister Talia.

I’m a writer, and I am many.

It’s only natural that I’m going to suffer with all my characters.


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The Windswept Silence

Late night for me, because I was out and about visiting, taking in pizza and movies, and staying up a lot later than I would normally.  In fact, when I realized the time, I hadn’t realized the time.  That’s how the evening went.

I was right about yesterday:  I didn’t get a lot of writing done.  About three hundred and sixty words, that was it, but it was the initial description of my other main female character for my novel, and that was what I needed to move on to the next part of Chapter Five.

But, once more, I got my motor running to go somewhere, and while going there and back, my mind was on a lot of things.  My Muse was on my mind; my story was on my mind; stories I haven’t written were on my mind.  It was all there, roaming about, getting down in my memories and making it known that I wasn’t going to forget anything.

Most of what I thought about were scenes from a story that hasn’t been written, but has been on my mind of late.  It has to do with having to do a duty that is both exciting and frightening, and once they’ve begun, the characters in question are presented with–call it an alternate reality of their lives.  Those the two characters have been together a long time, things happened in their past that pulled them away from people who they’d fallen for very hard.  And times and events and people being what they are, the characters were never able to reconcile these relationships, and therefore became somewhat haunted by the dreams of what could have been.

Each is given the opportunity to enjoy time with the “one who got away,” because, as one character is told, “You’ve always deserved to be happy.  Even if you are happy now, it is not the happiness you wanted.  You deserve to be with your one true soul mate; you deserve to be happy, even if for a little while.”  The character in question finds they are unable to disagree, because, deep down, they have always wanted that particular happiness–and even if they question how they are achieving the moment, they don’t care . . .

But, being me, you know they’ll end up in some kind of misery by the end of the story.  Actually they end up in some rather strange stuff at the end, but that’s also me . . .

I’ve thought a lot about happiness where it comes to my characters.  It’s easy to say that we all need to be happy, that we should have that one, great love that would make our lives complete.  It doesn’t always happen:  that’s pretty obvious when you look at the general human condition.  It’s not always possible, but we try.  And if we can’t try, we dream and fantasize.

Some of us take those dreams and fantasies and turn them into the stuff prose is made from, and then bleed upon our pages for the entertainment of others.

Because our silence is always the loudest.


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The Walk Between Bonfires

Here we are:  sixteen hours and thirty-eight minutes, and we get the NaNo Party started.  I went to my kick off party last night, said hello, got my goody bag, spoke with some of the people who are going to try this.  Everyone there was new:  I was the only hold over, save for our area leader, from last year.  Is this good or bad?  Yes.  Go with it.

The time to write is approaching, as are The Witching Hours.  Time to run the kidlettes around for trick-or-treat, then find something to play at 12:01 AM, when NaNo kicks in and makes life crazy for the next thirty days.

This post isn’t so much about NaNoWriMo as it is about the person writing the NaNo Novel for 2012.  Or what they’ve learned from their writing.  Because we do learn from writing, and from the experiences it brings us.

I’ve got to go back about a year, however–back to the days when I was role playing, back when I was writing about Kerry and his lovely Annie.

Back when I was sick from work–as opposed of being sick of work, but that’s another story–I told people about the issues Kerry had with being himself.  Or should that be, herself?  ‘Cause Kerry exists in one world with two genders, and has the ability to switch from one to the other when he feels like it–

Only, come October, 2015, his better half ends up having to deal with menstruation, and that means having to spend time really being a girl, not just flipping over into girldom when the mood strikes, or he’s getting a full physical.  So it’s during this first time of dealing with the Dim Red Tides that Kerry stays his girly self for almost a week, and–at the suggestion of one of the instructors he respects a great deal–she gets renamed Cassidy, which is Gaelic for “Clever Girl”.

The school that Kerry and Annie attend have a Samhain celebration every year, which includes a dance where one can, if they are in the mood, come dressed in costume.  It’s always held on the Friday or Saturday closest to Samhain Eve–or Halloween, as most people know it–but this October, in 2015, Halloween falls on a Saturday.  This means that the dance–which is just a bit of secular fun for the kids to enjoy–coincides with the true festivals that begin at sundown, on Samhain Eve, and continue through the next day, 1 November, the actual day of Samhain.

This also means that Kerry is dealing with another period, and he’s flipped over to Cassidy.  This means she’s attending the dance with Annie, and they’ve both decided to show up in costume.  Since Cassidy is a bit of a geek, and because she wants to have fun and not give a shit about the fact that a lot of people will be looking at her anyway, decided to show up as an Amy Pond Kiss-o-Gram, and Annie shows up in her River Song finest.

They talk, they dance, they enjoy themselves.  Cassidy has a couple of people give her shit, but she blows them off well and good.  In the end, they sneak out of the dance for a bit, talk some more, and steal a kiss in the same spot where Annie and Kerry first kissed the same night they came to the school and were placed in their coven.

Then Annie tells Cassidy they need to walk between the bonfires . . .

Bonfires are a tradition during Samhain.  People would toss things in, old clothes, food, the bones of slaughtered animals, and watch them burn.  It was all about cleansing, getting rid of the old and greeting the new.  Some places have bonfires side by side, with enough space to walk between, so that one is purified and cleansed, leaving behind the ashes of their old life, and ready to face the new.

This is what Annie and Cassidy have at their school.  In a large field, there are two bonfires, and students are encouraged to dance about them and walk between, a symbol that they are leaving behind one more year, and facing the new, clean and untarnished.

I hear you going, “Yeah, but where is this leading, oh Scribbler of Words?”

Here you go:  characters teach you things, not only about your stories, but sometimes about you.  Cassidy was a character that came to me very easy, because she’s a cute, smart, geeky girl who accepts that there’s really nothing different about her, and that those who see her as a “freak” or “strange” are people who just can’t deal with this thing known as reality.

But then a lot of my female characters came to me easily.  Audrey Dahl was the first, she of psychic ability and fireball throwing.  The same with Jennette Hagart, the Nerd Girl Who Became an Ass-kicking Sorceress.  But Cassidy spoke loudly to me, because she touches me like few others.

Because I am Cassidy.

A few people have asked about the name change that came to my blog, which was the same name change that happened on my Facebook Page.  Some even noticed that the changes came about on or about 10/11/12, which was Coming Out Day.  There is a reason behind this:  it was time to come out.

I’m transgendered.  I’ve been this way my entire life.  But this year, in a year of much change and, in some cases, great hardship and insanity, I needed to get real with myself.  I started seeing a therapist, and I began the journey toward becoming the person I actually am.

I’ve begun taking steps towards being Cassidy, the woman I actually am.  It’s happening slowly, and it’s going gradually, but it’s happening.  In a few years time, the old me will be a memory, and Cassidy Grace Frazee will be a fact of daily life.

Oh, and she writes, too.  She’s very good as well–as good as me, I might point out.

What a surprise.

This is my life.  A few  people close to me have known this for a few months, and they’ve supported me, which is a great thing.  I don’t expect things to become easy, but then, I’ve not known a lot of easy stuff for the last fifty years.  Why should the remaining ones be any different?

Annie and Cassidy walked between the bonfires that Samhain Eve night.  They felt the fire wash over them, felt the heat upon their skin, and when they emerge out the other side, they were clean and new.  They were different people, and they’d never look back from that moment.  One day I’m going to write this story–

But there is another I have to concentrate upon at the moment.

NaNo is a crazy time.  Halloween is a crazy time.

But a certain ginger girl reminds me that life is crazy, and you gotta deal with what comes your way.  Follow your instincts  and you’ll find your way through the fire.  I know, however, I’m never going to get burned.  I’m always going to come out the other side shiny and new.

Because I’m nothing if not a clever girl.

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