Wide Awake but Dreaming

Slip into my thoughts and do watch your step


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The Ginger Rewrite

There was writing last night.  Not a lot of writing–though if one considers I added five hundred fifty words to a scene, I guess you might consider it a lot.

I finished rewriting the first scene in my current work in progress, the scene where Annie departs for school.  The first part of the scene was good:  it hit all the right notes and set a tone I set out to achieve.  Other than cleaning things up here and there and streamlining a few sentences, it remained the same.

Where I expanded was later, in Annie’s bedroom, where she’s looking over her things one last night–for the next few months, that is; it’s not as if she’s going away forever–and her father comes up to speak with her.  It was a good scene on its own, but as I was told by my beta reader, it was lacking something.  So . . .

Oh, you wanted to see what I was working on?  Well, look below:

Oh, you wanted to see what I was working on? Well, look below:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

“Are you going to miss this?” She turned around and found her father stood in the doorway, watching her. “Do you want us to send you anything from here?”

Annie looked about the room, taking it in, considering her father’s question as she decided not to mention her previous thought. She shook her head slowly. “I think of anything, I’ll send Mama a message.”

Her father nodded. “I am going to miss you.”

“Are you?”

Victor was somewhat taken back by the quickness of Annie’s reply. “Yes, I will.”

“I’ll miss you as well.” The right side of Annie’s mouth twisted upward into the faintest of smiles. “Mama, too. I’ll miss you both.”

A few awkward moments of silence filled the room as Annie and her father gazed at each other without speaking. Victor didn’t know if Annie was being her normal self—quiet and contemplative—or if she were truly upset. It was impossible to get her to admit her feelings at the best of times, and Victor knew better than to press the issue now. The last thing he wanted was to see his daughter off on her great journey with her angry at him. “I do worry about you, you know.”

If there was one thing about her father that was true, Annie was aware that he worried about her. Even during those times when they had little to say, when he was away with his job, he always called home and asked of her well being. He does care—if he could only show it more. “I know, Papa.”

“And you’ll be away on your own, alone, having to do so many things for the first time . . .” His attention was drawn to the bay window. “Meeting so many new people . . .”

It wasn’t difficult for Annie to see where her father’s trailing statement was leading. “That’s true, Papa.” She twisted her head slightly to the right. “But I’ll be careful. You know I will.”

“I know, but . . .” Victor was almost squirming in his need to speak.

Annie decided to relieve her father from his dilemma. “But he’ll be there—yes?”

Victor nodded. “Yes. Your Ginger Boy.”

She’d wondered if this was the real reason for her father coming to her room: perhaps not, but it was enough to bring him upstairs. “There’s nothing to worry about with him, Papa. I’ll be fine.”

Given an opening, Victor was ready to voice his concerns—after a question. “When will I learn his name?” He raised an eyebrow. “Soon?”

“Mama knows his name; if she wanted you to know, she would have told you.”

Victor shook his head as he chuckled. “You women.” He rubbed his chin slowly as he met Annie’s unflinching gaze. “I know almost everything you’ve told your mother: you’ve known him for years and he knows you—”

“Yes, Papa.”

“But you don’t know him, Anelie. You’ll find seeing this boy in your dreams and then out of them are completely different experiences. Which is why—” He breathed deeply before continuing. “I worry.”

Annie had heard these same comments from her mother two weeks earlier—was it possible she’d spoken with her father? She dismissed the idea; the words coming from her father were not her mother’s. “I’ll be fine. I have nothing to fear from him.”

Her father wasn’t quite convinced. “I worry you’ll end up hurt.” He tapped his fingers together. “It is possible.”

She shook her head. “No, it isn’t.”

“Anelie—”

“Nothing bad will happen, Papa.” She almost cracked a smile to put him at ease—almost.

At this point arguing with Annie was going to lead to a confrontation, and that wasn’t what Victor wanted. “All right; I’ll take your word. I know what he means to you.” He chuckled again. “And I know when you’ve made up your mind, I shouldn’t try to get you to change—” He tapped his fingers against his legs. “Particularly where he’s involved.”

Annie did think it a little unusual that her father didn’t push his opinion harder, but his final statement said it all: he knew he wouldn’t change her convictions, and he accepted them. Maybe not fully, but he does. She went over and slowly slid her arms around him. “Thank you, Papa. It means so much that you trust me.”

 

And there he is:  The Ginger Boy.  You’ll learn more about that brat about sixty thousand more words into the novel–or will you?  Actually he’s hiding in plain sight, because one of the things I’ve changed up in these first few chapters is to not hide things.  I tried that and it wasn’t actually working.  While I’m not coming out and saying things–okay, I will come close to that later–if I’m gonna tell the tell, then I’ll tell it.  Tell it in a way that makes sense, but at the same time doesn’t show everything.

Yeah, it makes sense that things will get said by people who aren’t part of the Normal Group.  You have to show a little difference here and there to make the characters come into their own, to allow them to be who they are.

Hence some rewrites–

‘Cause you’re not always going to do it correctly the first time around.


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Chestnut Breakdown

It’s Liz Parker Time around the casa once more.  That can only mean one thing:

I’m writing again.

I say I’m always doing something writing related, but now I’m actually back writing.  Slow, yeah, but I’m back.  Nothing new, either–unless you consider a rewrite of an existing scene that needs some tuning up and something added a rewrite, well, I’ll take it.  I’ve sections of Act One that are in need of rewriting and, in at least two scenes, to be made completely new.  There may be more, but I’m getting to them.  Because it needs getting to, you know.

There is one good thing to come out of all of this:  in deciding to completely redo a scene in Chapter One, something will happen there that will actually tie into a conversation that will happen in–let me look it up–Chapter Thirty-one.  It would be Chapter Thirty-two, but I think I can change the time line just a little, move a couple of scenes from there to Thirty-one, and eliminate a chapter.  Whee!  That means I’ll only have to write forty-two chapters–which, you have to admit, is a lot more geek-lined.

However, getting to that link required thinking about how the story would play out on the other end, and that wasn’t pleasant.  Oh, the planning and whatnot is always a lot of fun–usually.  There are moments when it’s all a pain in the ass to get everything straight in your head, which is why I always make charts and such to help me along.

No, it’s when you have to get into your kid’s heads and understand why they do some of the things they do.

The scene in question brings up the matter of dreams, which in the world I’ve created are usually a lot more than they seem.  Particularly if you’re Annie and Kerry, who seem to have an issue when it comes to a special form of lucid dreaming.  These dreams have special meaning to both kids, and for the first time yesterday I thought them out, even made a few notes, because at some point gotta talk about them.

But it wasn’t those dreams that caused issues in these scenes:  it was remembering another dream alluded to in Kerry’s dream.  It’s something that explains an action he takes in Act One; it explains something that’s been bothering Annie since meeting Kerry.  It’s something that ties in something said in Chapter One–something she’ll say a few more times, as if she’s trying to trigger memories.

In bringing up this new dream, however, it pulled out a few memories and feelings of my own, one of which is particularly painful at the movement.  And in doing so, I had a full-on crying meltdown.

"These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart.  Why don't you take up another hobby--like, something without emotional connections?"

“These imaginary characters of yours are tearing you apart. Why don’t you take up another hobby–say, like, something that doesn’t involve emotional connections?”

The upside is I finished the scene, and made notes.  One moment I’m all about to fall to the ground crying, and the next I’m trying to set it down in writing.  I blame the hormones, which probably did play a big part in what happened last night.

But I’m back writing again.  I feel good.

Let see how long this goes.


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Frolicking in the Danger Zone

Let’s do the niceties right now and say this post will speak of real things that happened to me.  It may feel like a rant to a lot of people, and there is a high likelihood I’ll upset more than a few of those folk.  But seeing as how it’s been close to a week since the last time that last happened, I may as well close out the week cranking up the irate a bit.  With that in mind, here’s a kitten to put you into a great frame of mind:

It's a Siamese kitten, though, and we know they're sort of evil, so this kitty is probably ready to take you Straight to Hell.

It’s a Siamese kitten, though, and we know they’re sort of evil, so this kitty is setting up to take you Straight to Hell.

With that out of the way, onward.

I spent a lot of time as a kid scared.  Never mind all the crap going on in my head with gender identity issues and just generally being considered a strange kid because I did things in my shitty little town like read–I was scared.  A lot.  I had a very active imagination, and since I read a lot of different things like science fiction and comic books and the occasional horror story where people were being walled up alive or having bad things happen to them because they were screwing around with a monkey’s paw, I’d start imagining things–you know, stuff.

The sort of things that prevented me from being in a dark room with an even slightly cracked closet door because there might be something in there–something that was going to eat me.  I couldn’t stand to look out a window in the dead of night for fear something was going to jump into my line of sight, something I didn’t want to see, something that was going to do me harm.  And this last still happens to me; occasionally I’ll get the feeling that something is out on the balcony getting ready to jump me, and I don’t dare look ’cause I don’t want to see . . .

That stopped me from reading, right?  No.  I didn’t stop me from watching all those funky 1950′s science fiction and horror flicks on TV, either.  If I knew it was going to cause problems, why did I continue to scare the shit out of myself?  Because I had a jones that needed feeding, and learning and being entertains was worth the price of imagining something could jump out of my closet and get me.

I also ran into my share of personal tragedy.  By the time I’d turn ten I’d watch an uncle lose a long battle with lung cancer, and since it seemed like everyone in our extended family either died of cancer or heart disease–and I heard this stuff being talked about all the time–it was a simple matter to know what was happening.  Oh, and my mother was also a nurse, so there were plenty of books around the house with pictures–just in case I needed to know what a cancerous lung looked like.

I lost two close friends before I was out of high school:  one drown and another was involved in a rather horrific auto accident.  A girl I’d dated for a year at the end of high school died a year after we broke up when her sister’s car spun out and flipped over into a drainage ditch.

There was also the occasional suicide popping up from time to time.  When I was about eight a second cousin of my mother’s decided she was going to take her two daughters for a ride, got them into the family sedan, and never left the garage.  There was no way I didn’t know about this because it was all over the Chicago news, print and television, at the time, and my mother didn’t stop talking about it for days.  As for the other suicides–well, they were attempts, and not successful ones at that, otherwise I wouldn’t be here typing this post.  Though I’ve not tried anything like that since the 1990′s, I did voluntarily check myself into a mental heath facility in 2008 for a “Forty-eight Hour Observation Stay”, which is a polite way of saying, “We’ll make sure you’re not given a chance to permanently hurt yourself.”  Actually, it was an interesting experience–I was roomed with a schizophrenic who kept telling the doctors he was okay because he’d found his cure in the Bible, and they could give him any test they wanted to try and prove him wrong, and I was hit on by a couple of women:  one wanted my opinion on whether I thought she’d make a good lesbian and should she castrate her boyfriend before doing so, and another girl kept trying to convince me to have sex with her, telling me, “You’re not that crazy, so it’ll be good ’cause I can trust you.”

Fun times, let me tell ya.

These are all little bits of my life experiences.  No mention of the time a “friend” beat me up because I wouldn’t dance with someone at a club–yeah, that sort of sucked.  But all of this come to mind when I’m writing.  All of this makes up little things that pull at my psyche when I’m dealing with characters.  I don’t think I have an interesting life, but I certainly have one that’s seen it’s fair share of bullshit.

I’m not the only one who’s been there.  A Clockwork Orange was written in three weeks by a highly intoxicated Anthony Burgess, who admitted that a lot of Alex’s story brought back memories of his wife’s rape, and drinking helped get the words out with a minimal amount of pain.  Harlan Ellison wrote in the preface of All the Birds Come Home to Roost of the terror he felt having to write, at an editor’s request, a short scene where the main character describes what his first wife–who was going insane–did that nearly drove him insane, because brought back all the memories of the things his first wife did that nearly drove him insane before she was committed to a facility for a while.  Stephen King mentioned that The Body may have resulted from from him witnessing a childhood friend being hit by a train, but damned if he can remember that happening even though other’s told him it did.

Writers put themselves into their stories, like it or not.  When they write about something horrifying or miserable or just downright cruddy happening to one of their characters, they’re usually pulling upon some well of memories.  They may remember these things clearly, or they may not.  They may not be affected by the retelling of the memories, or they may find themselves overwhelmed as they transfer the story from their mind to the page.  This last has happened to me:  there have been more than a few passages written over the last couple of years where I’ve had to stop and collect myself because the place from where I was pulling my inspiration was far too personal.

At the same time a writer shouldn’t be afraid to put all that shit out there for people to see.  A writer shouldn’t hold back; if you have something terrible to show, show it in all its gory glory.  I went through this when I wrote Couples Dance because of one scene in particular, one that I’ve never actually described–until now.  The scene involved three woman and a man in 1920′s Paris getting high on a combination of wine and drugs, and two of the women decided to pull the third woman into a ménage à trois.  In the process of getting their crazy freak on, the two woman who instigated this party begin dismembering the third woman while continuing to sex her up.  The person reading this account doesn’t know if it’s complete bullshit or not–the person who wrote the entry in his journal can be considered the most unreliable of narrators because he was higher than a kite at the time this all went down–but there’s also a nagging suspicion that it might just be the real deal.

I had trouble writing the scene at first because I thought it was a bit over the top.  And it is–face it:  it’s suppose to be.  Later I had trouble because I understood this craziness was coming out of me, and who wants to admit they can pen this sort of insanity and then head down to Burger King to pick up a Whopper with Cheese and a large Sprite like nothing out of the ordinary just went down.  After a few days I got good with the fact that there is a lot of craziness inside me, and in time it’s all gonna come out.

In the course of my life and work I know I’m going to offend people.  I know I’m going to say things that will piss them off.  But what I say or do won’t be racist–I lived through that shit with my family, and try as they might I abandoned their “If it ain’t White, it ain’t Right” ways.  It won’t be misogynist, because I love women and the more I slide into womanhood the more I understand the privileges they don’t share with men.  I’m damn sure not anti-LGBT–hey, some of my best characters are LGBT, and considering I was hangin’ with my trans support group last night, nah:  no hate there, people.

No, if I piss someone off it’s because I don’t give warnings about what’s coming.  I gave one today, and on other occasions I’ve given them as well, telling people if you have easily blown minds you might wanna step off the page and find something else to read.  Most of the time I’ll call things out as I see them, and and if people lose their shit over it–as has happened when I expressed the opinion that if you’re truly convinced that your characters actually write your story, and that they get into arguments over what they want to do, you should acquaint yourself with some high powered meds–then so be it.  I can’t protect every precious snowflake, and I don’t bother trying.

Writers shouldn’t be afraid to throw life out onto the page as raw as it comes.  They shouldn’t hold back.  They shouldn’t censor themselves.  You have to be more real than real; you have to show the nasty without a pretty little gauze curtain between you and the reader.  Be like Rick Grimes and rip out that bad guy’s throat with your teeth, because there are times when you just gotta lay it all out in black and white with red all over.

And should someone come back to you and say, “I’m offended by that!  You didn’t give me a warning it was coming!” then you should introduce them to Mr. Stephen Fry:

 

“It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what?”

[I saw hate in a graveyard -- Stephen Fry, The Guardian, 5 June 2005]”  (Article found on link, which details things he discovered while tracing his Jewish ancestry.)

 

I should point out that maybe people are offended by his statement.  Yeah, big surprise.  Could be worse–

I could have found an inspirational quote from Tyler Durden.


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Out of the Fire, Into the Dance

Not much writing wise got accomplished last night–and yet, there was.  It was a weird, raining night (not dark and stormy, mind you) and I had to door to my balcony open and my fleece jacket on while I did my nails and thought about writing scenes.  I kept walking from the computer to the balcony, where I would take in the night air–and the noise of the street twelve stories below–while I let my nails dry.  It’s a great way to think and let you mind work on ideas–

I worked on a story.  Only it wasn’t my current work in progress.  I was thinking along the lines of erotica, because I’ve reread some of the stuff I did years back and I’m interesting in publishing it under another name and seeing if this generates any cash.  Be my luck that I’ll end up selling big and I’ll spend the rest of my life writing all sorts of strange stuff for the masses to wank to.

But I believe Gore Vidal started out this way, so there are worse paths to follow.

I also spoke with a friend who read a few of those stories–I’d sent them her way Thursday night–and she told me she’d had a difficult time sleeping because, well, I apparently brought back sexy.  She’s also an illustrator, and she let me know she had a few ideas about a couple of the scenes, and she wanted to work up a few preliminary sketches to show.  I let her know that if I liked them I’d commission a few more for the story, and use them when I publish–which, honestly, I now feel is a bigger possibility that it was a few months before.

Which brings me back to the current work . . . the Great Cassie Novel on Hold.

Today or tomorrow I’m going to go into one of the scenes and rewrite part of it.  If I like what I see, I’ll move on to another scene which needs a rewrite after the previous rewrite didn’t feel right.  If I’m satisfied there, then I’ll move on to the new scene that need recreating, and then rewrite the scene that follows.

I know my focus there now, and I have a better feel for the characters.  I say I may start the rewrite today because I still have things to work out in the character map, and there’s a few things I want to do with Kerry as well.

The rewrite is coming, however, because yesterday was a Dance on a Volcano sort of day, and it was necessary to, as the lyrics say, get out of the night and out of the dark, into the fire and into the fight.  One as to make up their mind if they’re going to continue or just cut and run–and I decided there really isn’t any choice for me.  It’s finish the story in a form that isn’t going to embarrass me, and by that I mean I can live with the characters.  It won’t be an easy struggle, but I’m certain I’ll find my way through the death zone of expectations that didn’t pan out.

"Death zone my ass.  You wanna see a death zone?  Watch what I do with the whole London section."

“Death zone my ass. You wanna see a death zone? Watch what I do with the whole London section.”

The novel will get finished.  That’s all there is to that crap.  Just need to stop being worried and get through what needs to be done.

It’s dance on the volcano or die time.  I know where I want to go.


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The Highs and the Highers

Let’s just get this out of the way first thing in the morning:  mind mapping can be a huge amount of fun, but ultimately it can also be an enormous pain in the ass.  You’re trying to organize your thoughts on a page–and I use that term “page” liberally, because inside your computer your page can go on for a very long time.  Don’t believe me?  Look:

No, that's not the remains of a fly I swatted . . .

No, that’s not the remains of a fly I swatted . . .

That’s sixty-six notes I’ve made on a character time line while trying to deconstruct and rebuild this character, with Scapple zoomed out as far as I can take it.  As you can see, I have plenty of room in which to work.

And work I was.

Not as much as this time line would show, but it’s getting there.  I have my head where I want it now, and I’ve narrowed down some of the questions I need to ask.  I’ve also set aside room for Kerry, because in retrospection, he’s wrong, too.  At least in the opening chapters.  Oh, not the prologue:  he’s pretty much spot on there.  The whole London section–it’s wrong.  It’s really wrong.  Kerry has a computer:  who needs to go out?  That’s what Google Streetview is for!

Yeah, need to deconstruct him a little, because if there’s one thing I know about his, it’s that he’s emotional shut away from most everything.  So London . . . rewrite city, baby.  I hope to start getting to that on Sunday.  No really; stop laughing.

I’m actually feeling good about redoing this part.  I figured out a day trip inventory that’s really more to the liking of the kids, and it’s fun to roam all over London on The Maps (that’s what I’ll call it from now on) and see things that I shouldn’t have missed the first time.  But, hey:  first drafts are for your screw ups.  As James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”  (Paddy Chayefsky apparently said the same thing, so I’ll let them fight it out over who gets the real credit.)

Something else happened last night as well.  I was chatting up a friend, and we got to talking about some of my work.  It so happened–as writers often do–I spoke about some of my old erotica I’d written some ten years back, and how I was thinking of editing it and putting it out in ebook format to get comfortable among the dino porn and gay cuttlefish transformation stories.  (And if you read this blog regularly, you know those both exist.)

Being in something of a good mood I asked my friend if she wanted to see some of it.  She said yes.  I showed her the stories I had in pdf format with the artwork that had been drawn especially each of the tales.

I'd show you the real artwork, but it'd probably piss someone off, so here's something everyone can agree is completely safe.

I’d show you the real artwork, but it’d probably piss someone off if I did, so here’s something everyone can agree is completely safe.

And what I was told was, “This is really good writing, Cassie.”  Which it really was, even if it was totally fetish smut.  But after a long week of being down, feeling tired, and beating your head again the computer, you know what you, as a writer, needs?

To be told you’re good.

Those really are the magic words.  Try them on a writer friend and see what happens.


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Trials and Sombulations

There weren’t any last evening’s activities.  This whole weeks has found me struggling to stay awake after getting home from work, and there was no exception to this rule yesterday.  Work was something of a mind bender, and I even came down with a bit of a headache from all the concentrating needed to figure out why a program wasn’t working.

It’s enough to get you drinking if you wanted to drink . . . and there are plenty of times I want to drink these days.

But I did have the ability to think, however.  I couldn’t really write down what I was thinking, but I thought about thing anyway.  I wanted to go on my character design; I wanted to think about starting to write something I have developed, in my head, for a scene–

I couldn’t.  Not one word.

When those moments come around you begin to wonder “Is this from being tired, or am I ready to pitch this crap into the nearest bin?”  Those thoughts do run through my head a little these days, because that precious ego that I never really had was bruised, and I take a long time healing.  Not always a real long time, but it’s enough to push me into one of those quiet moments where I really want to walk away from things for a while.  Though the last time I did that, it was like ten years before I came back, and I don’t think I have another ten years left in me.

It all comes down to a matter of adaptation.  I need to make this character work, and I’m deconstructing her so I can put her back together.  There are some things I don’t like, or that bother me, about her personality, but that’s part of the character.  You have to work it out and own it, baby.

But in the haze that entered my mind about eight PM last night, I starting having my doubts if I could make it work.  If I could have this happen right.  Those doubty doubts:  I hate them.  You get them if you’re a writer, and when they come they play hell with you.

But then there’s the flip to that doubt.  If I got up and walked away from it all, if I said, “I’ve had enough of this bullshit, I need a break, I think I’ll take the next year off and think about never coming back to my writing,” that wouldn’t set well with a few people.  I can think of at least one person in particular who would react badly to that news, and all hell would break loose . . .

"You're upset because I've stopped writing!"  No, I'm not . . . just look at the flowers, Cassie.  Look at the flowers."

“You’re upset because I’ve stopped writing!  You are!” No, no I’m not . . . just . . . look at the flowers, Cassie. Look at the flowers.”

Okay, maybe not that bad, but there would be a lot of hurt feelings come out of it all.

I know what’s bringing on the tiredness I feel at night; I simply need to work through that.  Once that’s out of the way I can get my mind back on other things–

Like reconstructing the deconstructed.


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The Pounded Road

The evening wasn’t the right time to try and get things done:  I was pretty much out of it by the time I returned from work, and most of the time my brain was only dimly responding to stimuli.  I did listen to the Shrine Auditorium recording of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway while looking over notes, but the music sort of washed over me and left me calm, rather than bringing me inspiration.

You have nights like that.  Sometimes it’s best to lie back and take it as it comes to you, because to force the situation is to invite trouble.

But during the day there was a lot going on in my head.  Not just from fixing programs and the like, because that was going on–including a last minute fix that came to me about five minutes before I was to leave the office–but I do have moments of downtime, like . . . when I head off to the bathroom.  I always use the handicap/unisex washroom because it’s large, and there only room for one, so I’m alone with my thoughts, and there’s never any need of worry that people are going to freak if they hear me talking through lines in the other stall.

After all, some of the things I’m discussing with myself can be . . . scary.

And I also use the single bathroom to minimize the stench of decomposing flesh.  Damn those scary ideas.

And I also use the single bathroom to minimize the stench of decomposing flesh. Damn those scary ideas.

I managed to work out scenes that I knew needed rewriting in Act One.  The first one was suggested, and it made sense:  it’s when Annie is getting ready to head off to school and her father is in her room saying goodbye–but there is no mention of a certain boy that the whole family knows about because Darling Daughter has been dreaming about this kid for close to ten years.  And no father is going to mention this fact to his daughter?  Nope, nope, nope.

Then I was given a quick primer in Bulgarian family names and their gender suffixes by Jeno Marz, a fellow writer who knows a lot more about that sort of stuff than me.  I made some notes so when I came home I could look this up as well and make changes where needed, and sure enough:  the information had been there, I just didn’t bother checking.  Damn.  My research creed is straight in the crapper now.  But a huge thanks to Jeno, because getting it right is half the battle.

(This also makes me realize that Annie’s middle name is completely wrong, and that she also needed a patronymic, which I added–and which a certain smart-ass school sorceress will use without asking if she could use it.  Bad Mistress of All Darkness.)

Most importantly I removed a scene from the novel, because it’s not needed.  If you’re going to show and not tell, then when my kids are sitting in a dinner in Russel Square having lunch, a recapping of what they’d done would be far better than just telling people.  That’s another rewrite that’s needed.

But what about that new scene you said you were going to add, Cassie?  Well . . .

As the Magic 8 Ball says, “Ask again later.”  Like tomorrow.  See you then.


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No Rest For the Timid

There wasn’t much to get done yesterday.  I was falling asleep at work, I ended up walking home in the cold rain–and my walk is about a kilometer, or three-quarters of a mile–so by the time I arrived I wasn’t in the best of moods, and I was feeling a bit of a chill.  But there were packages waiting for me, and one of them were new jeans and a fleece jacket, and I had to try them on and check things out and get pictures and . . .

And by the time I finished doing all that and chatting with people, nine PM had rolled into town, and the brain wasn’t doing what it should do.  Never to mind.  It did a lot of that stuff earlier during the day, usually between moments when I was working on programs and going to meetings.

It’s how I pass my day when I’m working at my other life.

The other thing I’m into at the moment is mind mapping.  I’ve done this before, and talked about it on a few occasions.  These days I use Scapple–not because I work in Pennsylvania, but because it’s a good product.  Mind mapping is a good thing if you’re trying to work out something and you just don’t know how all the pieces fit together.  This isn’t the same thing as building a time line, though you can take the information here and build up your cause and effect–or your Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey ball of stuff if you’re in that sort of mood.

So I’m trying to rebuild a character, and I’m forty-eight notes of information into the process, and I’m still going.  I’m trying to be honest and saying the things that should be said from the questions being asked.  It’s from this that I’m trying to build the layers of the onion, and every so often it does make me cry–

 

This is your life in notes--I hope mine is more interesting.

This is someone’s life in notes–I hope mine is more interesting.

Why do you cry?  Because I’m not certain that I’m asking the right questions.  If you don’t ask the hard questions, you’re not going to get the good answers.  You’ll get crap.  You know:  garbage in, garbage out.  It’s just like a computer, only this crap is swirling about in your head before you put it on a page.

So I’m doing that.  I played out a couple of scenes in my head yesterday, because between panicky requests to make changes to a program, one needs to put their mind to other, more important things.  Like figuring out when Papa’s gonna ask about a certain boy, because he knows his only child is really off to school to meet this kid.  Or what someone does when they are the first off the elevator and they get strongearmed by their chaperon to take one for The Foundation and do something special.  I also realized yesterday that one of the new scenes I created in Scrivener isn’t needed:  that journey around London can be discussed while having lunch.  No need to tell everyone about it . . .

It’s taking time, but it’s all slowly coming together.

The real treat is when I start writing again.


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My Own Private Scouring

Sometimes you gotta get real and know when you gotta make changes.  There are times when you know something is wrong and you gotta make it right.

This is one of those times.

For most of the weekend my mind has been whirling about with what I need to do for Act One of my work in progress to make it better.  Right now it’s wrong, because one of the main characters is wrong.  There’s no focus on her; it’s all following and smiles, and it’s not the way she should be portrayed.  I’m not in a panic–no, not this time–but I have been thinking and working and even mapping.

Right now I have a Scrapple map set up with forty-five notes on the character, and I’ve got a ways to go.  It’s a going over that I didn’t get into the first time, and the nice thing about Scrapple is where you come up with something you throw down the notes and link it where you want to link it.  My mind maps usually look pretty neat, but that’s because I’m like that when I’m putting my things together.  The neatness gives me focus, and the focus helps me understand.

Besides, I’m good with maps.  Everyone knows that.

There are other things that need doing, however–and one of the nice things about Scrivener is, as a project planer, once you decide on where you want your story to go, you send it off in that direction.  So with that already in mind . . .

Sorry, little scenes, but you just don't go with the flow anymore.  It was nice knowing you.

Sorry, little scenes, but you just don’t go with the flow anymore. It was nice knowing you.

Yes, you throw up that big ‘ol “Delete” sign and pull those suckers out of there.  It’s not that big of a deal:  they were only about twenty-five hundred words, so it’s not like I’m killing off huge chunks.  But it’s the rewrites . . . yeah, I need that.  Why?  Because the first rewrite leads into the first new “To Do”, and the last To Do leads into the the final two rewrites.

That’s where focus changes.  That’s where I can show things a little differently, and bring another character out into the open.  Not just more, but show something else that I was trying to hide from the reader, but realized over the weekend that the something I was trying to hide was already sort of outted right away.  So why hide it?

Besides, the real goods don’t come until the kids get to the U.S. and they’re greeted at Logan International by a bunch of LaRouchies–as I was during my only visit to this airport–warning them of the dangers of the New World Order and how it’s going to force The Mark of the Beast upon them, and that darkness is pretty much gonna fall upon the land if we don’t go back on the gold standard.  Which, come to think of it, would make for a pretty good scene, since The Foundation is seen by some in my world as the New World Order, and having a few LaRouchies square off against a bunch of NWO witches, sorceresses, and spirit summoners might be fun–for a few seconds.

Onward and upward, I say.  The day awaits.


21 Comments

DNF

I’m something of a motor racing fan.  I used to try and keep up with Formula 1 and NASCAR back in the 1960′s and 70′s, and used to religiously watch racing on television before I realized there were other things I could do with the four or five hours I spent camping out watching people drive around an circles.  These days I generally check the stats on-line and leave it at that.

I used to love my GTR2 game, back when I had my Logictec G25 while with in-line shifter; I downloaded all the tracks and spent a lot of time tearing up the course.  I even finished the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, in the rain, driving 550 laps over the course of a week (you could save the game, which helped), and even did one fuel run in the dark with no headlights.  Never could complete the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though:  I was always blowing an engine right around the twelve hour mark, which tended to suck hard–though not as hard as the time I was running the 24 Hours of Hockenheim and lost the transmission of my Porsche at the twenty-two hour mark.

Good times, let me tell ya.

Not shown:  the time I barrol rolled my Masarati through Eau Rouge/Raidillon.  Who said virtual near-death experieneces can't be fun?

Not shown: the time I barrel-rolled my Lamborghini here through Eau Rouge/Raidillon. Who said virtual near-death experiences can’t be fun?

The expression used in racing to indicate a driver didn’t take the checker flag is “DNF”, otherwise known as Did Not Finish.  Crash out a hundred meters from the finish line on the last lap, and your standing will say DNF.  You didn’t make it, you didn’t end the race the right way, you may have managed some kind of standing, but you are DNF, love.  It’s a rare sort of driver who can crash out as they cross the finish line, have a car that’s not going to run ever again, and still win a race–just as Jeff Burton.

At the movement my current project is in a bit of a flux.  I’m wildly off the mark of what I wanted to do with one of the characters, and I’m back to the drawing board to try and get things amended.  The characterization is part way there, but I’m missing things, and my Points of View are all over the place.  And I realized last night that one bit of information that I gave to my beta reader–that I didn’t want to show too much about The Foundation before all the Normal kids arrived–well, child, I blew that shit right out of the water in the very first chapter, because if the reader is paying attention they’ll know something’s afoot, and it’s not normal.  If I’ve done this in plain sight, then what am I hiding?

Me being me there have been moments when I’ve thought about throwing up my hands and saying, “It was a good run, girl, but you gotta move on.”  Sure, a lot of writers get that way:  they hit a kind of wall, they feel everything is turning to shit, and they wanna bail.

I’m note a lot of writers.

I keep falling back to what Neil Gaiman has said, which in paraphrasing is, “Write.  Write every day.  Finish what you write.”  Sure, I could toss this story in the bin and mark it up to trying to write more than I was ready to write.  Egos do that sometime.  But I can’t, because I have something here.  It’s almost in place, but it needs changes.  And those changes will make it better–that is a fact.

I just gotta work through this.

I know I can.


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Hard Characterizations

There are moments when you’re writing that you wonder if you’re nuts for getting into this business.  You wonder if it’s normal to torture yourself to get out a story.  It’s not unusual to wonder if you’re losing your mind from time to time–or maybe that’s only me.

Last night I was on-line with my beta reader–well, one of them.  And we were talking on and off.  Mostly I was trying to rewrite a scene, and it was slow going, because there are distractions, but there are also things i’m trying to keep in mind as I go along.    And we start talking about the story, but in particular we start speaking of Annie’s part in the story.  Now, I know she know Annie well, because, in many ways, she’s Annie, so when she talks I try to listen.  I don’t always do it very well, but I try.

And what she had to say wasn’t pretty.  It wasn’t pretty because she was telling me I missed the mark on some things, and that she was there more or less as a decoration.  In short, I took someone who is suppose to be a main character and more or less shuffled her off to the background of Secondary Character land.

Did it hurt to hear this?  Yeah.  It hurt a lot.  No one likes being told that something they’ve just worked on for three months is really, totally flawed.  Was it true?

Every word of what she said was.  And I knew it.

She said, “Give your story a real read, not some bullshit read,” and I could, but since I’m so well tied into this story, I can see the goddamn words in my head, and they aren’t saying what I want them to say.  I can reread it all, but I know it’s going to back up everything she said last night.  There were other things said that rang true, and burned pretty hard, but that’s the way real truth hits you.  It’s not something you want to deal with, but if you don’t it’s gonna come back and bite you on the ass

"You rotten bastard of a software program!  How dare you show me what a piece of crap my story has become!"

“You rotten bastard of a software program! How dare you show me what a piece of crap my story has become!”

Another bit of advice I was gives was to create a character sheet for Annie, and to, in her worlds, “be painfully honest” about who she is.  But at the same time, I really need to do the same thing with Kerry, because there were thinks about him when I first started imagining him that didn’t come out as expected.

Like . . . he’s clueless.  Just like me.

You reach a point when you’re putting something together where you have to ask:  am I doing this story the right way because I’m so in love with my awesomeness, or am I doing this right because I want to get it right?  For me, I’ll take Door Number 2 every time.  As a once-famous director said about a movie he was filming, “If you can’t get it right, what’s the point?”  Of course at the time he said that he was knee-deep in cocaine, spending money likes there was no tomorrow to do things like tear down sets and rebuild them because the street just didn’t frame right, and was probably crazier than a shithouse rat throughout the whole experience (I know there are a few of you out there who know the person I’m describing).  But the feeling for creative people is a correct one:  do it right or don’t do it at all.

I got some work ahead of me.

Because I want to get it right.


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Clone Me Maybe

It was warm in the bed this morning and I really didn’t want to crawl out, but I had to because work and this–my blog.  Well, really, more the the blog, because all work is good for is paying the bills.  It’s not like I get any kind of stimulation from it other than the exercise walking to and from the local.

If you were here yesterday you’ll know I had a bit of a meltdown Wednesday night.  If you’re here today, you’ll know things are much better.  These things happen, and this one happened in part to a combination of situations that brought up a bunch of bugaboos in my head.  Yes, that is a technical term, so you can trust me.  Your mind can kill you, and mine has done of good job of trying that for–oh, maybe fifty years now?

The walk to work was refreshing.  The morning was bright and quiet, I didn’t feel bad, I was taking in the fresh air, and I had the song Borderline running in my head.  Why?  Because I’d picked it up after reading something on one of the blogs I follow, and that’s how I role with the earworm.

But this tune got me thinking, and by the time I rolled into work I had a question that needed answering.  So I shot it off to my beta reader and Trusty Editor(tm):  what is the soundtrack of Annie’s life?  What music defines her?  This I had to know, because I was getting my inner Tatiana on–

Allow me to explain.

Though I didn’t pick it up on the first run, I am a big fan of the show Orphan Black.  (And you should be, too, but that’s a different story.)  It’s the story about a lovely lady who discovers she’s really a bunch of lovely ladies, one of a batch of clones born in 1984.  She leans this when one of her clones takes The Big Dive right in front of her, and Sarah, the clone the story revolves around, ends up taking over that woman’s life.  And in the process he discovers she’s also a soccer mom living in the same city, and an American student, and a German rocker, and a crazy Ukrainian bitch who wants to kill everyone, and . . . well, it just goes on and on.

One of the things the main actress, Tatiana Maslany, does to get into the character of the women she’s playing was to create playlists of songs for each character.  So when she’s getting made up for Sarah, she listens to The Clash, Dizzee Rascal, and the Streets; when she’s Helena’s it’s Antony and the Johnsons and Tom Waits; Cosima is Grimes and electro/Diplo music, and Alison is show tunes, Les Miz and West Side Story.  She puts on the music and gets into the grove, and that’s what allows her to play three different people all sitting around wondering what they’re going to do with their lives.

If the three people sitting around getting hammered on wine are all you, do you get wasted that much faster?

If the three people sitting around getting hammered on wine are all you, do you get wasted that much faster?

When I had the chance I role played out a scene between Annie and Kerry, one that I’d written back in November and was told was lacking something–namely, Annie didn’t feel right.  Since I used to role play a lot–and most of that almost meant I was the game mistress–I’m good at doing different characters because I had to be.  So that came into play, and by the time I arrived back at the apartment, I had a good idea about the interaction.

Then the email came, and I had three tunes, and the first one, I was told, was probably the best one to describe Annie meeting Kerry for the first time in person.  (I’ll leave that “in person” dangling here . . .)  So I started rewriting, taking my time, getting things the way I thought they should . . .

And when my editor came on and read the part I’d finished, she was like, “You got it!”  She loved the new action, and the new Annie.

I’ve been tired and under a lot of strain the last few months, and it’s shown in my writing.  A lot of adverbs need to go bye-bye, so they gotta go.  But I need to relearn things, to be more descriptive, to roll back into the role playing, get it out there me.

My characters are different, but they aren’t their own real people.  They are me, and I have to live them.

Otherwise they’ll never have a life of their own.

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