The Future Without Shades

First off, Happy Flight 19 Day!  If you’re not sure what that is, pick up Close Encounters of the Third Kind and watch the opening where the sun came out at night to sing.  You can also read about them here.  Just remember:  anyone can get lost on a dark and stormy night, especially us writers and post World War II fliers.

Second, if you were expecting to see another excerpt today, sorry to disappoint you.  I got home last night pretty much burned out and not feeling good, and since I had something else to work on, I got into that for more than a few hours.  By the time I got around to my writing time I couldn’t really get the scene started, and the hundred or so words I did write seemed pretty weak.  So I’ll recharge as best I can today and start on it tonight, because things are gonna get said in this scene, and a few more secrets will pop out.

"And then Kerry loses it and kills his whole family!"  "Really?"  "Do I look like I'd lie?"

“And then Kerry loses it and admits the real reason he’s going to the hospital all the time!” “Really?” “Do I look like I’d lie?”

And that last part brings up the third part here, the telling of secrets.  If you’ve been following the comment sections for the last couple of months, you’ll see I’ve been engaged in a conversation with one of my readers over this novel–in particular, there’s been a whole lot of questions about Annie’s and Kerry’s relationship.  Some of the questions have made me thing, some have made me smile, some have made me sad, and some I’ve laughed out loud after reading them.  But there seems to be one answer that I inevitably come back to almost every day:

“I can’t answer that because it hasn’t happened yet, and if I did, I’d give things away.”

That’s really one of the hardest things I have going for me in this series, because I have pretty much meta-plotted out a lot of the story for like–well, actually, decades.  It’s one of the reasons I have a time line that goes out beyond a hundred years of their lives, because I needed to know how they lived, how their friends around them lived, and eventually how they all died.  I’m like that because I’m a bit strange, right?  I mean, who knows their characters to death–and beyond?

Along the way over the last three years I’ve let slip a few things here and there.  We know Kerry will come out as a witch at the end of his B Levels.  We know that Annie and Kerry end up in the middle of Russia in the middle of the night and see an aurora–I actually had two blog posts on that.  Back in December of 2011 I first mentioned The Polar Express, a trip Kerry goes on for a weekend, and I left clues here and there that Emma is his wingmate on that flight.  All the way back in March of this year I wrote about an event where Annie and Kerry will be tested during their C Levels, and they’ll leave the school and head to the land of Walker Chow and hope they don’t end up the same way.  I’ve even mentioned, in sort of an off-hand way, that Annie and Kerry tour Europe one summer while they’re between levels.

That’s just a little of what’s a huge story–

Oh, and I mentioned I know what happens to them after they die.  Yeah, I even went there.

I’ve sometimes had to become a bit of an unreliable narrator so that I don’t give anything major away, and some of the things I have mentioned are painted in real broad strokes–I mean, okay, the kids go on a summer tour of Europe.  But what else do you know?  Not much, really.  I know it all, however, and sometimes I really want to spill it–but I can’t.

I have tons of notes and all my time lines, and a couple of months because I actually left written instructions on where all that stuff goes if something should . . . well, we know what I’m going to say.  Some lucky person gets the legacy of all this unfinished work, and what they do with it–if anything–is up to them.  They’ll get a huge first novel and then a lot of information on what could have been, and if they want they could give it all a go and write all that stuff out.

Or probably not.  I mean, I could easily have a good fifteen years ahead of me, writing full-time, getting all the story out.  Assuming it ever got published and read.

The future is there, and even though it’s bright I don’t need shades to see it.  All I gotta do is start up my computer, look over a few things, an instantly be transported to a world of my own creation.

I do wonder, sometimes, if someone else I want to show around will ever go there with me . . .

Travels of a Crocheting Groupie

Over the years I’ve done some strange posts.  I’ve written about a variety of things, most of them revolving around writing, but sometimes I go places and do things that are interesting to others.  And there have been times when I’ve reveled things about myself that have surprised and sometimes shocked people.

This post . . . it’s a little of everything.  A tail of travel to exotic movie locations, a look at things on a long journey, and a bit of strange, personal information about me.

So, let’s get to the full disclosure:

I am a crocheting groupie.

I’ve been a member of a group on Facebook, HodgePodge Crocheting, for as long at the group has been around.  Why, you ask?  Do you crochet?  No, I am not a hooker, which is what we call someone who does.  Then why are you there?  Because my bestest friend, Tanya, owns the group, and she included me in the group when she put it together.  In fact, there are only three other people who joined before me, and the owner of the group is one, so there.

For the longest time I was a private groupie, because I wasn’t out as a woman yet, and the thousands of people in the group–yes, that’s true, we’re over three thousand strong–weren’t aware of my status as a transwoman.  But one day I jumped in on a question about gender identity in young kids, and that was it:  I was off and running.

These days I’m the Memestress and Keeper of Helena, our own Drama Llama, one of the Lorekeepers of TARDIS Knowledge, and a member in good standing.  I’ve also been promising to show off our groupie tee shirt . . .

See, a while back we sold tee shirts to our members, one with the group logo and the wording that proclaimed that we were proud HodgePodge Groupies.  Many members have already shown theirs, and I was getting questions about when I was going to show mine.  The answers were always the same:  I’m going to show it soon, and I’m going to do it at a famous movie location.

A couple of weeks ago, it was time to get to some picture taking.

To get to where I needed to go was gonna take some time, so I headed out early, pretty much as the sun was coming up, and began driving west:

Look:  mountains ahead!

Look: mountains ahead!

As you can see the Pennsylvania Turnpike is curving up into the mountains.  Just behind that “Blue Mountain” sign is the first of four tunnels I needed to traverse.  There are two just on the other side of the sign, then another about ten miles beyond that, and then further to the west, the Allegheny Tunnel, which is the longest on the turnpike.

Now, what do I do when I’m out driving for long periods of time?  Wouldn’t you know it, I shot a video!  First off, it’s not the car moving, it’s the camera:  I was holding it in my right hand while I drove with my left, and kept the vehical on cruise control.  The music is loud because that’s usually how I keep it when I’m driving.  Don’t try this at home, kids:  I’m a professional.  And at about forty-four seconds you’ll probably notice some caterwauling which is me doing my best to sing.

My best isn’t that good.

Beyond that is Sideling Hill–a place I visited last year–and this place:  Breezewood, home of a lot of places to stop and eat, as well as Gateway to the Abandoned Turnpike.

You should see this place at night--I have.

You should see this place at night–I have.

I needed to get a bit of breakfast and some coffee, and since I was running just a little ahead of schedule, it was a good place to relax and decompress.  Because I had a long ways to go to get to my first stop . . .

Right here, just south of Pittsburgh.

I heard the shopping here was a little "dead".

I heard the shopping here was a little “dead”.

I know more than a few of you are saying or thinking, “Cassie, why’d you drive half way across the state to visit a shopping mall?”  Because this isn’t just any shopping mall:  this is a famous movie location.  Monroeville Mall was the location for the filming of the original Dawn of the Dead, the second of the original George Romero zombie movies, released in 1978.  Filming took place from ten PM until 6 AM; at which point the mall Muzak came on and since no one knew how to switch it off, that was a wrap.

Since I was in the area I thought, hey, stop in and look around.  See if any of the undead are still around . . .

Zombies?

Zombies?

Yoo hoo?  You around?

Yoo hoo? You around?

Calling all Walkers.

Calling all Walkers.

Since it's fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles.

Since it’s fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles when they’re undead.

The mall has changed a great deal since 1978:  new stores, new look, probably even a layout change here and there–though the food court still looked pretty funky, so I gotta wonder if there’s been many updates there.  Since I didn’t see any zombies, I bought a pair of boots and a pair of flats.  Because . . . shopping.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

But this isn’t where I really wanted to show myself wearing my groupie tee shirt.  I said I was doing it at a famous movie location, and I knew just the place.  Because before you can have a Dawn, you need a Night . . .

Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a genre changer, it was a genre maker.  Before this movie zombies were some drugged-out losers controlled by a bokor.  Everything that we know and love about zombies started with this moving, and while many have added to the mythos, without this little film you wouldn’t today have a guy on TV running around drilling zombies with a crossbow, a woman lopping off heads with a katana, another guy running around yelling “Coral!” and a woman who wants you to just look at the flowers.

Romero started the zombie apocalypse with a virus brought back from space (just like Robert Kirkman would lie about a few decades later when he pitched The Walking Dead and said the zombies were begin created by aliens) and before you knew it, the dead were crawling around looking to add to their numbers and fill their bellies at the same time.  He didn’t have a lot of money for filming, and he pretty much had to just shoot wherever he could–like an hour up the road from Pittsburgh in Evans City.

All of the shooting took place outside a house that is no longer standing, and inside a house right inside town that is still there.  But George needed some place special for the opening shots, which would involve–what we didn’t know at the time–the first attack by a zombie on a living person in cinematic history.

Where would you do that?  Where do you think?

"I need dead people.  Where's a good place to find them?"

“I need dead people. Where’s a good place to find them?”

Welcome to the Evans City Cemetery, and that sign in the above photo was in the movie.  This is it:  Ground Zero for Zombie History, because up the winding road and at the top of the hill is where George filmed Barbara and her douchey brother Johnny visiting their father’s grave before Johnny stupidly joins the ranks of the undead.

Here’s the small chapel in front of which Johnny and Barbara stopped:

It looks a lot better when it's not in black and white.

It looks a lot better when it’s not in black and white.

Here’s the lucky couple paying their respects:

Johnny can't even remove his driving gloves.

Johnny still being a douche, however.

And the site today:

Much better in color.

Much better in color.

And then Mister Don’t Say the Zed Word shows up and Barbara trying to escape from the horror:

Run, Barbara, Run!

Run, Barbara, Run!

And almost forty-five years later, Cassidy is trying to do a Barbara.

Zombies?  Are you there?  This is Cassidy.  Come and get me.

Zombies? Are you there? This is Cassidy. Come at me, bros.

Famous movie locations:  since a lot of my friends, Tanya among them, are huge Walking Dead fans, where better to show off my HodgePodge Groupie tee shirt than the site of the first cinematic zombie attack.  And am I worried I’ll be attacked by the undead?  No.  Not only because it’s a bright, sunny day, but . . .

Back off, Walker dudes:  I got my hooks.

Back off, Walker dudes: I got my hooks.

And I bought a big one just in case things get serious:

I'd be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana.  And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I’d be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana. And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I even managed to get my get my favorite traveling companion in one shot, my trusty CR-V with almost 150,000 miles on the odometer.

 

A girl and her car can't be seperated.

A girl and her car can’t be separated.

So there you have it:  travels to Zombieland, with stop-offs for breakfast on the way out:

Good morning!

Good morning!

And a stop for pumpkin spice latte on the way back:

Here

Good afternoon.

All that took place two weeks ago, on a Sunday, the 14th of September.  But I wasn’t quiet done . . .

See, today–the day of this post–is my friend Tanya’s birthday, and one of the things I wanted to do was wish her a happy birthday in a special way.  Because she’s . . . well, she’s a friend like no other, and you do lovely things for those friends.  I had intended to film a message for her while I was snapping pictures back in Evans City, but then realized, “Nope, I’m in the zombie graveyard, I need a better place.”  Which brings me a little closer to home:  near my apartment, down in Riverside Park right by the river.

So, without further ado, my birthday greeting.

And there you have it:  the travels of a crocheting groupie out to show off her tee shirt to not only her friends in her group, but to her friends on this blog . . . and most importantly, to try and make today a special day for my friend and, in many ways, my creative muse.

Until next year . . .

Killer of Dreams

Writing is a hard business.  Not just the publishing end of it, but getting down in front of the computer or your typewriter, or even your paper, and you gotta put those words down, one after another, and you keep doing it until you finish the damn thing.  Start, write, finish.  That’s the deal.

Sometimes, however, that becomes easier said than done.  Things wear at you; things tear you down.  We all know stories about authors who are just one step away of completely losing they minds–or, in the case of a few, having lost it completely and they decided to write though the madness.

That’s how I’ve felt for a while; that I was writing though some madness that wouldn’t leave me alone.  It just gnawed at me like a beast picking you apart slowly but surely.

And last week it nearly won.

I had a hard time of things last Friday, and was pretty much at my wit’s end for more than a few things.  It was a tough time, and if not for the help of a lot of friends who came to my aid, I might still be rolling through that madness.

I haven’t forgotten what happened, and I’m truly moving ahead to make things better.  But last night . . . I had some thoughts I had to get out.  Thoughts that weren’t going to stay quite any longer.

I’ve been playing with video a lot of late, and getting some of the things I’ve said uploaded to a YouTube account.  I’ve had fun it with, because it’s a different medium and there’s things that come out on video that you can’t hide unless you’re a very good actor.  I’m not a very good actor; when it comes to my emotions, things tend to come spilling out these days, because hormones jack with you like you wouldn’t believe.

I put a twelve minute video together last night, after the television and computer were off, and talked a little about the state of mind I’ve labored under for a while.  It’s a hard video; there’s a lot of feeling in my voice, there’s true feelings coming out, and more than a few tears come out.  I don’t mind that last, because tears are good.  They mean I can’t hold back, and given how things keep welling up inside these days, I don’t want to keep them in.  I gotta let them out.

Jim Butcher was the one who, a few years ago, said giving up on writing is the same as killing your dreams, and there are no truer words spoken.  I mention that in the video, and you can see how it makes me feel to think about doing just that.  It’s a thing I’ve done before, and I know others have as well.  I’m a firm believer these days that dreams should never die, because without your dreams, what do you have left?

Watch if you like, but be warned:  it’s pretty raw.  That’s how stream of thought is–it’s real, and it just comes at you.

Like life.

But if it helps other writers out there articulate what they also feel from time-to-time, then I’ve done something good.

That’s what really counts.

From the Space and Time to the Sensuality

First there will be some geek talk, and then I’m Bringing Back Sexy in an open and honest way.  If you don’t want the sexy, read the two paragraphs after this one and bid the page Audios!  No harm, no foul, and You Have Been Warned.

Onward.

 

 

For the last few days I’ve found myself in some rather interesting conversations.  Naturally, because of my geeky nature, and those of others I know, we’ve chatting up a lot of Doctor Who this week because it’s time to come up with another Doctor, and for us who are into this sort of thing, we like to talk about it.  It also helps that BBCA has been running shows all week, so that gives us the opportunity to re-watch episodes that we’ve already seen a dozen times, and snark on about what we like and what we don’t like.

"Seriously, she thinks Rose is the best?  I'm gonna have to set this bitch straight, won't I?"

“Seriously, she thinks Rose is the best companion? I’m gonna have to set this bitch straight:  that’s what The Internet is for!”

It’s been a lot of fun chatting this stuff up, particularly since I consider myself to not only be an expert on the show–because I’m old and from Chicago, which was one of the only places that used to air the show in North America in the 1970’s and 1980’s–and because I’ve personally turned a few people onto the show over the years and made them nearly as geeky as me.  Nearly, I say.  That means when the lowdown on trivia is needed, and information is required for aspect that elude others, I’m the Go To Girl for All of Time and Space.  Just call me Idris, because I may as well travel around like that.

It’s a lovely diversion, but it’s not the only one . . .

‘Cause now comes Sexy Time.  You want more?  Come on in.

 

You ready?  Let’s go, let’s go.

 

. . .

 

. . .

 

. . .

 

There’s another conversation I’ve been falling into as well, and that’s something we, in the one group I’m in–are calling our “Sex Education Talk.”  Though “sex education is really a bit of a misnomer:  it’s more like the ladies getting together and talking about kinky-ass sex–in some cases actual kinky ass sex.  It’s really been all over the place, particularly in the area of toys, which seem to get used a lot.  I don’t have a problem with toys, or lotions, or wearing articles of clothing to help ramp up the passion and sensuality, or just the out-and-out Let’s Get Down and Bang This Gong feeling that’s gonna hit in any second now.  Particularly this last, because if they’re one thing I love, it’s sexy clothing or night gowns, or even a bit of fetish wear if you can find some that (a) fits and (b) doesn’t feel like you’re encased in something unyielding.  Unless that’s exactly what you want . . .

"Hi, honey.  Guess what's for dinner?  Tacos!  You better say yes if you know what's good for you--"

“Hi, honey. Guess what’s for dinner? Tacos! You better say ‘I’m so hungry’ if you know what’s good for you–“

It’s refreshing to sit and read some of the things my lady friends have experienced, some of the wildness they’ve gotten into, and some of the advice they have for those who may be less experienced in this area.  Because if there’s one thing we’re not open about is sex.  Particularly these days, when you have buttheads running for public offices who say watching women walk around topless will lead to men becoming gay.  Dude:  projection is a total bitch.  You should do something about that.

I haven’t said much about sex in the group simply because most of what I know these days ends up on the printed page.  Sure, I’ve written erotica, most of which is pretty strange, and probably goes well beyond anything my friends would ever consider–unless it is their total kink to turn into a human-like centaur with the fully functioning genitals of both genders, and then have a couple of women get down on them.  Then they’re right up there in my ballpark, ’cause that’s how my mind works.

I am happy to know sexy is alive and well with all kinds of people, but I’m also a little saddened because it’s not something I experience.  Intimacy is something I haven’t known in some time, and likely isn’t in the cards for some time to come.  That’s kinda of choice, and it’s . . . well, complicated, just like time travel.  The reasons for it I won’t divulge, but needless to say depression played a part there, a singular lack of love played another part–and these days I’m so uncomfortable with my body that it’s difficult for me to think about getting intimate with myself.

I’ve had the “sex talk” with my HRT doctor.  We’ve discussed the changes I’m going through, which is really nothing short of Puberty Mk 2.  My doctor is also trans, so she’s been through the same thing I’m going through, and had some advice for “exploring,” if we wish to call it that.  My reactions are decidedly feminine these days; stimulation starts in different places within the body than where they happened before.  There are physical reactions now that were never present in the past, and with continuing hormone treatment those reactions will become more pronounced and intense.

I did reassure my doctor that I wasn’t about to go running around town looking to score because that’s never been my style.  I’ve always been tentative about meeting other people face-to-face, and I’ve always been uncomfortable about my body and putting it on display for others.  Even more so now, because with the physical changes I’m also experiencing the insecurity that comes with those changes.

While I would love to get a sexy night gown and feel good about myself, I’m afraid I wouldn’t, just because it’s hard for me to feel that way.

This is my idea of sexy night gowns, though my sack of potatoes body wouldn't look nearly as nice in this one.

This is my idea of sexy night gowns, though my sack of potatoes body wouldn’t look nearly as nice.  Also, I’ll do without the Hello Kitty slippers as well.

It’s taking time to get to the place where I’ll be as comfortable talking about vibrating rings and beads and schoolgirl outfits as my friends–though I really sort of see myself as the domineering Headmistress in the corset dress wearing her shiny black boots, so watch out, girls.  That doesn’t mean I can’t write about it, and I have developed some good ideas that could turn into short, hot stories.  And once I’m though with this monster of a novel I could just do that–

Or maybe I should jump in and write about a woman who spends so much time in a sexy crocheted body suit that she just can’t find the time to take it off–

Hey, you should hear some of my other ideas.

Where the Wild Feels Are

A funny thing happened on the way to the hormone treatment . . .

Let’s back that up just a little bit, because most of this happened long before I started hormones, long before I started writing.  Actually, it started when I was a kid.  I was what you’d say, “emotional.”  That’s what parents say when you cry a lot.  And I used to cry a lot.  Like all the time.  Stub my toe?  I’d cry.  Didn’t like what I was wearing?  I’d cry.  Weather changed?  I’d cry.  Though I loved the rain.  I loved to take walks in the rain, because it was so relaxing . . .

There are some who’d read that and say, “Wow!  Sounds just like a girl.”  Duh.  You’re catching on, aren’t you?  Yeah, that was one of those things, back when I was about seven or eight, when I realized that, in the immortal words of Micheal Jackson, I’m not like the other boys.  It used to drive my parents nuts.  My father hatted it, and my mother–well, she didn’t like it, either, and used to yell at me all the time to stop “acting like a girl.”  And, hey:  it worked!  Oh, wait . . .

The upside of all this marvelous treatment was a lot of depression and teaching myself to keep my emotions locked down.  Because one never knew when I might just bust loose with a laugh or a sob or a smile or a cry.  This was the sort of hell I went through in high school, and then later on in adult life.

I got to the point where I was “emotionally unavailable,” which is another way of saying I just shut everything down.  And because of that, I was always pairing up with people who were either the same way–or, as a person once pointed out, a lot like my mother in that they were critical of everything I did.  I was not good with relationship; I was not good with telling people how I felt.  To a certain extent I’m still like that in that I’m a private person–says the blogger spilling this all out at six-thirty AM.

About 2011 this all started changing.  Why?  Because I decided to start talking about my “secret” and I finally came out to a friend.  And they didn’t run away.  Another thing was happening then:  I was getting in touch with my emotions once again, which was a double-edge sword, because while it’s easy to talk of love and happiness, you can also fall into the pit next door which is sadness and pain.  But it’s all worth it, because, in the end, you’re feeling again.  You’re not some semi-dead hunk of flesh sitting in front of a computer waiting for the end to arrive sooner than later.  You’re alive; you’re writing again.

That’s really what opened up my writing:  being able to feel.  You can only pretend to write about people in relationships with other people for so long and not feel what that’s like before you understand that what’s coming out of you are words devoid of passion.  They are dead, just like the person writing them.

I’ve had people tell me that they love the romance developing between Annie and Kerry.  I’ve already said it’s a grand one, and it’s one that will build in time.  Last night I was thinking of a scene for Act Three, and while I realized that some people who’d read it would think, “Are you crazy to say this?” I don’t think it’s strange at all.  It’s sweet, it’s touching–and at the same time, it’s torturing a person who is deeply in love.  Because it’s what happens sometimes.  And why are they tortured?  Because they’re afraid they’re pulling someone all the way into their love in a way they might not want.

That's the problem with knowing people in supernatural stories:  you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you're afraid they don't want to be there.

That’s the problem with love in supernatural stories: you put someone in your heart, and before you know it, you’re afraid they don’t want to be there.

I’ve come to realize over the last week or so that my emotional responses are changing again.  They’re not going away:  oh, no.  They’re dialing up; they’re getting more intense.  They’re also becoming what I might call a bit more personal and even maternal.  The one thing I have noticed, and it’s something I confirmed through research–my stress levels are not defined by my job or by money:  they’re defined by my relationships.  Or lack there of if you wanna put it that way.  But the thing that make me the most loopy these days is love.  I do feel it:  for my characters and for myself.  You can blame it on the demon lady hormones taking over my body.

My therapist says I’m tortured–probably just like a certain person in a monster of a novel I’m writing.  I’m not as bad as that, but I will admit to crying before falling asleep, and crying as I was getting up?  Why?  Because I love someone.  They mean the world to me.  They are the person I would die for if the zombies were coming and she needed saving.

But they are not with me, not at the moment.

Will that happen?

You have to wait and see.  You never know what will happen tomorrow.

But I believe you already!

Don’t worry:  I believe you.

Through the Door of Imagination

Coming to the end of my scene last night–and I should mention, the end of Chapter Sixteen as well–I wrote this final paragraph:

 

(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Erywin sat staring at the empty chair across from her, fingers tapping against both arm rests. “There’s something we, the instructors, say—” She slowly turned her head so she was looking at both children. “—that pertains to both teaching and counseling, Annie. ‘We can show you the door; we can even hold it open for you. But you have to be willing to step through to see what’s on the other side’.” Erywin rose, straightening her pajamas. “She insisted there isn’t anything on the other side, and that’s as far as I can take her.” She respectfully bowed her head. “Have a good evening, children.”

 

I use the symbolism of a door a lot in this novel.  Passing through one door to another and finding something incredible waiting.  This was the end of Kerry’s Evaluation and Assessment:

 

He nodded slowly. “Okay, Doc.” He looked for the exit. “How do I get out of here?”

The doctor nodded at something behind him. “Go out the patio doors.”

Kerry turned and started walked towards them. After three steps he stopped and turned. “There really isn’t a patio out there.”

“There is if you want one.” She gave him a knowing look. “You’re going to find out that around here vision and willpower—and knowing how to apply them correctly—go a long ways towards making things you want happen.” Again she nodded toward the doors. “Go on, Kerry. Enjoy what’s waiting on the other side.”

 

Kerry did, and slipped right down into the rabbit hole.  Annie did much the same for hers:  she walked through one door, found she had to walk through another to meet with her adviser–and ended up telling a multi-millenniums old creature that she could stuff it, she was there at school for her reasons and her reasons only, and to hell with everything else.  What did she get for her troubles?  Shown to another door which should have lead to a nice, comfy bed–which in a way it did, where she said something to a certain doctor/nurse, and that led to questions and answers and reveals and . . . well, the start of something great.

Annie did the same thing to Kerry in London.  When she suggested he come with her on a walking tour of London, she didn’t say, “Pack your shit, Welsh Boy, we’re going out.”  No, she asked, “Would you like to do something? Would you like to go somewhere with me, Kerry?”  She showed him the door, but in the end, he had to decide to walk through and investigate the wonders she was about to show him.

Writing a story, a novelette, a novella, a novel–when you start they’re all like standing before door, wondering what you should do.  The door is the idea, but what is on the other side–that’s your imagination.  What you’re going to find on the other side . . .

Hey, you gotta open it first.

Hey, you gotta open it first.

What you’ll find is a room full of jumble.  Plots, characters, scenes–they are everywhere.  It’s the way things are.  Stories are a messy thing, there’s stuff all over the place.  But if you work that idea enough, if you think about your characters and where you want them to go, what you want them to do, what sort of adventures they’ll have–in time, you’ll tidy up that room, get things in order, and eventually produce something.

Or as Dwayne Johnson might put it:

 

When you walk up to opportunity’s door, don’t knock.  Kick that bitch in, smile, and introduce yourself.

 

And then start moving things about and getting that story in shape.

I’m always thinking about my stories.  If not the one I’m on, then the next.  Though this time is different:  I’m eight months into writing, 201,101 words into the story, and I might have another six, seven, eight months of writing ahead of me.  I’m going to make a push to knock off twenty thousand more words by the end of July and get extremely close to the end of Act Two–and then I’m gonna start editing another novel, because publishing, that’s why.

I think all the time about my stories, my characters, where I want them.  It’s a non-stop thing.  Once I’m through that door I have to stay and get things done.  That’s why you get a little crazy writing, because you want out of that room, but you can’t leave until you finish.

But not everyone is like me, wanting to write grand, sweeping novels.  Some people are really good with short stories.  The process is the same, the time frame is a lot different.  And keep in mind, there’s writing, and there’s editing.  Writing starts the story; editing builds upon that foundation, allows you to correct what isn’t right.  No story is perfect on the first draft:  I know this all to well.  Keep polishing.  Make it pretty.  In time, you’ll get it there.

Your stories are waiting on the other side of a door.  I’ve shown you that door–

It’s up to you to go on through.

Outrunning a Sunset of Feelings

After a long day of getting up, blogging, packing, and driving, I’m finally back at Casa Burg, aka my Harrisburg home away from home.  Unlike when I left The Burg a week before, I kept caffeinated where necessary, and alternated between working out scenes with my characters, and playing music real loud.

And having a Butterbeer Frappachino, only because someone said I had to try it.  Well, she didn't say, "Try it," but you know what I mean.

And having a Butterbeer Frappuccino, only because someone said I had to try it. Well, she didn’t say, “You have to try it,” but you know what I mean.

One of those magic moments I had on the return home was watching the sky turn a deep blue before setting into black not long after passing through the Allegheny Tunnel.  I was playing REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi at a comfortable but you-can-feel-the-music volume, and there were certain songs that simply hit me a certain way.  I’d had that happen a couple of times on these trips to and from The Burg to The Vall, but they usually hit me hardest when I’m zipping along a twisting turnpike at seventy miles per hour, or one hundred and twelve kilometers per hour, which makes it sounds like I’m on a road course.

The coming of the night brought out some unusual feelings for me.  Feelings for others, feelings about my work, feelings about others close to me.  There was a lot of crazy shit bouncing about in my head for most of the trip, but during that three hour run through the mountains and the tunnels, I think I was as close to epiphany-grade thinking as I’ve ever gotten.

One of the scenes I played with on the way back is something that happens in this novel, right near the end as one of the last scenes in the book.  In fact, I can say with certainty it’s not the penultimate scene, but the one before that, whatever “Two Scenes Before the Last” is called.  (I looked it up, of course, and that is called the antepenultimate or propenultimate scene.  You can thank me anytime.)  It’s when Annie and Kerry return to Amsterdam after leaving school, and being reunited with . . . in Annie’s case her mother picks her up, and in Kerry’s Ms. Rutherford comes to collect him.  One has family, one doesn’t.  One can talk about being a witch all they like to their witch of a mother–and I mean that in a good witch way–and one can’t say a word about what really happened the past year at the strange, hidden school in the middle of Cape Ann.

Kerry gets introduced to Mama, there is pleasant small talk, and then it’s time for the Annie Family to hit the road.  Annie and Kerry say their finally goodbyes for the year in front of the adults, and then handle the emotional impact in their own way . . .

Annie internalizes most everything except with the right people.  Mama is not the “right people,” and the last thing she’d ever talk about with her is how walking away from Kerry is making her feel.  It’s been a strange, hard, first year, and leaving her Ginger-haired Boy behind is tearing her up inside.  She won’t show it, though.  She’ll get home, great her father, have dinner, and go to her lake house where she’ll sadly reflect her loss.

Kerry’s not like that.  Before coming to school he’d kept his emotions shut down, and only on certain occasions for a certain someone would he actually reveal what he felt.  But not anymore.  In the last few days of school he’s discovered that love and pain go hand-in-hand, and watching the person you’ve been attached to for more than nine months walk off complete in the knowledge that when you wake up tomorrow morning she won’t be there to greet you, to share meals with you, to walk hand-in-hand with you–

He loses it in the airport.  Major crying jag, has to hold on to Ms. Rutherford because he needs that human touch, and she helps calm him, gives him words of encouragement, and helps clean him up because she doesn’t want his parents to see him that way, distraught over having to “spend the summer without his special love.”

And what happens after that?

You know, one day I will get around to writing those last two scenes . . .