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.

Firmly Upon the Upward Path

Here we are, the penultimate weekend.  As of last night I had only ten thousand words remaining in my edit of Her Demonic Majesty, and given that I have a whole lot of nothing ahead of me today, that means that by the time I return her tomorrow, I’ll have but one chapter remaining, or I’ll awaken feeling bright and shiny, and there will be nothing left but to compile the story into a Word document and created the Table of Contents.

Either way, I finish the edit and format within the next thirty-six hours.

That means next week is filled with fun and frivolity.  I know I’m going to be interviewed, but it’s going to be an interview the likes of which many of you have never seen.  I’m thinking up a book giveaway, But I want it to be something different–which means I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but I’m investigating means.  I had considered asking people to guess what color I look best wearing, but one person would walk away with everything then . . .

The interesting thing I find is that I’m overly excited.  Worried, yeah; I’m always worried that something will show up wrong in the story, that it’s not going to sell, that it’ll be rejected after all my hard work.  But that happens, you know.  My friend Jo Custer said yesterday that she was told that the movie she’s trying to Kickstart into existence is “filthy”.  Many jokes were made of this comment, not the least was that someone should tell Lars Von Trier there’s a new bitch in town.  Though if you want to get into Lars Von Trier territory, you need a leading lady to come up and spit on you every morning and tell you what a horrible person you are, because she knows she’ll be spending the afternoon her standing naked in a mountain stream masturbating while being yelled at to “Look natural!”

We creative times, we do our own thing.  We love praise, but be usually get criticized to hell and gone.  As I’ve said many times, the non-creative out there don’t get us.  Yes, they want to be entertained by us, but they don’t get what we do, and why.  If you’re like some of the people I know, their notion usually boils down to, “You wanna make money.”  Well, yes, dude:  I would like to make money.  I’d like to make enough money to do this full time.  There isn’t a one of us who wouldn’t love to spend their days crafting stories or making movies or producing pretty pictures.  And I’m not talking talking making mad J. K. Rollinbucks cash here, either.  If I was making fifty thousand a year writing, I’d be home all the time writing.

Why do we suffer the pangs of criticism,  though?  I think part of it comes from the un-creative being unable to build their own works, but damned if they don’t know what a good work should look like.  There are things out there that are broken, that is true, and creative works that are totally Teh Suk.  But the hate does seem to come at everyone and everything, and it’s almost impossible to avoid.

The trick comes from deciding if the criticism is of the good kind . . . and if you can learn from it.

As for the other kind . . .

Write your own stories, then get back to me.

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 . . .