When to let go, and move on to something that wants to be done

Here recently, while waiting to hear from an agent about my first novel, I’ve been working on another novel-length piece about a girl who discovers she has an amazing talent, and the adventures (and horrors) she finds as she explores it. But it’s stalled; the characters don’t want to work, the ending is unbelievably trite, and the pace is lackluster at best. All things that could and would be fixed in the rewrites, but I’m leaving it in the “trunk” for now. Why?

Because I’ve got this rough, drunken, unlikable slob of a fellow running around in my head demanding I tell HIS story. In this one, the characters are busting their asses for me, the ending I have in mind should be dynamite, and the pace is lively. Guess which one sounds like more fun?

Now, I could “shoulder through” the first one, or focus on the new one. I think I’ll pick the one that wants to be written the most. That’s not to say I won’t at some point take another look at the other one; maybe things will have picked up by then.

“In the end, you write the book that grabs you by the throat and demands to be written.” –Salman Rushdie

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Those pesky characters and their own minds…

For those of you who write fiction:  Ever have a character, main or support, that just as things are rocking along to your outline decides he or she wants to do something completely different?  Even better, suddenly decides that a large portion of who you decided they are is actually wrong?

In the current work-in-progress (just 8k words right now, but shooting for 80-100k) one of the characters I had set up as a love interest for my main character decided that not only does she pretty much hate him, she doesn’t “swing that way”.  Okay, so I got a big part of her makeup wrong, but instead of trying to whip her into going along with my original outline, I’m just letting it play out.

Don’t you just love it when a character that YOU created throws you a major curve ball?

Been a while…

Sorry it’s been so long since I posted last, as I know you’re all just waiting breathlessly to hear what’s on my mind. </sarcasm>.

Been a rough and busy week. Doctor’s appointments in Columbia, Ryan’s birthday, and a host of other things all equal exhaustion for me and for Tishia as well.

I read a news article this morning about how high-profile cases like the Casey Anthony trial and the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder can actually overshadow the horrible things that are happening every day. For instance, in 2008, the same year little Caylee Anthony was killed, there were over 1700 children who died of abuse or neglect. This does not include the number of children taken and/or killed by predators outside the home. Similar numbers exist for the year Jon-Benet was murdered.

What do you think? Does the voyeuristic nature of 24 hour news lead us to focus on the glitzy cases and ignore others? Or do these cases simply select themselves to be sensational? Surely no one can argue that the coverage of both the Anthony and Ramsey cases was thorough, exhaustive, and absolutely lurid.

Thoughts?  In the meanwhile, let’s try to remember that these awful things don’t just happen to pretty little girls, as the impression given by the MSM would tell you.

Scooter-inspired insecurity

Let’s talk scooters, people.

Personally, I’m a big fan.  They’re inexpensive (less than two grand for all but the very high end bikes), economical (can you say 85+miles per gallon?) and just plain fun.  They’re also great for guys like me, who have some nerve damage in their legs and back, and don’t trust said legs to always work right.

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who actually feel threatened by something like this:

This is my scooter...sorry it makes you feel like less of a man

They rant, and rave, and swear up and down it should be illegal…BECAUSE THEY CAN’T SEE IT WHILE DRIVING, FOLKS.  Yep, they have a really hard time seeing me on the road, apparently.  Now, let’s point out a couple of obvious things.

1.  You see the helmet?  it’s not optional for me.  I ALWAYS wear it.  I hear a lot of “but the law says I don’t have to wear one” malarkey from other scooter riders.  Well, the law doesn’t say you can’t stick a fork in a wall outlet, either.  Doesn’t make it a good idea.  In a match-up between my skull and the concrete at 40mph, I have no illusions about which one will win.

2.  I maintain my bike.  All the lights work.  The horn works.  The brakes work.  It accelerates well.  The tires have good tread and are properly inflated.  Granted, I’ve seen a lot of scooters on the road that can’t say this, but the same is true for cars, too.  Trouble is, you’ll almost never get a ticket for having a light out on a scooter.

3.  My bike is bright yellow.  Not just a little yellow, but BRIGHT FREAKING YELLOW.  It isn’t dull black primer color, or grey, or any other color that blends in well with the background.

So how exactly do you not see this?  The same way that these self-same people don’t see streetbikes, big cruisers, or any other bike.  THEY DON’T WATCH WHERE THEY ARE GOING.  They’re too busy texting or playing with the stereo to actually watch the road.

Yet, there are a few people I know who seem to feel as if they must take every opportunity to tell me at length how they feel these should be outlawed.  Not because they pose any more significant risk than a motorcycle, mind you; they just don’t like them.  Well good for you; don’t buy one.  I usually respond that if I started trying to outlaw everything that I didn’t like, there’d be about six people in the city who weren’t in jail.  Mostly because they’d get off with a fine or community service.  Personally, I don’t feel like grown men should leave the house in gym shorts and sandals, but that’s just me.

Beyond those who say “I can’t see them” (which to me means maaaaaybe I’m not the one who should be on the road) are the idiots who feel that their manhood is somehow challenged by the very existence of a scooter.  These are the self-same asswagons who ride around in super-duper muscle cars they dont’ know how to drive, usually with a lot of stickers for parts they’ll never actually afford on the back window.  My favorites are the guy who pulls up next to me at a stoplight and says “Wanna race?” and the ones who feel the need to pass me regardless of conditions or the speed I am currently going.  If beating my little 49cc scooter will help you with your self esteem issues, go for it.  Sorry about your small penis, champ.  The general speed limit in Springfield is 35mph; my bike cruises at 45mph with no trouble, and can get up to 55mph if I push it.  In particular there is a stretch of road I travel often which has a speed limit of 30mph.  I admit, I speed; I generally go somewhere between 45 and 50mph on this stretch.  Nevertheless, there will inevitably be that one guy who is so offended at the thought of being BEHIND A SCOOTER that he will pass illegally in the turn lane or even crowd me over to the side of the road in order to get around me.  Of course, said jackwagon immediately slows down to 35mph.  He just needed to be in front of me.

Oh no! I feel so insignificant now! Better run him off the road to prove my manliness!

“But so many people can’t see them, especially seniors!” someone inevitably replies.  Well, if you have a hard time seeing other vehicles on the road, maybe you should rethink whether or not YOU should be on the road.  Granted, there are a lot of people on scooters who have no idea how to ride, and they do stupid things.  There are also alot of people in cars who have no real idea how to drive, and they also do stupid things.

But no one wants to make cars illegal, do they?

Yep, insecurity at its finest.

Dumb people are still dumb, and I’m procrastinating too much

Well, it seems people still haven’t learned how to use fireworks responsibly:

http://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=482007

I stopped preaching about this years ago, because it seemed like a waste of time. Drunk people will do stupid things until the day the world ends.

In other news, I’m having a really rough time getting into this book I’m working on, but it’s no one’s fault but mine. I haven’t been blocking out the distractions well enough lately; Netflix and the crazy antics of my kids are altogether more entertaining than trying to find the voice of a teenage girl dealing with the impossible. I have a rare chance tonight; the wife is working ’til midnight, and the kids will be out long before that. So, time for drastic measures. There will be music, root beer, a pipe, the computer, and me. No more excuses; I’ve been sitting at 159 pages for four days now, and I fully intend to break the 200 page mark before I hit the sack. Looks like tomorrow will be a little-to-no-sleep day, but that’s how it is; I want to have this first draft done and well into the editing stage before classes start up again.

 

 

 

Fan Fiction, or “Look what I did, Ma!”

There is, apparently, an entire universe full of people who like to take the worlds, characters, and settings of popular novels and write their own stories. It’s called fan fiction, or fan fic for short. I can’t think of a more asinine waste of time, but apparently it’s a big thing with some people.

image courtesy of marriedtothesea.com

What some of these people don’t seem to understand is that this is in fact copyright infringement. That’s putting it mildly; it’s tantamount to plagiarism in my book. The writers of this fan fic say it’s a tribute to stories and worlds they love. I say it’s theft; what’s worse, it’s a waste of what sometimes appears to be real talent. I’ve read a few pieces of this work, and while most of it is absolutely atrocious, some of it shows some solid writing skill. My question is this: why not take a shot at your own work?

Do you do this? Are you one of the people who take the worlds of Laurell K. Hamilton, Stephanie Meyer, or others and tell the stories you wanted to read but they haven’t written? Shame on you. Stop it immediately. Instead of piggy-backing on the hard work of your favorite authors, why not tell your own story, in your own words? Read your favorite authors, and new ones; hell, read everything you can. Enjoy it. See how your favorites craft their plots. Look at their characters, particularly the ones you like. What is it you like about them? What DON’T you like about them? All of these are learning tools.

And keep writing; just stop with the lame fan-fic, okay? It’s really beneath most of you. And the ones that were really bad? Give it a shot anyway; chances are you’ll still come up with something better than the word-vomit you’ve been putting on the Web.

At last, I’ve gotten out of my own way

I finally got through the roadblocks I’ve carefully built into this new book. 😀

I was so concerned with finding the “typical teenage girl” voice that I completely forgot that this girl is anything but typical.  Once I got rid of that notion, everything started clicking and I knocked out sixteen pages tonight.  The character is practically coming alive for me, like my last protagonist did.  Hopefully this means she and I will be able to finish this thing together without one of us killing the other.

Of course, that also means she’s completely hijacking my storyline; she’s decided she didn’t like the way I had things laid out, and is completely changing them around.  I’m going to have to revise my outline, but at least it’s working now.  Found a nice stopping point, so I’m gonna call it a night.