Monthly Archives: February 2012

I thought I was, but…

Do you have a system when you write?

Now, I’m not talking about the editing process. I’m referring to the putting words on paper process. The actual act of writing a novel.

I believed I was a total free-flying writer. I learned I was wrong.

My first novel was written from my heart, as I’ve said before. I didn’t completely pants it; I knew who my bad guy was, and why he acted the way he did. Yeah, there were twists and turns I didn’t expect, but overall, I knew where my beginning was and where the novel would end before I put my fingers to the keyboard.

The second novel was based on the Robin Hood legend, so my outline was set. Which was really good, considering I wrote it during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was amazed at myself when I actually won it. That was in 2008, and I’ve been editing it ever since.

Then an idea came to my husband for a series. Which means, of course, that it falls on me to write it ­čÖé Which is fine. I didn’t have a template when NaNoWriMo came around. I thought everything would flow, just like it did with the previous year’s NaNo. Ummm… no. I lost focus. I didn’t know what the hell my characters were doing. They didn’t know what the hell they were doing. It was an ungodly mess. I muddled through it, but I found myself jumping from scene to scene, getting lost in finding the perfect Elven names, creating a possible love interest… and I found the inner core of my manuscript completely lost in the process.

I’m not one of those writers who needs a┬ácomplete chapter by chapter outline. But I need something. I need to know roughly who my characters are, what they want, and where it’s going to end. If it changes between first draft and last, that’s fine. That’s what editing is for: to strengthen your work and make it blaze its own trail through the minds of your readers.

I don’t need to read endless blogs or books about writing. I won’t say they’re not necessary for other writers, but, quite frankly, they bore me. I’ll open them, take my kernels of wisdom where I find them, then put the book down and go back to my first love… the writing of words.

 

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I’m a word that rhymes with ‘itch’.

I’ve spent the last two weeks in self contemplation, and the revelations coming out of that have been amazing. For one, I’ve quite simply grown sick and tired unto death of pretense of any kind. It’s bullshit, plain, pure and simple. I know it’s human nature to delude not only others, but ourselves as well, if we’re not as happy with our lives as we think we should be. But it’s wearing.

I’m not twelve, or fifteen, or even twenty-one. There’s no-one to impress. I’m not looking for a boyfriend, a best friend or anyone else who is going to pat me on the head and tell me what they think I want to hear. I want real friendships. I want people who, when they say they’ll do something, they damn well follow through — or let me know why they can’t… not just spout excuse after excuse after excuse. My friends — friends┬áas opposed to acquaintances — know that my heart is easily bruised and even more easily broken by careless words, or careless actions.

But sometimes I walk away. I shut the door to my heart and my friends understand I’m one of those people who truly need space from time to time. And that doesn’t mean they’ve done anything wrong. It just means I need to re-balance myself. Life gets overwhelming, and I’m not talking about the day to day. I can literally get ill if I can’t shut the world out occasionally.

I’ve noticed, now that I’m more involved in social media, that Facebook makes great liars of people. After all, you can be anyone you want on a social media. How will anyone know differently, unless you let them inside your life? I don’t have to admit, on Facebook, that we’re jobless again (I did, but I didn’t have to), or that sometimes I just want to lie in bed all day with my stuffed bunny, watching t.v. I can be the ultimate wife or mother and just post ‘happy family’ bullshit all day long.

I’m done with pretense. I am who I am. I’ve burned a few bridges during the course of my life. Some of them have hurt greatly, but all of them have been necessary to my inner peace, even if it didn’t feel that way at the time.

I drink, I swear, I’ve partied more than I should have; it’s only by the Grace of God I’m still alive (yes, there is a great deal I’m not sharing). I am me, and it is my choice to say ‘I refuse to have falseness in my life. Do what you want elsewhere, but I’m damn done.’

 

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Evil is as evil does…

Creating evil characters is fun. It is. It gives you freedom to pour all your anger, your angst, that dark ugliness you don’t want to share with the light of day, let alone your near and dear into a character both foul and fearful.

That being said, I disagree with other writers’ tendency to write purely evil characters with no redeeming value whatsoever. (A la Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort and Lord of the Rings’ Sauron.) I think every evil character out there should have a small tidbit of goodness somewhere inside. To me, it makes them more…balanced.

I read a book once where the main character (a writer) was being stalked. Throughout the novel, he kept receiving postcards that said ‘I’m coming closer.’ Finally, the person broke into the writer’s house and held him at gunpoint. The writer begged and begged for his life, and for mercy. The intruder finally looked down at him and said ‘You never gave me any,’ and killed the writer.

The intruder was the writer’s creation; a man of pure evil, with no redeeming value whatsoever. That’s always stuck with me, and as a result, I’ve always tried to give each ‘bad guy’ in my novels something that makes them human. My first antagonist wanted to save the Europe of his future, my second was in love with a woman (though he loved power more), and my third isn’t quite what he appears to be.

Whether it’s a love of flowers, of pets or the fact that he or she collects something, you must give them something the reader can connect with. I had difficulty with ‘The Dead Zone’s Stiltson, because in the first chapter, King showed him kicking a puppy to death. Now, I knew he was a bad guy already. King had made that abundantly clear. But when Stiltson killed the pup, I realized he had zero redeeming value whatsoever and I couldn’t connect with him emotionally on any level. Don’t get me wrong, The Dead Zone happens to be one of my favorite books… I’m just using the example to prove the disconnect that can occur. Nor am I in any way claiming to be as talented, or even a 1/4 as talented, as King. But I think if Stiltson could have been more┬áhuman in his failings, I would have enjoyed him more.

Evil is as evil does… and sometimes, adding that bit of humanity makes us enjoy the evilness more.

 

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Love vs In Love

Loving someone isn’t all roses and fairy tales, even though as children that’s what we’re lead to believe. Nor is it being ‘in love’. ‘In love’ is easy compared to the real thing. In love doesn’t take into account toilet seats that have been left up (or down!), dirty clothing on the floor right next to the hamper, or dishes in the sink when the dishwasher has dirty dishes in it.

Love is caring about another person’s well being more than your own. Love is looking that other person in the eyes and thinking ‘Yes, there are flaws. No, he isn’t perfect. But guess what? That’s okay. I can live with it, because what I get is worth it, and living without him isn’t an option.’

In love is the prince on the white steed who wants to sweep into your life and take you off into the sunset, where your every whim is fulfilled, but in reality he doesn’t know you, nor does he truly understand you. Being in love with him is waiting by the phone, hoping he’ll call and being upset when he doesn’t.

Meanwhile, love is puttering around the house, knowing the phone will ring because he can’t not talk to you just as much as you can’t not talk to him.

Love is never, ever having to ‘prove’ your love through flowers or candy or cards at society approved times, but gifting them because seeing a smile on your loved one’s face means the world to you.

Now I’m not saying you can’t be in love and love the same person… but it doesn’t always happen that way. If you’re very lucky, it does and that changes your entire world. You’ve married your best friend. The one person you can’t imagine living without. And everything falls into place.

Life doesn’t suddenly become perfect, but there is a peace and sense of security that comes with knowing you’re married to someone who completes and complements you and whom you complete and complement in turn.

My husband often says ‘I don’t go out because Shanti is at home, and that’s where the party is.’

I agree. My husband is the ‘party’ for me, even if we’re doing nothing but sitting on the couch, watching television.

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Don’t tell me you love me…

I know some of you will read this blog, and say ‘Huh? What is she talking about?!’ A fellow student (who’s like my twin, but we’ve never met) is writing an essay on body image, and that got me thinking…

While being overweight isn’t healthy, of course it isn’t!, it’s not only the obese that have issues with self image. After all, look at all the supermodels; Victoria’s Secret and runway. They aren’t Marilyn Monroe remakes. Let’s face it, women. The era of the hour-glass is gone. The time of the stick is at hand.

I was the stick in high school, at a whopping 118 lbs, and I pretty much stayed that way until my late 20’s/ early 30’s. It wasn’t as glamorous as you might think. I still had my fair share of struggles; blood pressure that was so low on the ‘normal’ scale that one more point would have dipped me into the danger zone, constant dizziness due to low iron, and don’t even get me started on constantly hearing ‘You’re so thin!’ As if that was the ultimate compliment. In high school, boys don’t want the ‘fat chicks’, but guess what? They don’t want the ‘stick chicks’, either.

Now it’s 25+ years past high school, and two kids later. Plus a husband who loves to cook. Yeah, I’m no longer stick thin. But I still get the ‘Why don’t you see yourself as beautiful? If you exercise and/or diet, there won’t be anything left!’ Well, guess what? That’s not helpful. I look in the mirror and I don’t see a thin woman. I see a woman with curves in all the wrong places. I see a stomach that’s not flat anymore, and thighs that are larger than they used to be. I’m not brave enough to stand naked front of the bathroom mirror and really look at myself; tell myself I’m beautiful and blessed. ‘Cause guess what? I’m still the same shy, insecure bibliophile I was in high school and 90% of my good self esteem comes from the look in my husband’s eyes when he gazes at me.

 

We all suffer from self image, and too underweight is just as bad as too overweight. It’s just a matter of flippin’ the coin over.

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