Friday, May 19, 2006
I feel that way when I read certain writers' work. Especially when I am going through a difficult time. I'll run across a passage or a poem or a funny story that was obviously written specifically for me in a specific situation. Matters not that the person knows nothing of my existence. But it's especially moving when a kindred spirit says exactly what I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I've mentioned before that this story is based on a book that has enjoyed/suffered many variations and adaptations. The story I am trying to finish is yet another, but it's mine and I'm excited about it. I've made many changes to the characters and to the way the story is told (for legal purposes and to save money at the library copy machine).
One major change is that Parker's original character accidentally kills another character near the beginning of the original story. The Parker character is extremely sorry about this person's death, but, really, she says, that's the least of her worries. Now, a colleague (competitor?) of the dead person shows up and Parker again apologizes for the mishap, but says again "not my problem, I need to get out of here."
Alright, the colleague is being represented in my version by Parker's aunt Magnificent. The Magnificent in the original story shows up to the scene and gives the Parker character something that belonged to the dead person and the something is highly valuable to yet another colleague who, upon hearing this, is fucking angry about it. And the pissed off character is now coming after Parker. So the Magnificent character gives the Parker character a kiss of protection that will keep her from harm as she's trying to get where she's going. And off she goes, in harm's way, but protected.
Problem: I decided to eliminate the accidental death. And somewhere in there, I forgot to create a conflict that would make sense of Magnificent's need to protect Stillwater and Parker before they head out to Castle Rock.
See, this is what happens when visitors find your draft on your blog and they actually read it. And take notes. And email you a copy of the notes. They have questions. And concerns. And guess what. My work has plot holes. My work is filled with non sequitur (I had to look that one up, too).
Somewhere at some point while Parker is drinking herself into Stillwater's lap the first night they meet, something needs to be said. What is she running from (is she running?) or how exactly has losing her linchpin turned her life upside down? I know that when my life was turned upside down, the first thing to disappear was the possibility of my driving a luxury SUV across the country. What the hell is going on with Parker that got her hooked up with Stillwater at that shop?
This is one of those forehead-to-keyboard days, but I must admit: constructive criticism and critical thinking are wonderful concepts. They carry no hurt that a new pair of jeans can't heal. And some sparkly sandals. Oh, and the pedicure. Never deny your toenails a shiny coat of summer pink when starting over on the story draft.
4. ...Map the route, grow the characters. Introduce Freddie Mercury and Tim Woodman (and change that name) at a couple of intervals along the way. Get them all to Castle Rock together to meet Parker's father English Osbourn.
What the hell was I thinking? This is going to take a while. I have no idea how to read a map. A road trip for me is a run to the grocery store. Time to call these little towns and get some local attraction travel brochures sent my way. James Michener would be proud...
Why am I doing this again? Finishing what you started seems today sooo overrated.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The aunt touched my hand. Then touched my shoulder. Put two hands to my face. There is barely any space between us by the time she speaks to me again. “Not all of my life, Stillwater, but all of yours.”
Close to me, in one ear, she whispers in mystical tongues. Words that soothe, compassionate words that demand, chants of praise and of calling. I knew her name to be Magnificent as she held on tight and promised me centeredness and freedom from confusion, my permanence restored. The house darkened and I was vaguely aware of Parker’s movements in and out of the room, but I don’t know how long she, Magnificent, held me and whispered to me. Hours. She kissed my forehead and I fell into a chair at the kitchen table, crying uncontrollably. I do not cry. Even after broken bones, always mine and always because of her, my mother would brag to our crazy neighbors that I cried not a single pussy tear. Walking away from her that last day, not even tears of relief. Here, in this house, I didn’t think the tears could stop coming. Magnificent wiped them away.
When I found my own words: “Did you send Parker for me?”
With a wry smile, with a beautiful and distant look, Magnificent considered her answer. “I guided her to you, yes. This is her home, she is always welcome here. I sent her your way knowing when she returned, you’d be with her. But, this is not the end, you know that. It’s barely the beginning. Rest here tonight, then get going. You’re both protected now and that’s what you needed from me.”
Parker appeared in the doorway and waited. In the silence following those final moments, she led me upstairs to a drawn bath. Such a beautiful girl as she quietly asked should she stay with me or leave me alone. She asked, but she knew. I wrapped my legs and arms around her as we dipped ourselves into the warm water. “Tomorrow,” said Parker, “we mark our path.”
[I am aware of the past/present tense changes. I'm writing trying to get the words down as the action is happening. I'll address that issue in the next draft.]
Meanwhile, I'll start digitally mapping that route from Kansas City to Castle Rock. That should be fun.
Monday, May 15, 2006
I try to avoid loving the smell of my own self-satisfaction. And sometimes I over-correct the potential problem by losing confidence in what I'm doing. Not having any idea if the work is any good unless someone tells me it is. I think I should already know. But I don't. There are days, of course, when I will stand in the contemporary fiction section of Barnes and Noble with a blow torch ready to burn the books written by writers with, you know, much less talent, yet much more, shall we say, published pages than I. The blow torch might get me arrested, but there is nothing illegal about my scanning a few pages of some delicate milky white hand carefully lifting the receiver of the pink Princess phone and whispering a breathy hello to her stunning new suitor--then throwing the book across the aisle into the trash can behind the customer service desk. I've done that.
Oh my God...here is more of what I've got so far. My new best friend (in the writing world, that is loosely translated as someone who has said the words "you're good") has suggested that I need a better working title than "current fragment". I never thought about that. Taking all suggestions in the comments field. Taking all suggestions that don't hurt my feelings. I may not be milky white, but I am delicate.
My placeholding notes for the next draft are in brackets.
Parker took my hand and stood tall—all five feet, no inches of her—and led me closer. “Her name is Magnificent and she raised me.”
The aunt touched my hand. Then touched my shoulder. Put two hands to my face. There was barely any space between us by the time she spoke to me again. “Not all of my life, Stillwater, but all of yours.”
[Here, I definitely need to explain the supernatural presence. Better for it to be explained before the following actions.]
She kissed my forehead and I fell into a chair at the kitchen table, crying uncontrollably. I do not cry. Even after broken bones, always mine, always because of her, my mother would brag to our crazy neighbors that I “cried not a single pussy tear.” Walking away from her that last day, not even tears of relief. Here, in a place as unfamiliar as I’ve ever been, I didn’t think the tears could stop coming.
Magnificent wiped them away and held me tight. The house darkened and I was vaguely aware of Parker’s movements in and out of the room. I don’t know how long she, Magnificent, held me and whispered to me. Hours, definitely.
[More exposition here. What Magnificent knows. How this affects Stillwater.]
In the silence following those final moments, Parker led me upstairs to a drawn bath. Such a beautiful girl as she quietly asked should she stay with me or leave me alone. She asked, but she knew. I wrapped my legs and arms around her as we dipped ourselves into the warm water. With her on this journey, on her search, I feel strong and capable as her protector.
[And, here goes Stillwater’s revelation that he is now on a journey of his own, not just as Parker’s foreshadowing sherpa. Today, I am incapable of writing the revelation without cliché and cheese, so I’m leaving it for another day. I like this bath thing they have going, though. Stillwater always makes his move on Parker whenever I’m listening to Maroon 5 while writing…]