Friday, March 8, 2013

Beyond the Looking Glass

     I've started watching a TV show.  It's not a new show by any means, but I have only just started watching, I'm about halfway through season one, thanks to Netflix.  No commercials, no waiting, just watch and enjoy.  The stories in the show aren't new, stories far older then me in fact.  The twist though, the twist they put on the stories, makes them so much more attainable in our modern world. 

     Now they have tried for years to put modern twists on old stories, that's nothing new.  The theaters are full of remakes of old stories, and TV is constantly rehashing and beating dead horse after dead horse.  It's enough to drive a viewer mad.  Books do it as well, the names may change, but in the end most boil down to basics that can be found time and time again.  ( I admit that last one kind of sheepishly as one who is writing a book.) 

      Rewrites, new spins, prequels, sequels and spin offs.  If they are done right no one minds, but if there is a chink in the armor, a plot hole, a character that doesn't fit, all of it can fall apart.  The world you have struggled so hard to build, to breath life becomes a flat landscape, a monochromatic world that seems frozen.  I sat watching an episode of one of my new favorite shows last night and realized the key.  The key I had been missing, the story is old, but because of the world, the characters, the new story works.  Each player has a role, a life outside the others.  Even if they aren't on the screen they are acting and changing the world around them.  Only if you let them have this freedom can you create something real and lasting.

     I have been working on a novel since November, and I keep feeling like I'm letting it down.  I know it has the potential to be a great story, if I let it.  However I have been trying to force the word count higher and higher, not for story reasons, but to feel like I am accomplishing something.  Word count doesn't matter anymore.  It's great for getting started, and getting the basics out, but then you have to step aside from the number of words and focus on the world.  Figure out who all the people are, what they love, why they are important.  If they are blank slates how can anyone connect to them?  Each player should be able to reach out and touch the heart of a reader or viewer, and if they can't they don't belong in the story. 

     Where is this going, well it was going into a rambling post about writing and how to make them as approachable as possible.  Then I remembered that wasn't the point of this.  Honestly not sure what the point was, getting my brain going I guess.  Also to remind everyone, including myself, that rewrites are okay, retelling are okay, as long as they are your own.  I have been struggling with my writing for a bit and pushing myself to the editing stage just to say yep it's done and it's just editing now.

     The real work is only just beginning now though.  The framework is there but the world needs life, it needs color.  I know why the war started, I know the main characters, but what about the people around them, the people who made them what they are now.  Now it's time to take an age old story and give it my own spin.  I'd love to say it is as easy as good vs evil, but in reality very few ever think they are evil so when both sides think they are doing the right thing, how do you make both sides accessible and not crush the audience when one side inevitably falls?

    Time to get back to work, time to find the secret to giving an imaginary world a life of it's own.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A new blog for a New Me

So long has it been that I thought this blog lost, abandoned out in the aether of the Internet, a lost, lonely world of thought.   Here it is however, found, saved from its desolation. It's coming up on a new year, I am a new me, so it seems only right and proper that I get back to this blog and shine it up, give it a polish and some shiny new thoughts.

This year I set a task for myself, to see a project...a real project, through to its completion. I have a bad habit of starting large scale projects, and nearly finishing them but always falling just shy of total completion. Built a bar for my husband, the bar is beautiful, the wood paneling and trim are all up and finished, the ceiling is half painted. The three season room converted to a four season game room, shelves are in, door is all put in, ceiling beams still need to be framed out. Started a novel, got about 30,000 words in and kinda petered out. You get the idea. I am great at little projects, I have an attention to details that make me great at small tasks that require attention. As soon as projects get too long or too in depth forget it, I'm done.

This fact was starting to wear on me. I felt like a failure at everything I did. I'm not, I do a great deal of things quite well. I don't mean that in a conceited manner, but I'm a good painter, a great cook, I am a really tidy person, and I'm a good writer. I know I do things well, but I couldn't get past the idea that I always stop short of my potential. It was easier for me to never finish and face possible criticism. The worst criticism started to come from me though, what was I doing with my life?

So I decided to challenge myself, I had stories dancing around in my brain, clawing, screaming to be let out for the world to know. November was right around the corner, and November means two things, Turkey Day, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I posed myself a challenge, take part in NaNo and finish, meet the goal of 50,000 words in the month of November. Now for NaNo it has to be a project from scratch so my 30,000 words on a previous story counted for nothing. I had to start again, a different story needed to be put to paper. The month progressed and to my surprise and delight, I didn't fall behind. Each day my word count climbed and page after page became a real tangible thing. The two great races clashed, each trying to outpace the other as the story unfurled.

I met my goal, November came to an end and I had over 50,000 words staring back at me from that glowing screen. I challenged myself again, 50,000 words was a fantastic start but it was by no means a full novel. So my new challenge, the real challenge, the real project, finish the novel and see if I could actually get it published. I have done a bit of work on it since November ended, not as much as I might like, but enough that it is by no means an abandoned project.

I will see it through to its end, be it a published novel on the shelves of bookstores everywhere, or just a finished manuscript tucked away on my shelf, its pages stamped with the rejection marks of a hundred publishing houses.

I am a new me, and this is my new book, and when I look at my life I will see all the projects I have completed, and the great works I have done, even if they are only great to me and a handful of family and friends. Welcome to my new world...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


It occurs to me as I sit here typing, I should be working on one of the numerous projects in which I have half started…or yet to start. Yet, here I am typing away, as my brain and body both submit that I have neither the energy nor the ambition to get anything real accomplished today.

A great deal has happened in the year (ok maybe a bit longer) since my last blog. One child has gone off to college, another now in her junior year of high of high school and diligently planning her escape into college life, a new house, a new job, all in all nearly every aspect of my life changed in some small manner. In general life is on the upswing. Today though, I give myself pause to feel ambivalent to it all. I’m not sad, I’m not happy, today I just…am.

It’s not a bad way to be, every now and then that is. Sure nothing really gets accomplished; it’s all still waiting for tomorrow.

But sometimes, just sometimes we all get to have an “Anh” day. Happy and sad will wait for us, they always do, just around the bend like two faithful hounds.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Another Year Older


So it came to pass that I am a year older, not really a year wiser, and for all the hub bub I feel… about the same.

The last few weeks had seemed rough, dark, not quite so happy. I felt old. I figured it was the approached of the dreaded birthday. I’m not sure why it was dreaded, but it was. The feeling grew heavier and heavier with each passing day, each second that ticked closer to that fateful day was like the tolling of some horrid bell.

Only then did I realize that it was not the impending doom of my birthday which had had worn me down till I was but a nub of myself. I didn’t feel old because of another year being tacked on. I had felt old all these weeks because my imagination had seemed to forsake me. As a painter, an aspiring writer, my imagination had always been there for me. It was a close friend, a confidant, a secret love, and it had vanished. I looked at clouds and merely saw water vapor hanging in the sky, I saw no patterns forming the hidden faces of wood nymphs and ancient tree spirits in the leaves and bark of the forest trees. My imagination had left me to wander, and without it I was lost. I blamed my birthday for surely getting older meant sooner or later you must give up your imagination, you must give up the thoughts of fancy that delighted you in your youth.

Then suddenly the day before there was a change in the breeze, a shift in the winds of my mind. A light switched on in my brain, and the darkness vanished. I found myself humming, and then whistling, and finally singing with all my might. What was I singing you might ask? Well, I was singing “I won’t grow up” from Peter Pan. I found it odd at first that I would have such a tune in my head. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. Why then did the song find its way to the surface of my brain on this the day before my birthday. The answer is really very simple. I needed it. I needed it then more than ever before. I was forcing myself to grow up, with all the dieting and have to’s and schedule of this and that, and it was my minds way of bringing me back, of reminding me that I don’t have to grow up if I don’t want too.

Then just like that, my friends were back, I could see the smiling faces in the leaves and the bark, I could see the hungry dragons flying in the clouds. My imagination had returned. Although in hind sight it had never left me, I had left it. The world had been so dark without my dear friend and now it was light again. All because I accepted that I wouldn’t grow up. Another year meant nothing. It was a day in which to celebrate, to rejoice at staving off old age. You are only old if you believe you are old, if you let others believe you are old.

Say no, stay young, keep the wonder of a child. Remember your oldest friend, it was there for you before you could even know it was, and if you call, it will return. Let your imagination run away with you for a bit. Look into the clouds and see what you find, see how many goblins you can see hiding in the patterns of your bathroom tile. What is their story? You might be surprised to find you feel much younger when you dust off your old friend.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A little bit o' happy

It is back. My dream, my vision, my ambition. Today I will reread all I have written thus far, and perhaps even begin upon a new expedition into the dark and oft perilous world I have begun to create.

I spoke with someone today, someone I had not spoken too in some time. It was for lack of a better word, enlightening. I said something to him, which upon reflection, I needed to apply with the utmost haste to my own life. I told him "You have to be happy for yourself, and cannot let others affect your happiness." Simple words really, but each day we all let so many outside forces determine if we will be happy. Shouldn't we be the judge of that? Granted, occasionally we all need time to feel sad, or mad, or just plain down. What would happiness be without those to make it all the brighter? What is crimson or sapphire, if all the world is in shades of grey?

As of late I had felt myself... dwindling, as it were. My mind drifted from project to project, never settling on any one thing to do, never getting excited about anything I did. I thought it was just a down day, clearly it would go away. I forced myself to move on, to smile the smile, walk the walk. Each day became much like the one before it, all fading into nothing, nothing accomplished. Then I realized I had let others affect me to such an extent that I was no longer in control of my own happiness. I had let missed plans, broken promises, and unreliability, all affect my happiness. I was lost, a ship being tossed along the waves like Neptune's plaything. I had to find my way back to land, to set my feet once again upon solid ground.

So as of now, I take back my happiness. It is in my keeping. I will smile because it is what I feel, and not that which I should do. I will write, because I want to, because I want to see my world come to life, because I want to show myself I am good enough to do this. Not for anyone else, not for those that have doubted, not for those who may have at any point naysayed, but for me. I do what I do for me. Until I can be happy for me what good am I to those around me?

In the end, we are all in charge of our own happiness, outside forces come and outside forces go. You are the one true constant in your life. If you are as lucky as I am, you have found your soul mate and you have one other constant on which you can rely. In this ever changing world, only you can make yourself happy. So be happy and make your happiness all your own.