Monday, June 28, 2010

Maybe there's a Reason I haven't been Productive

I don't like excuses. [I amend that, I think people do like excuses, generally, when they need to use one, but no one is much of a fan when given them by others.] I try not to use excuses to explain away my behavior or lack thereof.

That said, I wrote a post last night for my personal blog and it got me thinking this morning. see, I had another idea for a new story. Specifically a new story that could be combined with the idea from an old story to create something that I find really interesting. It plays with the idea of who is the villain when it comes to vampires versus vampire hunters. Many of the UFs that contain vamps have at least one who good and sexy if not always nice (or nice and sexy, if not always good...Aaaand now I'm having an "Into the Woods" moment--"You're not good, you're not bad, you're just nice. I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right." Much love for Bernadette Peters.)

Many vamp-UFs have vampires that align themselves with the protagonist, with a lot of sexiness thrown in. At the same time, there are a good number of UFs out there with hunters as their protagonists (LKH's Anita Blake; Buffy to take it into other mediums), so there is a lot of space to play with who is the villain, who thinks who's the villain, and switch between my fairly young, but mature vampire and a seasoned hunter stuck with a new apprentice. But end up having to examine their own behaviors, and existence, and may end up working together (haven't decided the last bit yet).

Anyway, it's one more novel that has tightened its hold on my brain, which makes it about the fourth right now. But none of the other three has kept my attention long enough for me to reach the end of a complete first draft.

Excuses time: Is it just that I've been lazy in my self-control and scheduling, or was there some unconscious part that was waiting for the right story--not that the others are bad, but there's one just ready to be written and I just need to find it?

Honestly, put that way, it's probably just me not making better use of my time. Because in every story I reach a point where I get stuck (halfway to three-quarters in), and I don't use this sort of excuse for those times. Here, it's probably a matter of not knowing where some/most of these are going, so instead of plowing through and forcing a plot to take form, my mind skips on to the next shiny object

Of course, I am going to give this new story some of my attention. But I think making this realization--that I was trying to make excuses for myself and really just need to figure out the full arcs of the stories--has helped me, refocusing my attention. I need to make a trip into town today, which is an hour's bus ride each way. I think I'll take my notebook and use that time to jot down notes are all the major events of at least two of these novels.

Maybe in a few days I can return to tell you all that I've settled on one story to write to its end.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two Pieces of Good Advice: Do Research and Wear Sunscreen

"Wear Sunscreen" is a song/rap/spoken word poem set to music, which I heartedly enjoyed when it came out. In college, a friend made me a cd of awesome songs, mostly from the 90s, and included this one.

Today, there is a new version out, courtesy of author Seanan McGuire: Do Research.

For the writers out there, it is an adaptation filled with advice, both concrete ("Get plenty of sleep. Be kind to your wrists, you'll miss them when they're gone," and "Stretch") and more abstract or hard-to-quantify ("Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to correct your spelling through interpretive dance," and "Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to spend your life writing").

It's a great way to start the day (my opinion, but I'm not the only one who thinks so, according to the comment stream). It's just great fun, and I suggest anyone who needs a smile clikcing over there and giving it a read. It has the same feel to the original, plucking at my emotions when she writes "Do not read Amazon reviews, they will only make you feel ugly," even though I haven't published anything yet for this to be an issue.

Still. It's good advice. Go. Read. Enjoy.

Seanan McGuire is the author of "Rosemary and Rue," and "A Local Habitation" (urban fantasy, starring a changeling who has lost everything). Under her pseudonym, Mira Grant, she has a political zombie apocalyse, "Feed," in stores now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Beginning of a Plot

Still doing the job hunt thing. Because of that, I've been turning on my phone during the day when I used to keep it on only when I was out of the house. My cell is the number on my resume, and even though I have a landline, this is the direct link to me. I don't want to miss a potential interview.

Well, today I didn't get around to turning my phone on right away. In fact, it's 1:30 and I only just did it a few minutes ago. ~sheepish grin~ But there was already a voicemail (apparently missed the actual phone call by just a few minutes). She sounded like someone's little Asian grandma--we have a lot of those here in Hawaii :)--looking for a guy [R]. She even left a phone number. I don't know if she is a relative or just older, but seriously, am I the only person tempted to call and say, "I got your message, unfortunately I have no idea who this person is and you have the wrong number?"

It makes sense to do that if you get the call directly, phone rings you pick it up and the conversation happens in real-time, but it seems weird to do so in response to a voicemail.

I posed the question to my facebook people, and as I hit post, I wondered what a story would be like if someone did that. You call this number left by someone's obasan--does the lady answer? Is she friendly, annoyed, does she go into a furious old lady rant ("why don't you ever call me? I have to call you all the time and you never pick up your phone. Your mother had to give me this number...") before you have a chance to say you aren't this guy? What if someone else answers, and doesn't know this woman (she also left her name, or a contact name) or R? What if it's a different person and they do know everyone involved, including you? How far down the rabbit hole could you fall just for trying to be polite and do a small good deed?

Since I seem wired for the fantasical, my mind spun off on a Matrix-like thread. Some Morpheus character answers and directs you to go somewhere, gives you a piece of information that compels you to comply. And from that meeting/errand, the world you knew is no more or you're somehow separated from it, and the rest of the story is you trying to find your way home, or pushing deeper and deeper through the forest to see what's on the other side.

Just wanted to share that.

Happy writing everyone,