Monday, October 25, 2010

One Last Push

What are the rules to self-perseverance?  What keeps you going?  Even when you’re dog-dead tired, you feel like your feet are going to fall off and your muscles burn with such pain that you lose your breath and drop to your knees with each twitch? 

Is it recognition?  A need to be liked, accepted, or wanted?  Or could it be that “something" inside of you that keeps you going because it’s the right thing to do?  Something you’ve been programmed to do. 
How many of us, (now you don’t have to raise your hands) choose to sacrifice some part of ourselves, whether it is a small part or a ginormous amount, to make other people happy?  So many of us are raised to sacrifice until you have nothing else to give, others are taught that self sacrifice is demeaning and even unacceptable. 
So I must ask- is there a happy median?  Can we give without sacrificing too much and yet give just enough to make a difference?
Tangibility will only sail you so far.  It is the intangible that catches the wind and pushes you through the tumultuous oceans and tranquil seas.  That unseen difference you make without realizing the butterfly effect you produced in the world around you.  Do you ever think about the little things you do that set into motion a change around you? 

It is amazing how the little deeds of goodness expand into full blown acts of kindness.  It’s those actions that affect the people around you and make the world a better place.

Enjoy the day.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

It’s All in Our Interpretation

A car swerves and hits another car, spins out the back tire pops, and it rolls over several times before it slides to a stop in the middle of the street.  A group of three people saw the whole thing and guess what?  When you asked what happened, you’re going to get three different variations of the same accident.

Witness One:  Oh man, a Honda Odyssey was changing lanes and a little Toyota Prius was in it’s blind spot so the Honda had to swerve to avoid hitting the Toyota.  The dude in the Honda over corrected, swerved back and sideswiped the Buick Skylark in the slow lane, when the Odyssey bounced off the Buick, it spun out, the right back tire popped and it tumbled end over end before it scraped to a stop in the fast lane.

Witness Two:  This jerk was drunk driving when he swerved and hit this old piece of crap car.  The drunk guys car rolled over and burst into flames.  

Witness Three:  This old lady in a van almost wrecked into a car in the fast lane, then the van swerved over and hit this classic Buick.  The van went airborne.  It had to have flipped five times before it crunched to a stop against the cement center divide. 

Three witnesses, three different stories, but which one is right?  We could assume that each of these witnesses have the facts right?  Well you know what happens when we assume.  You make an (ASS) out of (U) and (ME).  

But wait each one of these people stood in the same place and saw it from the same angle, and at the same time.  What happened to their stories?  (I’ll tell you)

They each interpreted what they saw and made the story fit to their world or life.  They all had the ability to deduce what they saw, but then chose to tell the story their own way.
Did you know the same thing happens when we read a book?  Every book we read, we find a common thread that links our personal experiences to one of the characters.  It is just our nature.  It is the “something” that keeps you reading and projecting.  When I wrote Wilson Mooney, I had my own thoughts about Wilson, what type of person she was to me.   I felt I knew her flaws, strengths, weaknesses, and abilities like the back of my hand, yet when I had several people read it; they saw such a different character than I did.
How does that happen?  We all read the same manuscript and yet many of us saw her totally different.  Could it be that the little common thread that wove Wilson into our hearts also gave us the ability to connect with her at different levels?
Let me give you a little family background on Wilson’s character. Wilson never knew her father; her mother dumped her at her grandparents’ house at the ripe young age of eight, and never came back.  Wilson’s grandparents made the decision to send her to a prestigious boarding school in Northern California.  Ten years later, still in boarding school, both of her grandparents die within six months of each other.  Wilson is alone in the world.  A month shy of her eighteenth birthday, she falls for her government teacher.  And the rest, as they say, is history…  (Okay if I said more, I would give away the story)

With this tiny bit of information you might see her as a victim or broken, yet when writing the story of Wilson, I never “thought” of her as a victim.  To me she was a young woman who has had some tragic events in her life that has molded and shaped her into the person she was.  Sure I could empathize with her feelings of abandonment and the anger she must have felt towards her mother.  I could relate to the excitement and first love she has for Max or the pain she embodied when she was confronted with the reality of her family life.  Fear, exhilaration, anxiety and pleasure- all end up being the cars that belong to her, on the roller-coaster of her life.  And thank God, because what a boring story if she wasn’t multifaceted.

I haven’t had any of my beta readers tell me they couldn’t relate to her on some level (knock on wood).  Even the readers that saw Wilson as weak, vulnerable, unstable, and broken felt her character was relatable.  Some were worried about her and the decisions she was making.  Other Betas felt Wilson was a witty, self-sufficient, strong character that they could relate to.

So, maybe all the witnesses were right to an extent.  One wreck, many different stories, just like one Wilson, many different ways to interpret her.  And to be honest, I’m okay with that.  Because as long as it made the readers feel something, I accomplished exactly what I set out to do. (dog-ear the steamy pages)

Monday, October 11, 2010

From Writing & Using a Pen-Name to Censorship Sucks in six seconds flat!

I hear there are many reasons a writer will write books under pen names.  Sometimes they do it because they want to write in a different genre then what they usually write or are published in.  Others choose a pen name because they have too common of a name, or their writing in a gender bias genre.  Then there are people who write pretty controversial books and feel that publishing the novel under a fictitious name is the safest route to go. 

Okay, so one of my new WIPs (work in progress) is pretty controversial, I know it will upset a good number of people I love (no it isn’t a non-fiction about anyone real).  It is completely fiction, totally made up and I have to say, pretty frickin frightening.  It is based in the future, not too far off and has to do with a collapse in the United States infrastructure.  I know, it’s vague, but I have to keep it vague, because I am only into the first chapter.  

But this post is about writing under a pen-name.  So here’s my argument.  Authors write scary stuff that get people thinking, it’s like that old faithful metaphor, hitting a hornet’s nest with a baseball bat, or quite simply, when you start calling out a very powerful group  on their ideals.  Either way, controversy can equal lots of anger, especially if it makes certain powers look bad.  

I think the latest novel I’m working on is going to be one that will stir the pot of all things controversial and therefore, if I am ever fortunate to have it published, I would really consider it for publication under a pen name.  I really don’t want people showing up on my doorstep with burning torches and pitchforks trying to drive me out of my community.
So these statements raise the question~ is it worth writing?  Well, my answer to that is yes.  I think we can all agree that none of us would have the guts to tell JK Rowlings not to write any of her books or if George Orwell (aka-Eric Blair) was alive today, flip him the bird and tell him to take 1984 and shove it.  Many authors from today and the past wrote because it was their passion.  They had to, it was in their blood.  

Off the top of my head, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer, Catcher and the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, The Color Purple and so many more I could keep rambling off, were all books that have been banned or attempted to be banned.  Classics we all have read and loved or hated.  Books that made us think, wonder, challenge and question.  Do you get my point?  

Now I’m not saying that my WIP would live in the same vicinity of these giants.  But what I do believe is I have a story to tell, just like these authors.  A story that floods my mind faster than I can write it and it just so happens that it’s going to piss off some people.  But if I don’t write it, what good is that going to do?  I have this story in my head and it’s begging to get out.  I gotta write it. 

So before we decide to ban a book, burn them in the name of our children’s safety, or hate them for their content, think about the freedom we have to protest freely our distaste of these reads.  Without Freedom of Speech, we are all just a bunch of gagged critics standing around bond-fires fueled by the pages that brought us Romeo and Juliet and Winnie the Pooh.  

Oh Boy did I ever go off topic!  So my post today went from writing under a pen name to harping on the uselessness of censorship in less than 6 seconds.  Oh well at least I killed two birds with one post!  

Self censorship is really easy~ don't buy the book.   

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rejection is …

As most of you know, and for those of you who didn't, I've been querying my manuscript Wilson Mooney, out to literary agents that represent young adult novels (Well, if you call 15 submissions, querying). Anyway, out of the 15 I sent out, 9 have come back with a polite, "Thanks, but no thanks" response. That leaves 6 still out with no response yet.

I've been pretty upbeat about the whole process. As the first couple of "no thanks" came in I told myself that was okay. Hell, I still have out bunches that haven't responded yet. When I reached 7 rejections, I still was feeling okay about it. There are a lot of good writers that get rejected all the time. Besides, this was the first time I've ever ho'ed out my work. But now that I have 9 out of 15 telling me no thanks, I'm starting to let that seed of doubt creep into my mind.

I know, I know, there are a lot of good writers that had hundreds of rejections before the one yes, from the right agent, that made a difference. I totally get that. I also have to believe there is an agent out there, willing to take a bet on me. I still hear the booming voices, with all the different accents, telling me, "this is your first sets of submissions, don't be so hard on yourself."

But there's that small voice—you know the one, which we all try and stuff down into the darkest corner of our psyche, the one that finds a way to poke at you with its filthy, insidious doubt until you pay attention to it. You know what I'm talking about. Like a flea bite that starts out tiny, then festers to a full blown infection. Simply because you scratched it until it bled.

That is what I am working so hard to avoid. I don't want to let the infectious ick of doubt take over my positive thoughts and ruin what I've worked so hard to accomplish.

So I tell myself, keep working, keep writing, keep busy, so when the day comes, when the skies part and the goddess of everything wonderful waves her massive wand and my manuscript is accepted for representation, I can beat down the festering glop of doubt that nefariously tried to take over my optimistic thoughts and rain on my one woman parade of self acceptance.

The time has come to covet the long sought after- peace of mind and keep chipping away at the long list of naysayers that hold my dreams in their hands. It is they, which I have come to realize, who are as personal and unique as the underwear I choose buy in the store. Every one is a different color and each one with their own way of covering my ass.

I just ask one thing—God please let me find one that fits.