Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Couldn't Stand Watercolors

As it says on the main Profile, I'm reading Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan. My goal this term is to work on my description. Bleh. Er, not about working on my description, but just the fact that for some reason it's become not-so-good. I don't know why, but let's forget about that at the moment.

As I read McClanahan's guide to writing more descriptively, I realized something that helped to explain my difficulty in getting description to transform from mundane to pure awesomeness. Don't know why I never really saw it before; it seems like it should have been as plain as day. I read other great descrptions and think, "Man, I wish I could write like that." Maybe if I'd been paying attention, I wouldn't be at this juncture. The problem lies in my issue with finding just the right words. I find myself constantly trying to find great words to truly express what I want to express. My thesaurus has become dog-eared with use because I just can't seem to fit all these good words into my head. I make little marks next to words as I write, putting notes in the margins, * find alt word, when something doesn't hit me right and I don't want to stop (or I have stopped and haven't found the right word so I simply return later).

McClanahan speaks of the proper and special naming of a thing, as well as words that describe as opposed to merely labeling something. That could not be more right. Without the proper words for an object, action, and so forth, the description isn't as precise and can make all the difference. I need to focus on doing that. Exactly what I needed to be beaned in the head with.

She also mentions taking time to examine things, look at them in different ways, with different perspectives. At least I can say I do this. Often, actually. I like to go outside and ponder the tiny veins in a maple leaf or the way a spider keeps her legs on individual strands of her web, pulling them taut to detect even the slightest movement, which could indicate dinner. Just today I found a black ant, a soldier, in the sink. No idea how he got there, and at first I thought he'd been smashed and someone swept him in there and failed to swish him down the drain. But when it doubt, a little puff of air from your mouth will tell you whether he's alive or not. He was, so then I plopped my chin at the edge of the sink and watched him, letting my soup bubble for its three minutes. I like to just eyeball things and describe them in my head - like the baby praying mantis I once found, who (and I swear by this) loved my petal pink nail polish. But I never put any of it down on paper because I never considered it of any use. Perhaps I should have as practice.

Considering McClanahan's words, maybe I should do this more often before putting anything down on paper when it comes to my story. Sit back, close my eyes, and put myself in the room. Stand next to a character. Touch the table he's at. Stare at the scene he sees (or she in some cases).

I need to sweat the small stuff.

Currently: Somewhere being ethereal.

P.S. More on this book to come as I continue reading.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mmm, spicy.

Working at Barnes & Noble, I can borrow hardcover books, and as long as I don't mess them up, return them after two weeks so they can go back on the shelves in still-perfect condition. We do this all the time, but if we screw up the book, we have to buy it.

BWAH. Always make sure lids on tupperware are completely closed before putting it in the same bag as your book - especially when the container had chili in it. *oh so sad*

Actually, I managed to clean the book off fairly well, and could have probably gotten away with putting it back without buying it, but I couldn't do so in good conscience. So I ended up buying a $30 hardcover edition of Dune by Frank Herbert. I'm not mad anymore, though it does bug me that the book isn't in pristine condition (I'm very anal about the condition of my books - exactly why I'll eventually buy a hardcover edition of LOTR and leave the paperback with those who messed it up). Oh well. I suppose if I were to ever buy Dune, I might as well get it in hardback because it's big enough to merit the strength hardcovers bring.

Likewise, this gives me a chance to comb through it again in the future and look for the technical error as pointed out by my mentor Anne. We briefly discussed the book vs. the Sci-fi channel's miniseries and how there was a techinical error in each (the same one), but I can't remember the Sci-fi channel's version (though I do remember the costumes and color being fantastic), and I didn't see the hiccup in the book. The best I can come up with is the difficulty in transforming Dune from a desert planet to what everyone kept talking about in the book. Frankly, I don't think it could be done, not without a nice set of mountains to help regulate the weather once all the water was eventually released into the atmosphere (and it would be too). If you still need the desert, you'll need some kind of block to keep desert from encroaching upon jungle/woodland/whatever they want to make. Though I might have missed the error because I'd start out with it in my brain and then read and forget and keep reading and only remember the next time I picked up the book. I'll have to find the Sci-fi miniseries to find it I'll bet.

Ok, aside from that, I pretty much got what I expected from the book. At first I was jealous of Herbert, because he head-hops and he gets away with it. I'd love to head-hop like that, which is probably why I get in trouble for doing it. I don't head-hop like he does; it's not structured enough. Well, at least the pieces I had people read didn't have it structured enough. Either way, I don't think I could match Herbert's style, and in reality, why would I want to? Not to put down Herbert of course, but I mean why be him when I should be me? Besides, I can do a little skipping around when I get to my romance novel (oh so far in the future). Anyway, there were a few times when I thought, "Wait, who's thinking/talking now?" due to the hoppage, so even Herbert isn't perfect. Nyah nyah. (I'm so rude...and Frank Herbert passed away 1986 so I should stop).

I'd seen the movie long before this point in time (ah, I remember watching it that one time in college knowing I was the only girl in the room that would enjoy it, haha) and think that aside from a collected number of things, it was pretty close to the book - especially in terms of style. Talk about head hopping there. I think that movie is the only one with that many people thinking thoughts. Very interesting indeed. But the movie was a bit too dark and Paul was too old and it failed to delve into Paul's issues with stopping the jihad.

Speaking of which, I was very interested to see the amount of Middle Eastern-style words and concepts in this book. I wonder why Herbert went this way. Did he study something in that area? Know the language? Associate desert with the culture? He's had a lot of jobs, so who knows (oyster diver! I'd totally do that). Whatever the case, I don't doubt that either research or experience had a hand in it.

I realized a problem that readers have with my work from time to time as I read one of the action scenes in the book. I had no idea what was going on because it was fast and used disembodied weapons and body parts. I didn't know who was doing what and thought, "Aaah, so this is what it's like to read one of my action scenes." Haha. It was a good lesson and reminded me that it was okay to slow down, add a few details as necessary, and be clear on what was going on.
It was a good choice to read "Science Fiction's Supreme Masterpiece" (as it says on my book cover). I'm not sure about all that, though most people have a pretty good idea what you're talking about when you mention Dune. Hey, Donald Maass (head honcho of an agency company) is looking for "the next Dune" so at least now I have a much better idea of what people are asking for when they mention it (you can't include the movie - they're never accurate enough). I don't think my work qualifies as the next Dune (not enough betrayal, economic conflict, and other elements requested), though I really would love to be able to portray the kind of scope Herbert did. Or Tolkien. I love the scope. I want the scope. I've been gathering up worlds and peoples since I was 13. When done right, I think it can bring in so much to a novel and leaves open so many more fun and exciting possibilities.

Problem with reading Dune? Now I have to read the rest of them. Just like with Hyperion. Great, more stuff to add to my already massive library list, hahaha.

Currently: Oh I dunno. Something like this I guess.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Fuck It

The title pretty much sums up my attitude at the moment. Come to think of it, I don't think that's the first time I've used that title for this particular blog. I think I must have forgotten about the syndrome I adopted in high school when the need arose. The Fuck It Syndrome. Came in handy for things that shouldn't be obsessed over. Kind of goes hand in hand with Robin Williams' Fuck-It-All drug. Sweet.

Anyway, so what's the syndrome for this time? Once again, my story is annoying me. Actually, it's not really the story's fault (ok, so it's never the story's fault - it's my story so it's my fault. Fine. Picky, picky). While starting the whole thing was a huge, annoying pain in the ass, this time I've just been fussing over whether or not to include a specific couple of scenes involving two of my characters. Should I bother? Does it do anything for my story? Do I want them in there because they rock out?

I've been agonizing over this little conundrum for quite some time. Longer than I should have, truth be told. I think a part of that agonizing included, "Well how the hell do I change it if I leave it out?" I didn't know. So I was kind of freaked. I was rather used to it the way it was, and even though I enjoyed the scene, I still didn't think it was truly fabulous, so the "Do I want it because I like it?" question was only so-so. Sure I like it, but I wouldn't cry if I had to cut it either.

Things finally came to a head a few days ago when I got to stay up nice and late the way I LOVE to do because they cut back on hours at B&N. I get less hours which = less money, but it's a blessing in disguise because I get more time to write. But what the hell does that matter if I'm not even writing? Ah, here's the "Fuck It" part for you.

The last time I wrote a fanfic was when I went out of my mind and thought, "Why the hell not? It'll be short anyway." By the way, that fanfic has transformed into a great romance story for the future. Hoorah. Anyway, the other night I watched an early episode of Doctor Who and because I'm a complete nerd and think David Tennant is hot (ok, maybe not hot, but I'd be like a kid who was just told the candy store he's in is now his if I ever found David Tennant in my bed, or hell, even in my vicinity...God do I ever need to get laid. Honestly kids, this whole virgin thing is getting OLD), and went to bed dreaming dreams of visiting London and meeting him in a bar...ah I wish.

That morning I woke up and laid in bed for a while, pondering ideas. I don't know about other writers, but I tend to get some great ideas when I just lay there, thinking. Either at night or in the morning. I go through whole scenarios that way. That's exactly where a huge chunk of my current book comes from. An hour of laying in bed. So there I was, pondering a Doctor Who scenario for...God knows what reason. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure where it came from. I'd thought up a character before to hang out with him, but I'd never acted on it (as in wrote it down as a fanfic) though I know exactly where the whole kit n'kaboodle would go. But this idea. It was good. I liked it. It was violent. It had tension (hahaha - sorry, Seton Hill giggle), and I thought, "That would be fun." And then I got up.

I didn't do anything about it for a while until I went through the day thinking about it and realized just how much I wanted to sit my ass down and write it. Of course, those thoughts were tarnished by the thoughts of, "Well, I should be working out this Anna/Rilst problem." Finally, I remembered Mike Arnzen's class, and decided, "You know what? Fuck that. I'm going to write what I want to write." I got up and grabbed my red notebook (*drool* God I love that notebook) and started writing.

Aaaaaah. It was good. God it was so good. Words went onto the paper, endorphins flooded my brain, all was well with the world. Ok, so I don't know about the endorphins part, but it was so nice just to feel my pencil swirling over the paper in pretty little letters to make pretty little words. I don't care that it's a Doctor Who fanfiction and it's a waste of real writing time. In essence it is real writing time. It made me happy and hey, that's all that matters. I've been working on it instead of my story, but I don't much care. I have an entire week off and I have enough done already that I'm not under any crazy pressure constraints.

So yeah. Fuck it. >=)

Currently: Take that bitches!