Friday, April 29, 2011
I need a time out in the Cone of Silence so I don't scare the neighbors while I scream.
I so need to scream.
Long, deep, loud, resonant, aching, banshee screams until there is no voice left at all and I finally curl up into a little pink hoodie-wearing, Muppet/mutant ball and sleep for days from sheer exhaustion.
Have you ever been so completely, overwhelmingly frustrated that you just couldn't fight the tears in your eyes any more? When you felt that sickening knot in your stomach and that tightening ache in your throat and thought for sure you were about to pass out, throw up, and/or have a massive coronary right on the spot?
That's where I'm at. In fact, that's where I've been for a long time.
I've been fighting so many battles on so many fronts I can't even begin to explain it. That's why I haven't been blogging much.
There's just stuff going on in my life now that no one would believe if it were written into a novel. Even for a soap, people would tend to call 'no way' on such unbelievable turns of events one on top of another and another. Yet, it's my reality, and I'm bailing as fast as I can.
Some things I just can't talk about openly out of respect for other people's privacy (family). Other things will become public record and public knowledge all in good time but right now I can't post about them here because I'd hate for someone close who doesn't know yet to find out that way.
So I'm holding, spiraling, and circling, and feeling so trapped overall that I'm at risk of gnawing off one of my own limbs to get free of it all pretty soon if that's the only option left. It's get out or give up- and after coming way too close to giving up on it all, I can't let it happen now.
Sometimes, life is hard. Okay, mostly all the time, for everybody. But other times people intentionally make it harder than it has to be and that's what makes me want to scream.
They seem to want to waste not only their energy to 'make a point' but mine too, and I have so little energy to spare. In fact, I think it's actually a negative amount to begin with.
Have you ever seen a tired, overworked mother trying to pull her two year old out of a store when the kid decided to go all limp-as-soggy-celery- passive-resistance on her? That's how I feel right now. I'm trying to just get home, but the World at Large is all dead weight.
It's like I'm trying to keep from drowning while people around me are diving out of their perfectly good lifeboats and grabbing at my wrists and ankles in an attempt to use me as a flotation device instead.
I have to find a way to short-circuit these psychic-vampires before they get to me so much or I'm going to be in big(ger) trouble. I've gotten better at it over the years but after the brutal punch after punch I've taken emotionally the past few years, lately my skills are slipping.
So I'm asking today, how do you do it? How do you deal with people who make things more complicated than they need to be?
I look forward to hearing your answers-- after I emerge from the Cone of Silence. Believe me, you want me there. If I screamed as loud audibly as I am internally outside it, I'd do permanent damage to your hearing, and I like you way too much to risk it.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Before I start I have to say- if you have not read this- you must. Anne R. Allen posted the link on Facebook to this jaw-dropping post by A. Victoria Mixon and oh...my...gracious. Do you know who actually owns and operates the six big publishing houses? After reading this it makes me even happier that I am off the whole query-to-the-big-boys-treadmill that held me captive (in thought before even in action- it was so paralyzing I really barely stuck a toe in the water) last year. So. Glad. Again I see more reasons why I believe the machinery would eat me alive and not even skip a cog. So check that out.
Now, I've had this post knocking around in my head for quite some time, so here we go.
Why do bad stories happen to good characters?
I'm thinking sequels- or in one of my favorite (or I should say) most personally cringe-worthy examples, prequels- are a major issue.
I'm not talking about Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True (as horrific as it is/was/always will be.) I'm talking about the big one.
Well, okay, the two big ones in my book- proving that the good character/bad story thing can and does happen to the best of the best and I know it serves to me as a cautionary tale. I don't ever want this to happen to my characters.
Example one: Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi (or as I call it, "He had Liam and Ewan, how do you screw that up?")
Simple. Add said Irish and Scotsman to a host of potentially (okay, so actually) offensive aliens (those accents, George, what were you thinking?) Add Jar Jar who was an insult in himself. (and my apologies to the Star Wars faithful who love him. Again, this is my opinion only.)
How do you make poor Natalie Portman utter a line like this: "Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo; so long ago when there was nothing but our love."
People, I write a lot of romance- and that about killed even me.
Then there was poor Shmi. That death scene. Do I really need to say any more?
It's funny because recently I found notes for a blog post I meant to write long ago and then didn't because I got sick- but it was pre-death blogfest, and it said something like "Join in the blogfest of Death- because our characters all deserve so much better than poor Shmi got."
This may be considered blasphemous talk from someone who has wanted to be a Jedi since the age of six (I wanted to be a girl Jedi before they were depicted in the films, oh yes I did.) But it serves as a serious warning to me in my writing- if even the best storytellers can fall prey to this, whatever this, slaughtering of characters by way of bad story is- then as a Paduan writer I'd better pay attention.
My second example, and Holy Twinkies it hurts to say this:
Jack Sparrow and poor, poor Will Turner.
I should have walked out on "At Plot's..." I mean, "At World's End" after the first scene which contained deadly violence toward a child. I don't know why I didn't. I think it's because I was in shock. And I stayed, shocked and glued in my seat through the whole sordid mess until the lights came up (after the 'extra scene') and everyone was stumbling out around me and my husband stared, blinking, straight ahead of him. I couldn't believe I'd brought my tween to see it- she hated it too- and I just remember saying "What just happened? That did NOT just happen."
Then my husband said "How would you have written it?" and in sixty seconds I gave him my solutions to all the problems raised in the plot. At the end he said "That I would have liked."
Senseless murder of beloved characters- consigning heroes to fates worse than death- this was not what I was expecting when I paid for my ticket to that movie. That is something I don't ever want to do to my readers.
I'm going to wait until the reviews are in before I even consider seeing the next installment. I loves me some Jack Sparrow as you all know, but I don't know if I have another trip like the last one in me.
So tell me, my writer friends- do you think sequels pose the greatest hazard to good characters being victimized by bad writing? Or do you think that good writing is good writing sequel or otherwise?
I look forward to your thoughts- and your own examples of good characters, bad stories...or the reverse even. Happy Thursday.
PS I'll be updating my sidebar soon with some new links to artists whose work I appreciated at last weekend's Great Lakes Art Fair. So stay tuned for that. Also I have it on good authority that there may be a new "Bru Interviews" post on the horizon...which will be in progress soon as I write up the questions for the author I'm sitting down to tea and Twinkies with. Stay tuned.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Hi Everybody, So, I'm late blogging on this Sunday. Apologies. I'm headed back to U of M for my (hopefully) final post-op check tomorrow, and I've been trying to get a painting done to thank my surgeon for his fine work. In anticipating of painting it, I asked him what his favorite flower was. His answer struck terror into my heart because I'd never painted it before and didn't have a clue how I'd approach it. So in the end I did it the way I do all my paintings. I just let the colors lead me.
I've discovered some very odd trade offs have been made for the vision I've regained. Like, for some reason when I paint certain shades of yellow over black, they appear green. Oh, I can see the yellow on the paint brush. But on the canvas, overlapped, green as springtime grass. Oh yeah, and apparently, I seem to be seeing some things in 3D now...without the glasses. Scary freaky and also kinda cool. Has thrown my painting perspective way off and I'm trying to get my bearings there. But I digress.
These weird goings on are not my surgeons' (I've had more than one specialist) fault. My eyes are genetically flawed. They knew something was wrong when I was a baby- I would look around the room and my eyes would appear to jiggle like a bowl of Jello. Freaked my mother right out. So what did she do?
She went into denial and never took me to an eye doctor (I had my first real exam at the age of 21.)
The technical name for this part of my eye issues is iridodonesis, but I prefer to call it Jellovision. Thing is that since my lenses (and now both lens capsules) have been removed, well, that shoring up they were doing of the iris ain't happening anymore. So the shaking is worse. It's like watching a movie filmed without steadicam. My vision shakes. Sometimes a little. More often, a lot.
For the first few weeks I was getting serious motion sickness from this, but I think my brain is starting to make some sense of it. I was constantly aware of it, even just my own heartbeat can make my irides shake. The world is constantly moving even though I'm holding still. Still, it was worth it. Even though said iris decided to flop right into the field where my poor surgeon was working (and yes, I was once again aware of the entire surgery. That was not the goal, alas, it was the outcome. That makes five out of six eye surgeries I've been consciously aware of and feeling pain during. If they ever have to do it again, it's general or I am not going into that operating room.)
When the iris flopped, well, let me put it to you this way. If any other surgeon had held the tool it would have been a disaster. Lucky for me, it's not a big thing. As it is, I lost some pigment in my iris on the right and now have what the techs called "Cool X-men eyes": a black spot in the colored portion of my eye. It's only cosmetic. I say, some people think tattoos prove they're tough. I got mine inside my eye. :~)
So anyway. Like everything in life there have been trade offs. But I don't regret the surgery. My vision had become so bad again I could barely read, I couldn't see faces(not even my own) or TV or anything anymore. The glare created inside my own eye (due to another genetic defect) was like windshield glare I couldn't escape. It was painful. So that's gone, and I'm grateful.
I still have limits how much of the time I can stand to use my huge glasses every day, but I am grateful for the vision that I have and that's why I have to take care of my eyes now. That's why it takes me so long to respond to your wonderful comments and emails. It's not that I don't care. It's that sometimes the eyes just won't let me wear the correction, and as fragile as they are now, I have to listen.
I'm wondering, has there ever been a situation in your life that required a trade off of some kind? How big was it, and was it worth it? I'd love to know.
Before I leave you on this unseasonably warm Sunday evening (woo hoo! I think the last patch of snow on the grass is finally gone.) I want to share something, or more specifically, someone with you who always makes me smile.
This is a dear friend, and he's (and he made me say this) studying sign language (read, he's not an interpretor. He's still learning. Again, I promised I'd say that. He has put up a WONDERFUL series on Youtube, music videos, interpreting songs so that hearing impaired people can enjoy them too. He's been doing this for a couple of years and I'm always so impressed by his gift for performance, so I wanted to share him with you.
Though I see I can't embed the video here :~P so I'm going to have to post a link to one of his most recent videos.
While you're visiting his Youtube channel, be sure to check out his It Gets Better video- spoken, and signed to reach both hearing and deaf audiences. I was bullied as a child too- for different reasons, but that matters little in the end. Bullying is bullying, and I don't think I've ever been quite so proud of my friend as I was when I saw this video. bru loves you, baby. Keep those songs coming and that bright smile shining.
Happy Sunday, everyone. ~bru
(who will post some new artwork on the paintings page as soon as it's dry enough to scan...)
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Second- the response to my last two posts has been overwhelming- and I do want to respond to everyone who commented. It may take me a little while because I have a lot of real life stuff going on right now- big stuff. Emotional stuff. To be truthful, it's all pretty much whacked the stuffing out of me.
So I'm running low on energy and eyesight but not on the desire to let you know you've been heard and I appreciate you hearing me. It's easier to do it through email so if you have one linked to your comment and I haven't responded to your comment yet, look for something there hopefully in the next little while.
Oh, and hi, new folks who have chosen to click the 'usual suspects' button. :~) I promise to do my best to make the rounds back to you soon as I can to take a look around and say hi. Thanks for being here.
Now, on with the show!
What do you want from your writing?
To self-publish? Try for a small press? Go full throttle- and never settle unless and until you have a shelf full of NY Times bestsellers?
Do you want to be famous, beloved, or both?
I ask, because it’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to the past year and I wonder sometimes if writers are considering their personalities when they make the decision to query, to keep going, to keep reaching for the ring. Some seem so miserable doing it, others thrive on it and eat rejections for breakfast then get back to querying the moment after the meal is over.
I, as you know if you have ever read here before, am not one of those people.
I am an INFJ on the Keirsey Temperment Sorter. I am a 10-- yes, out of 10-- on the introversion scale. Now before you call ‘no way’ on that you should know that it’s pretty impossible to portray yourself as such on a blog- at least, to do so and expect anyone to stick around when you just say “I wrote something today. I had lunch. It was good.” Over and over again. You have to put yourself out there to a certain extent.
How far you go, blogging or otherwise depends (or should) on what you want, I believe, out of the experience.
I have always wanted only one thing from my writing- to touch people, to make them think, or see someone in a new light, maybe even themselves. To feel, something. Even if they hate my work if they feel something rather than say “Meh, it was a’ight.” Then I’m happy.
It was my experience down in Disney World last summer that sort of cemented for me that I don’t need the ‘big show’ so to speak- just to be heard, to any small extent, is what feeds me and is why I keep doing this and keep writing.
What the heck does singing have to do with writing, you ask?
For me, pretty much everything. Words and music are vital to me, and I can't imagine living without either.
This is where I tell you that I didn’t get to go to music school.
I should have- the scholarship was there. My parents prevented it. Long story.
I was going to go back, but you know the story. Marriage. Husband has to finish degree, so you work. Baby. Divorce. Remarriage. Second husband needs to finish degree first, so you work.
Stroke at age 29.
End of dream of music school.
I always wondered what it’d be like to sing before a live audience of people, on a stage, with lights and all (which is a little different than singing at a friend’s sister’s wedding reception, even if you do hit and hold that high note at the end of All I Ask of You it’s not quite that triumphant.)
So, since I was there alone with no one else to worry about, I went ahead and tried out for Disney’s American Idol Experience last summer. Given the prize if you win the final show at the end of the day (and no, I didn’t make it past the first show I was in, that’s not the point) is a front of the line pass for real AI auditions people take this very seriously.
In the case of some parents I saw, too seriously. They seemed to forget they were in a theme park and put their kids through a lot over it (speaking of kids I was going to opt to pass the golden ticket to my own kid if I’d gotten that far, so I wasn’t ‘wasting’ anyone’s chance at it- she sings like an angel.)
My point is-- and I typed the original story out of the day but figure no one wants to read 3100 words (literally) -- this.
The week following my moment on stage at AIE, people would come up to me, complete strangers, and say they voted for me. That they were touched by my story (of my vision loss struggle) and my singing. They shook my hands. Some kids asked for hugs (I seemed to be a hit with tweens, that made me smile. I gave a lot of hugs that week.) Everyone I spoke to said they’d remember me. And people did. Even the last day of my trip I had a teen boy drag his mother up to me in a gift shop and introduce me to her, and the mother said “He’s been talking about you all week.”
I had my moment- and it was enough. It didn’t have to be the huge American Idol show with the pressure and all that goes with it.
(Wow, it's a good thing that I was carrying a little extra last year- this was before I had to go 23 days without solid food. But I digress.)
That feeling I had walking around in Florida- that is what I want as far as where I am with my writing. I just want to resonate with a small, passionate and loyal audience. Maybe the way to do that is to self-publish eventually. Maybe I could (if I tried really hard…) work up the courage to keep going until I find a small press willing to publish my work. Godspeed is where I would start- though I definitely have plans to polish up Fireworks Flowers. It’s such a viable commercial romance- I know that. In my soul, I know it. And I know how to fix the two things that were tripping it up- and I will. I have to finish Godspeed first because Quinn is persistent and he just won’t leave me alone.
In any event, I don’t need the huge thing- the whole thing- and likely if I had it, it wouldn’t be me. I’d be caught up in the machinery and, soft soul that I am and always will be, I’d get crushed.
But that’s okay. Because my voice can still be heard even just here, on this blog. If you’ve gone this far, you’re listening, aren’t you?
That ‘vote’ of confidence is what matters to me- and that’s the ‘experience’ I’m after.
What about you? Would you be happy being closer with a smaller audience or will you not rest until you’re on the NYT Bestseller’s list? If you had to choose to be a rich writer (ha, just play along) or a treasured one, which adventure would you choose?
EDITED to add a couple links for the curious:
A backstage look at the audition process for Disney's American Idol Experience
A backstage look at the audition process for Disney's American Idol Experience
A sample of my singing (a capella, as the audition is) along with pictures of the steampunk globe art project I did a few months back)
At the audition I sang The Winner Takes It All by ABBA and when they asked for more, Reflection from Mulan. For the actual show (where the picture was taken- that one was done during the 'judging') I sang Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
You know the feeling that you get when you're all curled up, watching a favorite TV show, and suddenly THAT commercial comes on? The one you really, really hate?
Doesn't matter which one it actually is for my purposes here- everyone has a personal commercial pet peeve. Maybe it's the one with the really loud bass in the music. Maybe it's the one where some guy is screaming at the top of his lungs about zero dollars down and zero a month for six months while dressed as a clown or in some other unfortunate costume. Maybe it's the one where the furniture store *gasp* offers to pay your sales tax like it's never been done in the long and storied history of man before. Dunno. I just know I hate it.
Now, imagine every channel you switch to is showing the same commercial, and you have to fast forward again, and again, and again... So, you turn off your TV and go online.
Now I'd like you to picture trying to go into your email and suddenly, your spam filter just quits on you. Bye bye, gone, kaput. Everyone selling everything from 'enhancement' pills to offering you free gift cards to Walmart if you just put in your social security number and your mother's maiden name are all there, all at once. In. Your. Face.
That is how I feel right now trying to navigate the blogosphere. Right now, we are being spammed, folks. I'm not going to be popular for saying it but hell I'm not popular anyway. We are being spammed and it's not strangers doing it. It's people we know and in some cases really, really like.
Maybe they don't realize that's what it feels like to the rest of us. I don't know if things just got out of hand or the plan was spam all along.
Not just blog readers are being spammed but it's FB and Twitter and it's just past the point I can take.
I don't think I'm the only one. I am starting to see a trend of bloggers I like to read deciding to take the month off. I planned on doing that but instead, I'm going to post at LEAST on Sundays (since I mentioned that on FB I notice a couple other people taking that tack too of posting on Sundays, good going, guys, it helped me find a couple REALLY amazing posts today that would have been lost otherwise in the melee. Thanks for that.)
I want to apologize to my close bloggy buddies who are undertaking said marketing blitz because I really don't want my opinion on this to hurt them individually--this is the important part- if I love you and your blog (and you know who you are) I will visit you and comment in April whether you're in this Big Thing or not. Because I love you. End of story.
I don't think any individual blogger in the thing (or even planner of it) thought that is what they are/would be doing. I think, though, that maybe someone should have yanked in on the reigns if they were planning it or in the case of signing up would have realized that by the time you're blogger 942 on the list you might not really get much traffic.
Somewhere along the line, out of a sense of common courtesy to other bloggers- wouldn't it have been a good idea for someone to say "I think we have enough people for a month long event of this magnitude, let's cap this puppy and call it a list."
No one shouted 'stop'.
One friend pointed out she hoped to make a connection and maybe 'meet someone like' me. That is very sweet, and I really hope she does. I hope she meets people much better than me (and that's probably in my view basically anybody she'd meet anywhere.)
But people won't be meeting me through this thing because upwards of 1000 people all shouting at once is just that- shouting- and I am hitting the mute button.
Now, there are a couple of REALLY amazing blog posts out there today (I 'shared' them on FB- I'm not linking them here only because I don't want their authors to feel like I'm trying to lump them in with my opinion in what is I am sure to be a very unpopular post here.) It saddens me to think people will miss them because of everything else going on.
So I for one, I'm just putting up my hands and begging for mercy and a little consideration from others in my 'neighborhood'.
Just like it's not nice to blow someone off the road on the Interstate, it's not polite to plan an event that, if everyone participates will generate something like thirty thousand posts in one month that blows everybody else off the radar in what is basically a pretty small community. That's what the writing 'sphere is, a small community and right now some of us are being run out of town, even though we have promoted some of you back when no one did (and before you had five kajillion Followers.)
If you flooded a message board this way, it would earn you a banning.
People don't like it.
I also feel that many people are going to miss so many things worth doing and reading in April just trying to keep up with an enterprise that I don't think anyone can keep up with.
Is it all just about bumping your Follower count up? For me, blogging means so much more than that.
This is something that feels to me, as a jaded old blogger (remember, this blog is far from my first rodeo- I have blogged long and years ago in other arenas previously) like that endless inbox of spam, in which I am forced to just 'check all and delete', or in this case, mark all as read.
The louder you yell the less I can hear you.
My opinion only. But it is what it is. If I lose any blogging friends over this, it would sadden me. Real friends though don't always have the same opinion, so I hope that you'll forgive me for not being to contain mine at this point with the long rest of April staring me in the Dashboard.
If you can't forgive me, I understand and I truly wish you every success as you pursue your writing dreams.
We have come together in this blog community because of that- our love of words and writing. I hope that can be remembered, and that when the dust settles, people will realize that behind every single blog is a real person. Even, believe it or not, this one. A person, not just a potential Follower.
Many people, especially your friends, won't tell you this. But like the friend who pulls you aside at the dance and says "Pssst, you've got spinich in your teeth" or your fly is unzipped, I'm trying to tell you here what a lot of others won't. Think about your posts this month- don't make them hit and runs, at the very least, that don't show off who you really are.
If you're doing the thing, then DO it. But don't let it mow you over. Indiana Jones saw the boulder coming and he got out of the way. That's all I'm trying to help you do, before you realize May 1 that for all that shouting, you lost the people who were really listening to you to begin with.
much love to all (really.)