Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Goin' dark...

Just a quick note to say I'm going computer-silent till sometime Sunday. If you need to get in touch with me before then, well, good luck.

Mary Smedes, we're on our way...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Baby, all my facts are random.

Crap. Tagged. Thanks a bunch, Lyman. I guess this is what you get when you out someone for eating babies.

Okay, first things first, the rules:

1. Link to the baby-eatin' mofo who tagged you. See above.

2. Post these rules on your blog. Curse afore-mentioned baby eater for stealing Fight Club joke. Done and done.

3. Come up with six random facts about yourself. (Now's the part where I lament the fact that my bio in the sidebar is comprised entirely of random facts, all of which now seem totally off the table.)

All right. Six random facts. Here goes:

I was vegetarian for several years, despite the fact that I think bacon should be a food group.

I have never played a game of Monopoly in my life. There's a certain Sarah who'd dispute that fact, but she'd be wrong.

I got my ears first pierced when I was sixteen. My mom had to sign for me. Sadly, it was at Claire's. (No, I didn't hug the fucking teddy bear. And yes, I said "first pierced"; there were three more piercings to follow.)

My freshman year in college, I was banned from the grounds of my old high school for my part in a propaganda campaign aimed at ousting a couple of seriously crappy school-board members who were trying to gut the school's programs in order to lower taxes. Most of the folks who bought our shirts and stuff were teachers. I think the principal bought one after he'd escorted us from the grounds.

When I was a kid, I had no idea why the hell people said, "Not if I see you first!" in reply to "See you later!" I couldn't for the life of me understand how them seeing me precluded me seeing them, which leads me inexorably to the question, "Are you stupid if you don't get a joke that is, itself, stupid?" Sadly, the answer may be yes.

And finally, the entity known to the world as Chris F. Holm is, in reality, an intergalactic vessel made entirely out of awesome, and piloted by a tiny alien homunculus.

Okay, on to rule 4: the tagging. The thing is, pretty much everybody I know has completed this meme at one time or another, making me the chump at the bottom of the Amway pyramid who doesn't make any damn money. I guess I'm saying I got nothing. But if any of you folks wanna step up to the plate, go right ahead. Just be sure to give me credit, so I don't get struck by lightning or anything, okay?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

See? Sometimes, you just gotta talk it out.

A funny thing happened on the way to finishing the scene I mentioned in my previous post. I'd mentioned I was having a tough time with it, because although it was filled with actiony goodness, the next scene is sort of the emotional core of the book, and that was what I wanted to be writing. As you can see in the comments section, some writerly folks chimed in, and in the process of talking through my issues writing the scene, I guess I got my head on straight (thanks, guys!), diving back into it with zeal this morning.

So what's the punchline? Well, once my focus shifted from the scene I wanted to write to the scene I was actually writing, one of my characters did something unexpected. Something game-changing. Something that just fucking resonates emotionally, and casts that character (as well as the central struggle of the protagonist) in a whole new light. (That, by the way, is what Stuart was talking about, and why I hate to skip around. Stephen and Sophie, that's not a diss; sometimes you've got to remind yourself why your process is your process, and examining what doesn't work for you is imperative in discovering what does.)

You know, I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two in the time I've spent writing - about mechanics, about craft, about myself - but it seems there's one lesson I'm doomed to learn over and over, only to forget it again. That lesson is this: the key, for me, to writing is being present in the moment, being invested fully in every scene. When external strife, or writing-as-business stuff, or just plain impatience gets in the way of that, the writing suffers, and the only cure is to find that focus again.

So, yeah. Thanks to those who helped me get my mojo back. DH is a better book for it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And... action?

I've gotta tell ya, I've had a hell of a time of late coming up with anything to say around here. My brain's so preoccupied with finishing the first draft of DH that I'm lucky I'm not walking into walls and coasting through red lights. I've been bumping around with my head in the clouds for weeks - or, more accurately, in my own private land of make-believe. (Hey, who says you've gotta grow up sometime? Lame-ass grown-ups, that's who.) It's funny; I want desperately to get this story told, but there's also this hesitation, this reluctance to let it go. Which leads me to my topic of the day.

DH, as I may have mentioned a time or twelve, is a pretty actiony book. But the last thing I want is a book that's nothing but action; action, on its own, isn't conflict, and 300-odd pages of things going boom could wind up being pretty damn monotonous. No, what I want is a story with brains, with heart (and not just splattered across the pavement. Because, you know, yick.) I want to create characters you root for, characters you identify with. I want a book you don't forget the second you put it down, and action alone just ain't gonna accomplish that.

So here's the problem. I'm smack in the middle of a huge action scene, and the writing's kind of dragging. (I mean to say the actual writing of it is taking a while, not that the writing itself is bad.) It's kind of frustrating, because I've got a killer set-piece, some decent tension, and the stakes are certainly high enough. The thing is, it's not the scene I want to be writing. The one I'm fantasizing about, the one that keeps me up at night, is the next scene. If the scene I'm writing is the big action climax of the book, the next one is the emotional climax. Sure, it's full of the talky-talk, but I'll be damned if it's not a thousand times more interesting to me than the explosiony goodness I'm writing now.

So who knows - maybe I am growing up a bit. I mean, in the great debate of Talking versus Explosions, Explosions wins hands-down, right? Only here I am, writing explosions and thinking about dialogue. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself, and this slow-down is just my own subconscious way of delaying the inevitable - that moment when you've got to leave the high of creation behind, and turn your attention to the task of revision (which, for the record, is where the story goes from a neat idea to actually readable). Somehow, though, I think it's the former.

Still, my obsession with the talky bits aside, I suspect I'll never turn my back on the action entirely. After all, it is my own private land of make-believe, and that means if I say so, there's room enough for both.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

In which the writer is an idiot...

This morning, while I was writing, one of my cats tipped over a glass of water onto my notes and keyboard both. While I sat there, yelling like an idiot, Katrina grabbed a bunch of paper towels and got to drying everything out - pausing only long enough to ensure I'd saved my progress before she swabbed the sodden keys.

That's just one of several thousand reasons I'm glad that I'm not doing this alone.

So, fellow writers, if you don't have yourself a Katrina, I suggest you go and get one. Stay away from mine, though - the last thing I need is for her to realize just how damn out of my league she is. And let's face it, my keyboard probably wouldn't last the week.