Geez Louise, I despise New Year’s resolutions. I never keep them, and don’t even remember what I resolved past January 3rd. Usually, along about October I find the notebook I was supposed to write in every morning, stuffed under the car seat or kicked under the washing machine.
Then I despair.
Not this year, bucko!
I don’t want to generate failure anymore. No more promises to work on habits and goals that I don’t really want, no matter how many Good Writers recommend them. Instead, whatever interests me, I’m just gonna do it.
And when it doesn’t float my boat anymore, I will stop.
Maybe I’ll end up making the same changes in my life that a New Year’s Resolver does, but I won’t feel like I’m being punished, and I sure won’t feel guilty if my self-improvement ideas don’t work out.
No, I have not abandoned my lovely blog. But I’m starting to feel the need to revamp.
I’ve blogged here with varying degrees of enthusiasm since 2008. That’s over 5 years, my dear, sweet readers.
So it’s time to redesign, refocus and reverberate. I’m going to mess around with design and style for the next few months, and think about the direction to take with this platform.
BUZZ WORD ALERT
I watched a documentary the other night about Harper Lee, called “Hey Boo“.
I’d been thinking about her upcoming court battle with her current agent. Imagine. Stealing the rights to one of the most beloved American novels of all time. Allegedly.
And I wondered why Miss Lee hadn’t written another book since To Kill a Mockingbird. I mean, nearly every page of that masterpiece has one quotable passage. Or two. Or even three.
The documentary indirectly answered the Mystery of Harper Lee’s Retirement for me:
It took her eight years of bumming around in odd jobs before she had a manuscript. She gave it to Tay Hohoff at Lippincott, who described it as a string of stories rather than a novel with a beginning, middle and end. But she saw something in Miss Lee’s writing, and guided her through several rewrites for two and a half years.
How often do editors do that sort of thing anymore? How would they have time? And how many brilliant novels have we lost, because there was no editor to guide the writer?
There have been a lot of conspiracy theories floated, claiming Harper Lee did not write To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the suspected authors being her childhood friend, Truman Capote. But I think we know now who helped Miss Lee write her book.
Oh. And she loved Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch.
I’ve been everywhere, man. (Cue music.)
Across the deserts bare, man.
Breathed that mountain air, man.
You get the idea.
One of the things we did last week, was go on a ghost tour in Old Town, in Albuquerque.
Now, there’s some fun.
Two guides and only seven people in the group. Excellent stories, videos, pictures, EVPs, (electric voice phenomena) and history lessons.
Yes, history lessons.
It occurred to me that really, the tour boiled down to one gigantic history lesson.
Because where does a ghost come from, but the past? Whether it’s 1998 or 1698, ghosts are reminders of what came before us.
When Great Aunt Melba rattles around in the attic, we communicate with our ancestors. Union soldiers at Shiloh allow us to affirm the continuity of our country. Incan ghosts at Machu Picchu let us know that even if the glory of our civilization dies, we will not.
I’m thinking about writing a ghost story for my next novel. Of course, in order for a ghost story to be interesting it has to be more than haints floating around a dilapidated house. There has to be some sort of psychosis involved.
I’m wondering if the more the main character connects with the ghost, the more frightening it is. The better the ghost can infiltrate his psyche, and therefore, the reader’s, the more the ghost can play him like a fiddle.
I mean, aren’t we all so OVER monsters?
I dunno. Still puzzling this out. Tell me what you think.
Should not even be an issue.
Government needs to get out of the marriage business all together.
Marriage, after all, is a religious institution. Let the churches handle marriage, let the government handle Civil Partnerships.
See, everybody should have a partner in life, someone who’s got your back. And that person should be designated your “next-of-kin” for legal purposes–insurance, benefits, debts and assets. Health directives.
A Civil Partnership could be two seventy-year-old widowed friends with no family, no interest in remarrying, living a Golden Girls life.
Maybe two people do not want to marry but are committed to raising children together–for whatever reason. A partnership might be two siblings who must live together and raise six orphaned nephews. Why shouldn’t those siblings have the tax advantages and insurance rates a married couple has? They certainly have the expenses that the married benefits were designed to mitigate.
Yeah. No one’s brought that up. Because they are nimrods.
Because they are too busy DRAWING PICTURES IN THEIR HEADS OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING IN THE BEDROOM.
Yes, in my perfect world, just as religiously married people currently are also civilly married, a religiously married person would also have a legal Civil Partnership. But you would not HAVE to be married, to enter into a Civil Partnership.
It’s none of my effin’ business, what floats somebody’s boat. And it’s just plain rude to speculate on such matters.
So quit waggin’ your collective finger. Quit judging each other. Allow everyone to decide what is best for them, guided by religious, philosophic, and scientific institutions.
The only thing left for the government to decide, is what is equitable.
Writers live in the past.
We have to.
If our dialogue is going to ring true we must listen to hours of conversations between real people, then recall those words later, at the keyboard.
To put a reader in a setting we must know that place, even if it is a place we’ve never visited, or a place we’ve created in the clouds. Either way, the sensory clues will be the same. Sights, smells, sounds—all things the writer experiences and files away to call upon when she opens her work-in-progress.
The plot springs from something that happened to the writer, or happened to someone he knew, or it’s something he read about. The finished story might not resemble the original spark in any way, but it certainly didn’t pop out of nowhere, unattached to the human condition.
Emotion. The hardest thing to put into our manuscripts, the shadows of our past we don’t want to examine. Even if the reason for the character’s emotion is vastly different than the circumstances the writer faced, it’s painful to put ourselves in that space. To be that raw. And then spill it on the page.
People cherish truth.
The best writers will time-travel to get it for them.