"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A new workshop is exciting...and frightening

I've been asked to teach a new workshop at the Southern California Writers Conference this month (in beautiful San Diego, click here for details) about story. The workshop came about after my hubby and I visited Michael Steven Gregory (conference director) and his wife Chrissie (conference behind-the-scenes organizer-problem-solver) over the summer.

Michael and I stayed up late a few nights discussing books and movies that we liked and didn't like and why we liked or didn't like them. We talked one night until the wee hours (I think it was, like 3 am) about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Although I liked the re-immersion into the Stars Wars world, I had a couple of problems with the movie.

First of all, I wasn't sure who the main character was. At first, I thought it was Finn, the black guy who turned from being a storm trooper and joined the resistance. Then it seemed like maybe it was Rey, the orphan girl on the planet Finn crash-lands on. Or was it Poe the pilot? My problem with not having a main character is that I have expectations of being able to relate to the MC and experience the movie through them.

Maybe I need to adjust those expectations.

My second problem was that, with all the battles and attacks and dodging and weaving, I couldn't tell what this story was about. In one sense, it was about seeing old friends Luke and Leia and Hans again (and thanks for ruining it, J.J. Abrams), but it needed to be more. Just announcing with the title, "The Force Awakens" is not SHOWING me the story. It's TELLING.

What are the rules, kids? Show, don't tell.

So I'm teaching a workshop called "What's the Point? Story, Subtext, and Plot." I'm excited to do it, but I'm frightened beyond reason that I won't do the subject justice. If you come to the conference (why wouldn't you?) and you take my workshop, be warned that I will be my usual maniacally overachieving self and will ask you to do a few exercises while I throw mass quantities of information at you. 

It'll be fun.

In the meantime, I'm going to put up two movie trailers here. One is for The Big Sleep. The other is for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Watch them both.

Now...what is each one of these movies about? And, if you've seen both, did the movies live up to your expectations, based on the trailers?

Feel free to discuss.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Long time, no see

It's been a while, yes?

Here's what happened: In August, I got incredibly sidetracked by my latest WIPs, not to mention my horse (see Snoopy's blog). The manuscript I thought was ready for its closeup turned out to be not-so-photogenic. Every agent passed. So many agents...but a few of them gave me solid comments, which I am taking to heart and using to revise. 

In the meantime, the three other books I plan to write are in various stages of 1) I'm 2000 words in and I don't like the way I started this; 2) I've written an outline but I'm not certain if I'm on the right path; and 3) the idea is swirling about in my head if I could find time to open a file and begin.

It was business as usual, until October 21 rolled along. I was giving a riding lesson to a 7-year old, when I tripped and fell backward, breaking my left wrist. The upside is that it was my LEFT wrist and a clean fracture, not displaced. The downside is, I couldn't bend my left wrist in a position to type. I managed to type out my columns one-handed, but any attempt to work on any WIP was impossible--I was thinking faster than my right hand could find the keys, and getting frustrated.

So I stopped writing. Yes. Stopped. I didn't work on anything. Mentally, I wrote a blog every day without actually trying to get it onto the screen. Weekly, I pecked out my column. But no words were added to any of my novels. 

I've experienced short periods of extreme sadness. Who hasn't? I've never gone through anything that could be called depression. These last three months come close. Not only didn't I write, I began to think I might not write any more. I still "showed up" for my columns, gave them my best, but I didn't look at the words with any sense of pride or ownership. I simply did my job.

Today I'm in my office, at my computer, and not playing on Facebook or Twitter or anything. I'm opening my manuscript and creating. Is my long shadow of sadness over? Almost. I at least see the sun peeking over the horizon.

I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got work to do. 

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