Tag Archives: Writing

Feeling as if I am moving on

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The intricate lace-like pattern of bare winter tree branches, silhouetted against the steel grey clouds rapidly filling the sky, catch my eye today. I am out for my daily constitutional, wishing that I’d brought my camera with me to capture those trees. I remember how, as a young art student, one who normally preferred drawing people, I went through a phase of tree mania. I was fascinated with the patterns of bark and the dance of the branches and the serpentine nature of some tree roots.  Every tree has its own special sort of character.

This photo courtesy of browncreative.com doesn't quite capture what I saw today, but it gives you the right idea. Love the abstract look you get with pattern of branches.

This photo courtesy of browncreative.com doesn’t quite capture what I saw today, but it gives you the right idea. Love the abstract look you get with pattern of branches.

I have to say that the barren look of the trees contrasts sharply with the sultriness of the air. I push up the sleeves of my long-sleeved t-shirt and wish I’d opted for a regular one. And put my hair in a ponytail. It may be January, but it feels like spring. It feels like thunderstorms. And indeed, heavy rain and the potential for severe thunderstorms is in the forecast, moving in after midnight and continuing most of tomorrow.

The twinges are beginning; FMS does not like big changes in atmospheric pressure. Tonight & tomorrow will not be easy days for me.

Oh, well, at least I am getting some fresh air and exercise while our dirt and gravel road is not a mud-slick morass. I live in a somewhat hilly county and I can feel the muscles working as I make my way up this incline: the calf muscles, and thighs, and those gluteus maximus muscles.

 It’s good to feel a soreness that is not related to Fibromyalgia Syndrome, that is not a searing, burning sort of pain that makes one imagine they know what it feels like to be tortured with a red-hot iron poker.

fibro butt

Later, that will come. But I won’t think about that right now.  More pleasant prospects fill my mind.

I will think about the luncheon date planned for Thursday with a friend. We got to know each other while I was working for the newspaper and she was always a big fan of my writing.

SM was an orphan who lived in several foster homes before being adopted into a loving family when she was a little girl. She grew up to be a tireless advocate for foster parents and children. A former city councilwoman, SM founded and orchestrated an annual dinner for our county’s foster families for many years, an event held in memory of her late husband, a prominent businessman who died in a tragic drowning accident.  She’s active in the Kiwanis, which gives foster parents and their children a luncheon each Christmas with a visit from Santa and gifts from wish lists provided by the kids.

SM is a go-getter who has dreamed of creating a children’s book about foster families and adoption. She’s approaching 70 now and says she wants to make sure it happens soon. And she’s asked me to collaborate with her because she believes I “can tell an interesting story and do it justice.” I am excited about this opportunity, I have to say.

There are some other opportunities presenting themselves, although I am not quite ready to discuss them yet. Let’s just say that I feel that this year may be the year when things really do turn around for me.

For that, I am grateful.

Adoption

Lucas & the Rifles That Never Fired

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Until a couple of hours or so ago, this was one of my down days (after falling asleep sometime after 5 a.m. this morning).  No new posts, no responding to comments or visiting other blogs, no new artwork, no writing, just—rest.  And thinking about aspects of my novel.

I am continuing to enjoy reading Wired for Story on my Kindle—so much excellent advice and food for thought for someone writing fiction.

As a fiction writer, you want to give your reader a sense of place and time. In the case of my novel, that is England, and to a lesser extent, France in the mid-18th century.

I do wrestle with things such how much detail to inject into certain scenes. What to put in and what to leave out.  How much information does the reader need about this particular character, this bedchamber, this locale at this point in the story?

This particular quote from Wired for Writing really struck me tonight:

~Each thing you add to your story is like a drop of paint falling into a bowl of clear water. It spreads and colors everything.

As with life, new information causes us to reevaluate the meaning and emotional weight of all that preceded it, and to see the future with fresh eyes.  In a story, it influences how we interpret every single thing that happens—how we read every nuance—and in so doing raises specific expectations about what might occur in the future . . .

Chekov once said in a note to S. Shchukin, “If you say in the first chapter a rifle is hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”~

Excellent advice, methinks. And this leads me to think of some of the metaphorical rifles that have been hung on the walls but have never truly, properly gone off for an Armitage character.

Specifically, MI-5 agent Lucas North.

Lucas. Such a fascinating and enigmatic character.  So much that piqued my curiosity from the moment he came stumbling out of that car boot.. Those Russian prison tattoos. His affection for William Blake. The failed marriage to a woman he obviously still cared for deeply.

Our first glimpse of Lucas–disheveled, thin, with haunted eyes. I fell in love right then and there.

The damage done by all the torture and deprivation experienced during those eight years in prison—surely a case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?–and how he coped with it.

We got glimpses into those horrific times, brief references to his earlier years.

Unfortunately, almost everything that had been established about Lucas by the writers of series 7 and to a lesser extent, series 8, was completely thrown out the window by the writers of series 9.  He literally became a different person.

I know that Spooks was an ensemble show and that storylines couldn’t solely focus on one character, and I understand that.

But a huge chunk of S9 was devoted to the downfall of Lucas, Plenty of time was spent deconstructing the character that might have otherwise been utilized to create a “Lucas breaks down” storyline that was more plausible but still compelling.  I never thought Lucas was free of flaws or demons; I just didn’t see him as a greedy, mass-murdering immature git.

Now, I know there are those of you who believe the entire John Bateman story was simply “classic Spooks” and perfectly acceptable in the context of this particular production.

I am not going to try to change your mind, any more than you would be able to change my own.

However, in terms of crafting a good story that showed continuity in terms of what had been previously established, I have to say it was a major failure.

S9  displayed outlandish potboiler writing more suited to a soap opera than an “intelligent and stylish” production.  Richard’s performance was amazing, kudos for him from keeping this series from being a total farce. However, as a writer, I thought the material stank to high heaven, frankly.

And dammit, they didn’t give Lucas that “elegant death” that RA had hoped for. Just a long, sad, cowardly dive off a tall building to an ignominious demise.

I don’t think I will ever quite forgive them for that.  I kept wanting Ros to show up, alive and kicking (arse)  and say: “Get a grip, people! This isn’t Lucas, just some dodgy imitation. Where have you hidden him? And where’s the hidden camera, because this is all obviously a really bad joke . . .”

An awful lot of rifles were hanging on that wall that just didn’t get fired, y’all.

Ah, the good old days. The dynamic duo.

Try a little tenderness . . .

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A touch of angst and sweetness.  A excerpt from the second chapter in the latest revision to my novel-in-progress The Lady & The Panther  . . .

“I can’t claim to fully understand you. But I cannot believe you are a truly bad man, somehow.”

He gave her an enigmatic smile, tilting his head as he stretched out his hand to capture another errant strand of chestnut hair to smooth it back.

“And in spite of the fact you seemed fully ready–if not, dare I say, well prepared–to kill your husband, I cannot think you are a truly bad woman, somehow.” His voice was mocking and gentle all at once.

The colour in Lizzie’s cheeks deepened and she dropped her gaze.

“It is more than his lordship being a drunken, faithless lout, is it not? He’s ill-used you in some way, hasn’t he, Lizzie?”

She nodded slowly, her eyes still fixed on the floor.

“I also know what it feels like to be desperate,” Lizzie whispered. She raised her eyes to meet his.

So much pain inside this woman.

“Lizzie, ma pauvre petite . . .”  The stranger leaned forward and, ever so gently, pressed the tenderest of kisses to her mouth.  

Her lips were just as soft and sweet as he had imagined. Oh, I am being tested tonight.

 Not without some reluctance,  he lifted his mouth from hers, and gave a small sigh as he pressed his forehead against Lizzie’s.

 She was breathless. The kiss was–lovely. So unlike any she had ever received from Horace. So unlike any kiss she had ever expected to receive. Lizzie almost felt like crying again.

 The stranger lifted his head. He cupped Lizzie’s face in his hands, gently stroking her jawline, his eyes rather somber, his voice husky.

“Forgive me for the impertinence, Lizzie. But it seemed as if you–needed that.”

Gisborne in his sweet moments and tender JT at the train station were definitely inspiring me here.

I am reading a new book on writing  titled Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook the Reader From the Very First Sentence. http://www.amazon.com/Wired-Story-Writers-Science-Sentence/dp/1607742454/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343259807&sr=8-1&keywords=wired+for+story

Author Lisa Cron makes an excellent case for how we as humans are hard wired to need stories in our lives, that stories tell us about what it means to be human. Here’s a quote addressing the subject of theme:

The universal is the portal that allows us to climb into the skin of characters completely different from us and to miraculously feel what they feel . . . it is only when expressed through the flesh-and-blood reality of a story, that we are able to experience a universal one-on-one, and  so feel it.

I think as a storyteller (for that is what I think of Mr. A as being) he is able to help us climb into the skin of characters with him, to see through their eyes, to experience what they experience, the joys, the sorrows, the pleasures, the pain. And in turn, inspire us to write our own stories of what it means to be human.

Addlepated with Sir Guy and LW at TAE

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Sometimes, I feel just like this.

“The word for today, Sir Guy, is ‘addlepated.'”

Ladywriter shoved an errant strand of blonde hair from her eyes and sighed. Sir Guy looked up from Mr. LW’s new Kindle Fire, a freebie he’d obtained through work (the Tall Dark Handsome Sexy Black Knight snuck in and borrowed it while Mr. LW was taking a nap. Even 12th century boys enjoy their high-tech toys).

“What’s happened now, LW?”

She shrugged her shoulders and scratched her head. “Well, this writing software has an autosave feature, which was on, and yet, somehow–I lost an entire scene in Chapter Two of The Lady & the Panther.”

LW gave him a bemused look. “Now, I am not certain if I actually wrote it, or dreamed I wrote it during my afternoon nap. And it was a dandy scene.  Suspense and angst. Anyway, I went back and re-wrote it and added some more. Another 1,200-plus words down, only 95,000 or so to go on this revision of the revision.”

“I knew your vivid imagination would not fail you, dear LW.” Guy rubbed his handsome aquiline nose. “So–you’re writing in your sleep now?” His mouth curled into one of his trademark smirks. “Writing about–ME?”

“Mmmmmm. Your 18th century incarnation with a few tweaks AND the lovely but troubled heroine. As I said, I am not sure if I wrote it while I was half-asleep and then accidentally deleted it or never typed it in the first place. Addlepated. That’s me today.”

addlepated: (adjective) befuddled, confused; eccentric, stupid; senseless, mad

“As you 21st century types would say, ‘Stuff happens.'”

“Indeed it does, Sir Guy, indeed it does.” She sighed. “It just seems to happen to me more it does to the average person.”

“I must say, LW. Life with you is rarely boring.”

She grinned. “Yeah, I could say the same about you, my dearest dark knight.”  She glanced at the Kindle Fire in his lap. “Googling yourself again, by any chance?”

Yeah, he knows you want him. But I can’t blame you one bit.

He cleared his throat. “Not–necessarily.”

“Yeah. right.”

“I am–very popular.”

“As if I needed you to tell me to know that . . .”

“You’re teasing me again, Ladywriter . . .”

“As they say in South Dakota–‘you betcha.'”

The devil, the details, and my muse

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3,600 words. That’s what I’ve completed in the last couple of days.

Actually, I have written more than that, but I move things around, I take out a sentence here, a word there–it’s like a puzzle and you’re trying to get the pieces in just the right places. It’s a good thing I am not writing with a quill pen and ink, for the manuscript would be littered with blots and crossed-out patches, notes scrawled along the sides.  Hooray for modern technology.

English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s work and it’s a game all at the same time.  Sometimes it’s a frustrating game and you want to hit your head against something hard. But when it flows, it’s good.   When you get into that zone–whether it’s writing, or painting, or playing music or some other creative activity–you lose track of time. It’s pleasurable and exciting.

This is a period story that I’m writing, so the dialogue needs to have the flavor of 18th century England without being so archaic it sounds stiff and artificial to a modern reader.  And then there are the details you must check–the sort of windows one would likely find in a newly constructed London townhouse in 1750, the way a lady’s dress and undergarments would be constructed and embellished, cosmetics and hairstyles of the period, the role of a thief-taker in the criminal underworld–well, you get the idea.  The devil is in the details.

But then again, I know a very talented gentleman who does a great job getting the details right. You may be familiar with him and his roles.

And some of those details are just heavenly.

Ah, Richard Armitage. Endlessly inspiring.

Happy Friday, happy writing, happy Richard.

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Well, I accomplished one of my goals for today. I got some sleep, and in a nice comfy bed instead of a hard desk.  Poor Mr. Thornton.

Sometimes, you just need to catch some ZZZZZZZZZZs.

The phone didn’t ring once (a rarity here), all remained quiet and peaceful.  I was pretty much out like a light for close to ten hours. Perhaps that was a suggestion I really needed it?

I feel your pain, cute little bunny.

My brain felt rested enough to go back to work on my novel, which meant not only writing but more double-checking for historical accuracy re my collection of reference books and various websites. I am not a historian, of course,  and certain things I am having trouble verifying ( I would go and choose to set the novel in 1750 instead of a more popular period for historical romances, but then I am hard-headed that way) but I did take some steps forward.

More than 500 more words completed along with some re-writing to (hopefully) improve other passages. I feel as I have made progress and that is a satisfying, uplifting experience.  As if I am not beating my head against a brick wall, but actually peeking around it, and, to further mix my metaphors, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I don’t think I actually get writer’s block so much as I get subject block. I mean, I can write pretty much any old time about something; I wrote professionally for ten years and let’s say it becomes a habit.  I like to write, I need to write; I have to write.

I have a charming “Writing Muse” my sister (she of the Orange Beach condo) gave me as a gift. And it looks just like this:

There is a quote on it from the late author James A. Michener:

I love writing. I love the swing and swirl of words as they tangle with human emotions.

I like to say that line out loud. There is a wonderful rhythm to the words as you speak. I would love to hear Mr. A, my beloved muse, read that quote in his rich, warm, earthy voice of chocolate and velvet.

I love Mr. Armitage’s acting. I love the subtle nuances of each lingering glance, each sigh, each flicker of a lush-lashed eyelid and each bob of an Adam’s-apple in that gloriously swan-like neck.  The mobile mouth with its amazing ability to smirk, smile, sneer, snarl and howl.

I love it when Richard speaks with words, and without them. But as a reader, a narrator and actor, I am certain he loves words, written and spoken.  Words, I suspect, make him happy, too.

Thank you, dear Richard, for inspiring me. You are a wonderful storyteller. And I am trying to be.

Thank you for sharing your talent, Richard. It makes us want to share our own.