Never Give You Up

As I get deeper into the outlining of the manuscript I am working on–yes, I am outlining it after writing it, which only makes sense in Bizarro World, but welcome to Greg’s Wonderful World of Writing–I am very pleased with what I managed to accomplish in this first draft. I touched on a lot of issues and themes that are important to me, and it’s not nearly as repetitive as I feared it might be. The trick is going to be the winnowing down; it currently sits at 97,000 words and needs at least three more chapters to get to the resolution and be finished. Even if those are only three thousand words or so, a young adult manuscript of 106,000 is probably way too long. I also think I managed to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish with it, even though it’s technically not finished. There is, apparently, something to be said about writing a manuscript you are really passionate about without the pressure of a deadline. All in all, from the moment I started writing the first chapter to when I realized I’d written it too long and the original end I’d planned would require another three chapters–or I’d really have to rush it all to get it all done in one more–was a total of forty-five days, and I didn’t write every one of those forty-five days. I think the actual writing days were at most thirty, and may have been as few as twenty-five.

I am actually dreading getting to those last few chapters I’ve written, to be honest.

Another thing I am doing is making a list of every character named in the book as I go–I’ve already discovered multiple character name changes–and another thing I am going to do is really get into the characters’ lives and histories by writing biographies of them, putting all the things I know in my head about them down onto paper and filling in the gaps. I’m amazed at how many characters there are–some of them are really only seen or mentioned in passing–and there are some things I really want to hit harder that I just seemed to lightly pass over as I wrote the first draft. But there aren’t a lot of mistakes, no awkward sentences, no bad paragraphs, and most of the dialogue works.

If you couldn’t tell, Constant Reader, one Gregalicious is quite pleased with himself and this manuscript.

I’ve also decided to NOT take the detour on Chef Menteur Highway on my way to Montgomery, and think I might do that on my way to Oxford on Monday instead. The drive to Montgomery is more time sensitive–there’s an author party I should go to on Friday night, and the event in Oxford is on Tuesday, so it doesn’t really matter what time I get there, so why not do it when I am not going to be pressed for time? It only makes sense. And I am also really pleased with how “Quiet Desperation” is coming along in its rewrite.

Wow. Who am I, and what have I done with myself? I think the affirmations are helping, seriously.

We got through two more episodes of Thirteen Reasons Why last night, and I have to say, I am becoming rather a fan of Ross Butler. He was simply stellar in the episode about Zach’s tape, and I was already aware of him from playing Reggie Mantle on Riverdale, and that casting was pretty bad-ass: a role traditionally Caucasian being played by an Asian-American actor (yet another reason to love Riverdale is its diverse casting choices). Ross is also easy on the eyes:

ross butler tank

See what I mean? And now, back to the spice mines.


During the Civil War, Harriet Beecher Stowe was invited to dinner at the White House. When she was introduced to President Lincoln, his eyes twinkled and he said, “So this is the little lady who made this great big war.” Stowe, of course, had authored Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published originally in 1852, and it was probably one of the most influential books ever published in the United States.

Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)

Monday morning in New Orleans.

I’ve been awake for an hour, yet don’t feel awake yet. Second cup of coffee is helping, though; I can almost feel the caffeine moving through my body inside my veins. I have a short day today; only five and a half hours, and am having dinner with my friend Stuart this evening. Tomorrow and Wednesday are both twelve hour days at the office, complicated still further by meeting with Wacky Russian early on Wednesday morning. I don’t have to go in until late on Thursday, which will also be rather lovely; I am sure I am going to need the extra sleep to get over the preceding days. And of course, Friday is Good Friday, so—three day weekend! I am hoping that if I spend about three hours on each day of that weekend cleaning I can get the Lost Apartment back under control. It’s a horrifying mess, quite frankly, and it’s more than a little appalling. The ceiling fans, for example, are disgusting.

I’ve gotten further along in Underground Airlines, and I am really enjoying it. With the three day weekend coming, I hope to get it finished this week, finish The Nest over the weekend, and maybe move on to something else. I didn’t get any writing done this weekend, but I did do some brainstorming–which, to me, counts, and if you don’t think it does FUCK YOU–and came up with some new characters. The problem I am having with Chapter One of Crescent City Charade (which I really want to finish this week) is that already the chapter is too long and it’s not even finished yet. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, and rather than resisting how long the chapter is I should just make it as long as it needs to be to get to the transition into Chapter 2 and worry about editing it down–or splitting it into two chapters, if necessary–later, rather than worrying so much about it now; similar to how I have almost five thousand words of “Quiet Desperation” already written and haven’t even gotten to the meat of the story yet. (That story, obviously, is going to require a ridiculous amount of editing.)

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate editing myself? The only thing worse is rewriting. Heavy heaving sigh.

Friday night I finished watching a television show on Hulu; Faking It, which originally aired on MTV. It only lasted three seasons, and it’s actually kind of clever (the second season was twenty episodes; the third and final was only ten, which makes me wonder how that played out). MTV has long been a progressive force, yet we really no longer hear about MTV being controversial. MTV ran the first HIV/AIDS PSA’s to air, and continued to do so for years before other networks caught up. MTV also originated reality television–The Real World model is still copied and imitated to this day; any reality show where everyone has to share a living environment is copying it–and also put a face on HIV/AIDS with Pedro Zamora back in the early 1990’s. I often have held that a lot of the shift in public/social perceptions of the LGBTQ community had a lot to do with MTV’s influence on youth; I also think MTV has shifted public perceptions on many social issues by exposing young people to them and helping them to see the systemic unfairness in so much of American society. But that’s an essay for another time.

Faking It has a ridiculous premise, but it’s actually kind of clever at the same time: Hester High School, in Austin, Texas, is every conservative’s nightmare about political correctness raging out of control in public education. The show could have easily been called Politically Correct High; because Hester High School is just that: sensitivity to other races and cultures are foremost. The most popular kid at Hester is the openly gay kid, whose best friend is the high school lothario; but the primary focus of the show is the friendship of Karma and Amy, two best friends who accidentally get outed as a lesbian couple. Amy wants to correct the record, but Karma enjoys the corresponding rise in their popularity and she wants to ride that wave; plus, the school lothario–played by Gregg Sulkin–is now interested in her because he’s never had sex with a lesbian before. The show frankly and honestly takes on a lot of social issues–everything from intersex to transgender to sexual fluidity–and the catch to the ‘pretending to be lesbians’ schtick is that Amy actually is in love with her best friend Karma–who doesn’t return the feelings. The young cast is quite appealing, and while some of the adventures they have strain credulity, the show’s message of tolerance, acceptance, and understanding is handled very well.

Gregg  Sulkin also has achieved teen heartthrob status.


gregg sulkin

Not hard to see why.

But young, out actor Michael J. Willett as Shane Harvey pretty much steals the show. Shane is depicted as a scheming. snarky, but funny kid with a lot of insecurities who really just wants to find a boyfriend, and Willett plays the part to perfection. He also played gay in the movie GBF, which was actually a lot better than I thought it would be (think a John Hughes teen comedy with a gay main character instead of Molly Ringwald), and the two characters couldn’t be any more different–showing that there are a range of gay characters; we aren’t this monolithic ‘all the same’ that some people seem to think we are–which goes along with the concept of inclusion: we’re not all finger-snapping sidekicks with a great sense of snark, fashion sense, and with our fingers on the pulse of pop culture. Just as it would be cool for books, TV shows, and movies to include gay characters for the sake of diversity; within the gay community there’s a huge range of diverse characters. The key to writing gay characters is to make them human.


Here’s hoping Willett can find more work as an out gay actor.

And now, back to the spice mines.