Hey, Western Union Man

We continue to watch Thirteen Reasons Why, and last night we got through Episode 10, which was heartbreaking. Tonight when I get home from work we’ll watch Episode 11–spoiler! It’s when Clay listens to his own tape, and while I am absolutely riveted, I am also dreading the episode. I also am getting further in the book, which is different in some ways from the show.  At one point watching last night, I said to Paul, “I’m so glad I’m not a teenager now,” even though I feel relatively certain that the things that happen in the book/show probably happened when I was a teenager–I, like Clay, was probably unaware/oblivious to it all–which is a horrifying thought. I find that I am often unpacking a lot of things from my past, recognizing behaviors that were no big deal back then but now are horrifying.

I’ve been processing a lot of that lately, to be honest, and in no small part because of the manuscript. I didn’t do any reading/outlining yesterday, nor did I touch “Quiet Desperation,” primarily because I felt kind of tired and out of it yesterday (another wretched night’s sleep  Tuesday, followed by Wacky Russian on Wednesday morning), and while I certainly slept better last night, Paul’s alarm and his constant smacking of the snooze button this morning got me up earlier than I would have preferred. Tonight is yet another late night of bar testing, and tomorrow is the drive to Montgomery and the Author Welcome Party. Heavy heaving sigh. But I’ve pretty much decided not to spend the extra Saturday night in Montgomery; Saturday morning I’ll check out and head over to the Book Festival, spend the day there, and then drive back to New Orleans. That way I have Sunday here to run errands and do things, before driving up to Oxford on Monday. After all this travel I am going to get into a regular workout schedule upon my return, as well.

That’s the plan, at any rate.

So, this morning I am going to pack for the trip, clean the kitchen and get some laundry done, do some writing, and maybe read a bit. I am having lunch with a former intern of mine from a million years and several jobs ago–she’s now a lawyer, how bad-ass is that?–before I head to work. We are lunching at the Irish House, a pub-style restaurant whose chef won Chopped  many years ago, and they have pretty awesome fish-and-chips, and it’s a short walk from the Lost Apartment (I’ll take the car, though, so I can take my time and then drive to work from there). So the dryer is spinning, the washer is agitating, and I am sitting here with my second cup of coffee listening to a playlist on my iHome stereo waiting for the clouds to clear out of my head completely before I get up and unload the dishwasher and get the day going.

This morning I also picked out the story I’m going to revise/rewrite for an anthology I want to submit to–getting into it (it’s annual) is on my bucket list and I will keep trying until I do get in. I’ve submitted three or four times so far–failing every time–but two of the rejected stories ended up somewhere else, so that’s always a good thing. I am really taking my short story writing a lot more seriously than I used to; I am no longer allowing myself to think I am not good at it because that is self-defeating (another one of my daily affirmations, which really, as weird as it seems and as ‘new agey/touchy-feely/mumbo-jumbo’ as it feels and I’ve always dismissed it as, actually is seeming to work. 

I just wish I had thought this way twenty years ago. Ah, well, no regrets.

Live and learn.

Here’s a Throwback Thursday hunk for you, Grant Aleksander, who played Philip Spaulding on Guiding Light:

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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:

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

Magic Carpet Ride

I got up early this morning to take a friend to a doctor’s appointment, and so, having finished Finders Keepers, dug out my copy of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why to take along to read while I waited for her.  We watched another three episodes last night–it really is compulsively watchable, if more than slightly annoying (Paul and I have a tendency to yell at the television periodically “JUST LISTEN TO THE REST OF THE TAPES DUMBASS!” but other than that, we are really enjoying it, despite some plot holes). I managed to read almost 100 pages during the hour or so I waited–it’s a quick read, the book isn’t as long as it looks–double spaced, big font, lots of short, one sentence paragraphs–and again, despite some plot holes, it’s compulsively readable; I want to know all the reasons. The book is also different than the show, in that Clay apparently does what Paul and I want him to do in the show–he listens to the tapes all in one night. I can see why that isn’t possible in the show; you probably couldn’t get thirteen one hour episodes out of the story if it all took place in one night, but on the other hand…does it really need to be thirteen hours? But the young actors are all incredibly appealing and are quite good in their roles, as I said before, and it’s compulsively watchable.

The show also pushes buttons from time to time for me; “wow, are they really showing the kids getting high? Drinking beer? Getting drunk? How incredibly irresponsible!” and then I have to snap out of it. Teenagers deal with these things, they did when I was in high school, and one of the things that annoyed me about entertainment aimed at teens when I was one is that it was so unrealistic.

Then again, Judy Blume was just getting published and writing frankly about teens, and scandalizing the country and getting banned everywhere, when I was a teen–and I always see Judy Blume as the person who changed the world of young adult fiction, and for the better.

Ironically, I just checked the schedule for the Alabama Book Festival this weekend and see that Jay Asher is speaking there. Synchronicity, or serendipity, or both?

I think one of the reasons I’m enjoying Riverdale as much as I am (the young actor who plays Reggie on that show is also on 13 Reasons Why; the first time he turned up on screen I said out loud, “Reggie!” He and the character are being under-utilized on Riverdale, which I hope changes) is seeing the squeaky clean, highly sanitized comic books I read when I was very young made more realistic. Riverdale is a dark teen soap, owing debts not only to Twin Peaks and Beverly Hills 90210, but also a big one to Pretty Little Liars–which in turn owes a debt to The Edge of Night, the long running daytime soap whose story-lines were based not only in romance but in crime and suspense. 13 Reasons Why is another teen soap built around a mystery; while Riverdale‘s main driving story is”who killed Jason Blossom, and why” this one’s is “why did Hannah kill herself, and why the tapes?”

I’ve also been thinking about my own young adult fiction a lot lately, probably because of what I am currently working on. I’ve put the Scotty book aside for the time being, because I just wasn’t feeling it, to be honest, and writing it felt like I was forcing it and the story itself didn’t work for me. So, I am going to take a break from it for a bit, work on some short stories, and forge forward with this manuscript I am intent on revising. I’m actually enjoying myself doing all this editing and revising because there is no pressure of a deadline. I can take my time, think things through, rather than trusting my instincts and hoping for the best while the clock inexorably continues to tick as time slips through my fingers. (There really is something to be said for no deadlines.)

Sorceress began as a short story of slightly less than ten thousand words, and I originally wrote it in 1989, long hand, on notebook paper. I remember paying someone to type it for me, and as a lengthy short story it didn’t work–it was too rushed, too much happened in too short a period of time on the page. When I reread the story, it occurred to me that it was really just a lengthy synopsis, and might make a book. It was the third novel I completed a first draft of (in 1993!), and it eventually made it to publication in 2010. I know I wrote it originally as an homage to Jane Eyre, Victoria Holt, and other gothic writers I had long admired; I gave it more of a supernatural edge, though, but it was really the same premise that even Dark Shadows began with: a young orphaned girl comes to live in a big, spooky house where mysterious things happen. (I wonder why so many books/stories of this type start this way? Is it because it’s a voyage to the unknown, or a fresh start in a new place? 13 Reasons Why kind of fits into this as well, since part of Hannah’s problems begin with her being the new girl in town.)

Hmmmm.

All right, it’s back to the spice mines with me.

 

Hold Me Tight

Monday morning of a short work week, as I am traveling to Alabama on Friday, returning to New Orleans on Sunday, and then it’s off to Ole Miss and Oxford, MS for another event.

It was a rather lovely three day weekend, quite frankly; I wish there was some way to make every weekend three days, to be honest. Having the extra day makes all the difference, really. I spent one day running errands and cleaning, another day cleaning and reading, and the last day reading and writing. I now feel completely relaxed and rested and thoroughly prepared for this week, as opposed to whining about how the weekend never lasts long enough. Alas, there won’t be another such three day weekend until Memorial Day at the end of next month. Heavy heaving sigh.

I finished reading Finders Keepers yesterday, and I did really enjoy it. It was an excellent follow-up to Mr. Mercedes, and it was fun catching up with the remaining cast of that novel: Bill Hodges, Holly, and Jerome, who team up to help out a teenaged boy who has discovered a treasure trove–a buried trunk full of money and manuscripts, the haul from the robbery/murder of noted American author Joel Rothstein. Like all of King’s novels, it was compulsively readable, highly entertaining, with strongly built characters and relationships, brilliants touches of pop culture, and a good story. And, like so many of King’s novels/stories, at the center of the story was an author and his work–not to mention how that work affected his readers. Like Misery, one of his readers takes the work too seriously and becomes overly attached to the main character, doesn’t like what the author does to the character, and that fanaticism is what leads to the robbery/murder, and triggers the rest of the story.

I often chastise myself for writing about writers; I’ve always considered it more than a little self-indulgent, and as I get older and further along in my writing career, writers as characters continue to pop up in my work. “Quiet Desperation” is about writers and writing; and an author character popped up in The Orion Mask– Jerry Channing, a character I became so attached I brought him back for Garden District Gothic, and even considered giving him his own stand-alone adventure. It also occurs to me that the unnamed protagonist of several short stories I’ve written–an author–are really early incarnations of Jerry (the only short story about him that’s been published so far was “An Arrow for Sebastian”). Yesterday I started a second draft of “Quiet Desperation”–an actual rewrite, rather than an edit (which is, I think, long been a part of my problem with writing; I don’t rewrite, I simply edit what I’ve already written, which is lazy) and it will eventually require me to drive out to New Orleans East, because where the new opening of the story takes place is a part of New Orleans I haven’t seen in over ten years, and I am pulling from my memories–and Katrina occurred since then, so the topography of that part of the city/parish has undoubtedly been changed by the hurricane and aftermath. Of course, now that I have a new car, that’s not an issue; nor is driving out there. It’s just a matter of finding the time. Next weekend is definitely out, since I’ll be in Alabama, and when I’m  not in Alabama I’ll be too busy preparing for the trip to Mississippi–although I could drive out that way on the way out of town to Alabama on Friday; it’s on the way.

Hmmmm. ’tis a thought.

We also watched last night’s Feud, and I have to say, both Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon are absolutely killing it. I’m not sure who’s going to win the Emmy, but my guess is on one of them–with Nicole Kidman’s performance in Big Little Lies giving them both a run for their money.

We also started watching Thirteen Reasons Why, and got through the first three episodes. Had I not needed to get up this morning for work, we would have watched more. There are some questionable aspects of the story/plot for me, but the young actors are incredibly appealing, and Dylan Minnette, who plays main character Clay Jensen, is quite compelling as the quiet loner. I have some thoughts about him, his character, and where this is all going, but I will keep those to myself and continue to watch.

dylan minnette

I also have a copy of the book in my TBR pile, where it’s been forever, and might just go ahead and read it now–reading Big Little Lies while watching the show didn’t hurt either, frankly.

And now, back to the spice mines.

 

Stoned Soul Picnic

In a bizarre blog twist, my entire entry about Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, other than the opening paragraph, has completely disappeared from here, which is very strange. I don’t know how that could have happened; and it’s disappointing, as I made some very strong points about racism and the erasure of the brutality of slavery from our history. I did wonder why it, as opposed to so many of my other entries, wasn’t getting ‘likes’ by anyone, and now I know why–it’s not that it offended people, but rather that the entry is now simply, mostly gone.

How fucking annoying. And, of course, I always write the blog directly here, rather than using Word and cutting and pasting. So, it’s simply vanished into the ether, gone forever. Heavy heaving sigh. As for as writing losses go, it’s pretty low on the scale but at the same time…it hurts to lose any writing. Ever.

Heavy sigh.

I spent some more time reading Stephen King’s Finders Keepers yesterday between doing some cleaning (I never did get to the windows, but will today) and relaxing. I got caught up on Riverdale, ran some errands, cleaned the living room thoroughly (although I needed the ladder to do the ceiling fans and the windows, it was upstairs and so when I moved upstairs to I cleaned up there before bringing the ladder down, and by then I just wanted to relax and read), and did sit in my easy chair thinking about things I am working on. Today, I am going to do some straightening up around here, the windows and the ceiling fans in the living room, and I may finish cleaning upstairs. I don’t know, quite frankly; I am also feeling the lure of Finders Keepers, which I am really enjoying. It’s the middle book of his Bill Hodges trilogy, which began with the Edgar-winning Mr. Mercedes, which I also greatly enjoyed. I am almost halfway finished with the book, and King’s ability to create great characters the reader can understand and even empathize with, no matter how awful the characters may actually be, is on display here.

I also cleaned out some books for the donation pile, which is always a lovely start. I need to stop buying books, really, is what I need to do, but it’s a lifelong problem, and at almost fifty-six, I’m not sure I can effect behavior change anymore, but it’s certainly worth a try. I am also going to go to the gym later on today as well; and lift weights. If I go back to the old system–let’s face it, I am never going to motivate myself to do cardio–of what I did when I lost weight originally–go to the gym, do a full-body workout with more reps and lighter weights, and do some stretching–in addition to eating healthier, I should be able to get rid of that pesky fifteen pounds and get back down to 200. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get back to 180–my oddly shaped frame would make finding clothes that fit properly an issue (the ten pounds or so I’ve already lost has made all my pants too big in the waist, but they are still tight in the legs, and the small waist and big quads/hamstrings has always been an issue for me with pants), so I don’t know that I’d want to get back down that far. A flatter stomach and more definition is all I really want, anyway, so that I can at least get to the point where I don’t mind going to the beach, as I would really like to get tanned again. And going to the beach is always lovely, anyway.

Apparently it’s going to rain today, so doing the windows is out. Heavy sigh. It does look gloomy out there. There’s always next weekend.

Friday I am driving up to Montgomery for an appearance at the Alabama Book Festival, and driving back to New Orleans for a day before heading up to an event at the Sarah Isom Center for Women at Ole Miss in Oxford. I am very excited, if a bit nervous, to do both events. It’s so lovely having a new car so that I don’t have to worry about the driving, though. I love my new car; and almost three months after I bought it, it still has the new car smell.

I’ve also figured out how to revise “Quiet Desperation”, which is something I’d like to get to work on this week. My work schedule is sort of normal for the week, despite a late night on Thursday. As I start getting back into the groove of writing and rewriting, I am hoping to get a lot more done from now on. I also no longer have to get up ridiculously early for work on Tuesdays anymore–I don’t have to be at the office until 11 henceforth–which makes the week a bit more palatable for me; I won’t be tired and sleepy from Tuesday on anymore. Here’s hoping.

I want to kick my writing up a notch or two, push myself harder. Fingers crossed.

Here’s an Easter Sunday hunk for y’all.

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Angel of the Morning

Last night was a late night of bar testing at the Pub, so this morning I am a little groggy. I also haven’t yet had my second cup of coffee, either, so there is that. I am feeling a little out of sorts emotionally, too–nothing major, just some sincere dissatisfaction with a lot of things–and while I can, of course, blame that on Mercury being in retrograde, I am also choosing to look at it as a good thing: it’s time to shake things up a bit.

I decided to stop reading The Nest last night. I am about a little over a third into the book, and with no disrespect intended to the author, I am not her intended audience because none of it was resonating with me. I am going to move on to something else; I shall, once I am finished here, go peruse the stacks and shelves to find something juicy I can really sink my teeth into and get lost in the story. I’m not really sure what I am in the mood for reading right now, to be honest, and may make a false start on a novel or two until I find something that sweeps me away–although I am thinking I may read Stephen King’s Finders Keepers next; I loved Mr. Mercedes, and King so rarely disappoints…that might be just the thing for me tomorrow around running errands and cleaning this filthy, filthy apartment.

I’ve also decided to focus on editing and writing the second draft of the secret manuscript. Trying to edit/rewrite it while writing another Scotty and other short stories as well is scattering my creativity and my energy; and I’m just not feeling the Scotty novel right now, so it’s time to put it aside and move on. If the revisions go as easily as the writing of the first draft does, I’ll be finished with it in a month or two anyway. I don’t, however, want to go through it quickly, though; I want to take my time and really do a good job on it. The most important thing now is to go through and edit, while also writing up an outline and making a list of characters and so forth. Yes, that sounds like a plan, and to accomplish everything I want to get done this weekend once I’m showered and fully awake I am going to make a to-do list. (At least my taxes are done and filed; I also owed Louisiana state tax–BASTARDS–but have already paid it.)

And on that note, I am going to get ready for work.

For Throwback Thursday, here’s a hunk from the past: Steve Bond, from his days as Jimmy Lee Holt, the bastard Quartermaine, on General Hospital.

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Love Child

One more day till the three day weekend!

I realize it probably sounds like I hate my job, the way I crave days off, weekends, holidays and vacations–but I don’t. I actually like my day job, and it’s certainly one of the best–if not the best–day job I’ve ever had. My days off, on the other hand, are lovely because I don’t have any stress–I don’t have to rush about, be anywhere at a particular time, do anything at any particular time, and I don’t have to get up until I feel like it. That’s kind of nice. Even if I didn’t have a day job, and still worked from home the way I used to, I still looked forward to the weekends because Paul didn’t have to go to the office on the weekends. I am not working next Friday either, as that is the day I’ll be driving over to Montgomery for the Alabama Book Festival, where I am making my first ever appearance. (I’ve done more book events in Alabama this year than I’ve done anywhere else in years, which is more than slightly odd.)

Which, more than likely, is why Alabama is so much on my mind lately.

Since finishing “Quiet Desperation”, I’ve not really been writing anything other than this blog. (I have, however, been thinking about the second draft of that story, and already know how to make it much better the second time around; I do consider that to be writing, even though no words have gone on the page. SHUT UP THAT DOES TOO COUNT.) I am hoping, though, to get “The Terrortorium” finished this week, and maybe make some headway on “The Scent of Lilacs in the Rain.” I’ve also been brainstorming some on the new Scotty, and I need to get back to work on that as it’s just sitting there, glaring at me. And I have a shit load of editing to do of my own stuff; unfortunately, I loathe editing my own stuff and would rather drink bleach to do it, which means it piles up and it piles up and it piles up…I also get really stubborn and don’t want to throw things out, trying to fix things and make what was written work rather than removing it and writing something different.

I have so many bad writing habits. It’s almost sad.

I am getting back to reading The Nest this week, and am not sure what to read next, if I am being honest. It’ll probably go the way it usually does; I’ll go through the stacks and the book shelves and find something that strikes my fancy at the moment. I got another shipment of books yesterday, all of which look good, and of course, there’s all the stuff I had on hand already that I haven’t read and need to get to. Heavy heaving sigh. I am going to need to do a purge again soon, and what I really need to do is purge the storage spaces. But what a pain in the ass that would be. Maybe I should  take a couple of vacation days from work and do it….ugh, just the thought is too much for me, really. Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, I am heading back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Hump Day hunk to get you through the rest of this shortened week.

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