2 Legit 2 Quit

The revision continues to proceed, slower than I would like it to–as always–but it’s getting there gradually, which is always a lovely thing. I am very pleased that thus far I’ve not needed to do anything truly major in terms of revision; just cleaning up some sloppy stuff, getting rid of some things that were eventually discarded from the narrative thread as well as adding some things to foreshadow what’s to come. It’s lovely to see that so much of this, written by the seat of my pants without much idea of where it was going or how it was going to end, is actually turning out to be usable.

I love when I am wrong. I was almost certain I’d have to basically start from scratch. Sure, there are grammatical errors and repetitions I am cleaning up (and some horrifyingly awkward sentences) as I go, but the final run through will do a nice job of cleaning all that up.

Or so I hope.

I also realized last night, as I finished off the revision of Chapter Five, that this is going slowly partly because there’s some serious shit going down in the first third of this book; and I don’t particularly enjoy writing about characters I love going through rough times. So, there’s that as well. But as Scotty always says, life doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. It’s how you handle it that matters.

As I was running my errands this morning, an idea came to me for a bit for an in-progress short story I’ve not worked on for a while, “The Brady Kid.” I don’t know whether or not I should take a momentary break to add it to the story, or if I should just make a note. (Note to self: I also need to go through my last two journals and mark pages that have notes for works in progress, etc. It really is handy to have the journals to write in and write free form with ideas as they come to me, but it’s not helpful if I don’t remember those notes and things are actually there. In fact, I may do that today between clients. Yes, that’s the ticket.)

And it’s Wednesday. The week is half over, and now it’s just the slide downhill into the weekend. The LSU-Florida game is this weekend, and the Saints don’t play until Monday night (which will, of course, make getting home from work that night ever-so-much more fun), and I of course will have errands to run. Perhaps wait till Sunday to do them, spend Saturday cleaning and writing around college football games, and then perhaps do the same on Sunday?

So many decisions to be made.

And I really need to get back to both Circe and the Short Story Project.

And so now I head back into the mines to extract more spice. Have a lovely day, all.

amini fonua

Holding Back the Years

Yesterday was rather dreary, weather-wise, and I feel fairly confident we are still under a flash-flood warning; but this morning all I see is blue sky and sunshine. Things still look a little damp out there, but over all, much better than one could have hoped. And in checking the project path for Alberto, the cone of uncertainty has narrowed to New Orleans in the west to Panama City in the east; much, much smaller cone; but we are on the outside of the western edge. As storms also tend to turn to the east–even Katrina did before landfall–I’ve breathed a slight sigh of relief this morning.

It is, I suspect, going to be a long hurricane season–particularly since it doesn’t officially start until June 1.

I slept deeply and well last night, and my back–which was aching–no longer hurts, which is a good thing. I wish I could figure out what the hell I am doing to it to make it hurt in the first place, so I can be more careful, but I am more than happy to take the pain being gone as a win this morning. Huzzah!

Yesterday I was scribbling away in my journal as I continued to read Philip Roth’s When She Was Good. The writing is very good, and the characterizations are also quite good; all that remains is the plot/story, and I am intrigued enough with it to continue reading it. Maybe I should dial it back for a while on the crime fiction and read outside my genre for a little while; not just for a break but to come up with better ideas for my own writing, which can never hurt.

I wrote all kinds of notes in my journal yesterday; notes for the WIP, notes for the short stories “Never Kiss a Stranger” and “A Holler Full of Kudzu” and “The Brady Kid” (I’ve not even thought about the latter for months now), so I am feeling all kinds of productive here in the Lost Apartment this morning. I am going to actually write today for a while; I also intend to do some reading–not just the Roth, but I am going to read everything I’ve written on the Scotty thus far and make notes. I also don’t know my characters in the Scotty book as much as I should, and I need to get the plot figured out so I can get the goddamned draft done. I also have a few other things I need to get done as well.

And there’s always cleaning, of course. I am currently working on washing the bed linens, and the living room of course needs to be vacuumed. I also need to clean out my car a bit; and Armor-all the inside of my car now that summer is looming. I also need to put the recycling out. But I have to say, this well-rested thing is actually working out quite beautifully. I could easily get very used to it, I must say. I must also say that I’m greatly enjoying this creative phase I am currently experiencing. I am thinking about character, and why I write the things I write, and how to broaden my reading audience. I’ve been thinking about moving forward with the agent search, how best to approach an agent, how to put my best foot forward, not only with industry professionals but also with the readers of my genre.

I’ve also come to realize that, over the last few days, as I’ve put my finger precisely on why I wasn’t getting anywhere with “A Holler Full of Kudzu” is because I was trying to not be subversive; the write from the gay male point of view without rubbing people’s faces in the sexuality. But WHY? Why would I do that? The point of the story, the theme, if you will, has everything to do with the point of view character’s sexuality; of beginning to understand what your sexuality is and that is partly why you feel different from everyone else, and also, learning how people feel about people who are like you, and how dangerous those feelings are, can push you deeper into the closet. I think the theme may be larger than the story itself, to be completely honest with you; which is why I am tending to think this story may actually be a novel a-borning in my mind rather than the lengthy short story I was thinking it would be. As I plug in some of the story pieces today that I brainstormed in my journal last night, I will come to a better understanding of the story and how long it is going to be.

Likewise, “Never Kiss a Stranger” is becoming much longer than I originally thought it would turn out to be; it’s going to come in far longer than the six or seven thousand words I originally had planned. That will make it harder to place, of course–not that it’s not already hard to place stories with gay characters and themes; it’s almost impossible–but I’ve also decided that I simply have to stop writing things that are specifically intended for markets. I have to write the story the best I can and then try to find a market for it. And I can always, always, always, simply do another collection of stories.

I also like that “The Brady Kid” is starting to shape in my mind; mainly, who the point-o-view character is. Part of the issue with some of my stories is that maybe I don’t define the characters enough; it’s hard to write a good story when you don’t know who your characters are.

I’m also finding that experimenting with voice and style and tone and place is much easier to do in a short story rather than in a novel. I think writing these stories is making me a much better writer, to be honest, which is ultimately going to be more helpful to me in the long run than I’d possibly thought. During my brainstorming last night I also figured out some of the problems I am having with the Scotty novel; not solutions, per se, but actually diagnosing the problems, which is key to figuring out how to solve those problems.

Which is fun, actually, and I have to say, it’s so awesome that writing is fun again.

I also read some short stories. Here’s one: “Crazy Margaret” by Jack Fredrickson, from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September/October 2017 issue.

The gravestone had room for only the first name, but it was the largest he could carry up the hill. He set in on ground covered now, as then, with curled brown leaves.

He’d meant to slip into town quietly, place the stone, and slip out again. There was no one from his old life he wanted to see. But a voice had called his name when he was gassing up the rental, a guy he’d known in high school. They’d chatted for a moment before Dave, acting casual, asked about her.

The old classmate had scratched his head, surprised. Crazy Margaret, he said; that’s what the kids sneaking out there called her after she dropped out of school. But new kids came along, kids who didn’t know her, and soon enough, nobody gave her any mind at all. “Hell, it’s been at least twenty years,” he said. “She could be dead.”

I enjoyed this story; which is told from the perspective of someone coming home to their small town and remembering something that happened years earlier, something criminal; this is something I often do in my own stories–in fact, “This Thing of Darkness” is sort of one of these stories. The Margaret of the title is a beautiful young woman who sunbathes out at the lake where she lives in skimpy bikinis; luring young boys out there to watch her and possibly, just possibly, killing some of them. It’s sort of a retelling of the siren myth, from the Greeks: the beautiful woman who lures men to their deaths. Although…really, should the boys be out there spying on her in the first place? Isn’t that a form of harassment?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story; it’s very well done and how Margaret gets her own punishment for what she’s doing is very Tales from the Crypt or House of Mystery; crime is always punished in a macabre, ironic way and so it is for the Crazy Margaret of the title.

And now, back to the spice mines.

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Total Eclipse of the Heart

I love to read.

I am so enormously grateful to my sister for teaching me how to read before I started school. I’ve always enjoyed reading (maybe not textbooks; I’ve never enjoyed being forced to read, which is also why I have so much antipathy for classics I was forced to read for classes); reading, for me, has always been pleasurable. I like reading books and being surprised by the author; the creative part of my mind is always trying to figure out the plot, predict twists to come, etc. I love language, and how writers can piece words together into sentences and paragraphs that paint pictures in my head, create characters that are like people I know and care about and root for (or against, for that matter), that create stories and tales that explain incomprehensible behavior and make me understand it, even sympathize with them.

As I always say when I teach character workshops, “villains don’t think they’re villains.”

It’s been killing me not being able to carve out time for Lyndsay Faye’s The Gods Of Gotham, but Paul is going to a play this evening so I will be able to curl up in my easy chair with it tonight and go to town. I am loving this gloriously written story; and I intend to finish reading it this weekend if it kills me. I am also hoping to get to go see Dunkirk this weekend at some point; it’s playing at the Prytania Theater, which is incredibly easy for us to get to, or we could head out to the parish to see it in Harahan. I’ve not decided which is the better option. My back and hips are still sore this morning, sadly, and I’ve begrudgingly cancelled Wacky Russian for tomorrow morning. But I think letting everything rest is probably the best thing for me, even though I hate missing a workout.

Wasn’t this the year I’d intended to lose weight and get in better shape? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, it was. Heavy heaving sigh.

I started working on my short story “The Brady Kid” the other night; it’s not going well, less than a thousand words, all of which were like pulling teeth, so I’ve decided to put that aside. I also line edited some more of the WIP, which is taking forever, but I think I am doing an incredibly good job with it thus far. I intend to work on it some more this weekend, as well; also intend to get some work on the new Scotty done this weekend. We shall see, shan’t we?

I also need to get our plane tickets for Bouchercon in Toronto.

Sigh. It never ends.

Okay, here’s a Friday hunk to slide you into the weekend.

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