Friday, April 29, 2011

Writing Rant

After a celebratory vacation (yes, my family uses vacations to celebrate life events like graduations and birthdays) and a magnum opus of a paper (okay 20 pages isn't that long, but it sure feels like a tome when you don't have the hours upon hours to dedicate to it that you should have), I'm finally falling back into a gentle writing mode. I've just got my characters through another near death experience and now they need to travel the rest of their journey to find out the shocking truths that await them.

As my "technically" fourth novel to date (the other three are complete but not publishable until strong revisions come their way) this book is surprising me with its chosen genre (who thought I'd write horror?) and its shocking twists that I didn't plan in advance (I can only outline so much, at some point the story develops its own unique aspects - whether or not I want it to).  One thing that isn't surprising is how limited the characters feel. I need to work on making them more dynamic, but this is a flaw in all of my writing. The heroine is always tough and strict and strong - to a fault. Just as it's hard for me to be emotional in my interactions, it's hard for these women to be emotional as well, and I think it negatively affects the overall story.

But writing is a process, and with each new story (be it novel length or flash fiction), I work on character and plot and action and description and all that other jazz that goes into a story and each time my writing gets stronger, my stories get better and my characters become slightly more believable and relatable. Maybe by my 12th novel I'll be doing it well enough.

Then again, maybe this novel is done well enough and will be published. Just the possibility of that starts making me worry. Do I really want this to be my first published novel? Do I want to be listed as a horror author? No matter if it's this novel or another, once I do get published I'll always be worrying about if my book was written well enough, how people will judge me based on my writing/genre choice/character actions/awkward love scenes etc.

At least I'm not worried about the prospect of having no readers, only judgy readers ;p

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Ship Was Named Destiny...

In the middle of April, my sisters and I went on a cruise. Below are pictures from our trip.

I was in charge of locating a vessel and got suckered into a really good deal with what ended up being a pirate ship. Luckily the pirates aboard were semi-retired and fans of the blog, so we got top notch treatment:

 Our first stop was in Key West, Florida. While here, we visited the famous Hemingway house, which houses between 40 and 50 cats, many of which have an extra toe on their paw (polydactyl). Being intelligent creatures, as most cats are, they had learned - and shared with us - a rude hand gesture with this extra digit:

Before long, the Rooster Kings booted us off their island because the pirates threatened the innocent nature of their young with gambling, drinking and excessive potty language:

Next, we stopped in Cozumel, Mexico. This small island was a great port for the pirates who made a quick buck selling the vacationing passengers to a sweat shop. The most awkward part (besides being drenched in sweat) was that at least one passenger kept asking where all the "sweets" were:

Before they left the island, the pirates broke us out of the factory, stole our pathetic wages and dragged us back to the ship. They felt bad about what had transpired and gave us the chance to cool down in a nice pool of water:

The long trip back to the mainland was called a "Fun Day At Sea". Between the song and dance presentations of the pirates and the on-board reproduction of A Perfect Storm, we also were able to complete in a 'Prettiest Lady Contest". To no one's surprise, the manatee won:

As we came into dock we all thanked Poseidon for our adventure, and the crew requested that we come back again next year for another wild ride. I think I'll have to pass.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Extraordinary Occassion

As the sesquicentennial (150th year anniversary) of the Civil War rolls around, I’ve got a lot of people on my back asking me questions. Since I’m a time traveler, and I lived through the war and all its atrocities, people keep asking, “Jenny, why don’t you tell us your stories from the war?” I’m not sure that I fall into a different category than other veterans whom you NEVER question about war, but I guess people remember time traveler before veteran and probably writer first and foremost anyways.

I won’t share much; because the Civil War was graphic, horrific, traumatizing and terribly depressing (just thinking on it makes me glum). It’s kind of like reliving it each time you hear about it or see that damn Ken Burns series on PBS (Why do they haunt me? Haven’t I suffered enough?). And with the anniversary, it’s almost like living it again. Each day parallels to the past, as memories of the war echo like bad dreams from the previous night.

“If it was so horrible, why did you choose to spend time there while traveling?” Well, time travel is part about where a traveler wants to go and where we have to go. As a side note: any stories I tell you about time travel could easily be debunked by contradictory theories on how time and traveling time works. Consider if you will, if one person goes back in time and changes an event, then someone else can go back and someone else can go back and again and again and again like an infinite loop right? Or perhaps time works in a big ball of infinite possibilities so jumping back won’t affect this time “line” (the idea of line is counterintuitive) but establish a new reality. I’m not here to argue with the science behind traveling, but to tell you the policies for time travelers and my own experiences.

So time travelers (scholars and enforcers of history) get to sign up for specific assignments and are sometimes assigned missions when needed. It just so happened that a rouge group of Southern sympathizers decided to jump time and join the South in the hopes of changing history (not exactly what Dale thinks, but close). This typically isn’t allowed (although I have my inklings of when changes have gotten past security) especially on such a grand scale, so an elite force (myself included) were assigned the task of jumping back to the war and stopping these vagabonds.

At this point, I had already done two tours of the Civil War, so I figured it would be a quick and simple mission, find and stop the rogue agents. Unfortunately, this mission meant enduring the full extent of the war, fighting in over 100 engagements and losing a lot of people who over time you easily become close with.

War is hell. I told Sherman that, and then he went on and made the phrase famous.  It’s true, all veterans know it, and all of those who died in battle or from subsequent disease knew it, and especially those who still haunt the death stained ground know this to be true. Why would anyone want to talk about it? Well, we talk about it to remember, to educate and to hopefully not recreate the horrors of war.

War doesn’t end when the last bullet flies; it leaves destruction in its wake that can be felt generations later. When I heard shots ringing out this morning at 4:30am, and I woke up in a cold sweat, I knew it wasn’t some hunting accident or drive by shooting, but the echoes of the past still calling out to me.

“Did you stop the vagabonds?” Well, I guess if you know history, you know the answer to that (although I did have an African American woman aged about 60 years, who had been a teacher for almost 30 years ask me recently who won the Civil War, so you never know).

“Was it worth it, even with all the nightmares?” Yes. I’d say my job protecting history is always worth it, no matter the cost.

“Would you go back again?” Unfortunately I’d have to say yes. Not just for duty, but also because each time you relive history you get to experience the good aspects along with the bad. Seeing the soldiers I knew alive and well again, even while knowing when and how they will die, makes the experience bittersweet (as all aspects of history and the human experience tend to be) but it doesn’t make it unbearable. Experiencing history first hand is the most amazing experience I can imagine, and no amount of nightmares after the fact would make me give that up. Yeah, the memories can be debilitating but more often than not, they feel like a distant dream or a strong imagination playing stories in my head.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Onward March

So the month of March passed, and I only got about 6,000 words typed up. I wrote more than I expected and I'm stuck with two different endings in mind. Well, not endings, but more like horrific realizations, but I'm not sure which actually belongs in the story. I want to dedicate more time to exploring and writing the second half of this book, but school, vacations, and epic sicknesses keep interfering.

I also need to spend a significant amount of time chillin' with my scanner, since I've been scribbling comics down but can't get them online to share until they're scanned and cleand up.

Today, though, I'm going to go home after work and crawl into bed. I'm exhausted; whipped by my expectations and my responsibilites. Maybe tomorrow will afford the energy to propel myself forward.