Sunday, August 25, 2013

Oh how I wish I could describe how I write!

It is a puzzle to me as it is…I sit down and start to touch the keyboard and stuff gets on the screen that I rarely if ever get to change.
Sometimes something seems awkward.  I change that.  There are typos, I automatically change them.  But as for content?  Eh.  I usually know exactly what I want to write and it appears—in full—much to my surprise.
Now, I'm not saying that it’s all wonderful.  But after all the thinking I do, it ought to be.  I will mull over a scene for days and days until I know exactly how it should go, the I get it down.  It is a waste of my time to sit and write and write and write only to have to write it all over again once I’ve figured out how I want it to go.
At one time, I worked for a man who had money to burn but holes in his shoes.  He was writing what was going to be the literary fiction masterpiece of all time, guaranteed Pulitzer, maybe even Nobel in Literature.  Every day I’d go up to his house and type as he spoke.  Problem was, he kept going over and over the exact same words in the exact same sentences until it came to the point where I typed them before he said them. He got only so far…I think he was getting somewhere that even he couldn’t go.  What I remember was a woman and her son, the son was spoiled, there was a junkyard and then suddenly there was a scene with live lobsters escaping the boiling pot and her smashing at them with an oar.  Indoors.  On Long Island. This must have been back when lobsters were still less than ten dollars a pound.
But the point is, he kept going over and over his stuff, never really changing anything, not a word, not an apostrophe.  Just the same scenes rehashed or just hashed out because I should think rehashing would bring about some changes.
But they didn’t ever change. He never really added anything after his initial burst of story.
That’s not the way to write.
My way isn’t for everybody, either.  I have the luxury of not having a deadline.  I also do not have the luxury of an agent or editor chasing me for another book.  All I have is what gets down eventually.
Okay, I'll admit to something most writers probably do not have: I don’t sleep very well.  It takes me forever to fall asleep and then I tend to wake up around 3 a.m. and stay awake for a couple of hours.  I don’t waste that time, I think.
When I start out with a story, I already have planned the beginning, the middle, the black moment and the end.  I don’t do anything but jot down notes at this point.  Then I do research, if necessary.  My new story takes place during the very last nine days of World War II.  Since I wasn’t alive then, I had to research rather heavily, and talk with old folks who were alive then.  I take notes.  I see scenes in my head.  I remember them, even if I do not remember what I had for breakfast that morning. Then I may come up with a title (this one has changed twice as better ones come along) and a first line, first paragraph, then it starts rolling and more pages come out until I’ve gotten to the third paragraph hook where I stop and think some more.
In my head, I always know where the story is going.  I can write inside and outside of the line, but always with the same goal.  No story has ever changed in mid-stream.  Front to back, top to bottom, beginning, middle and end.
It is hard for me to realize what it must be like to have only a certain amount of time to come up with a new story, new characters, names for everywhere and everybody that fit, the setting, the date, is this a real place, a fictional place or outer space?  I know all this in advance, write down key points on note cards (I do not rely on the computer for this stuff) and when the spirit moves me, I start back again.

It is getting near that time.  Mermaids Arms is coming.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting ready for WWII

In the next two weeks, I'm gonna be working on this story, the Mermaid Arms.  In order to get my mind in the right place, not with folks in Turkey in 1856 or Newport in 1880, I'm moving up a bit. Let me see 1945 in the August heat on Long Beach Island in Beach Haven. Feel the seashore magic in the air.
Here goes:

Room five of the old hotel contained a double bed with a rollaway cot.  Like all the other rooms she’d passed, the windows were shut tight and only dim light faded through the drawn yellowed shades.  
Heat pressed down on Maggie as she herded her girls up the steps and into the room. 

“First things first,” she announced, trying to sound cheerful.  “Let me open these windows.  It’s time for that sea breeze to start up and I think we can all use some refreshing air, don’t you?” 

Neither girl answered, but she hadn’t really expected them to.  She unlocked the window and pushed up against the old wooden frame with all her might.  An inch.  Two inches, maybe, before she had to give up and try the other window.  This one, thank God, went up all the way.  The cooler air rushed in and Maggie sagged against the sill, letting that small relief caress her.  The girls joined her and turned their faces to the breeze.

They all sighed at the same time.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Lignarius in Charleston

One of her hands went up to her forehead.  The IV stuck in her forearm pulled against the tape holding it in. He noticed bruises there, too. Big welts in purple and gross red.
                 “So, miss? What can you tell me?”
                 “Not much.  We went for a walk down at the Battery.  By the seawall.”  She finished speaking, her voice slurred slightly, or maybe that was her accent he was hearing. 
                 “I saw that earlier today.”
                   After taking a deep breath, Natalie blinked away tears and continued, each word coming out slowly. “It was late; I just started walking back to campus because I had a book to finish reading. Earl, my friend, stayed behind, it was dark and even with the street lights, there were shadows moving. The trees, the leaves moving in a breeze…things looked as if they were moving but it was just shadows.”
                   Jim nodded, hoping she would get to the point. “So, what happened then? A noise, a chill perhaps?”
                     A huge tear ran down her cheek. She wiped it away and swallowed audibly. “They came at him. There was a rush of motion, barking, screaming…Earl yelled ‘Run! Run!’…and I did. I looked back, saw…saw dogs…lots of dogs…they brought him down. He screamed, I started back toward him, one of the dogs, a pit bull, I think, looked directly at me and I took off.  I ran….”
                     Dogs?  Could this be a feral pack?  Not a vampire at all?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The New Doctor

I almost missed the live feed from England that announced the new Doctor Who, but thanks to FB and a friend, I got to see the whole thing. Again, thanks, Jenn Nixon.
Here I knew it was to be broadcast at 7 pm, so I'm thinking, I'll watch it tonight, not realizing that it was their time, thus making it 2 pm our time.
But, I saw the whole show.
And part of the end of the 10th Doctor wherein much is sort of explained but not really, as nothing is ever clear on that show for me.

So, after much fanfare, it turns out that the new doctor will be one Peter Capaldi, a Scot.  I don't know what the attraction to Scotland is for Italians, but once again, like Dario Franchitti, we have a Scot with an Italian surname.

I'll see if I can dig up a photo of the guy, although everyone on Facebook has seen it by now.