Saturday, February 26, 2011

Prescience is a Curse

Fie on foreknowledge, oh cursed villain! 

Knowing the future is not just a gift, it is also a curse; especially for a writer. When you know the future it can be difficult to control the past - to tell events as they 'really happened'. The knowledge of what is to come is bound to color the perception of the present. In my case, it is the circumstances surrounding a certain character whom I plan on developing into the villain of the Arc Rider series.

I need him to be viewed as a hero in the early part of the series (Book 1, 2 and half of 3) with his dastardly nature only gradually coming to light. I need to leave hints, but only hints. This is not a Snape type character who is basically unlikable. This guy is supposed to be everybody's friend, a true inspiration to my characters. I want his betrayal to hurt - to cause readers to throw the book across the room and then rush over to pick it up again just to see how I get the ba$!@$d. I need to embed hints and foreshadowing in the books, but must play it close to the vest. After all, betrayal at the hands of our closest friends is the kind that hurts the most.

Problem is - I don't like the guy - and it shows, all over the place in my first draft. I thought he was being helpful, but a re-read proves he is condescending. I tried to make him smart, he is a know-it-all. I wanted him to be caring, he is patronizing. SIGH.

In order to conquer this, I am taking a slight detour from the rest of the novel, to re-write a scene or two from this character's perspective. To get inside his head. To find out who he is before he goes bad. I am having to learn to like him.

Of course, I already know what this means. I too will feel the betrayal when he turns. I will be unable to insulate myself from the pain, because I will like the guy. Sheesh! Prescience is a curse.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I Love/Hate Moving - But its Done!

I am practically a professional mover. I have moved 20 times in my 48 years. That is one move on the average of every 2 and 1/3 years. As you might imagine, this means that I have become quite efficient at the procedures one must go through for a successful move - the inventories, the packing, the organizing.

My daughter and I have developed a system of packing boxes by room, numbering and labeling the boxes and inventorying the contents as we work so that we can keep track of things as we go. As far as the logistics of moving we have it pegged. The mechanics of moving can't really be changed - pack, lift, carry, plant, unpack. It is exhausting but essentially unchanging.

This month, I moved again. Not across town, or across the world as before, but simply across the hall. Before we started the process, I assumed that this would be my easiest move of all. No packing. No boxes. No truck. Just a move accomplished one cupboard at a time. I was wrong -moving this way is not easy. You don't have to pack, it is true, but the normal move which is spread over a series of weeks, is compacted into the mechanics phase. No time for logistics - just move. And walk back and forth. And back and forth, and back and forth.

On the plus side, the new house gets settled immediately! I am exhausted but my new apartment is well organized and clean. Now back to the really important work of writing!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Reality vs Real Life

I find, in my daily life, a constant tug-of-war over my time and mental efforts.

One the one hand - the reality of my stories, the constant imaginings and sculpting of concept that are calling to me night and day.

"Write me. Ignore the dishes. The vacuuming can wait. Politics do not matter. Write me."

On the other hand is real life; the need to work, to cook and clean, to commune with family. To try and keep abreast of politics and the need for citizen action in a free society.

The challenge I personally run into is not really centered around domestic chores or family demands - I am blessed with a family that encourages and supports my writing - a family that will take on extra chores to give me those few moments of extra writing time.

My particular obstacle is centered more around politics and my feeling that I need to remain informed and active as a citizen. Unlike doing dishes, it is almost impossible to keep thinking about my writing when I am protesting a bad law, or encouraging a good candidate. In this case, Real Life seems to suck away the Reality of my stories, and to leave me feeling vaguely dirty and wholly depleted. Or worse, the cynicism engendered by the modern all-consuming political age enters my stories, coloring my words and warping the story I set out to tell.

The only solution I have worked out is to try and remain aware of this and stop myself from being too consumed by politics. I will stop watching the Daily show, I will stop reading political BLOGS and reports, I will discontinue my email subscriptions until I have it back under control.

I want to be aware. I want to be informed. I want to be a citizen activist, but not at the expense of my reality.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Something Personal This Way Comes

Talk About Mixed Messages!
The national assault on women's bodies by people who don't understand the mechanics of abortion in our culture has begun again. I try not to be political on this BLOG, but on this issue I find it difficult to refrain - after all, for me those factors that lead many women to choose abortion are part of my personal experience. Thankfully, I didn't get pregnant, but I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I did.

The latest salvo in the war is a push to codify rape in the government's approach to health care. Currently, if you are enrolled in Medicare and get raped, Medicare will cover an abortion. So - the anti-abortion warriors are on the quest to change the definition of Rape to Forcible Rape. this would disqualify victims of Date Rape, Coercive Rape and Spousal Rape. 

I wrote the following in response:

When I was 14 I was raped by a trusted boyfriend. I was a virgin, had never had a sex-ed class, I didn't know the mechanics of sex, I didn't understand my own body, let alone a boy's body and I was in love.

I was stupid.

He asked if I wanted to see the church belfry.
I said yes.
When we were up in the belfry, looking over the town, he asked if he could kiss me.
I said yes,(we had after-all kissed before - a lot).
He asked if he could touch my breasts. I said no.
So he kissed me some more and then touched me anyway.
I slapped his hand, he acted contrite.
This went on, with his advances becoming more and more daring.
Any girl who had been educated (as Planned Parenthood currently does for millions) would have seen the danger signs - his lack of respect, his playful insistence, his alternating compliments and curses were all classic abusive behaviors.
I hadn't been educated.
I didn't see the signs.
When I finally got angry and tried to leave, he grabbed me, threw me to the floor, ripped my dress apart and raped me.
If you ask that man today what happened, he will say I was asking for it.
That my mouth said no, but my eyes said yes.
That he could tell I wanted it.
That is, of course, bullshit.
My mouth said no, my eyes said no, my body said no.
Confusion is not yes, it is confusion.
I had never even seen a penis, and to have one used as a club on and in my body was horrifying.

In 1976 in Wyoming, it was not considered rape, what this man did to me.
Going willingly to the belfry sealed my fate.
By agreeing to go with him (so said society of the time) I had also ceded all control over my own body.

We cannot go back to a time like that.
No means no, no matter when it is said.

As for abortion - I am a person (and I believe there are millions just like me) who is both pro-choice and anti-abortion. I was lucky to not get pregnant by a rapist. I was lucky to not have to make that choice. I cannot say what I would have done if I had gotten pregnant. I know I would have wanted the choice. And had I decided to abort, no law would have stopped me. I would have tried a desperate, stupid thing. I was, after all, only fourteen years old.

If we, as a society, truly want to stop abortions, we must stop the causes - we must stop Rape, we must stop teenage stupidity, we must stop the man who threatens to beat his wife if she becomes pregnant, we must stop a church from making the cumulative daily sin of birth control more consequential than the single sin of abortion, we must stop incest, and child molestation and poverty and subjugation of women..

And most of all, we must educate our girls, our daughters, our nieces, our friends. It is your body, and nobody - not your husband, not your boyfriend, not the neighbor, not the priest, not the government has a right to it. And we must educate our boys about responsibility, and sexual pressure, and consent and birth control. To truly stop abortion we don't need to make it illegal, we need to make it unnecessary.

You have control.
Don't be stupid.