On Friday morning, I posted the following on Twitter and Facebook:
Trying to decide on a physical type for sexy recurring minor character. Is he a Denzel Washington? Jon Hamm? Giancarlo Esposito?
I looked at that and thought, I have no idea who the hot young guys are these days.
Rather than actually buckling down to work–I’d slept poorly–I considered Glee, because it’s got the highest profile and the youngest cast of the Hollywood Stuff I watch. Will Schuster, as I’ve recently discussed, is not my thing. Finn? Meh. Trouty Mouth, a.k.a. Chord Overstreet? Ewww, Trouty Mouth!! Kurt and Blaine are lovely and gay and this character is bait for a 24-year-old female extrovert. Burt’s too uncle-y. Kevin McHale, is adorable, I admit, and could totally play the role if I were actually casting a movie–but Artie himself is too buttoned down. And I like Puck the character enormously, but I’d call Mark Salling more charming than cute.
(I’ve also recently seen the vampire boy from Twilight on the cover of Vanity Fair, by the way, and all I can say is a world of no to that action.)
On the one hand, this is the perfect sort of question to throw to the Twitternets just for the fun of it. It was also an insufficiency of information to offer, or it would have been if I were seriously looking for help. Maggieno immediately asked what kind of sexy I wanted. Jon Hamm sexy, she pointed out, does not equal Johnny Depp sexy. She went on to ask: Sexy as in wild, hot, slam-n-g’bye? Sexy as in grab a blanket, find a cozy place, and start canoodling right NOW?
(As I was underslept and set on random that morning, I have to tell you that this made me think: “Must stop using the verb canoodling so imprecisely.” Because I use it to describe a mental process whereby I play with story ideas in my head, or sometimes in e-mails to Snuffy when I need to bounce a story problem off someone exceedingly patient. Bad writer! Wrong usage! Although, considering the uses I’m going to put this particular character to… oh, sorry!)
The thing was, the reason I was going through the mental flip-file of celebrity nom was to decide just that. What kind of sexy?
Anyway. I got suggestions, both of actors and of characters. Spike and Angel from Buffy. (Great characters, and creditably heterosexual, but they don’t rank high on my cute scale.) Hugh Jackman in a utilikilt, from Breklor. Jason Stathum whom I’d never heard of, but whose name reminded me of David Strathairn, which made me think, I really don’t know who the hot young guys are these days.
A smart-ass cousin suggested our Prime Minister, which is to gag. Thank you for that at seven in the morning, Colleen. I will have my revenge.
I do like Hugh Jackman, though. I thought: Is he a hot young guy? But no, IMDB says we were born in exactly the same year.
So far, Johnny Depp is the winner. Because yes, I am thinking rather of a grab-a-blanket now guy, but not so much a keeper. If nothing else, Johnny’s got not a keeper written all over him.
Last year, at about this time, I set out the following 2010 goals:
1. Draft a novel.
2. Finish a novel.
3. Draft a story.
4. Finish a story.
5. Sell a story.
(This is just the fiction portion of a larger business plan. Non-fiction, promotional work, and other targets are separate.)
Draft and finish were separate items specifically because I’m working on multiple projects: drafting one book didn’t necessarily mean finishing that same book.
As plans go, this one looks rather fuzzy. The reason specific projects weren’t named (Finish this book, draft that story) in the above list reflects the fact that I spent a fair amount of 2010 waiting for other parties to get back to me on things. The timing on when I received edits for my next novel, for example, was entirely up to my editor’s schedule, and out of my hands.
So I kept it modest, and a little vague. And, of course, a nice thing about modest goals is that it’s often possible to overachieve. So here’s what I accomplished, working from the above plan:
1. Drafted two novels.
2. Finished one novel.
3. Wrote a series proposal and two sample chapters, polished it all, and sent it off.
4. Wrote a grant proposal and thirty sample pages, polished that, and sent it off.
5. Drafted, finished, sold and celebrated publication of a novelette, “The Cage.”
6. Drafted three short stories and embarked on a fourth that proved to be a false start.
7. Finished two 2009 stories, which are now off at market.
8. Sent a novel to market.
9. Sent out material relating to a potential short story collection, after I won the Sunburst.
I will often get to the very last sentence of a nonfiction piece and find myself stymied. It is as though I can hear the tone of the thing, the notes I want to hit, but am waiting on lyrics.
When this happens, it usually plays out like this: I’ll polish up the article. Then I will spend ten or twenty minutes rearranging the few sentences before the yet-to-be-written ending. This can be followed by a denial phase. Maybe now that I have prettied that up, I can just stop. Damn! No! What if I rearrange thusly?
Eventually I buckle down and just grind out an approximation of whatever it is I’m trying to say, and then buff that from nonsense into coherence. Sometimes I give myself an extra public pants kick by tweetin’ about how I got those last line blues again. This triggers many helpful* suggestions on Facebook (“Write THE END”). Other times I whine via email to Snuffy, and then try to have something before she gets back to me.
This syndrome doesn’t manifest quite the same way with fiction. If I am writing a story, I will often end a session mere paragraphs from the end. Somehow, that feels okay, like waiting for a first layer of paint to dry. There are even times when the end comes early, and just waits for me to ravel together the beginning-middle-crisis.
The current story, tentatively titled “Among the Silvering Herd” has been weirdly recalcitrant, though, my writerbrain refusing to choke up a last line… until today. I am so happy that I finally have it. I am not such a one as enjoys thrashing with the same 250 words for two frickin’ weeks.
*By which I mean “helpful.” As in, with air quotes.
This morning dawned clear and unseasonably warm; the sky at six, when I headed off to the cafe to work, was aglimmer with stars. I look for raccoon activity on Cotton and Second now–having had one sighting, I consider this my due–but the bandits failed to show so I puttered off to the cafe.
My first browse through the slenderly-drafted THE RAIN GARDEN is moving quickly and producing a long list of scenes to add, things to research, and stuff to do. I will need to reverse-engineer an outline in the not too distant, if only to figure out where the scenes to be added should go, and to check that the clues to the mystery emerge in a sensible order.
Today I cruised through what looked suspiciously like the book’s thematic heart, and thereby hit upon a working title that is more fitting, at least in the limited sense that it has something to do with the actual story I’m telling. So, for now, the book is morphing into THE AFTERPEOPLE. Since the first book set in this universe has a similar title (THE WINTERGIRLS) this rather hints that the third book, whenever it happens, might end up being THE (something)BOYS.
(If you’re me, these are the sort of thoughts you don’t want to be having when you’re trying to focus on the Book at Hand.)
I think it can be safely argued that THE RAIN GARDEN is a prettier title, and AFTERPEEPS may not be a keeper. But THE RAIN GARDEN didn’t fit, at all… it sounded poetic, and I had a good reason to call the novel something poetic before I sent its ultrasound off to Certain Somebodies for review.
This evening I was briefly tempted to adopt THE RAIN GARDEN moniker for all my unfinished works in progress. This would have the entertaining side effect of confusing the hell out of everyone, probably me included, while perhaps creating a blog tag that spanned multiple books. But hey, that’s what “Works in Progress” and “Process” are for, right?
Besides, I have for years used a perfectly good acronym for such projects: AFNA. This stands for Another Fucking Novel Attempt, and dates back to the days when I was fourteen and couldn’t write my way past the first fifty pages of a full-length book. Even at five characters, it was short enough to use in the days of DOS files. AFNA.DOC. AFNA, incidentally, can be prefaced with other letters: J for Just, Y for Yet, B for Bollocks… well, you get the idea.
Anyway, the book’s out and renamed and blinking groggily. I worked on it until after dawn, and walked home in the sunny morning. After breakfast and a coffee date with my beloved, I caught a walk in the last of the bright, even as the clouds were moving in. I made it to Hastings Park and back before the skies opened. I didn’t get any horse pictures, as I arrived too late for the morning practice laps and too early for the actual races.
In lieu, here’s a RAIN GARDEN picture for you, from the universe of things that are not yet, and might never be:
Getting the new novel drafted and getting out for a walk every single day, whenever it’s somewhat nice out, have been my big priorities this month, with the effect here in the blog that there’ve been a lot of word count posts and “Weather fine, lots of spiders” entries. I have a few Journey interviews out, awaiting answers and of course I’ve had the Favorite Thing Ever and Quantum Leap stuff on the go, keeping me busy. It’s all very pleasant, and I’ve enjoyed sharing my Sunburst excitement with you all.
On which theme: Indigo Springs is the featured novel at Jim Hines’ site, as part of his First Novel Friday feature. It’s mirrored on LJ, here.
I have spent some of my remaining copious spare time trying to get the Out in Harmony facebook fan page to automatically load notes from the main choir website. It’s supposed to, and it says it is, but it always loads up everything and then stops. In the meantime, I’m manually cross-posting. (My own page loads notes from WordPress to Livejournal to Facebook quite happily, so there’s a little bucket brigade of data, and I played with getting the choir an LJ too, to see if it would help. But my site comes with more bells and whistles than the choir’s, and that includes the widget that kicks off the whole sequence.)
Choir itself has been a blast from the recent past. We are mostly relearning pieces I know for a twentieth anniversary / greatest hits concert, and this means singing a lot of my favorite songs.
Autumn has also brought myriad shifts on a number of fronts. Our digital TV provider upgraded our gadgetry Monday, which meant two days of disruption to both me and Kelly followed by an incremental (but worthwhile) improvement in service. I’m sifting through my eating practices in search of a similar tiny shift toward better nutrition. I’ve taken the arcade game off my iTouch in favor of spending my mental downtime listening to CBC Podcasts, watching TED Talks, and playing word games and Sudoku. Mental composting, I hope.
I’ve bought new shoes, a nice dress, and the best winter tights ever. I’ve had the fireplace tuned, I’ve made sure our travel and medical insurance is renewing, and I’ve thought about (but neglected, so far, to follow through on) taking the bedroom apart and hoovering out every last speck of dust. I’ve planted some fall bulbs, but haven’t yet put pansies atop them. Small, gratifying combing of the life-in-progress. I am glad to have had the energy–thank you, August vacation!–the focus and the help from K in achieving them.
And I’m not the only one savoring the excellence of fall on the coast: