Thursday, July 24, 2014

Breaking News!


Recently, I scrolled through the 'news' on several different sites. Clearly, I have a very different idea of what constitutes news. News used to refer to important events that touched the lives of the general public in some significant way. There were specific categories for news stories.

1. Someone died. Usually, this was someone famous, an individual who had contributed significantly to the public. Presidents, Nobel Prize winners, and a sprinkling of politicians, activists, doctors, authors, and very important celebrities were in this category.

2. A LOT of people died/were injured. Plane, train, and multiple car crashes plus the odd sinking ship were in this category. Also civilian explosions such as grain silos or warehouses.

3. A LOT of people died/were injured. War coverage. There isn't a lot you can say to expand on this category. War is war is war, regardless of where it takes place or who is fighting. There is no such thing as a safe, bloodless war. This also includes terrorist attacks.

4. A loss of property. Fires, both domestic and forest. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes. And of course, all too frequently, people died. Sometimes, a lot of people died.

5. Significant political scandals. A lot of people forget that political scandals are not a modern invention. They've been around as long as there have been politicians. And that's a really long, long time. Power and the subsequent abuse of that power go hand in hand.

6. Murder. When I was younger, only the most heinous crimes made the news. Serial killers were rare. Multiple murders were rare. At least, we thought they were. The first multiple murders I remember reading about were the Richard Speck murders. They were incredibly shocking. I'm not sure folks would be nearly as stunned today.

7. Important medical news. Polio, HIV, Aids, cancer. The public need to know was the driving force behind such coverage. The information didn't have to be accurate, you understand. Just sensational. When we moved into the era of HIV, abortion, and birth control, this category was more often politicized than informational.

8. Stories of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE. Landing on the moon. The space walk. Presidential Inaugurations. Election coverage.  

What's missing? Celebrity stuff. That wasn't news. It was reported in rags like the National Enquirer. Inquiring minds want to know. Unless it was an incredibly messy scandal, it wasn't part of the news. The news guys were serious. The general public trusted them (whether they should have or not) and frivolous stories were quite rare.

TV information was printed in TV Guide. Movie information was in the newspapers and movie mags. Book news was in special columns in the newspapers.  And commercial 'news' was confined to commercials, not fake news articles, thinly disguised as news.

Most importantly, to my mind, private information was private. Folks didn't share personal information with their neighbors, let alone the international community. I appreciate the availability of information we have now with the Internet. But I wish, really wish, the news media would stick to actual news. I wish the weather folks would stick to the weather. If I want a general interest story...I'm perfectly capable of finding one. 

*For the curious...the photo is my mother and my grandparents, circa 1932.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Purling Through Life


When learning to knit, the first stitch you learn is the...knit stitch. Naturally. Because no one would be perverse enough to teach you to purl first. That's not the right way to knit. So you knit, knit, knit until you decide it's a boring stitch and notice there are other more interesting things to do with knitting needles and you learn to purl.

Combining the knit stitch and the purl stitch allows the knitter to produce a wide variety of interesting pieces such as socks, mittens, hats, scarves--because you can fashion a stretchy cuff or edge. The thing nobody mentions is this: If you turn your purled fabric to the wrong side, it looks exactly like knitting. Why, then, does no one call it purling?

Because we've always done it that way. Knitting, knitting, knitting. Purling would be subversive.

For most of my early life, I did everything the knit way. I went to school everyday, never missed a single day during four years of high school, earned good grades, graduated, got engaged and married, produced a little more than my share of 2.5 children and did all the other things that were expected of me. I even supported the hunk's career by enthusiastically agreeing to move two thousand miles away to a totally different climate where I had no friends or family.

Within six months I had a breakdown.

In the recovery process, I learned something. Knitting is not the only way to get through life. Purling is not only an option--it's a necessity for survival. At least for me, it is. I know there are a lot of individuals out there who adhere to a rigid lifestyle, never wearing white after Labor Day, never eating fried chicken with their fingers, never using a paper towel instead of a napkin. That's okay for them.

I can't deal with life that way. I need a lot of creative stimulation, preferably something off the beaten path the rest of the world is marching along. During my early marriage, I tried out the usual religions--Tupperware, Amway, potholder weaving from those little cotton loops, candlemaking, cake decorating, and in a fit of desperation, paint-by-number. Nothing satisfied my need for challenge and creativity.

So I went to college. I was twenty-eight with three small children and working at MacDonald's six nights a week, closing every night. What could be better?

In quick succession, one night while I was working, we were robbed, the hunk had a car accident that left us with one vehicle, and I got pregnant. I finished my second semester of college in spectacular fashion by getting stuck in my student desk so maintenance had to be summoned to free me. That's when I realized I was not a knitter. I would never be a knitter. If I was ever to survive, I would need to be a purler.

While everyone else marches in formation with the band, I'm out there zigzagging across the field, creating my own patterns as I play my psaltery. As I cleaned my office this last two weeks, it occurred to me my life is littered with the remnants of my purling. Handmade candles sit on my shelf. An Irish calligraphy blessing hangs on the wall. Crocheted afghans cover the couches and chairs. Framed book covers above my desk remind me I need to write. A weaving project waits for my attention on the loom in the corner. Ink and pens and paintbrushes lure me in the afternoons. And always over and above the clamor, the thousands of books on my shelves call to me.

Purling saved my life. Oh, knitting is okay. We all need the safety of a knitted background. But for some of us, our lives would be lost without the joy of purling.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Socks, a Box, and a Black Notebook

When you begin a deep cleaning (closets, drawers, boxes) in your home, whether it's a house, RV or apartment, you never start thinking about all the stuff you will discover. It's never the plan. Never. And why is this? Because we delude ourselves, we convince ourselves that we're organized, especially if everything is hidden behind closed doors, closed drawers or sealed boxes.

And then...

Well, then, once we open the doors, drawers and boxes, we face the truth. We're not organized at all. If I were to list all the things I 'found' when I started cleaning, you would be appalled. Appalled, I say, and more than likely a little uneasy about my sanity. Who actually needs thirty-seven sticky pads. That's enough notes to plan the D-Day invasion. In color.

Safety pins. I have enough safety pins to hold up every bra strap in America. Are you old enough to remember when a pinned bra strap was the height of slovenliness? Only a total failure in the halls of womanhood would ever need a safety pin. And yet. Here I confess to having boxes, Ziploc bags, actual sealed, never-even-been-opened packages of safety pins. Not just tiny ones, but even big enough pins to substitute as diaper pins. And most folks don't even use cloth diapers anymore so that tells you something about my past. Because my children came along before disposable diapers. I wonder if the young know what a diaper pin is?

Then there are the pens. In this day and age where no one writes--at least not with a pen--I have four, no five mugs on my desk jammed with pens. Those are just the ones I've found in random drawers, boxes, bags... I'm not even sure how many of them still work. That will be a project for another day.

But along the way, I found a prize or two. One was a wooden box. It's a small box my son made for me many years ago when he was in high school. I'm one of those parents who hangs on to everything my children ever produced, starting with their kindergarten years. This box is the perfect size to hold pens. Unfortunately, I'm one of those individuals that totally forget about something if I can't see it, so stashing pens in the box isn't a good idea. However! It's the perfect size for all those tiny little Post-it! notes (you know--the ones that you use to jot down a phone number and name). So that's where I've stashed those. I charge you all with remembering, just in case I can't lay my hands on them the next time someone gives me a phone number.


The other thing I found was a black notebook. I'm not describing the cover, but the paper inside. They were all the rage quite a while ago...maybe twenty years ago? You were supposed to use special gel pens in light colors to write on the black paper. I no longer have any gel pens (and clearly should have an intervention--according to my friend, Amarinda--if I think about buying any more pens). From this distant perspective, I can't remember the attraction, but I still can't bring myself to throw it out. Once I queried my friends on the Internet, they eagerly came up with lots of solutions for my lack of gel pens. So, I'm happy to announce my gel pen problem is solved if I should ever have any reason to use the black notebook.

Now! On to the socks. My hundred pairs of socks are not enough. Really. I did give some to my granddaughters. But I crave socks. It's an addiction. Lest Amarinda attempts a sock intervention, I've devised a solution. I will knit my socks. That will slow down the rate of acquiry. I have baskets and baskets of yarn. I could even knit socks for other people. Yes...this is an excellent solution. Who would dare refuse a pair of hand-knit socks? Below is the first sock. Two days to knit (while watching Midsomer Murders in the evening). Behold the sock!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Perils of Cleaning

Aside from all the usual problems that crop up when cleaning, writers have specific issues. Or maybe I should say I do. I have no idea how other writers work so I shouldn't generalize.

When I start a new series, I begin with what I call brain-storming notes. In this phase I do a lot of 'what-if' stuff, researching possibilities, ruminating on various scenarios. Then when a set of ideas gel somewhat, I start writing to see how it works in reality. Sometimes, I hit it on the first try. More often, that isn't the case.

Once I have a chapter or two down, I begin to keep a running list of character names, place names, any new vocabulary words I've made up, customs, governing bodies, clothing and hair styles, etc. You're probably scratching your head by now, but most of my stories are a combination of fantasy/futuristic/paranormal. Wearing my world building hat, I not only write the story, but first I have to create the world.

As I move on in the process, I tend to scribble notes on stickies and slap them down on my original list. Occasionally, while watching television or cooking or something, I might take a fresh note pad and try to organize the original list and all the scribbles into a coherent whole.
And the process goes on...

Normally, when I finish, I go back and re-organize the mess, filing it in a series bible notebook. Then when I write the next book, I know what I did with the previous ones. Normally, I say.

However, things do crop up. Family emergencies, medical emergencies, life issues. And when those things happen, normal processes tend to go by the wayside. That's what happened with my Tuatha Treasure notes. I've spent three days poring over stacks of notes and maps. I re-read the first two books and started NEW lists, only to discover errors in the first two books. Not huge errors. Probably not even errors anyone would notice except me. But I'm picky enough they'll bother me until they're fixed. Another note to add to the pile.

On more than one occasion, I've had to pick up, shuffle together, and stack notes in boxes, drawers, on a shelf, because of an emergency. It never ends well.

I'm a vertical filer. That's a person who has a stack of papers and knows exactly what is in that stack. And even the approximate location in the pile. Just don't move my stack. I once had a boss who decided to 'clean up' my desk while I was gone on vacation. She filed everything away and when I came back, my desk was clean.

Over the next few weeks, she asked for this paper or that file and I had no idea where it might be...because she moved MY files. After about the third or fourth time I pointed to my desk and said, "It was in this pile, two-thirds of the way down, under the such-and-such file," she swore she would never touch my desk again.

Is my style efficient? Absolutely not. But it works for me and I'm getting too old to care about changing it. So...back to recreating the bible for Tuatha Treasures. Since I'm starting from scratch, it'll probably be a better set of notes than the original because it won't contain all the false starts and changes I made along the way. But it will take time I don't want to spend right now. I suppose that's the penalty of cleaning up. No good deed goes unpunished.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Set Apart

While crocheting with determination this weekend--see yesterday's blog--I had the television on in the background. Mostly, I watch PBS or Netflix when I turn on the TV. Yesterday I watched Fifth Element.

I've seen the movie many times. And each time, I've enjoyed so many different aspects of the story, characters, costumes. Anyway, I started thinking about what sets certain movies, books, songs, artworks, performances apart. Why do some touch us so deeply we want to experience them again and again?

Subject matter isn't the reason. Creativity isn't enough. Romance, pathos, hilarity, eroticism, none of those are enough to set a particular work on a pedestal. If they were, then every vampire story/movie would be the same. Every romance would tug at our hearts. All werewolves would be as satisfactory. There would be no difference between the aliens of Avatar and the aliens of Fifth Element.

So what is it?

Of course, the indefinable essence is different for each of us, but still there are specifics that cross the spectrum. The creator--writer, director, composer--must be involved with the characters. If the creator doesn't care about them, why should we? It is not enough to replicate a story. That's why so many sequels fail. Everyone jumps on the bandwagon, convinced if story A was a screaming success, well then, it follows that a hundred more just like it will also be successful. Unfortunately, they leave out the important part, the part about compelling characters. With very few exceptions, once the story is told, the audience is ready to move on.  

Die Hard was a classic tale of good vs. evil. We cheered for the protagonists. We booed the bad guys. Good triumphed in the end. Yay!!! But how many times--realistically--can one man face overwhelming danger and win? With each sequel, our interest was diluted.

Secondly, it is not enough to have novel idea. What sets E.T. apart from Cowboys and Aliens? They're both about aliens. But one endures and the other doesn't. The idea must grab us, enthrall us so we want to experience it over and over. Special effects don't trump original performances and characters. That's why remakes are often failures, especially with those who are familiar with the originals. It's why authors who leap on the bandwagon aren't usually as successful as the original author. It's true that any two authors given a specific set of characters would still produce different stories. But the idea is the same. Just as a rose is a rose is a rose, an alien/menage/werewolf/suspense is only unique once. The second time around, it's been done already.

So how do we set our work apart? Original ideas are good. Back in the beginning when I first started writing, I wrote a four book series called the Flowers of Camelot. They were set in Camelot--naturally--and featured some of the characters from King Arthur's court. And that's about all they had in common with the original legends. I didn't even attempt to stick to the story. I wrote my own. Think Mel Brooks' version of Frankenstein.

More importantly, we must care about the characters. Why is one TV series a smashing success and the next an abysmal failure? Because the audience loves/hates the characters in the first and are totally indifferent to the characters in the second. If the characters don't engage the audience or reader, the story just doesn't matter.

In my Mystic Valley series, the characters are what my readers write to me about. They express concern for them, hope that I'll write the story for one or the other of them, urging me to solve this one's problem or tell them what will happen to that one. The fact that the characters have blue skin and live in an exotic valley is secondary. What they're interested in are the character's lives. They want to know 'what will happen next'?

In the end, that is what sets one movie, one book, one story apart from the next. It's not whether or not they're vampires, aliens, SEALs, bounty hunters, or space pirates. It's whether or not we care about what happens to them. If we don't, then the story is a waste of film, pixels, bytes, or paper. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Finished!

Finished! While other folk picnicked or cooked on the grill, I watched movies and crocheted. And finally finished the never-ending project. For those who wanted proof...here it is.

Details: The project is crocheted in one piece with no seams. It's ten blocks wide and twenty blocks long with each block being twenty stitches wide and twelve rows high. That meant crocheting from twenty skeins every row. And every block is a different stitch. Dark blocks are Tunisian stitch. The light blocks are a mix of other stitches.


It's a heavy cuddly afghan that will keep me quite warm this coming winter. And though I don't remember ever keeping anything I've crocheted for myself, this one...is mine.

Sigh...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Fatness Dilemna

If I walked around naked, I would look exactly like this little goddess statue--luxurious curves abounding. Despite the fact that a large majority of the world's population is starting to look like me, our idea of beauty continues to be based on emaciated females and over-muscled males.

Because our ideas about beauty are skewed, clothing for the rest of us is...limited. When's the last time (other than celebrity folks who can afford designer clothing) you saw an attractively dressed over-sized man or woman?

Aside from clothing issues, there are other things to consider. Our notions of intelligence, talent, competence, imagination, capability, wisdom are all based on size. When fat people demonstrate any of the above in a public way, people confess amazement and disbelief. A few are honest (or arrogant) enough to say exactly what they think, "That's amazing because he/she is fat! It's too bad he/she eats so much."

Hmph. First of all, not everyone who is obese (boy do I hate that word!) eats a lot. My daily caloric intake is between 1000-1200 calories.

Second of all, my IQ is not measured on a scale in my doctor's office. Sometimes I wish it was that easy!

Do I advocate obesity as a lifestyle? Of course not. I'm not stupid, just fat. But I submit that fatness is not a measure of who I am. When I'm moving around in my life, I don't 'feel' fat. I'm just me. Until I have to make some accommodation for my size (such as finding attractive clothing or climbing stairs), I don't spend my time thinking about being fat.

Actually, until I stand in front of a mirror, I don't think about it at all. And then, I'm not so much worried about my shape as I mourn the speed my age is catching up with me.

When I strive to 'lose' weight, that's because I would feel better. When I walk in the therapy pool or exercise, when I try to consciously spend my time on my feet and less on my butt, when I drink water and never have soda, all those are things I do to be healthier.

I've read all the articles about how obesity costs more money in healthcare and other national interests. There's no denying that. But I submit shaming and making fun of fat people isn't productive. If I were to say some of the things people have said to me to individuals who were disabled, a different color, a different ethnicity, a different religion, people would be appalled. Yet, evidently it's okay for people to say them to me because I'm fat.

I especially love when I see a new doctor and the first thing out of their mouth is, "You need to lose weight." Well, yeah, because I'm not smart enough to figure that out.

What would I tell you if I could?

1. Don't treat me like I'm stupid, deaf, blind.

2. Don't assume I do nothing but sit on the couch watching television. Actually, I'm not that interested in TV and my couch is incredibly uncomfortable.

3. Don't assume I eat all day. That's a big no-no for me. I have three meals a day (small ones) and one tiny piece of dark chocolate per day as a treat.

4. Don't assume I never exercise. I walk and go swimming. How about you?

5. Don't assume I was always fat. When I was nineteen, I weighed 97 lbs. Most of those skinny chicks on the beach will not remain that way because of hormones in our food supply.

6. Don't assume I'm jolly because I'm fat. I have moods like every other woman out there. Some days are good. Others aren't so hot.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Women Warriors


http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fvideo.mpt.tv%2Fvideo%2F2365247457%2F&h=sAQHfIwXC
I was going to open this blog with the quote "History is written by the winners", but when I searched for the source, I discovered there is NO agreement on the source, though several important folks are cited. So. I think I'll use my own version.

"History is written by those in charge."

Just after midnight this morning, I watched a PBS program about the history of women warriors in the USA. I found it very thought provoking--especially the point made over and over that the vast proportion of women were never recognized for their contributions to our freedom. Most didn't qualify for benefits, medals, promotions, or even an historical footnote.

And why would that be?

Because men were in charge and women were second class citizens, even in the midst of war. That is a terrible commentary on the value our country places on women. And I'm not just talking about the men. From the earliest examples, the women warriors were vilified by the "good" women who stayed home.

There is still a feeling among the "good" women that any woman in the military is obviously no better than she should be.

The program opened with a powerful statement from a very elderly woman. She said, "When I served in the Navy, women weren't allowed to vote, yet." Read that again. Women couldn't vote, but the country was happy to ship them overseas to battlefields--because they were useful.

And that old fallacy about women in combat? Women have been wounded and died on battlefields from the beginning because the enemy is not worried about the noncombatant's purpose for being there. No, if that individual isn't 'us', then they automatically qualify as 'the enemy' and are fair game.

It seems to me we (women) are our own worst enemy. We talk a good game about a united front against male tyranny, but when it gets down to it, somewhere in our gut, we buckle under. Partially, that might be conditioning. But mostly, I suspect it's because we are willing to let the men make the decisions.

If we were truly united in demanding recognition for women in all walks of life, men would not be in charge. We would have a balance of men and women in business, politics, education, medicine, military and technology.

The truth is this. A woman can carry a gun just as easily as a man. A woman can demonstrate courage as much as any man. Brave women have moved into all fields of endeavor. But when they do, they do it alone. Because their sisters are standing back, frowning with disapproval because they're not at home, keeping house and having babies.

For info about the program, click on the photo!    

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Christian Label

In the beginning, back in the years after Christ's life, his followers were called Christians. The first Christians were generally small groups who met in each others homes to pray and share the letters they received from believers such as Peter, Paul, and Timothy. Paul in particular was a prolific writer, I suspect, because he spent a lot of time in jail.

Time passed and the term 'Christian' evolved. Churches expanded and anyone who attended the non-pagan, non-Jewish, non-anything else churches were called Christians. As happens when a group is more than about ten people, bureaucracy develops. Soon you have committees and bishops and folks who just generally believe they should be in charge. The entire bureaucracy is ritualized and bamm! You have something that is far, far removed from its origins.

Of course, the further from the origins, the more things changed. Soon little splinter groups broke from the main group because they had different notions about what people should believe and how they should act. But, they all still called themselves Christians because their base line belief was the same--Jesus died on the cross--though the actual overall implications might be viewed differently.

That's pretty much how things went up until today. Most folk had a relatively clear idea of what a 'Christian' was. Christians went to church on Sunday (and maybe Wednesday evening) and sang hymns and listened to preachers warn them about Hell. Outwardly, they were a quiet, well-behaved bunch.

Then the activist Christian emerged and the truth was revealed.

Now, I will point out that I, as a Baptist preacher's kid, grew up in a Christian home and church. I played the piano for church services, taught Sunday School classes, and even served for a while as a Sunday School superintendent. So I believe I can have an opinion.

When I was a child, it never occurred to me to question what I believed. That was just the way things were. But as an adult, I took another look at the beliefs espoused by the church as opposed to the way my fellow Christians behaved. Something was not right. Surely, modern Christianity was not what Christ taught during his lifetime.

The Bible--the book Christians wave as their authority--is available in just about every possible language. Therefore, I must assume most Christians don't read it. In John 13:34-35, Jesus himself lays out the definition of a Christian. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love on another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Hmmmm.

So, I don't see anything there about activism or telling other people how to live their lives. There's nothing there about getting involved in politics or protesting on the street corners. Nothing about bullying the less fortunate or making fun of the poor. Nope. There's nothing about attending church or feeling superior because one church is better than the other. There's certainly nothing about killing folks in the name of Jesus Christ.

Love one another.

Unfortunately, the term Christian has nothing to do with that. Folks bandy the term around like it's some shield against having to obey the law. Some think it gives them the right to tell other folks how to live. Others think it means they're better than their neighbors who have different colored skin. I don't blame those who sneer at Christians because of their blatant greed or power grabbing in the name of their religion.

I'm just disgusted. If that's what Christianity is all about, I sure don't want anyone to mistake me for one of them. Have I lost my faith?

No.

Do I still believe in God and Jesus?

Absolutely.

But I've decided if someone asks me what I am, I'm going to tell them I'm a Lover. I'm a person who advocates care and compassion. No preaching. No politicking. Just love for one another, especially the poor and hungry and sick.



Monday, June 16, 2014

With a Purpose

In the past, when I wanted an area to work on a project, I've piled stuff out of the way, promising myself I'll do something with it later. And generally 'later' is several years in the future because life happens and I never get back to the dump.

About five years ago...maybe four...I dismantled my drafting table and put away my calligraphy stuff when my family circumstances changed. Now, there's really no place for the table and I'm determined NOT to create another dump in the quest to figure out a place.

And so? Well, the alternative is to actually CLEAN and SORT and THROW OUT stuff purposefully. To that end, each day I go through a box or basket or stack of papers and toss out. It's a slow process. Some things need to be shredded. Some can simply go in the round file. Others need to be filed or placed in notebooks or set aside to pass on via Goodwill.

I'll confess something. I absolutely hate this kind of cleaning. There are people who LOVE organizing and making things tidy and all that other crap. That's not me. I can organize specific things like art supplies or craft supplies or notes for a book. But that other stuff? Nope. Really not my thing.

I don't care if the piles of this or that totally take over the universe. The only thing that compels me to clean is peer pressure. You know. SOMEBODY might come in the apartment and goodness knows we wouldn't want them to think we live like pigs.

Nope.

So I pick up and stash things in odd, out of the way spots so the main impression is neatness. And heaven help me if I ever need to find something specific.

Now, if I want to get back to my calligraphy, I must clean with purpose. Blech. Determination is everything, right?

Onward...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lowest Common Denominator

After two or three days of spotty Internet service, it took me a while to scroll through posts on Facebook, Yahoo, and a few of the other sites I check out. When you take a writing sabbatical, you have time for other stuff. Lot's of stuff. So maybe, I read more than I would otherwise.

Mostly, it ended with a bad taste on my tongue.

In the last twenty years or so, we've slowly but surely oozed into the dumpster of the lowest common denominator. It is possible that is one of the reasons I'm not very motivated to write. Why write when there's no challenge?

I read poorly written posts with multiple spelling errors--posts that mostly posed banal questions, loosely related to writing. Over the past year, the subjects have slithered from mildly interesting to not even close. Perhaps...I've just reached the point of saturation.

Or possibly, I'll searching for some meat in my rock soup. In the rush for popularity and sales, we've all jumped on the wagon of mediocrity. Publishers were the initial wave, imposing their 'thou shalt nots', but even though we have the freedom of self-pubbing, we're still adhering to the same rules.

Has anyone stopped to consider why? One author posted a short piece about HEAs and the absolute rules for romances. Does that rule matter if you're self-pubbing? Or is that supposed to be part of the definition of romance? At one time, forced seduction was the norm. Yet, we've mostly moved past that, seeking other story forms. Who says we have to have an HEA?

Actually, the most respected and beloved books over the past hundred years are those written by authors who dared to be different--dared to write stories that posed questions without answers.

Perhaps we should aim for the top instead of grubbing down in the mud pit. What if we used vocabulary above third grade level? Suppose we didn't tie everything up in neat little packages, but left something for the reader to consider and decide. What if we challenged our readers to think? What if?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Dark Valley







The Windflower by Laura London (Tom and Sharon Curtis) was recently re-released after a twenty year hiatus. The Curtis duo retired way back when, at the top of their game after winning a Rita. Since The Windflower was originally released, I've owned eight copies. Every time I loaned it out, it never returned. Finally, I refused to loan it anymore.

As I re-read The Windflower on my Kindle, I pondered the consequences of the authors' retirement. If they had continued to write, turning out another twenty books would their fans have been as excited when The Windflower was re-released? Or would we stifle a yawn and move on?

The current conventional wisdom is write, write, write. Otherwise, your readers will lose interest and move on. Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, and a host of other authors produced one or two books and yet, we haven't forgotten them. So wouldn't it make more sense to write fewer books with more impact? Instead of churning them out at an impossible pace, shouldn't we be writing something of worth and interest?

For the last year, I've written nothing of consequence. Oh, I keep my hand in by producing a blog, but my novels are moldering under the metaphorical bed, gathering dust. At first, I told myself it was because I had writer's block. Or I was dealing with too much stress due to poor health. Or... Then, this last week I finally faced the truth.

I'm not terribly interested in writing at the moment.

Will that change in the future? I have no idea. Simply put, I have nothing to say. I used to wonder how the Laura London duo could simply walk away. What about all those other wonderful stories they could write? Now, I begin to understand, maybe. There might not have been anymore stories to write.

Is 'more' really more?

Again, I don't know. But I've decided I'm not going to feel guilty anymore because I'm not writing. Until I can feel excited again about writing, I'm going to set it aside and enjoy other parts of my life. When or if I have a story that grabs my soul and clamors to be written, then I'll sit down and write. If I don't like the stories I work on, why should anyone else? In the meantime, I'm going to return to my first love--reading.

Anyone have something special to recommend?