These are the straight up, blog type posts. Little of this, little of that
In lieu of a post here this week, I was fortunate enough to write a piece over at Spoonie Authors Network this week. Inspired by a conversation I had with a friend at Glad Day Bookshop during Pride this year, that set off a host of thoughts about my body and how I feel about it.
I’m a bad blogger. I admit it. I have neglected my site for far too long. I released a book, finished rewrites on a second and signed a contract for it.
Blogs posts? Nada.
Excuse me while I hang my head in shame.
I’m a writer. It’s kind of my thing. I mean, I have a dull, yet well paying day job with benefits and lots of vacation and stuff, but the writing is the thing that gets me going, that makes me feel like I’m not just taking up space and emitting carbon dioxide. I love the act of creating the worlds and the people and moving them around. I even enjoy the times I have to do horrible things to them.
“People must be remembered Charlie, otherwise it’s as if they were never here at all. All we are are the people who remember us. If we go away, and everybody forgets we were ever here, its as if we never were.”
Have you ever revisited a movie you saw many, many years before? One that you remember loving, even though decades have passed and you can’t even remember when you saw it the first time? For me, this weekend, I found one of those movies again. Sweet November, starring Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley. I have such vivid memories of loving it, and they were borne out when I watched it again tonight. The quote above imprinted on me somehow. I’m not sure if I loved it because it resonated with what I already believed, or if it was seeing the film and hearing those words that helped create the belief. Maybe it’s even more resonant now in the aftermath of my own brush with mortality. But it’s a lovely film. And it’s one I’ve taken in, one that has become part of who I am.
I have been distinctly neglectful of my site and my writing in general. To be honest, I sat down and took stock of all that had happened to me in the last decade and then some, and realized that there had been a lot of intense living going on during that time. Between starting a new life in Toronto, having cancer, losing my career and my mother within months; and then writing two books, I needed some down time.
I wasn’t producing any work of any kind, either writing or painting. I had an aborted start at a new novel, but the progress soon fizzled.
But, the muse always comes back eventually. Some ideas for the two novels I have complete (if desperate for revision) novels I have sitting on my hard drive (Soul’s Blood and Gatecrasher) came to the fore and I’m now eager to put some effort into beating them into shape.
Stay tuned. First chapter of Soul’s Blood is coming soon as a little amuse bouche for what’s to come.
This morning, my heart is fire and broken glass. I grieve for the women of Texas, told that their wombs are not theirs to control. I grieve for black women and men, told once again that their lives matter less and that they are expendable. I grieve for the friends and family of a young man lost to his own demons. And all I want is to see something good in the world around me.
And in the darkness, I think of you. Your wisdom, love, humour and grace give me hope. Even when you make me crazy, I love you all with every beat of my heart. You challenge me, lift me, give me strength in the moments like these. Hold on to your righteous rage, your noble hearts, your desire to see this fucked up world be a better place.
Because you do make it better. Every act of kindness, every bit of generosity, every rational, intelligent discussion, every protest and struggle for change makes a difference, if only slight.
But, we cannot stop. Even in the face of the devil himself.
I’ve been remiss in sitting down to write here, mostly because of a couple of long, stressful weeks.
We had our launch for Chasing Cold on the 14th, and it was a great party. One of those one of a kind moments. Seeing the stack of books on the table was so incredible. Knowing that I made that, that those words were all mine, and that those people were there for me.
There were some lovely surprises. My friend, Kim, who lives in Saskatoon, flew out without telling me. My friend, Jason, who I haven’t seen in almost fifteen years, who I’ve been conversing with since reconnecting online a year or so ago, showed up with no warning. He’d even messaged me during the day wishing me well and gave no hints at all.
My sisters came out and I took the preceding week off, so I could make sure things were ready and we could spend some time together.
It was amazing to see so many of my friends and family together and mingling. And to see them with my book in their hands.
So, to bring it up to speed, the hardcover edition is up on Amazon, Indigo and most of the major book sites around the world. The paperback is delayed, but we’re sorting it out. The Kindle version is out too, and Kobo and Nook aren’t far behind.
I even had my first customer review on Amazon and it was great. The reader gave me five stars and loved the story, And for all the right reasons, the things I’m most proud of and happy with about how the book turned out. So, that was a wonderful boost that came at just the right time.
Because, the one thing they never tell you, is that often you get something you’ve always dreamed of, and then, like all other moments, it passes. And the real world is waiting for you. Which isn’t a bad thing. Not in my case anyway, as I have a good life and the novel is icing on a very tasty cake.
That first week back at work was a chore, though, let me tell you.
I’ve posted a gallery of photos from the launch, so if you’re interested, go to the top of the page, just under the header and you’ll see a tab for photos. Hover on it and there’s the link for the gallery. They are beautiful, if I do say so myself. They were taken by my dear friend, Geoff Cook and he did an amazing job of capturing the event.
Well, I checked for the review in Publisher’s Weekly today and it had gone up.
It’s not exactly awful… just kind of… Meh.
And I was tired and off my game from the time change and the stress of waiting and a dozen other little life things, so, initially, it hit me hard. But I collected some thoughts from friends and Facebook folks and let it mull for the rest of the day. Some thoughts came to mind.
- Awkward pacing. What does that mean, exactly? Too fast, too slow, too both? It’s just sort of a vague comment that I can put into the mental filing cabinet, I guess. Note to self: make sure pacing in future is not awkward. Whatever that means. Flippancy aside, I thought I had paced well, so either my perception is way off or the reviewer’s is. Or it could be taste. As I move forward I may be able to take something from this.
- Reviewer seemed to think it felt dated, kind of like old school pulp fiction. My publisher referred to it as Golden Age. Okay. this I can form an opinion on. I grew up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein and Anne McCaffrey. That’s my era, and I fully cop to showing my age. In reflection, I think on some level, I was trying to write a more overtly gay version of that kind of book. A space opera feel without the pulse-pounding plot. I get that it may not be everyone’s taste. Sort of feels like saying “I didn’t like Jaws because it had too many sharks in it.”
- The comment about older readers. Srsly? OLDER READERS UNITE!
I wrote a cranky Facebook status last week about Once Upon a Time. Even though I enjoyed it at first, before it began to go off the rails, it started off with what I like to call the Inherently Hopeless Premise.
You know it. What it means is that the show revolves around solving some mystery or a group of characters trying to make a specific thing happen. But the problem is, if you base your story on that, on the resolution of one specific problem, then you’ve set it up so that you can’t resolve the basic issue without ending the show.
Take Once Upon a Time. The premise is that all the characters from our favoutire fairy tales live in a small town with no memory of who they really are. The evil Queen cursed them all and they are doomed to live with no knowledge of their true nature. The heroine is an outsider who is actually the child of Snow White and Prince Charming who was sent to our world to save her. So, the premise is to defeat the Queen and reverse the curse, freeing everyone. Do you see the problem here? If you break the curse, no show. So, you’re left with a bunch of characters trying to achieve something they can never achieve. Which I find incredibly frustrating. And the show is doing exactly what I was afraid of, leaving the spunky and fantastic heroine never really achieving anything.
There have been many examples of the IHP. Battlestar Galactica in both the original and rebooted versions. Though the reboot made good on its promise and resolved the IHP in the end. One of the main reasons I never watched Lost was that when I heard about it, it struck me as an IHP. Bunch of people crash on an island, are trying to get home. If they do get home, show’s over. And since most shows are intended to last up to seven years or more, that’s seven years of dangling that carrot in front of the audience’s nose. I wasn’t buying it. Now, I’m told they did transcend their premise and venture into other territory, but I couldn’t make it past that initial reaction.
Think of some of the shows you’ve loved. Examples of things I have loved that didn’t start from an IHP are things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or The Good Wife or the Star Trek series. Buffy’s mission was an ongoing one. There was a seasonal Big Bad, but you knew that though the BB would terrorize her world for a season, she would kick ass and the season would end with the premise resolved. The Good Wife has become one of my favourite shows. Even though it was fairly high concept (who is the woman standing beside the political figure mired in scandal) it was never an IHP. It’s a premise that mines character and situation and builds compelling stories from there.
Even something classic like Bewitched. Samantha’s a witch, Darrin knows and she wants to live her life with him in his world. There’s no prescribed endpoint that the story says the character has to get to and therefore, the stories can go anywhere and there can be gains and losses and forward movement.
I got too tired of the Queen on Once Upon a Time always coming out on top, because if she ever lost, the whole premise of the show collapses. Not that it’s impossible to deal with. There are all kinds of interesting stories you could tell if you broke the curse. What do these characters do when they know who they are? But the producers have to be willing to chuck the premise and have a plan that goes beyond it.
It’s a fine line when writing. With a novel, it has the benefit of being finite. The premise needs to be resolved in the book itself, or in the three books of a trilogy or however many volumes the opus contains.
You have an endpoint and you write to it. But with a series, it has to go on and if you base it on that one specific problem with the one specific resolution, you better have an amazing way to get me to that endpoint without frustration.