Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Back on the wagon

My Wrath of Gods DVD contained no data so I opened up my documents and plunged back into Alex's story. It was so much easier than I feared. Perhaps the contrast between the two men - one fictional, one who plays fictional characters - was what I needed to give my brain a break.

I wrote for an hour yesterday, another hour today. Because I don't have Sven breathing down my neck, judging my word count, the pressure is off. The words are coming smoothly, the scene playing out in front of me. Writing is a pleasure. Not that it had stopped. It was simply a matter of too many demands on my time and writing was the only thing I could afford to put on hold.

It helped that my wireless keyboard was able to transcribe the shower scribblings instead of me unhooking everything from the laptop and hauling it in there. It also helped that Alex was still slumped in front of the picture window staring at the turbulent river. It took a bit to rouse, then dress him but I had fun with it.

Day two back at the keyboard and Alex is down at the bar with the demon drowning their sorrows. I may just join them for a pint after work.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The zoo, Gerry and Alex

I can't get enough of Gerard Butler these days (movies that is) and it's gotta stop.

I need to start writing again soon. I'm afraid if I stop for too long I'll never get back to it. All the dark Scot distractions have obscured my love for Alex.

It's not all bad. My little zoo loves how much time I've spent in front of the television watching DVDs. Parrot on the shoulder, cat on the lap and dog at my feet while I continue to learn subtext. Dear Frankie is still my favourite but there are some excellent Looks in everything else I've watched.

I just popped Wrath of Gods into the DVD player. Once it's over, I have to abandon Mr. Butler for awhile. I've been studying his subtleties and nuances as well as his humour but seriously who am I kidding that it's all for the writing?

Alex is nothing like him physically though I hope he has the integrity of his characters. Blond shaggy-looking athletes are more what I need to be focused on. Got any ideas? Tao Berman doesn't fit the physical profile either but his kayaking skills shaped Alex so maybe it's back to youtube.

I have to admit I'm in a happier frame of mind, partly thanks to my mini film festival. Alex and Nea are still miserable but I have pulled back far enough to be able to write their misery with a level of objectivity I had lost in all the chaos of my home. The house is finally clean and reasonably organized. I hope my brain is as well.

We'll find out tomorrow when I get back to the story. It should be interesting, even if it doesn't star Gerard Butler.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thanks to all the Gerard Butler fans who popped over after my comment about The Look. Had I known you were all going to visit, I would have written a better post.(Check out the video link below. It's just for you.) It was a popular blog that spawned some amazing conversations about what appeals to each of us;not only in actors and movies but in books as well.

This is a writing blog; a space for me to store my writing related thoughts. Occasionally I delve into other subjects but primarily as they affect my writing. I'm not putting a lot of words on the page these days but things are rolling around in my brain, making connections and generally sorting themselves out while attend to other matters(my house and zoo were screaming for attention).

Authors derive their inspiration from a variety of sources. While Gerard Butler speaks to me(not literally but hey, something could be arranged should he so desire it)he has yet to inspire a novel. His recent role in P.S. I love you did, however, remind me of an old manuscript that deserves resurrection. Once I get my office reorganized and finish Alex's story, I'll dig out Waiting on a Hero and see what it needs, besides a better title.

One thing each of Mr. Butler's characters have in common is integrity. Perhaps not by standards you or I may hold high but his characters, flawed though they may be, hold true to themselves, to their own personalities, flaws and growth. (I haven't seen every movie in which he's acted but enough to make such a sweeping statement.) That's something that should be a given in any solid piece of writing - integrity. Yet there are times when I worry that the plot needs can override that requirement.

Alex is struggling with every single aspect of his identity so this is a significant part my thought processes these days. I need his growth to be real, true and believable while still moving the storyline in the direction I originally envisioned. I will continue to look to movies like Dear Frankie and books like It's not about the accent to guide me.

What character quality is a must-have for you?

Photo courtesy of CBC's The Hour with George Stromboulobopoulos

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sweating with Sven

Sven's reign of terror ended yesterday. I didn't meet my goal. In fact I fell far short. Regardless, I'd sign on for another tour. Until three weeks ago, I wrote every single night. For hours at a time. My word count increased exponentially as the weeks went on. Sven can be very inspiring. It might have something to do with not wanting to see the disdain on that curled lip. That's just not my idea of sexy.

When the words flowed, the count increased and I had my butt in the chair, well then that was another thing entirely. His eyes would twinkle, the corners of his mouth tilt up and approval shone from him.

Despite the fact that I didn't answer his calls or return his messages for the last few weeks, Sven has invited me to return to his sweat lodge for the next writing challenge. I have a few issues to work out before I accept, but with a little help from Alex and some input from Nea,I should be in a better head space. Don't worry Sven, it wasn't you, it was me*.

*I've always wanted to say that to someone.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

PS I love the way you look at me

The writing vacation was necessary. I was stuck and needed to give my subconscious some time to work things through. The Crayola(TM)bathtub crayons prevent me from losing the threads of ideas as they come to me. I know that when the time comes I'll be able to weave them into a beautiful tapestry because of the time off. The colours will pop, the pattern will be clear and I'll love the feel of the fabric beneath my fingers. I've just been too tired to appreciate any of it.

Many of my friends are writers. It's inevitable when we get together that our conversation will turn to the craft of writing. I spent a lovely evening with three talented women discussing the process. It's different for everyone, different for each book. None of them have an online presence but the minute they do, I'll link to them because they are each brilliant in their own right. I'm very blessed with the friends in my life. That night with strong women watching Shirley Valentine prepared me well for the next day with another brilliant writer.

I went to see my dear friend Elen. We spent a great deal of our afternoon discussing the industry of writing; blogging, websites, networking, workshops and conferences. We've both been mentored by some amazing and generous authors like JoAnn Ross, Maggie Shayne, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. That conversation naturally segued into our personal fun reading. We both vehemently believe that the Outlander series should not be made into a movie. We have very definite ideas of what Jamie and Claire look like. And as much as I love him, Gerard Butler is not Jamie.

After we went to see P.S.I love you Elen asked me about my obsession with the incomparable Mr. Butler. I wasn't surprised by the question but I did have to think about it. Two writers in a dark theater watching some seriously sexy men led to some interesting conversation. Dialogue, costume, music, setting; they were all fodder for our discussion, but none more than casting. Hilary Swank didn't do it for Elen. I could agree with her assessment but I lived for Gerry's screen time. A slight exaggeration but he drove the movie for me. So of course we analyzed it because there's a paranormal brewing in my head about that fascination.

He's certainly an attractive man - dark hair, gorgeous eyes, sexy accent and a crooked smile. His grin lights his face and takes it over. You can't help but grin back. His character had a boundless enthusiasm for life. They usually do.

I've never been one for subtext. It usually sails over my head. I've struggled with it from the time I was a child. She read compassion mingled with love in his eyes always threw me for a loop. I was too literal and expected to see the letters crossing his eyes like words on a teleprompter. I still can't interpret The Look the manager gave me the other day.

But in every single movie, including 300, Gerard Butler looks at the heroine like she is the reason he breathes. It's never the same look. It's not like he lowers his lids, scrunches up his nose or lets his jaw go slack. I can't describe the look because it's not physical. Regardless of whether it's walking along the waterfront in Dear Frankie or in the hills of Ireland in P.S. I love you, the essence is the same. That is his appeal to me as a viewer. The day I nail that emotion in a scene is the day I'll know I am a writer of merit.

Thanks to two days of relaxed movie watching and hanging out with writing buddies, I've finally been able to understand the magic of that particular actor. I'm sure I'll be able to infuse my characters with a similar magic because the knowing only enhanced it. Thanks to modern technology, I'll always have Gerry to remind me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cleaning and reading and writing, oh my

This writing vacation has been productive. The last few months have been crazy between work, travel, the library course and writing. My house has been neglected. The pets have whined in various different voices. My TBR pile spilled over into a fourth room(I only have five rooms in this place). I actually spent Saturday stretched out on the couch with a cat on one side, another one on my lap, the dog beside me on the floor and the parrot on my shoulder while I read A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. It was a good day.

I rearranged my living room yesterday. Lifted furniture. It was quite a workout. I definitely earned a star.

Today I hauled my butt out of bed early and took Ky for a run before his chiropractor's appointment.

I was listening to the brilliant Lani Diane Rich and Samantha Graves podcast Will Write for Wine. I'm very behind in my listening. I think it was episode six. Regardless. Something strange happened. My brain made a few connections about my own characters. Poor Alex. His life really sucks - and I'm about to make it worse. Maybe not today. I only wrote the idea on the shower wall.

There's a definite correlation between my mood and Alex's. The last time I was all broody and moody was when Nea went on a tear and did her best to destroy Alex's moral fiber. It can be disturbing to try and think like a nasty, twisted demon. Facing one's demons is all too literal at times. As Alex is feeling pretty low, I've been questioning some of the same things he has. Trust me, that's a good thing.

In the meantime, I'm cleaning my house, cutting plastic bags to knit or crochet(I have patterns for both) into a rug and considering how to write myself out of this mood.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nothing to see here

The New Year did not start off with a bang. I wrote three words on the shower wall. That's it. I have an idea about incorporating two scenes but right now my head is not in it.

There's been a lot of drama around me, none of it actually mine, but it's had an effect on my thought processes. I've yet to figure out how to use those emotions in my story. Until I do, or things change up again, I'm taking a writing vacation. I haven't had a real vacation in years. It's not a trip to Belize (if Alex doesn't get to go there, neither do I) but it will give me a break. So I can pass the next library course, read a book or two, knit a rug out of plastic bags and take care of some other things.

Of course, if my brain suddenly clicks back into the book, you can be sure I'll cut my vacation short and go back to writing. You'll be the first to know.

In the meantime, be kind to yourselves.