Show Me My Darlings (or, how I feel about editing)

One of the things I’d read in books about conventions was the main characters being annoyed by the questions con goers would ask, like “How do you come up with your ideas?” I thought that that was a pretty silly situation, and couldn’t possibly be true to life. Until I went to my first panel, and one of the girls in the audience asked “how do you make your characters do what you want them to do?” I was flabbergasted. I felt like asking her “seriously? Did you HONESTLY just ask someone how to write? You just do it.” Of course, I didn’t say that, because that would have been incredibly bitchy of me, and I generally try to be a nice person, but I had that moment of wtf that many authors write about.

The author in question replied with “you learn how to kill your darlings.” And, that got me thinking. Now, maybe it’s because of the way I write – it’s mostly first drafts (as I need to find a crit group that will give me ways in which I revise,) and, for the most part, it’s very free form. I “simply” step out of the way of myself, and let my fingers do the work. That’s how I do it, anyway. And, maybe, because of this, I don’t really feel like I’m doing the writing. I’m half convinced that there’s some muse who’s working my fingers and keyboard and saying what I’m putting down. (Not really – I’m a fantasy writer. I get to be creative. Unless, it really is true, in which case, I owe her about ten tons of burned incense.)

In any case, while I might be incredibly proud of something I’ve written (’cause, damn, my muse can create some wonderful things,) nothing that I write, to me, is indelible. Nothing is sacred. Let it all burn! ….well, some of it. Maybe. If there’s a good reason for it. And I was presented with the changes in a gentle fashion. And if I get chocolate.

Really, I don’t think that any writer actually enjoys revising their work and editing. If they did, they’d be editors, instead of writers. (Although, as I’ve learned, many are both, and quite good at both.) But, for me, it’s the creative spark that makes me want to do what I do. It’s creating something out of the ether. I don’t want to revisit things I’ve already done, and changing them – I’ve already told that story. Let me move on to something new! But, as they say, writing is really 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration. I’m ready to start with the work outs of revision. Show me my darlings, and I’ll show you some corpses.


Divorce Dolls

“Jenny, I don’t see why we have to go see him again,” I started, for what must have been the twentieth time that day. Her once kissable lips pursed, as her beetle black eyes flashed. I wondered vaguely how I had ever been drawn to her eyes – they just seemed creepy, now. I tried to ignore them as I looked for a parking space in the catastrophe that posed as a parking lot. The damn thing was always crowded.

She huffed out in exasperation, and I tried not to wince at her shrill tone as she gave me the same answer she’d given me the first time I’d launched my complaint. “Steven, I told you before; Dr. Mallory is very respected by my family. He saved Dayla and Fred’s marriage, and if I want to keep my trust fund, we have to at least try to work things out. My family simply doesn’t get divorced. I’m not going to allow you to ruin this part of my life, as well.” Nice, I thought, noting the open windows. Why don’t you say it louder, so every random stranger can hear you.

“The guy is a quack,” I sneered. “The only reason he ‘fixed’ their marriage is that Dayla is afraid of what a divorce would do to her political campaign. You can’t run off a family first podium and be divorced.” Jenny visibly ground her teeth, obviously gearing up to defend her sister, when I interrupted. “Look, nevermind, we’re here now. Let’s just get it over.” I maneuvered into a spot, and slammed into park. We got out of the SUV, the doors slamming shut in a kind of unison that years of practice between partners can grant, then trudged through the oppressive August heat to the counselor’s office.

We took our customary seats and waited in silence until being ushered in to the fung shuied room. Dr. Mallory had explained in his strangely high pitched voice that the room was decorated to encourage harmony, but I had a theory that he’d just bought whatever felt good to him while he was stoned. He gestured to the pillows and bean bags on the floor, and we obediently took up residency on the floor.

“Ah, good to see you children,” he started. He was always calling us children, and between that and seating us on the floor, I wondered if he had repressed urges to be a school teacher. “Steven, I believe we were last discussing how you felt sexually frustrated. I had some ideas on that, that we might try.” I had some ideas of my own, but it didn’t appear that anyone but me was interested in them. I waited for him to continue, when he reached over and pulled out two dolls. Gave one to each of us. “Here, you use your little dolly and pretend to be Jenny,” I looked down. He had given me the female. “Jenny will pretend to be you. This will give you some insight in to what each of you are thinking.”

I gazed at him in sick fascination. He couldn’t have been serious. He simply smiled back, blue eyes peering at me from old scholar’s glasses. Pure evil shouldn’t have looked so convivial. I looked at the female doll again. Then, in disgust, I threw it across the room. I would have leaped from the bean bag, but it was sucking me in. I had to settle for simply rolling out of it, and then standing. “No.” I panted. “I am not pretending to be a goddamn woman.” I stared at my wife. “I tried. Honestly tried. But, this guy is a quack and I’m through. I want out, and I don’t care how it’s done. Blame me. I don’t care. We’re done.” With that, I stormed out of the office to begin what was certainly going to be the worst few months of my life.
I looked at my father’s best friend and smiled at him. “Thank you, Jack. I don’t know how you came up with the doll idea, but it was perfect. I couldn’t have gone to daddy saying that I wanted a divorce, after not getting a prenup, but having Steven walk away first is going to make things so much easier.” He simply smiled and patted my hand. Everything was going to be just fine.

Marketing Myself

This past weekend, I went to a convention called MarsCon, which was held in Williamsburg, VA. If you haven’t gone to a con before, and are wanting to start going, I highly recommend this one, if you live on the East Coast. It was awesome. And, it also had a lot to offer for a wanna be author like me.

There were several instances in the various panels where they talked about marketing, and marketing strategies. Apparently, having a content filled blog is one of the best marketing strategies (other than keep writing new material) that other authors have. Which means that I’m halfway there – I already have a blog, I just need to put content in it.

So, because I was up at four this morning, I’ve had time to play WORK on my writing blog. As I had started it as just a regular blog, it contain/ed personal posts that didn’t have anything to do with writing. It STILL contains these things, but now, they’re under “private” view (that way, I can keep any back patting “likes” or comments that were originally placed by viewers like you.) I’ve also started another blog specifically for those kinds of posts and re-posted the non-writing posts to this new blog, so people who want to read non-writing things of mine can go there.

Currently, my intention is to post here three times a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – with various content – story prompts (which I call kernels, as they’re the kernels – starts/ideas – of stories,) blog posts specific to writing and chasing the author brass ring, book reviews, and first drafts of flash fiction.

So. Welcome to my writing blog. Hope you have fun with it (and maybe find it useful.)

Dragons At Sea

As he looked around the room, a faint wisp of smoke trailed from his nose. Noticing that distracted him a moment, which he took to close his eyes and count to ten. Rein it in, he thought. I haven’t lived this long among them to be discovered by someone’s incompetence now. Slowly, he opened his eyes, and, while the view still made him want to roar, the only physical sign of his anger was the tightening of his shoulders. The wheelhouse was still a mess. His territory had been brutally invaded, and those who had come seeking didn’t even care enough to bother to clean up. It was as if they had wanted him to know they had been there.

There were maps scattered, and papers littering the floor. There was, inexplicably, some foul smelling liquid drenching the table, as well. Great; I’m going to have to clean up, before I can even clean up. He started feeling the fire in his body start burning hotter again, and clamped it down, before another smoke trail could escape. He sighed and gathered the nearest absorbent cloth he could find – someone’s uniform shirt – to wipe off the table. He stared at the shirt for a moment, wondering just what had happened in the room, before balling it in his hand and forcibly throwing it in a corner. His crew would have to wait until he was calmer before he attempted to find out what they thought they’d been doing. For now, he had to make some sense of the course schedule.

Assembling the maps, he slowly made progress, first noting which maps were pertinent for this particular haul, and putting the rest in a pile. Looking down at one – Aruba? Someone was dreaming big, buddy – he shook his head and decided they could definitely wait to be put away. Right now, he had to make sure they were on track.

Tackling the loosely strewn sheets of papers, he finished the clean up. Now to figure out where they were and where they were going. He grimaced. His crewmates should have known better. It might not look it, but this was a vital part of the ship. Plotting out the course was a vital job. To have had a party in here was not only against the rules, it was stupid. And, it was decidedly something mortals would do. He arched his back, in the vain attempt to sooth wings that yearned to fly away from the idiots – wings he hadn’t physically had in centuries. Unrelieved, he scowled at the paperwork in his hand, as if it had something to do with his foul temper, and threatening it would make everything better.  It didn’t, of course, and he sat down to do his job.

A bit of static on the radio distracted him, some few hours later. There was, apparently, another ship in the area. A ship sending out a mayday. A ship they were going to attempt to go help, as they were the closest in the waters. He blinked at that, and then looked at the warning for the area they were in – Pirates.