Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sad Day and Sad Ending, but it's Looking Up

For no reason at all, today has been a depressed and dreary day.  It started well enough with singing and dancing in the kitchen and two episodes of the anime, Mythical Detective Loki.  Then we watched a documentary on the Dust Bowl, which I enjoyed immensely despite the depressing content.  I think it was the act of leaving the house to go to the library that set me off in a bizarre way.  Sometimes when a person is depressed they can pin it down to one or a couple of things and relate the emotional backlash to some kind of trigger, but today it was a very out of the blue kind of low.  It was a good old fashioned depression, caused purely by chemicals in my brain, I suppose.  Either that or it's the weather really getting to me.  I hate that it was dark before four o'clock today.  But other than that there wasn't anything that really stands out as a reason for weepy Mc-weep pants today.

It got better though.  When we got home from the library, I felt really dismal.  I almost didn't even eat dinner and, for those of you who know me, that is a huge red flag.  Mom made steak and eggs and toast and it was delicious - and I told mom this - but I ate it with a frown on my face the entire time.  However, after dinner, mom and I retreated to her bedroom and I proceeded to read her two large scenes from my Dust Bowl novel.  It was cute.  She thought I was setting up a short story.  I'm not.  And she also proposed some great ways to give the story a happy ending.  Well... there isn't going to be one.

I think it shocked her.  I actually know exactly how the story is going to end and it makes me want to bawl and that is how I know it needs to happen.  Reading to mom helped get me back into the mood for Bertram and August.  Now I just have to keep going.  For workshop we have to turn in two manuscripts of about 3000 thousand words each and I want to have chapter 1 and chapter 2 ready to go by December 2nd.  Also, I'm thinking of giving Death Man a short hiatus so that I can keep going on the novel that I actually know how to end instead of the novel with a mystery ending that simply won't reveal itself to me even in abstractions.  We'll see.  The residency is like a dose of crack cocaine and afterwards I may jump back into Death Man with both feet, or I'll carry on with Dust Bowl while I work on my critical thesis.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas? Why wait!

Busy day today!  I forgot my medicine last night and so I'm bordering on mania which is alright because today was a Christmas Spirit day!  We started it off by going up to the garage and storing away all our Halloween goodies and dragging down all the Christmas shit we've accumulated over the years.  And there's a lot.  The tree is not up and decorated (we still have so much more to put on it) and we have figured out a variety of things to put on the gift table for our Family Christmas Party coming up the first part of December.  I'm really excited because we're going to make two candle platters as well as a kitchen basket filled with lots of seasonal cooking accessories.

We found a mini tree in the garage that has been used in the past for birthday celebrations.  It's about two feet tall, pure white, and covered in little lights.  Well, tonight Hannah and I covered that little tree with over fifty My Little Ponies.  It's ridiculous and wonderful and my Avengers Hawkeye action figure is standing guard at the base protecting the Pony Tree.  Yep, I'd say we got a fairly good start on Christmas.  I have gifts to wrap and a few more gifts to get but other than that I'm doing quite well.  And it's not even Thanksgiving yet.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bertram's Atheism (a brief segment)

            “Bertie?”  It’s Mama’s voice.  I picture her standing by the chicken coup, her hands balled into fists and driven into her thin waist as if she’s squeezing my name out from her body like how I squeeze toothpaste from the tube.  I think about ignoring her.  She only calls me ‘Bertie’ when she wants something from me and right now I don’t figure I’ve much to give.
            I pick up my magazine and thumb through until I find the story I’d been about to read when I fell asleep.  It’s by Lovecraft, so I know it’s going to be dark, but it’s called “The Cat’s of Ulthar.”  There’s nothing all that objectionable about cats, is there?  Maybe Mama wouldn’t mind if I let Sissy read this one, but then again, Mama didn’t even like Daddy reading Weird Tales.  I reckon it’s the covers she finds so distasteful.  The last issue that came to the house before Daddy’s subscription ran out two years ago had a very provocative cover.  It’s one of my favorites.  There’s a girl, or a woman I ought to say, naked as the day she was born, kneeling all shameful-like before a man in a hooded robe.  Her wrists and ankles are bound, her breasts firm, and her hair like golden wheat, a memory to me now. 
            When that particular magazine came in the mail, Mama said to me, ‘You’ll go blind looking at those things,’ and I thought long and hard over what ‘things’ she could have meant.  Breasts?  Is that what would blind me?  Why now?  If I didn’t go blind after the September issue from 1933 what chance did this new issue have in rending me sightless?  Maybe she meant real breasts.  I considered this and decided there must be some sort of talisman to protect married men from losing their eyesight during the dangerous task of love making.  But what about babies who breast fed?   Surely everyone should be blind.  No, it couldn’t be that.  Perhaps my blindness would come from the stories contained within.  But Daddy was a voracious reader of pulp and fantasy, yet he was always the first to see a duster coming, sometimes when it was still just a haze on the horizon.  And why should the words in Weird Tales have any such power over a man’s sight when the words in the bible do not?  So perhaps, and this is what I finally settled on after a good deal of rumination, Mama doesn’t know a damn thing about the real world.  Her mouth would move and the Preacher’s words would come out, mixed and remade to sound like her own, but I knew better.  Had it always been like that?  Had she ever had a thought that was her own?
            I cried myself to sleep that night.  Mama overheard me and lectured me thinking I was crying because the subscription had come to an end, but that wasn’t it at all.  I sobbed because it suddenly seemed that my mother had never really belonged to me.  Even when she used to sing me to sleep, it was always for Him; I was just an excuse for the song.  Whenever anything good happened it was God rewarding us, and whenever anything bad happened it was God testing us.  It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I wasn’t so sure there was no one up there listening to her.  Thinking on it now, I guess she was right.  I did ‘go blind looking as those things’ and now I’m lost in the dark, no God to save me, no Preacher’s assurances to make it better, no life-everlasting-world-without-end, amen.  I’m fine with it, though.  Life everlasting would be pretty boring, anyway.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dust Bowl and Thor: The Dark World

Still trucking along on my Dust Bowl novel which I am now tentatively calling "The Summer of August Hunt" because it sounds 'oh, so official' and literary.  I might change it eventually to something to do with dreams since that is a theme and actual 'thing' in the novel, but for now it's SoAH.  I think I actually know how I want the novel to end which is awesome because it's a good rule of thumb to know what you will write before FADE OUT before you ever write FADE IN (screenplay writing advice from eons ago).

We found out about workshop groups today via an email sent out from the director of the MFA program.  I'm in a small group of six (including me) and I'm very excited because I will get to have Steve Huff in one workshop and Randall Kenan in the other!  I've never worked with Randall before but have wanted to for a long time.  This is going to be fantastic.  For both workshops, I plan to send in chapters of SoAH and keep the Death Man out of the lime light for a little bit.  I want to work on that novel pretty hard core right after the residency as well as pump out my critical thesis as fast as humanly possible.  I'm going to finish up my ideas for Sterling to look over in the next day or so and then start making book lists for both ideas.  I want to be rocking and rolling by the time I leave Boston.

In other news, Hannah and I had a date day today.  We went to see Thor: The Dark World.  It was supremely kick ass and much better on all fronts than the first Thor.  (Except Anthony Hopkins.  I do love this actor, don't get me wrong, but his performance or 'presence' was just as uninspiring as it was in the first).  And I do love Kenneth Branagh, but his milk toast version of Thor was more of a bedtime story than an action packed smack down.  In this sequel they got a better director.  Much better.  Alan Taylor did a kick ass job of piecing together amazing cinematography, special effects, and witty banter.  The side characters have a much more integral and interesting part to play and the music - OH! the music! - it was wonderful and memorable and not a soft underlying backdrop. This time the music was a character and I loved it. Thank you Brian Tyler! Other things I liked (and some people might consider these things to be spoilers): jocular nudity of a male character, dismemberment, Mjonir's scenic route through New York, boy-saves-girl-girl-dips-boy-and-kisses, and the merriment of chasing birds outside your own dimension.  Oh, and Loki gets into Captain America's pants.  Now go see it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Researching the 1930s

For my NaNoWriMo project this year I'm going to attempt to write a novel (or several chapters of one) focusing on a family caught in the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  I think that if one really wants to explore the full scope of the Great Depression, one has to pay special attention to the Mid-West.  I have several items on hold for me at the library.  Two DVD sets, both from PBS: Surviving the Dustbowl, and The 1930s; and two books: The Worst Hard Time and Survival in the Storm.  There's one more on it's way and that one is a very short children's chapter book that I expect I'll have read in about an hour.  I can't wait to pour into these novels and nonfiction accounts.  I'm still working on my Death Man novel, and I have a nonfiction book to read for that as well, but during NaNo I really want to play with first person and that's where the Dust Bowl novel comes in.

So far I haven't been super successful in pumping out the words, but I have some great ideas and I'm just gonna run with them as long as I can.  Tonight I'm gonna work on SoAH (the acronym for my working title) and tomorrow I'll work on both.  My main problem right now is that I just need time and space.  It might end up being a library day for me tomorrow because not only do I want to write for NaNo (fifty thousand words of writing, or approximately 72 pages single spaced), I also have to keep writing for my MFA.  I guess I'm just frustrated right now and thinking about doing a word challenge or two to keep me motivated.  We'll see how tonight goes and how tomorrow goes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Because today is one of those days...

Woke up ahead of the alarm and saw the sun outside (well, to be fair, it was more like a dim overcast glow) and freaked out thinking I'd missed my early morning work meeting.  I didn't.  So I got up, got dressed, fought my way through hungry kitties to the door, and headed to work.  The meeting was fine.  It was when I got home that things turned into 'one of those days.'  First, in my help-helperton way, I decided to empty the kitty litter trash can.  We have a small lidded trash can next to the litter box that we add to several times a day until it becomes halfway full, then we take out and put in fresh bags, you get the drill.  Anyway, it was particularly full today so I took the whole trash can with me to the dumpster and was going to toss just the sack inside but, of course, it all slipped out of my hands and my cute little trashcan went plop right on in.  And of course the dumpster was perfectly empty meaning that my little can lay at about five feet out of my reach.

I went back into the house, grabbed a broom and then spent a good five minutes wrangling my trashcan back out.  No problem.  So far so good.  But... today is a cooking day.  On our kitchen counter is a serving tray that holds all coffee filters, containers, powdered creamers, and other coffee accessories.  (Eh-hem, I sell coffee and coffee accessories?)  Anyway, apparently something spilled at some point (who knows what it was: chicken fluids?  flour?  rotted coffee?) and when Hannah went to move the serving tray there was a slime spot between it and the counter that could double as a biological weapon!  I made a vinegar/water/lemon spray to try and wash away the stench and during the process I gagged so hard so I was physically ill afterwards.  With that atrocity finally taken care of, Hannah went on a hunt for two very large mixing bowls.  We found them.  One was broken all the way through.  Add that bowl to the trash and replace it with a huge dutch over and we are finally, nearly ready to start baking.

In other news, I wrote a sex scene this morning (contrary to what you may believe, it has nothing to do with tentacles). It's super short and I'm hoping it will play into my NaNoWriMo novel eventually.  I've decided that this novel will be used for my workshop this upcoming spring and that I'll keep Death Man primarily between me and my mentors, that is, unless I get to a point where I feel I need more feedback.  Right now it's just a matter of writing it all down and working out plot kinks and characterizations.  I wish I didn't have a job to worry about right now because all I want to do is write and it's been a while since I've had such intense drive to just write, write, write.  It's exciting to go to work and daydream all day about my characters.  I hope this feeling continues long into December so that I can carry it with me to the Residency and use the few days when I have nothing going on to continue plucking away at both my stories.