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Monday, July 23, 2012

it's a bitter duel . . .

. . . and I am losing on all three counts.

Apparently, Game of Thrones will not be coming out with season three until NEXT YEAR. You bloody buggers. Saw it off. If anyone else knows of any appropriate British or general UK euphemisms that are appropriate for that occasion, so be it. Renegade that I am, I am now on Book Four and I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, pox upon you! Or, as they might say in the Seven Kingdoms (God, am I geeky), may the Others take you. And so much happens. I've taken this to my advantage whenever hubby gets my goat and I threaten to drop a little tidbit of coughing that may sound like *coughing coughing married coughing Lannister* or *coughing achoo killed Stark* and wow, what a reaction. He's waiting for the series to return.

Other bitter duel involves my bloody character who has aforementioned all but STOLEN my story out from under me, but under the advice of a co-worker, I have decide to let her do what she will so now I have two people to blame and shoot dirty looks at should this prove a bad move. The good news is that at least one of these people is tangibly real and will actually be there to receive dirty looks whilst the other can only be deleted.

The last and final duel has yet to be determined. I am reminded of the movies Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter. This would be Support Your Local Chicken versus Support Your Local Hand That Feeds and Waters and Fences Your Local Chicken. Not a day after putting up the fence were they out of it in five second flat. Fine. Buggers. So I lined it with mesh. That lasted a day. I think they got out through a weakness in the gate. So I fixed the gate. Now I am waiting for them to fly over, or use their coop as a means to fly over, or dig under, or get eaten by hawks. All of which I have to address. In due time. I am about $700 into these buggers (oh raise chickens! it's a cheap hobby and you get free eggs!) and haven't seen an egg yet. Not that I am bitter. They are cute. Which is why I am not having a chicken fry in the backyard next Sunday. (No really - I love them. They are precious and I spend hours watching them I read from the porch if I am not in with them reading and convincing them my toes are not bugs.)

Jentopia is taking shape. All I need is a winning lotto ticket and . . . no need to be greedy. That's all I need!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

notes about character development . . .

. . . and how she's bloody taking over! 

My main character wasn't initially my main character. But she ended up being the one who the story really mattered being about, despite the fact that I thought each and every one of my other characters was more flashy, more extroverted, more fraught with despair and potential ennui and devastation. But no, after much needed advice about a year ago, I had to sit and think about my book and what it meant and why I had four characters doing the work of two. And then I even realized that the two sisters were not even pivotal around each other and so one sister got the shaft and voila, we ended up with the quieter of the two. 

Quiet is interesting. She allows things to happen to her and reacts by not reacting. She's a doormat trying not to be a doormat anymore. In terms of a character growing (because we must have growth in a character to have movement in a story, right?) this is fantastic. I've sat on this story for two years, allowing it to percolate in my head, writing down odd drafts of scenes, tossing them out completely until I finally got it right in my head and then began the hard process of figuring out what my style of writing as a fiction writer was. (Another post, to be sure. I'm always interested to learn how other writers write: process is an endlessly fascinating subject to me.) 

So now that I have my initial process figured out and I am still in what I consider to be my discovery phase (writing scene after scene in no particular linear fashion but just as they causally seem to occur to me and I have not gone back yet to read what I've written since discovery seems more important than tying in relationships at this point), I have discovered, to my great chagrin, that my main character, whom I have grown rather fond of, is TAKING OVER MY BOOK. 

She is doing things I don't approve of. I didn't set up her personality this way. I created her thirty-five years of history to garner a very specific sort of reaction to a carefully controlled set of events that I started. And she's mucking that all up. 

So, do I allow her to continue and see where she goes? Or do I reign the wretch in while acknowledging the irony of the situation and forcefully take back my creation? 

In poetry, we write as an act of discovery. I am not sure there is a similar motto in fiction. If there is, no one told it to me. I thought I had already discovered what I needed to know about the book's general theme before writing it because I think it is important to have some idea of why you are writing it; a guideline of purpose: a book can be about loss or redemption or the artificiality of soul in a modern age of consumerism....whatever your cup of tea may be. So it isn't that my character is straying from my book's overarching thematic purpose - in fact, she's embracing it. It's just that, she's straying from the outline I had in my head. My epilogue was one of the third or fourth things I had written so it is definitely disconcerting to see that now I may have to write a couple epilogues and see which one the shoe drops on. She's definitely going a darker route than I was. Flannery and Virginia would be pleased, I'm sure. 

I guess I'll let her have her way, since no one else ever has, including me. Maybe she'll self destruct. Maybe she'll get herself out of her mess. Maybe she'll be brilliant because of it. Maybe she'll fuck the book up. Who knows. I've heard of characters taking over before, but to be honest, I must have totally slept through that day in class because I don't recall if this is a good or bad thing. Let it be good. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

take me out and shoot me . . .

. . . because I totally forgot how much I hate moving. Seriously. The sorting: keep, donate, trash. Then the point is reached where you keep the trash and the donate because you've run out of space to trash any more trash and time to donate any more stuff. This is how clutter follows you from house to house to house. Urg.

And to top it off, Bean killed a ground hog the other day. Yeah, that's his cute mug. Deceiving, isn't it? Since this was past office hours of animal control, the Sheriff kindly offered to come and shoot it for us in our front yard, but feeling that may leave a lasting impression upon my three-year-old that may one day lead her into premature therapy, as well as reason for the neighbors who already have their suspicions about us (Obama stickers on our cars and I may have pulled in one day with a Led Zeppelin song playing LOUDLY, heaven's to Betsy), that option was declined in favor of delicately coaxing (a gentle shove with a pool net) into a box that was later found to be falling apart at the bottom and depositing the poor critter at the all night animal hospital to be put down. He was miserable and all the fight was out of him. I was so mad at Bean that I truly, truly could not find one redeemable quality about him for days. Then I remember that he's kind of an idiot dog who is just happy go lucky and lives life for the moment and at that moment he was just a happy dog chewing away at a ground hog. Sigh. Poor Bean and his idiocy. Poor dead ground hog.

And poor me and all this packing.

Happier times to be had on the side of this week. Father's Day approaching and as it is only appropriate that we spent Mother's Day house hunting, it is only appropriate that we spend Father's Day finishing the final packing! What a year for holidays. New job starts (super yay!) and the book goes fantastically well. When I think of all the transformation this book has taken, I am amazed at how it started and in awe at how something can change from being a goofy "what if" to a serious novel of loss and redemption. Yay for goofy ideas that lead somewhere.

And, as a final note on my sad poll, I discovered, to my great chagrin, that I, alas, cannot submit my nicely corrected letter from Gemma's teacher. On the back it very clearly has "To the parent's of Gemma" written on it. Damn! Foiled again. I feel cheated of a chance to correct an error. Oh well. I'm sure there will be more out there. The real solution is simple: Gemma is finishing out this week and will be enrolled in a ridiculously expensive preschool through 8th grade progressive school starting this fall, kind of like the school I went to, only mine was free. Yay for magnet schools in California! Get with the times Asheville! Okay, enough ranting.

See you all on the other side.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

inner grammar nazi . . .

. . . and oh, is this bad! I am having heart palpitations as I write this. I must be calm. So, the short of it is that Gemma is currently enrolled at a daycare that is just a basic daycare. A babysitting service where their major focus is on the kids and teachers making it through the day without any major dramas. Gemma has been lucky because she's had the experience of having two really fantastic teachers in her time there. But the teacher turnover rate is like that of a pancake house and there is a new teacher in her room now. So the administrator assures us she has "tons of experiences" (old as dirt) and "just loves kids" (needs the money) and will be able to "get this room in order" (is a strict disciplinarian). Whatever. Gemma leaves in two weeks. So the new teacher gives us a welcome letter, tells us that she's enjoyed having Gemma in class and that she was very well behaved. Of course she is. She's also creative and says marvelously observant things and can spell her name and count to twenty.

Oh, but the letter.

I can't help myself. There are so many typos, misspelled words, and such a lack of basic grammar that it not only bothers me immediately, but it continues to bother me. Days later it bothers me. I mentioned it to my husband. A couple of times. I mentioned it to my mother-in-law. I mentioned it in casual conversation to other people. I mean, really? I know Gemma can't read yet, but she can spell her name. Isn't there some point where we should expect that the threshold of education be that spelling and writing and reading be accurate if one is going to be in the education field? And if we take that to be a benchmark then shouldn't our expectations of those doing the hiring be a bit on par as well? Because once we go down that slippery sliding slope of, oh well, it's only a daycare and they are only babies who can't read or write, then what we are really saying is that we don't value education because we don't hire educated people to care for our babies and toddlers in the first place.

There are seventeen mistakes in her letter. 17! (I'm adding all the uppercase that should be lowercase as one.) Oh, and her rules of the classroom revolve around listening to the teacher and keeping hands to yourself. What is Gemma expected to learn with that approach?

Needless to say, I'm at a loss. I know I didn't go to some fancy private daycare where we all ate organic food and sang wonderful songs about saving the earth and then wrote poetry and discussed Derrida after nap time. But what I am saying is that this letter is a prime example of two things: 1) the blatant disregard of written English grammar and who we allow to be in charge of our children and 2) my obvious and irrational obsession with this letter.

So, I've corrected it nicely and marked it all up. Do I stuff it in the suggestion box so it can at least be seen by somebody so they are aware they've hired someone who can't write? Or do I bottle it up? Should I put up a poll? I think I can put up a poll on Blogger, right? This is really irking the bejesus out of me.

(Side note: Blogger also does note recognize the spelling of Gemma. Best of luck with her teacher's letter!)

Friday, June 01, 2012

very exciting things . . .

. . . starting to happen! Firstly, I have changed my mind on the chickens being revolting. Definitely now an adjective. In all that rainstorming that has been going on, the little wretches managed to break out of the chain link fence no less than three times, necessitating me to get soaking wet by walking around the block to retrieve them from the neighbors while dodging traffic. So they are now under coop arrest for remainder of our time in this house. Take that! I figure in chicken years they are officially teenagers and are just rebelling. Seeing as how chickie boarding school in Switzerland seems a bit pricey and what with customs and shipping being a hassle and all, they can just cluck discontentedly at me for the next three weeks.

To top that off, Dakota, my love cat, managed to also escape, by sunning herself in the window on the one occasion it was not raining and the screen popped out and I found her mewing pitifully underneath the deck, muddy and woebegone to be parted from my presence for even fifteen minutes, when I was on my way to feed the horrid chickies.

I hate this house.

By the way, it's for sale.

So that brings me to my third rant of the morning! If you own a house and you are renting it out to unsuspecting renters, and you are not paying your mortgage, and your renters are getting suspicious visits from the bank wondering where you are and the renters ask about this each time and you lie to them repeatedly about it when in fact your house is being foreclosed on and your renters are still sending in that rent check and yet you are not paying your mortgage, I guarantee you there is a special ring in hell that Dante meant to write about but did not foresee. I never had this issue in Wilmington when renting, but Asheville seems to be full of foreclosures. Second time! My rental history here looks like I am super irresponsible when in reality it is the homeowners or property managers. So I'm just saying - to all renters, beware! Ask! Are you planning on selling the house in the near future or is the house in danger of foreclosure? Don't be worried about offending them. Be more concerned about having to move six months into your lease!



Progress report on draft one of the novel: a third of the way there. Very exciting. More exciting to hear about so many of my MFA classmates getting book deals. There was so much talent at UNCW it was dripping from the walls.

And other news soon to come. I may be preaching about animal care again, soon. In an official capacity. (Those of you who remember me when I used to do this and likely got tired of hearing me talk about the problem of pet overpopulation can just hand over your checks now and we'll skip the speeches, no hard feelings! Plus I know you all make more money now. I'm just sayin'.)

And my last side note: Blogger spell check does not recognize Asheville as a word. Hello?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

rugs. . .

. . . apparently, I have become one of those people who responds to Craigslist ads with rug advice. Completely unsolicicted advice. Because someone needed a bit of education dropped on them (you can't have a rug that is both Persian and Oriental unless there have been some geographical changes I was not made aware of in the past few days). And I know when you show a tag from my former store and you only show the one side that has the MSRP and not the price you actually paid and you are trying to get someone to pay more than you paid for a rug - well, that is just cheating. And for a tufted rug with a life expectancy that is already more than halfway over, and you're promising it is in prime condition, well, you're either a schmoozler or you could benefit from a wee bit o' education. I choose to believe the educate bit.

Yeah, I actually sent an in-depth rug education email to a stranger on Craigslist. Fighting the good battle. On the other hand, I have totally toned down my need to coyly flip over the sides of rugs to see where they are made or to point out to Justin while we are watching HGTV if the homeowners on those Million Dollar Listing shows were being cheap or being authentic in their handknotted rugs. I'm slowly breaking my rug snobbery: I am confident it will be relaced with something else, no worries.

Something like, my chickens are better than those chickens!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

so last night . . .

. . . we finally caught up with Game of Thrones on the HBO GO website to where our DVR started recording for the season which means we finally got to see our first one ON THE BIG SCREEN! No tiny lap top with both of us scrunching our heads together to watch the machinations of evil King Joffrey.

I may have to just turn this into a blog about GoT.

Seriously, though, we are almost caught up with the season. And I continue to go between being irritated when the writers change things from the book to being understanding, as though being understanding is somehow a superior state. (Ah, yes. As a writer, I "get it" that you must make Joffrey an evil sex toad to further illustrate his evility.)

I love a post in which I get to use the word evility.

Speaking of evil, the chickens are revolting (as in a verb, not an adjective). They don't like being fenced in and somehow are able to squeeze those chicky bodies under the chainlink fence. They go from being the size of a two pound chicken to the space of a square inch. I'm no mathematician, but this seems against Einstein's theory. Other than that, they are so cute! And chickenly. Pictures coming soon. I am still healing from my encounter with the poison oak and sumac and ivy that pretty much covers the entire chicken space, so I prefer to watch them from inside. I know, I know. Poor excuse. Goal of week: chicken pictures.