Got an email from a colleague tonight, which speaks to the title of this post. I won’t say anything about its content here, except what’s in the title, but I have to say I’m struggling with a reply. Which is to say, I’m struggling with not answering. Because frankly, there’s little point. It’s a lot like discovering that the Internet is WRONG and MUST BE CORRECTED. Banging a head on the wall, which only hurts my head. I’m taking note that Karma will take a bite out of his/her ass and trying to push it out of my head. I should note that the email was not to me, but the whole department.
And so, focusing on me and my writing, A snippet from my WIP
Taryn jerked awake, heart hammering against her ribs. She leaped up from her sewing table and stumbled over the piles of fabric surrounding her chair. She caught herself with a hand on the table and froze, her skin prickling. She strained to hear sounds of an intruder, but the thud of her blood through her veins drowned out all else. Her gaze darted across the cavernous room, searching the shadows at the far end where her sewing light didn’t reach.
Misty red and blue light pulsed through the space, turning the massed humps of clothing and fabric crowding the room to threatening monsters. She shivered and straightened her spine indignantly, spidering her fingers across her table to find her shears. Her jaw jutted furiously. This was her house and she’d be damned if she’d let some possum-faced coward slink about in the middle of the night and intimidate her in her own home.
I need to start a new crochet project. I don’t know what I want it to be. Something relatively easy, but something I can learn to do new. I’m sure I have things in my books or online, but that seems like a lot of work. And I’m feeling lazy. Actually I’m feeling rotten. Semi-rotten. Think it’s sinuses. A massive windstorm has moved in and it’s playing havoc with me. That and I woke up to the stench of dog poop. Turns out Viggo pooped twice in my office. Didn’t look like diarrhea, so not sure what that was. I didn’t hear him telling me he wanted out and frankly, I didn’t sleep well, so I think I would have heard. Was he sick? Was he making a statement? Hell if I know. Meanwhile Voodoo is freaked out by the wind. Keeps wanting to crawl into my lap and under my feet and anywhere else he can hide.
So if you crochet, anybody got any good ideas for something to do?
Does that sound odd? I have friends who are younger than I am or same age (I’m 45) who either are managing cancer or have become incurable. Chances are, even managing it, they are still slowly dying of cancer. I am not.
I get sad about being apart from the man and I understand that I’m entitled to those feelings, but at the same time, I have time. I am not looking down the barrel of imminent death. I am not struggling to hold onto things that I love. I need to remember that more and embrace my friends and family and the lovely weather and my body that is getting more healthy every day as I lose weight and can do things with it. I need to embrace the wonderful moments. I need to learn from the suffering and struggles of my friends and embrace what I have and not squander the days.
So I’m off to not squander the day, which is lovely.
AddrienneM wins the giveaway! Send me an email. dpf AT dianapfrancis DOT com
Boy has made it back to school for one whole day. Yay. Girlie’s birthday is tomorrow. I baked treats today for her class and tomorrow I will bake a cake and also wrap presents and get ready for friends to spend the night. It should be fun. If I can stay awake. (All this after I get done teaching). I think the treats turned out well. I hope the kidlets in her class enjoy them. Girlie sure enjoyed making them with me.
I reached an epiphany on the WIP. I have had a difficult time starting on the chapter. I kept figuring out more details, but something eluded me, something key, that I needed before my head would get committed to writing. Turns out the piece that was missing was place. I had a place, but I didn’t have the terrain, the layout of houses, the specific where’s of roads and etc. I have that now and suddenly my brain said–okay, let’s go then. This is what I’ve been waiting for. Sigh. Why can’t the writer brain tell me things like this in a more obvious way so I know where to focus my energies? Gah!
Anyhow, so a breakthrough has been made and I am inching forward, feeling my way in the gloom. Finally.
I’ve been thinking about villainy. I keep thinking about Tolstoy’s first line from Anna Karenina:
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
What does that have to do with villainy? you might ask. Well, I’ve been watching the coverage of the results of the interviews/interrogation of the Boston bomber, whose name I simply cannot remember. Everybody wants to know why–what drove him and his brother? Why would they do this? What changed them from seemingly nice, normal boys to terrorist murderers? The answer seems to be coming down to radical Islamist ideology. To me, this is no answer. It’s cliche. It goes back to that quote above, only in this case, Terrorists are all alike; every non-terrorist is individual in his or her own way. Doesn’t work, does it? It seems to me that villains should be at least as complicated as non-villains. And reducing this sort of attack down to radical Islamic ideology is, in a word, a copout. There has to be more, even if we never learn what that is.
This brings me to villainy in books. Villainy is as much about who this person is and what he’s willing to do, as it is about what brought him to this point. What was his journey of pain and disappointment, frustration, rage, torture, or what have you? What is individual and unique about this person? Because that’s the heart of the story. Bringing this individual person up against a very unique and individual protagonist. Bringing them into conflict. Especially since villains don’t necessarily or even often think that they are villains. They think they are doing the right thing (even if they are deluded), the necessary thing (even if it is painful and terrible), or they don’t see the terribleness of what they do (like exterminating and entire people to cleanse the world–after all, those people are just vermin and cleansing the world is a good thing, right?).
Then you add in that being Islamic is not by definition a bad thing, even there are those out there who would say it is. It is a form of religion no better or worse than others. So I can’t see how it’s a motivation or an excuse, unless it is twisted into something else. But even if it is so twisted, it has to tap into something in a person to drive them to being a terrorist. There has to be a need or a desire or a hole in a person that that fills. So I wonder, for these two bomber brothers, what was it? I somehow imagine that the older brought the younger in and I imagine that their bond of brotherhood is what mattered to the younger brother more than the religion. I’m absolutely making this up. But as a writer, I think that the two are not alike, they are not similarly motivated, and that something triggered them, and in different ways. I wonder what drove a college boy that everyone liked and admired to becoming a killer. Was he a sociopath? Possibly. But like radical Islamist ideology, that is too reductionist and easy an answer. The writer in me says there has to be more, more that comes from each person.
And to quote from Earnest Tubb: I know my baby loves me in her own peculiar way. Which is to say, everyone has their own peculiar way.
First an update on boy. Boy has nothing specific wrong with him that the doc can see without going into a lot of tests. We’re going to try an anti nausea and antacid first, in case whatever he has had irritated the lining of his stomach and overproduced acid and the fact that he hasn’t been able to eat that much have created a stew of bubbling horror in his stomach. He has not barfed since about 11 this morning. Here’s hoping there’s no more to come. I found a watermelon at the store when I went to get the prescriptions. Boy had some for dinner along with some yogurt and some sprite.
I have been poking at my other WIP project and had a fabulous idea for the opening last night. I went to sleep without writing it down. You can see where this is going, can’t you? I totally forgot it. Damn it!!! This is a real problem because I’ve been struggling with how to bring together the elements. I’ve also been doing some research about where exactly I plan to set it and I have worked that out, and now I have to make a sketch of my world. But I really needed that way in because I have all these various elements that need to come together. Anyhow, I know better and I could kick myself for not getting up and writing it down. Idjit.
In other news, I’m totally annoyed with someone in my life, enough to work them into a novel and kill them off, or torture them heavily. just saying.
First, I’m giving away another Amazon certificate. Forgot how much. Like maybe 10-15 bucks. Comment here to win. Say something entertaining if you like. In fact, tell me how much you love the gym . . .
The boy continues to puke. I really don’t understand. It’s been four days. He tends to throw up every 1-3 hours, though not as much in the middle of the night. Usually he gets up once or twice for that. There’s no fever; it can’t really be food poisoning. I’m guessing it’s some sort of bug, but I’m starting to get a little bit worried. If it’s still happening Monday, I’m getting him into the doc. Anybody encounter anything like that before?
I was up early taking girlie to soccer. Her team tied one game and lost another. I’m really proud of the way she is playing. Really showing more initiative this year about going after the ball, about being in the right spots for passes, and paying attention to the game. Very proud mama.
The day was spent doing precious little after that except going to the store, napping, feeding the kid(s) (boy ate crackers and sprite, but little else), and combing the dogs. One of whom lost about a dog’s worth of hair, and the other of whom lost barely any, but was very happy for the attention. Given how much hair seems to be exploding off them, I was surprised by the latter. The very little bit getting done means that tomorrow will be busy for me. Lots of cleaning because I’m behind. And laundry. Lots of that.
I did introduce the kids to The 10th Kingdom today. We haven’t watched all of it. Forgot how much I love it. It’s been a long time since I watched. Boy loves “suck an elf.” Oh dear.
I really need to have a more exciting life, don’t I?
Oh man, the older bomber had a wife and 3 year old daughter. That poor family. I hope some answers come out, but I can’t imagine they will ever really make sense or satisfy.
Boy is still throwing up. Day three. I did get real food into him tonight and so far he’s kept it down. I’m catching some sort of headcold though. Blah. Like I needed that.
Seems like the Boston story has eaten up the week. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t accomplished much this week. I have done little on my writing and ended up taking care of boy and sleeping way too much. Think that’s part of the cold. Tomorrow is a long soccer day. I hope boy is feeling up to playing. Girlie’s game is at stupid early. Blech. Gotta be there at 8 a.m.
I got both very good news and very bad news today. The good news I can share. That’s that the man got offered a slot on day shift. We’ve been hoping for this and we are extremely happy, even though it means a pay cut (he won’t get shift differential). It’s better for him in terms of his mental health and better for us in terms of family life and it’s so very very nice. We weren’t sure he’d ever get on days, and it’s happened before he’s been there a full year.
The bad news is also family related, and all I can say that I have a young relative who appears to have gotten hooked on drugs and it’s quickly led him into very serious trouble. I’m scared for him and his family and I hope to hell that they find passage through these dangerous waters.
In the meantime, my students are working on Twisted Ink, which is now taking submissions, if you know of anyone who wants to submit, or might be interested yourself. The site is being constructed and already we see some serious progress. Anybody can submit, so please spread the word if you will.