Monday, May 25, 2009
It's been a busy week but a fun one.
Friday evening I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena - in the current chapter I'm working on, two of my characters will visit the museum and I wanted to see it for myself. Also, it's very close to my place of employment, so it was downright disgraceful that I had never walked a few blocks and paid the eight bucks to see some amazing works of art. It was wonderful. I loved the Impressionists, particularly Monet and Boudin, as well as works by Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. I liked the modern works much more than I thought I would, though I confess I just don't "get" Kandinsky. However, now that I've seen the actual paintings rather than just a picture in a textbook, I do "get" Rembrandt. Not only was this evening valuable research, but it's got me inspired to jump into the next chapter.
Sunday we were at Knott's Berry Farm for my friend Gerry's birthday. Now, I adore Knott's Berry Farm - we went all the time when I was a kid - but for some reason while we were in line for the Log Ride I got the idea of a murder mystery set at a theme park. It's just an idea - I've found that it's not enough to have an idea for a book, you need a story and characters to bring that idea to life. I think that'll come, though, and perhaps one day it'll happen. It could be a real hoot.
There are few things more fun in writing than getting the idea for a book. What makes it so exciting is that you never know when it will happen or what will bring the idea on. (You can usually tell when it happens to me because I'll let out a Lucy Van Pelt-esque cry of "THAT'S IT!") The twofold trick is to recognize the ideas when they come, and then to come up with a story and characters that can bring that idea to life. Of course, not every idea will pan out into a story, and some stories turn out to be non-starters. But even non-starters have their value - you can put them aside and revisit them later, elements from them can be adapted into other stories, or they can simply be good old-fashioned practice with your writing. It's all good.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Excellent post by Neil Gaiman over at his journal, addressing fan angst over the long wait for the next book in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Read it now.
I freely admit that I'd love nothing better than to see that A Dance With Dragons is available for pre-order (for real this time). But I'm in agreement with Mr. Gaiman. We'll get the book when we get it - and no fan of the series wants Martin to rush the job or slap together something just to shut the fans up. That does the series no favors.
Martin has both the curse and the blessing of having a highly enjoyable, incredibly detailed and complex, and well-loved series that's not finished yet. We don't know how it ends. Depending on his creative process, Martin himself may not know how it ends, or he may know how it ends but not exactly how he'll get there. It will happen when it happens, like all art, and it will satisfy the readers or it won't.
And if the fans get too tired of waiting, they could try writing their own books. Why not? They'll learn that:
- it's fun!
- it's not as easy as it looks!
- even writers need to take a night off to recharge, get some sleep, read, or watch Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Heck, even though tonight is one of my writing nights, I'm taking it off. Why? I'm tired, I'm frazzled from work, and I know myself well enough to know that any writing I do tonight will be garbage. Sometimes that's what has to be done and writing is always better (and more fun) when it's a "want to do" not a "have to do".
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I try to refrain from unduly excessive nerditry here, but this is just too cool.
Coming to DVD!
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus!
Watch the trailer!
Guess what's at the top of my Netflix queue? It's like God made a movie just for me.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This is from Michael Chabon's novel Wonder Boys (essential reading for any writer). I think most writers can sympathize with this situation:
I had too much to write: too many fine and miserable buildings to construct and streets to name and clock towers to set chiming, too many characters to raise up from the dirt like flowers whose petals I peeled down to the intricate frail organs within, too many terrible genetic and fiduciary secrets to dig up and bury and dig up again, too many divorces to grant, heirs to disinherit, trysts to arrange, letters to misdirect into evil hands, innocent children to slay with rheumatic fever, women to leave unfulfilled and hopeless, men to drive to adultery and theft, fires to ignite at the hearts of ancient houses. It was about a single family and it stood, as of that morning, at two thousand six hundred and eleven pages, each of them revised and rewritten half a dozen times. And yet for all of those years, and all of those words expended in charting the eccentric paths of m characters through the violent blue heavens I had set them to cross, they had not even reached their zeniths. I was nowhere near the end.
Two thousand, six hundred and eleven pages? Yikes!
I do love it when the word count odometer rolls up another 10,000 words. (No, I haven't stayed up every night this last week writing - I was able to incorporate a chapter I'd been working on separately, hence the big bump in word count.)
To celebrate, here's a little musical fun!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Recently got the Employee of the Month award from my employer (thanks!) and decided to do my bit to help the publishing industry in these tumultuous economic times. Went to Vroman's and came home with:
Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd - Mark Blake (Like I need another Pink Floyd book, but this one has some fun stuff I haven't read before.)
Mistress of the Sun - Sandra Gulland (I really enjoyed Gulland's Josephine books, so I'm looking forward to this.)
American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis (One of these days I'll man up and read it, just so I can say that I have.)
Disturbing the Peace - Richard Yates (So good to see his work in print again.)
The Postman Always Rings Twice - James M. Cain (Never read any Cain before)
The Continental Op - Dashiell Hammett (Loved Red Harvest, figured I'll like this)
After Dark, My Sweet - Jim Thompson (Never read any Thompson before either)
The Choirboys - Joseph Wambaugh (My friend Gerry's been nagging me for ages to read this)
Jake's Wake - John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (Haven't heard of this before but I liked Skipp's work with Craig Spector so I'll give this a shot)
A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore (Read this before and liked it, and it's my book club's pick for May)
Now that's a fine haul!