Friday, May 20, 2011

Missing In (No) Action

So I haven't been updating my blog as much as I had initially hoped, but first things first: I spilled water on my laptop and the keyboard has been out of commission for the past week or so. $145 later my computer is back up and running. But that's been the main source of my inactivity.

The second source of my inactivity is an admission: I'm stuck, and haven't been writing. No, let me rephrase that. I haven't really been trying. Don't get me wrong, I open up my files and stare at them long and hard, but the words just aren't coming out. I'm struggling to find my main character's voice, and I'm not exactly sure why.

I also feel so tied up with so many things going on in my life that I'm finding it hard to even so much as open a book and read, much less sit down and write. Not very much is even really going on (life-wise) when I think about it. But work has been a source of frustration for me, and just thinking about it overwhelms me. I'm having a very hard time focusing on one thing at a time. I've been kind of emotional and flighty lately. It's been a weird month.

Anyway, just a heads up that my inactivity might last a little longer, then I plan on kicking it more or less in the ass and continueing writing. We'll see how that goes. Wish me the best!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Bad" elements in books?

As some of you may know, I work retail at a bookstore.

Just five minutes before closing tonight, I spotted a young woman at the audio book wall, who looked a bit perplexed. I walked over to her and asked if she needed help finding anything. She paused, bit her bottom lip as if contemplating what to say, and then said, "Maybe you can help me. Do you have any recommendations for audio books that--how should I say this--don't have anything bad in them?"

...

What am I supposed to say to something like that? What does "bad" even mean? Bad from a religious standpoint? Bad in a taboo sense? Bad according to you? Sex? Gay romance/sex? Foul language? Violence? Drugs? Anti-religious messages? Incest? Rape? All of the above? I'm baffled that anyone would think it totally okay to give me a criteria that subjective and expect me to come up with something.

Predictably, I couldn't think of anything so unoffensive off the top of my head, and apologized for not being more helpful. (WHY OH WHY DIDN'T I RECOMMEND NICHOLAS SPARKS? Oh yeah, because he's a terrible writer.)

And the more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that I don't think I can recommend a single "good" book title that's not a children's book (and even some children's books have violent scenes, or use magic that many religious zealots consider to be demonic--ahem, Harry Potter) or completely awful (looking at you, Sparks--and not all his books are rainbows and sunshine, might I add). But to be honest, who wants to read books that have nothing "bad" in them anyway? What's the goddamn point? I understand that a lot of people read to escape from the terrible realities of the world, but I fail to see the point in limiting your scope that far. To have nothing "bad" in an adult novel is unrealistic and delusional as far as I see it. Violence is, unfortunately, part of the human condition. Realistically, many many people swear. Drug use is everywhere. It's been this way for millennia. Now, do these topics have to be in every novel to make it realistic? Well, no. But my suspension of disbelief will be teetering if they're not at least acknowledged.

I guess what I mean to say is that I certainly wouldn't recommend Boot Hill to someone like that woman.

And I pride myself in that. My story deals with oftentimes serious subject matter. It's violent, crass, and brutal at times. But I wouldn't remove those descriptors from Boot Hill for anything in the world. They make the story mine, and the characters, however "bad" they may be, make it real. I'm sure there are some novels out there that aren't any of these things, are more or less "good", and happen to be well-done. I'm sure of it. But I'm not about to go out of my way to read them. I'll stick to my "bad" fiction and "bad" characters, thank you very much.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I should be writing but...

I should be writing but I'm not.

I've been distracted with that little thing called life for the past few days. Still, I don't feel bad about not writing too much; I broke 1,000 words on chapter two at the very least, and I plan on finishing the chapter by the end of today if all goes according to plan. Hooray for having the next two days off of work!

All in all, I feel much better for at least trying to write something every day, even if that something is very insignificant. It's significant to me. Making writing a habit as of about five days ago has made me feel infinitely better about myself, and I plan to keep on it. I'm more excited about Boot Hill and about the actual process of writing than I've been in years.

Wow, to not be ambivalent about everything for a change.

Here's a writing protip: don't creepily hang out in the parking lot of a community park--writing on your laptop while in your car--when there are children around. You get dirty looks from mothers. I can't even imagine the looks I'd have gotten if I happened to be a really fat, overweight, middle-aged man.

I just confirmed that I'm going to Canada at the end of June to meet up with the lovely Hunter (the co-creator of Boot Hill) and her sister for a week. I'm incredibly excited; I haven't seen my friends in just over a year, and I've always wanted to visit Canada--Vancouver in particular. Which is where we're going! So stoked, so stoked.