Category Archives: author’s note

day 1 of nanowrimo

yessir, it’s november the first, and i spent all day reading a book about memes while waiting not to be selected for a jury panel.  made more money just sitting there than i have in awhile, too.

but i didn’t write anything, and it’s supposed to average 2000 words a day in order to make 50,000.  i have real doubts about my chances this year, but i’ve done nanowrimo for a bunch of years now, and usually manage to pull the words out of my ass somehow.

in the past few months, jim and i have read all the chapters i wrote the last time i worked on this novel, and i’ve had it in the back of my mind what had to happen.  there’s a whole lot of things.

the two cindies are about to assault mom and allen, gordon and laurie are prowling around the house, judy is almost there, sam and dave need to get their asses over to the scene, and pretty much everybody has to die.

this year i have a different set of circumstances under which to write the climax to this novel.  first time was all bare boned.  to get all the way to the climax, i concentrated on just getting the various threads straight.  like setting up a loom.  i left all the embroidery, all the filling-out of the patterns for the second draft.  it reads more like a filmscript than a novel (tho not much like a screenplay at that).  this time, however, i have only a short climax to cover, and 50,000 words to cover it in, and that’s exactly in contrast to the first part.  and i have no idea how to fill that much space at this stage.

i could slow it all down and get as deeply into their heads as possible at this point.  all the thoughts.  all the childhood traumas.  the really deep and true reasons for matricide.

or i could continue my slapstick pace and just get all the bits written down so i can move on.

a few days’ work at most.

hah.  that’s what i say whenever i start a project.  i consistently underestimate by at least twice, and sometimes much more, the time it’s going to take to finish.  like the two dolphins i was commissioned to paint.  i figured i could have it all done in two months, and didn’t it take four.  and what about the third dolphin, which was supposed to take a couple of weeks.  it took a month and a half.  and cleaning the attic for a studio visit.  that was supposed to be done by thursday of that week, and it took almost a full month.

i’m not sure i could write a lot of inner head stuff for these characters at this point.  it sure would be a strange thing to sit here for eight hours a day and drum out.  like jack nicholson in the shining.

anyway, i’m going to read the last chapter i posted, and see where i need to start tomorrow.

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well it’s time to finish this novel

it’s been two years since i worked on this story, and i think it’s high time i got it off the plate.

earlier this year i decided to finish it, primarily because my brother came to stay with me, and the subject came up.

not that the story has anything to do with my family.  none of the characters resemble my brothers and sisters.  just the conflicts, which are universal.  jealousy, greed, fear, hatred.

brotherly love.

i used an archetypal family structure –  two sisters and two brothers in a dysfunctional family – which by the way is a smaller family than mine and leaves out a much more complex dynamic because of that, and picked people i knew in my adult life to blend into different characters.  one from column a and one from column b.  there’s a good book you can use to do that, a handbook of character types of some sort.  it’s upstairs in my reference library.  i didn’t refer to it.  i had the perfect models in my own life, all around me, and i just chose from them.

to the blog.  if you’re just joining me, the actual story can be found by clicking the category ‘story’, and all the other stuff is either research or plotting or author’s musings and progress notes.

there’s a tale in those categories.

between 2009 and about 6 months ago, the machine i had all my work on crashed.  i was away at the time and just shrugged and hoped i had done a thorough backup before leaving.  which i hadn’t.  so i lost all my work, except i’d posted most of it to this blog as i was writing it.

what i lost was my detailed plot outline, my chapter by chapter list of things that had to happen.  like most of my plot outlines, it got pretty vague farther along, and i’m not sure at this point how detailed i actually had it, because all i have is the ‘plot’ category here on this blog, and the ‘author’s note’, and they’re damned vague.  for instance, when i stopped writing, the next bit that was to be written was killing off gordon, cindy and laurie.  and this is just a throwaway mention in an author’s note summing up the day’s work.  nothing more to go on.  how to kill them off was left to later.

in order to figure out what to do, i had to go to my blog and visit each posted chapter and copy and paste them into a new document.  then i printed it out, and now jim and i are reading it aloud.  we’re almost to the end, and i don’t remember half of what i’ve written.

it needs a lot of work.  it’s all just bareboned narrative and dialog.  it’s preachy in spots.  it’s awkward.  there’s a whole lot of information left out of the vision i get when i read what i’ve written.  the second draft is going to be much longer, is what i’m trying to say.

for instance, there’s the whole part about mom and how she is evil that’s mostly left out, except for what she does to frank.  right now you mostly wonder what’s wrong with the grownup kids, and aren’t asking how they got that way.

the next step is to figure out the ending.  we know it ends with judy in jail for the murders of all of her siblings, and mom sailing triumphantly off into the sunset.

but we don’t know how it’s going to get from where i left it to where it needs to go.  and there’s that whole subthing about mom getting her way because of miracles.  i haven’t even touched on that.  it’s too complicated.

but as ever, stories write themselves.  so no matter the written out plot, it’s going to unfold the way the characters act in the moment.  and you can only cooperate with that flow, or you’ll end up with resentful characters.

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my first review

a first review for any of my novels, for which i’m eternally grateful.

i told my kid that my first review wasn’t exactly a rave, and she fussed at me for always saying and doing things that make people look at me funny, and how i should mend my ways and try to be less crazy.  but jim and i are quite pleased at this review.  sorry for any scarring, tho.

rating onrating onrating onrating offrating off

Train Wreck Indeed

EditorFiona
January 20, 2010

Oh my.

This is . . . .different.

It all starts with phone calls from Mom to each of her adult offspring; a pothead, a ruthless businessman, a disturbed socialite, and a drug dealer. Apparently she’s saying horrible things to them and clearly it’s her cruelty that warped their lives.

But on the next page, the story’s told again from Mom’s point of view, and it turns out she was reminiscing lovingly about their childhoods and missing them and was really saying something quite different, but they weren’t listening, just hearing what they thought. The pathos of this almost made me cry.

However the fuzzy moment and sympathy for Mom is short-lived. Soon it becomes clear that everyone in this story is batshit crazy. It’s all so over the top, you soon realize you’re not expected to suspend disbelief. It’s a parody of the most dysfunctional family you can imagine. There’s also strippers, thugs, domestic abuse, roasted pets, scads and scads of drug abuse, infidelity, extortion, kinks you’d rather not know about, and of course at least three murder plots against Mom.

So, although there are no actual trains in it; Train Wreck is a good title to describe my reaction to this story. It was definitely not my cup of tea, but the horror of it was somewhat hypnotic. It’s not a serious story, so it must be meant as humour, but I did not find it funny at all. It’s rather hard to rate, because it’s so much not to my taste, and I know it’s not great literature, yet I will allow that it takes a certain quality of imagination and creativity (disturbed!) to dream up something like this.

Three stars “worth a look” seems right to me. Worth a look if this sort of thing is up your alley; otherwise don’t risk the mental scarring.  If you enjoyed the movie “American Beauty”, this is not unlike it in word form.

A clever touch is the use of links as illustrations.

this is a work of transgressive fiction, and as such, it’s all about the bad side of people.  i mean, not that any of us are bad, really, just stupid and misguided.  but we have bad attitudes, and we make bad mistakes, and we do bad things.  that’s how i put it to my 2.5 year old grandson, anyway.

and here’s a grand blurb, taken from the review.  yes, you can say i’m pleased.  thanks, fiona, wherever you are.

The pathos of this almost made me cry…everyone in this story is batshit crazy. It’s all so over the top, you soon realize you’re not expected to suspend disbelief. It’s a parody of the most dysfunctional family you can imagine…the horror of it was somewhat hypnotic. It’s not a serious story, so it must be meant as humour, but I did not find it funny at all…it takes a certain quality of imagination and creativity (disturbed!) to dream up something like this…Worth a look if this sort of thing is up your alley; otherwise don’t risk the mental scarring.  If you enjoyed the movie “American Beauty”, this is not unlike it in word form.

she said american beauty.  yeah.  can you see producing this, kevin spacey?

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my excuses

or, why i’m not writing right now.

i see i’m getting a lot of new readers because i listed on blog catalog.  this is a good thing, and welcome all.  i’m at the very climax of my story as i write this, some 27 chapters into it.  i already see what i have to do to the second draft to make it approach what i originally had in mind.  this first draft is turning out sketchier than i wanted, but the idea is to get it done.

however, shit happened.

my exhusband fell down the stairs and broke his neck and both wrists, and had to come and stay with me after he got out of the hospital.  so we had a family xmas.  it was fun.  and then he be’d a really bad patient and left in a snit on the full moon, but that’s a story i’m telling here.

anyway, i’ve been busy, and i’ve got swine cold, again.

am i right  – i’ve been catching what passes for swine flu over and over again since this summer.  i keep getting the same head cold, and it goes mostly away and then i get it again.  we pass it around the family.  is this how we’re all getting swine flu?  is it that we keep catching something mild again and again until our immune system is sapped and we get walking pneumonia and die?

that’s what i think.

anyway, i’m tending to family stuff right now, and trying to laze about and do nothing so i can recover, but that’s not happening.  you can’t justify sitting in bed all day reading a book and sleeping when you’ve got a swine head cold and a grandbaby and a grown daughter who’s as needy as her father with the broken neck.

i hardly ever see jim these days.

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author’s note

just in case you think i’ve forgotten, i’m still embroiled in dealing with my ex’s broken neck.  they’ve still got him in hospital after 5 days, and now that it’s monday they’re going to have a look at his heart because he’s showing v-tach, whatever that is.  so i’m still waiting until he gets out of the hospital.

and then i’m going to move him up here and nurse him back to health.  not necessarily because i want to, either.  but that’s another story.  i guess i’ll have more to say about that at my cancer blog, where we talk about life and death things.

i wrote a total of two hours yesterday, after coming home early from the hospital.  but i made progress.  there’s just so much to do.  the only things in this next chapter i haven’t touched are the core things – the deaths of gordon, cindy and laurie.

but i’ll get there.

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author’s note

well, this time i’m not publishing  anything because i’ve got this family crisis.

every time the moon is full, there’s been a crisis lately.  every time the moon is new, there’s a like crisis.  both basically the same tension.

this time my ex, greg (the model for one of my characters), fell down the stairs and broke a hard object and some fragile ones, and is in the hospital.  i’ll give him your best wishes.  so i’ve been sitting in the hospital all day.

got my first taste of xanax, however.  how’s that for research?

so while i’m currently working on my story, i’m only beginning the process, which means shuffling the existing notes and adding new things that have to happen.  i’m filling out things as i go along, and eventually i’ll end up with a bunch of one-liners expanded out into multiple paragraphs and dialogs, and then i’ll post it.  these days it seems to be taking a day for each stage,  5-6 hour days.  i’m anticipating that since this little tiny section in my notes is much bigger than that, because i have to kill off gordon, and cindy, and laurie too, and that’s a lot for a day’s work.

i’m off to the hospital now.

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author’s note

2600 words today

80,000 words total.

and now rick’s dead.

tomorrow gordon, cindy and laurie have to die, and i don’t know how i’m going to kill off laurie.

obviously it’ll take more than one day to do all this…

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