Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Man's World?

Who's in charge here? I mean really. Who running the planet? I guess overall -- it's men.

My current work in progress has me thinking of this. My character is a female in a male-dominated profession. She's a wildlife biologist. But she could be a police officer, or a fire fighter or a corporate CEO. Goodness, it would be easier to list the female-dominated professions. A much shorter list indeed.

This woman works hard every day to conduct her research and struggles like everyone else to get the job done. But she has an additional burden in that she always has to do her job better than everybody else. She thinks so anyway. If she is not better, it will automatically be because she is a female. If the men in her group do a half-assed job, it's because they are fuck-ups or just having a bad day. If she goofs something up, it's because she was born without a penis.

I'm in bad place with this right now and maybe I need to write this story and get it off my chest. My female hero needs to rise above it and bring me with her. I don't think my percetion of this is all wrong but perhaps times have changed. I'm going to go out and do more research. Maybe some interviews.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who do I think I am?

An author? An artist? This year as we tumbled through TurboTax, for the first time I had to claim a bit-o-income from my books. There was a box to fill in as to the nature of my business. I think it was a drop box, and among the choices I picked "author".

Who do I think I am? It would have felt about as comfortable to put "plumber" in the box. I'm an author? Since when?

I'm fairly well educated. Have a pile of post-secondary years of schooling, a few degrees. I've taken creative writing classes, but have little formal training on how to write a kick-ass story. Everything I know is from reading and reading.

Two kinds of reading. I know a good book when I'm in the middle of one. I've taken to analyzing great books to see what makes them tick. It seems I can't even bury myself in a novel anymore without asking, "Now why did the author do that?" Damn, I even make notes in the margins of my paperbacks.

I read books on how to write. Some purists think this is for rookies and maybe it is. I'm a rookie and I learn a ton from textbook how-to's.

Is it a skill that comes more naturally to some than others? Maybe. Honestly (and I'm not bragging here--no way) in my first manuscript, I did so many things RIGHT. Things that I didn't know were power hits until long afterwards. Then of course I wrote some stink pots after that, just to stay humble.

In my daily life, I spend a lot of time crossing back and forth between right brain and left--analytical to ctreative and back again. I think crafting a story requires both strengths.

I keep thinking I just got lucky. I have four books out on the street (figuratively and almost). That's it for me. I'm done. I've written the last piece of publishable work. I'll go back to whoever I was before I became an author.

I hope that's not true. I've got characters standing in front of me with thier arms crossed, tapping thier toes. "Write me." There are days when I want bundle those characters up, throw them in the car and drive them over to a real author's house and tell her to write the stories. They're worth telling.

I'm going to shop the book store today for a new how-to book. I hope I don't end up in the plumbing aisle.

Gemini Judson

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brand New or Redo?

What's more fun? Starting a brand new story? Or rewrites? I find I'm an ideas person.
Big picture concepts spring into my head. Titles spring into my head. Book covers spring into my head. Honestly, the image of a kitten with a bucket of bouncy balls seems appropriate. I chase after one, then another, then another. My ideas folder abounds with story threads.

But threads do not weave themselves into blankets.

I feel overwhelmed when it comes to penning that first wobbly chapter. For the past two days I have been using this Snowflake Method of story development. Familiar with it? Man, it really forces one to flesh out the plot. It's a great exercise, but difficult for a pantster.

On the flip side, I just finished "nuance" writing of a nearly complete story. Far more enjoyable for me. Yes, I found a plot whole (as opposed to a pot whole -- also very common in Minnesota this time of year). And yes, I found a sex scene that hit the floor with a thud. But I like dealing with these things.

So, I like imagining, formulating, conceptualizing. I like being on the clean-up committee, dusting and polishing at the end. It's the elbow grease work in the middle that I find difficult. I get 'er done in fits and starts. Thousands of words in a day and then zippo for awhile to recharge and relube the elbows.

So, where are you in the spectrum? Grand ideas to completed manuscript? What's your favorite?