Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not for me

Okay, just finished reading "Atonement" by Ian McEwan and this book is a prime example of why I don't read so-called literary books. Call me illiterate, call me a bourgeois peasant with bourgeois tastes, but I hit the end of this book and went "That's it???? That's the end?" Long, mired in detail, unsatisfying, and it makes me feel stupid because it's acclaimed and won awards and I don't get it. Why? What makes this book "great?" Clearly I must be blindly ignorant to miss greatness when I read it. But why should I fall all over myself praising something that didn't entertain me and didn't give me anything new to walk away with at the end and ponder into the night and tomorrow and the next night? That didn't give me even a moment that made me go "whoa" and sit back and watch my life change. I don't need all action and excitement and mystery, quite the contrary. But if you're going to give me something to think about, give me something to think about in a way that makes me think! There's nothing cooler than having a book change the way you see even a small part of this world, and this one failed to do that for me, even though I think it was meant to.

That aside, I did enjoy the first two parts of the book, particularly the scenes in part one from Emily's pov as she listens to the house around her. That was beautifully written and really worked for me and were my hands down favorite part. And I liked Mace and Nettle.

Wednesdays, however, suck


However, brain has been figuring ways to solve the issues in DTD's beginning, so that's good. Need to sit down with paper and pencil and start mapping a few things visually. Also need to do a little more research.

Fizzling out though was not pretty and left me in a rather aggressively self-destructive mood, which I placated by watching a particularly nasty death scene I can't actually bring myself to watch except with much wincing and covering of my ears... but I figure if I watch the worst that can happen to someone I like, my simple troubles are going to seem like absolutely nothing. Sure enough, it seems to have worked, my life is seeming rosy by comparison, and things are perking up this afternoon.

Movie line that makes me grin right now:

"I never strike my flag for an enemy or a rebel. Now put that in your peace pipe and smoke it."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesdays aren't so bad either

Okay, settling into the swing of morning writing a little better now. So far, very little frittering this week, during my 8-11 time.

POW proceeds swimmingly (over 52K now), and I even got a fanfic story edited.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mondays are good

Stuck on DTD. Need some shuffling done. A few things need to come in much earlier, and I haven't quite managed to reorganized the blocks in my brain yet. Needs some pondering time, and there's still a couple questions my betas asked that I don't have the answers for, and that isn't good, as I can see I will indeed have to answer them, and in the beginning too.

So, switched to POW and got 1000 new words written, the first new words since nano ended. I've revised a fair amount of the beginning, but have not advanced the story any until today. I was quite pleased that the main character's voice was easy to slip into again. Easier than DTD is right now, but DTD's issues are structural in nature, not voice or style.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Wild Bunch

Yesterday was an odd mix of films. "The Wild Bunch" in the morning and then two Monty Python movies in the afternoon... "Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian." I watched the first mostly to offset the impending comedy.

"Wild Bunch" has been on my famous-movies-I've-never-seen list, though that's not entirely true. I've seen bits of it and the whole bloody shoot-out ending, but never the complete movie. I didn't really have any opinions one way or the other based on what I'd seen in the past, if anything, they were rather negative, so it rather surprised me that I liked this movie a lot.

Okay, okay. That's because I really liked the cast. Ernest Borgnine was awesome, as was Robert Ryan, who reminds me a lot of his "Professionals" character here. Strother Martin and LQ Jones crack me up, though I wanted to shoot both of them. Edmond O'Brien was also typically understatedly cool, even though I actually didn't recognize him under that beard and sixteen layers of dirt. But in particular, I loved William Holden.

Not that that's a big surprise. But this role suits him so well. My favorite WH roles are rather like my favorite Jimmy Stewart roles... I like 'em both when they're playing the authoritative, but more cynical, world-weary types, usually when they're older (but not always in WH's case, as he's that way in Sunset Blvd. and Stalag 17, to name a couple earlier films). Even in "The Horse Soldiers," WH has that healthy chunk of cynicism and bitterness coloring what he does. His character in Wild Bunch is everything I heart in a fictional character. From being forced to shoot his own man, to being able to laugh at his own failures, from still being able to swing into the saddle without stirrups, to doffing his hat to Robert Ryan when the bridge blows, to holding the group together until the very end, and to the bestest, most wonderful "He gave his word!" speech. Ahhh, nothing will win me over faster than characters who hold true to their beliefs with that intense honor/loyalty thing going on.

And Robert Ryan gets the second best scene award, for his simple knowing smile at the end of the film for some offscreen and most satisfying gunfire. Dig it to pieces.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Control, control, you must learn control

So, after a huge debate, I went ahead and enrolled in Holly Lisle's Think Sideways course. What decided me was the fact that I'm starting my second week of reduced hours at work. That means I've had a week with a dedicated 3-hour writing block of time each day behind me. And what were the results? Out of those five days, I only truly had one really solid day of work. The very first Monday. The rest were wishy. I slipped almost immediately into bad habits of opting to check journals, or email, or do my one game of free cell a day, or nap, or other things totally not germane to the job at hand. And this is a job. That's the point of reducing my paying hours. To add in a part-time writing gig, five days a week, that will pay me when I get my novel sold.

So, that brought me back to the course, being offered at time when really, I need a plan. I need a plan I can follow and stick with, and maybe spending good money on this will make me stop frittering around on the internet when I should be writing and writing hard. I can get a lot done in three hours when I'm concentrating. Sigh.

And this has taken me two hours of debating and considering and re-reading what's offered this morning (with a couple hundred words in there of fun throw-away writing), and here I am with my 3-hour block nearly gone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


DTD's Chapter 3 is proving stubborn. Grrrr. You think working in a few things wouldn't be difficult, except that the current draft flows too well and isn't accepting straight insertions. I'm having to tear large chunks of it apart and completely re-write scenes, just to work in a few important sentences.

It's probably not helping matters that I'm *this close* to Chapter 4 and Reisher's entrance....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


You know how some stories you have to work at, and some just work? Effortless, easy, no thinking involved: they just work.

And when you're writing one of those, it's a float-on-top-of-the-skies feeling. Sheer writing joy! It's like you can do no wrong. Just get out of the way of your subconscious and let it do its job. All the dramatic pieces just fall into place of their own accord, and you don't have to wonder if it's going to be any good or not because when it's right, it's a totally different feeling from stories you have to, well, work at.

ILS is like that. I haven't had this much fun letting a story write itself since DTD. That one also wrote itself and it worked.

Maybe it's no coincidence that I'm doing the final edits on DTD in the mornings at the same time I'm writing ILS in the evenings.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Four in a Jeep

What an interesting little movie this is! 1951, post WWII, Cold War just starting. The four in the jeep are four MP sergeants, one American, Russian, Frenchman, Brit. They tool around Vienna (which has sectors run by each of the four countries, and one sector run by all four) keeping the peace. It was really filmed in Austria, so it looks great. And everyone's speaking their own language half the time, so that's fun too.

Trouble starts when the four arrive on the scene where the Russians are giving a woman a hard time. Actually, it starts earlier when the Russian joins the other three as their new patrol partner. See, he knows the American from the end of the war, and there's a bit of bitterness between them. There's two main stories going on here. In one, the woman is trying to reunite with her husband, only the Russians are after him because he busted out of the POW camp and is trying to cross the frontier to reach her on his own. The American, Frenchman, and Brit try to help her, the Russian wants to help her, but is under strict orders to apprehend her husband. Of course, the fact that she's a beautiful woman, and the American is half-hoping her husband isn't going to return adds a bit of spice to the mix.

The second story is about reconciling the friendship of the American and the Russian (and to a lesser extent, exploring the friendship between all four men). My favorite scene in the movie is a flashback to the end of the war, when the American and Russian each on patrol from their own side first encounter each other. They realize they're allies, there are no Germans, and therefore the war is just about over. They whoop and holler and hug each other and promptly get drunk on pilfered German brandy, and it's so dizzingly carefree and uninhibited. It's such a happy scene, and after all the death/destruction of the war, it just feels right. At the same time, their initial meeting is a fascinating counterpoint to the Russian couple's danger-fraught reunion. The American and Russian soldiers are almost like two lovers themselves, even to carving their initials into a tree to immortalize their meeting and the end of the war.

There are chases and fist fights and a good dressing down by their superiors, and one scene that made me tear up. And of course, one of those hilarious scenes where the American insists on coming into the beautiful Russian lady's apartment, and at her worried look he quickly says "no, I don't mean like that," but then of course, on the other hand, he doesn't want to insult her by indicating she isn't attractive either, so he has to backpedal yet again... guys just can't win that one. LOL!

This was Ralph Meeker's second film, playing the American sergeant, and he's so very young here. Enjoyed it a lot. It's a short movie, but it's surprisingly complex. I'm glad I tracked it down.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

But delighted anyway!

*reads back WIP post from a few days ago*

*looks at newly completed story*

*reads back WIP post from a few days ago again*

*looks at newly completed story*

Nope, it's not on the approved list of stories on which I should be working.

Why does that happen? Where did my brain go wrong?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mid-year review

We're halfway into 2008, and I was looking through all the films I'd rented from Netflix so far this year.

My favorites:

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
Kiss Me Deadly
The Professionals
The Naked Spur

The bottom feeders:

Zero Hour

I don't think I wrote about it, but Zero Hour has to be one of the worst movies I've ever had the misfortune to sit through. Everything about it was terrible: dialogue, story, acting (even Dana Andrews was awful in this, and I thought Johnny Reno was a miserable film, I think this one is even worse). Windtalkers was merely eye-rollingly bad in comparison. Neither of them I ever want to see again in any way, shape, or form.