Friday, December 22, 2006

Reading as a Writer - A Christmas Carol

Okay, I just had the weirdest experience. I LOVE the Charles Dicken's tale, A Christmas Carol.

To elucidate.... I'm one of those really geeky people who can do comparative analysis about the movie versions based on who starred as Scrooge. There's the Reginald Owen version (1938), the Albert Finney musical version (Scrooge -1970), the definitive Alastair Sims version (1951), etc.

Every so often I return to the book to READ it. This time, I received a visitation from the Ghost of Critique Writers. The ghost who is normally invisible except when you pick up an old favorite to read and he whispers in your ear about how someone could have written something better. Now this is Charles Dickens I'm reading. Right? Widely famed in song and story.

So I curl up to enjoy a good book but as I'm reading through chapter one, I think, "Damn Chuck, what voice is this?" I think it was third person omniscient, but I'm not completely sure. Took me right out of the story. Well, crap.

I push past the Ghost (who is giggling by the way) and keep reading. Well, Dickens digresses maundering about in Scrooge's mind. Okay, keep going. Then I get to a couple of beautifully written paragraphs about the London fog. Though they help to set the tone, these paragraphs in no way advance the story. What are they doing there? Dickens wrote for Londoners. They already knew what the fog was like....

I stopped reading. The Ghost was laughing maniacally by now. I am cursed. Doomed to forever read Dickens like a modern writer. Sigh. I guess I'll just stick to the movies from now on...

Merry Christmas, gov'nor. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Midwestern nice can derail your pitch…

My muse has returned from Tahiti, or the NASCAR race where he was hanging out, and damn he’s horny again, thank god! That’s the good news.

I’ve been working on my story, a query letter, and a synopsis while I get more nervous by the minute. I’m almost ready to pitch my story and I’m scared spitless. I could say something else, but I was trying to be polite. I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback from various critique partners, so I think the story will be ready to go when I am.

Now granted, being this close to pitching something isn’t bad news, but being scared sure is. I’ve never been good at selling myself. I’m one of those people who receives a compliment and says thank you, but…. Maybe it’s the midwestern nice in me.

Midwestern nice? What the hell is that, you ask? I’m sure people in other parts of the country do the self-deprecating thing, but it is dangerously prevalent in the midwest. You always have to defer your good acts, cool thoughts, etc. onto other people.

“Yes, I did think of (whatever cool thing you thought of), but I was inspired by Barney Rubble (or whoever), who was instrumental in making it work.”

Instead of grabbing your own limelight and standing smack in the middle of the warm glow, you tug other people in to share the limelight with you until you get lost in the crowd.
I need to get over it. I’m the first one to step up and say, yeah I screwed up and take the hit myself. But when I should be out there selling my own idea or basking in my own glory, I’m trying to duck and cover like a nuclear explosion would occur if I had the temerity to accept a compliment gracefully.

It’s time to learn to toot my own horn, or whatever other cliche applies.

Like Stuart Smalley used to say on Saturday Night Live,

“I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.”

Okay, it wasn’t my idea, but I like the sentiment.