Sunday, September 16, 2007

Killing a beloved character

I have to kill somebody and I couldn't do it. I'm not an assassin by nature. I love the character I had to kill off and she's my hero's mentor. But I had to kill her anyway and I had the worst time with it. I wrote all last week but she wouldn't die! Finally between yesterday and today I managed to do away with the old girl.

I created a death musical playlist. No really. I needed to get into the right mental framework to do the deed. So I found some great songs like: I Believe by Diamond Rio, Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, and Into the West by Annie Lennox - among others. Individually those songs can choke me up - but as a group! Sheesh I was crying long before I started writing.

I'm not sure the scene is as wrenching as I wanted it to be, but I got it written. I'll just have tug at the heartstrings a bit harder when I go back and work on editing. Now if I can just handle the funeral and get her buried, I'll be in great shape!

Have you had any characters who wouldn't die? If so, how did you kill them off? Was it as painful for you as for your characters?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Journey of a Thousand Pages begins with a Single Letter

I started a writing challenge in the middle of August and have been writing like crazy. It's been a great experience for me because I've had to "report" to someone about my progress. Sometimes it is really helpful to feel accountable for what your doing.

I've always written better on deadline. I'm not sure why, but it's true. I'd be coming down to the wire for short reports and I usually wrote things the night before it was due.

Once I got to grad school I was a little better about writing, but I found the research aspect so fun I would get myself wrapped up in that. I knew what points I wanted to make in the paper, but often the paper would get written in the days before it was due. Somehow I could buckle down at that point and just "get 'er done." I admit, I pulled one or two allnighters in grad school to get a 20 page paper done in time. The irony is that those papers got higher grades. Go figure!

Once I started to write with the intent to publish, I realized allnighters wouldn't cut it. I had to write regularly. These writing challenges provide excellent motivation because I have a deadline of sorts. I've even set my own deadline. I want to get the manuscript I'm writing completed by my birthday in October.

The good news: I'm at almost 80,000 words. The bad news: I've got about 20,000 more to write. I'll keep you posted. I got involved in a September writing challenge too, and it has kept me nicely on track to get my stuff written.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with a Single Step...

I first became aware of The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell quite some time ago. My mother was fascinated by the book and when Campbell was interviewed by Bill Moyers some years after the book's publication Mom watched the PBS series of interviews faithfully. Since Campbell talked about Star Wars and how it followed The Hero's Journey, I was intrigued too. So we had long discussions about it.

In the summer of 1977, I saw Star Wars IN THE THEATER at least ten times. Yeah, Star Wars Geek, that's me. But there was something archetypical about the story and Campbell explained the archetypes in ways that made sense to me.

For some reason though, I was kind of resistant when RWA writer friends told me I just HAD to read Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. I'm not sure what held me back, but I finally decided I should read it so I checked it out from the library via interlibrary loan. I let it sit on the shelf until it was due back, then started to skim the book.

I was caught. It was as interesting as all my friends had been telling me. The other thing was I realized that I used the formula described to write my stories. I hadn't planned it, but I used it nonetheless. And even though it's a formula, just like the hero with a thousand faces, each story is unique based on the face the hero wears at any given trip through the cycle. Sort of like past and future lives...

Now, I want to own the book. Good news, Vogler junkies! An updated and revised edition will be available November 1st, 2007. I've preordered my copy from Amazon.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Medieval helpdesk with English subtitles

This video has been around awhile. I think it has definitely gone "viral" but I adore it - especially since it's in Swedish.

I used to work in tech support and often get these kinds of questions when I'm working the reference desk now. People unfamiliar with the internet will want to use our public internet stations and need quite a bit of hand-holding before they get the hang of it.

After my bittersweet posts on Thursday, I thought we could use some humor today. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti sings Nessun Dorma

The Passing of a Great Voice - Good Bye Luciano!

I'm sad today. I was at work and pulled up a news page and the lead story was the death of the great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti at the age of 71. Out loud I was saying "Oh no..." My co-workers were looking at me oddly until I explained. Their reaction was "Oh, how sad," but I don't know that anyone was as saddened as I was by the news.

I've been a fan of Pavarotti since I was in high school. I think I saw him on a Live from Lincoln Center special on PBS back in the early 1980s. Now, I like all kinds of music but I've never been into opera all that much and certainly wasn't back then and neither were any of my family members. But I heard this big bear of a man sing with an impressive yet lyrical tenor voice that took my breath away. He took my breath away.

I watched interviews with him on 60 minutes and other news shows and enjoyed him as much when he was just being Luciano as I did when he was on stage as Pavarotti. He was funny, had a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor, and a genuine lust for life.

Later on when he joined forces with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras I tuned in to every program to hear "The Three Tenors." I love all three, but Luciano was always my favorite. I'm not sure why because all three men have truly phenomenal voices. There was just something magnetic about Pavarotti that drew the eye...and the ear. What a voice!

I'll miss your voice. I'll miss your high Cs. I'll miss your wonderful smile. Rest in Peace and sing well in your new venue.

For your listening and viewing pleasure, check out this YouTube piece above featuring Luciano Pavarotti performing in Paris while he sings his signature song, Nessun Dorma from Puccini's opera, Turandot. His performance is magnificent.

Bravo, Luciano!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

I had a three day weekend and I loved it. Not only that, but I got a ton of stuff done! A movie rental business in my town is going out of business (which is sad). A friend mentioned that they were not only selling dvds but the furniture too and they had shelves. Now I have been in need of bookshelves for I don't know how long. I was getting ready to go to Menards for the old college stand-by cinderblocks and wood planks.

I went into the store and most of the units were LONG. But I found one that I think will fit into my house. It's almost 12 feet long and made from sturdy wood. It was $30 dollars. I wrote the check. I have some friends I may be able to bribe with large amounts of food to get the thing home.

So, I started to rearrange my living room space. I am really proud of myself because I got the wall cleared and ready for a long shelf unit. Not only that, but the house is so much tidier (well, mostly). It's still cluttered, but there is now a clear wide path through the mess that is my home. Hey, it's well lived in. Anyway, it really was Labor Day for me. I labored and did a lot of work and I'm pleased with the changes.

I also got a bit of writing done and completed the layout for the PI newsletter. Now I'm just waiting for a couple of incidentals from article authors (bios, etc). Then it will be ready to go out to the members...ON TIME! Wooo Hoooo! Smokin'

I hope you all had an equally productive or utterly relaxing holiday!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The OtherWorld Diner and Research...

The topic for the week at The OtherWorld Diner is world building. To me good world building is done through research. Researching fiction? Isn't that an oxymoron? Not really. Good fiction starts with truth and to find truth, you need to do research. Arthur D. Little said, "Research serves to make building stones out of stumbling blocks."

Every time you figure out how your world works, you're doing research. Whenever you discover how your characters think, you're doing research. It's a long voyage of discovery where your world and your characters reveal themselves to you so you can share them with others. I love research, but then I'm also a librarian. ;-)