#amwriting #IthinkIneedawritinggroup

I am having some real trouble with this story I’m working on.  I’ve hit a bit of a wall.  I have pretty much the entire story mapped out in my head and in about twenty nine slightly disconnected scenes that culminate in approximately 43,000 words.  Novel length.  But something is still not right.  I don’t know how to proceed.

A thought I had today, while struggling with the whole concept of life in the 1950s, my romanticized version versus reality, of how to tie it into a modern setting (aka. something I understand).  But I don’t know that I really want to go there.  The idea was to have the granddaughter of the de facto protagonist be assigned her grandmother’s scholarly work in one of her own college classes and having that be a jumping off point to explore the rest of the story that I’ve already written.*  But I don’t know how I feel about that structure.  I didn’t set out for this to be a story about a young woman understanding her grandmother better, or more wholly; even though I’m all about women understanding the women before them in order to better understand their own place in the world.

I suppose my question is: would it be a cop-out?  Is it the easy way to tie in all the pieces I’ve written so far?  Or should I keep searching for something more organic and stay in the fifties?

*The idea makes me excited because then I’d get to create new characters and I love creating new characters.

Literary Tropes

It bothers me quite a bit when, in order to make a female character interesting, writers make her some sort of damaged goods.  She’s been raped, beaten, her father never loved her, her mother never loved her, she’s an orphan raised by wolves/hateful relatives/on the streets, she had an affair with a prominent member of society and his bastard baby was stillborn, she murdered her abuser and buried his body in the garden, etc.  And from the pain of this backstory she manages to pull herself up by her bootstraps and carry on and this makes her beautiful/desirable/interesting.  It makes me a little ill that writers resort to this sort of storyline.

Are they really telling me that a woman can’t be interesting without being damaged in some way?  She can’t be interesting because she’s smart?  Because she reads?  Because she invented something?  Because she made a scientific discovery?  Because she’s really good at fixing cars?  Because she’s spent twenty years studying ballet and is now considered the world’s greatest dancer?  Is a woman really only interesting because of her sacrifices, because she’s overcome some sort of diversity?

I say all this because it’s true: but also because I’m a little annoyed with myself.  The story I’m currently crafting, which I really like, involves my protagonist’s (somewhat) dark past.  She never talks about it, and I don’t really want it to come up at all, really.  But I want it implied that she left America, in part, because she was leaving something [someone (a man)].  But she also leaves America (and this man) for herself.  I want that to be abundantly clear.  But she was also leaving someone and that is actually important.

The real trouble I’m having is plot.  I don’t know what causes the rising action or the climax.  I’ve had a number of ideas that bring her past into the story, but I don’t like that idea.  I don’t want to dredge it up because I don’t want her to only be interesting because of something she’s done before the story starts.

I think I really need to flesh out the rest of the characters.  Maybe something will develop there.

I also don’t want it to be a romance, or about the “friendzone” even though it sort of is.

I’ll keep working.

I’m trying to write something creative everyday for the rest of the year using writing prompts and I wrote a piece today from the perspective of a high school freshman in 1999 and I included a really catty detail about the reportedly slutty new girlfriend of a cute boy who dissed my protagonist.  I feel weird about keeping it in, but it’s also based on real life events.  I am now conflicted about that detail.

On the one hand, it’s how a fourteen year old girl would write about current events.  On the other hand it’s super catty and I don’t like that.  But on the other hand, fourteen year old girls, including myself in 1999, are really catty.  But on the other hand, I’m not fourteen anymore and I don’t want to encourage anyone to be casually catty like that.

I’m not sure what to do.

Is it true?  Do we funnel all of our creative energies into our blogs that we don’t create the real art we want to create?  Are we using it up in platforms such as these, crutches supporting what creativity we have, that there is none left when we go to create The Work?  We can’t all be Neil Gaiman, unfortunately.

Using Fiction to get a grip on Reality

It’s what we’re meant to do as writers, yes?  We write about something we’re struggling with to better understand it or cope with it.  Why not write a story about a dead uncle with whom the narrator never really had much a of relationship?  Maybe it’ll help.

Ages Unknown

I wrote this a few days ago, irate that Boko Haram is using abducted girls as suicide bombers, but it’s not quite right.  I don’t know exactly what it needs.  So I’m asking you, friends, for any feedback regarding style or form.

Ages Unknown

Today, my niece,
Age 6:
Gets up;
Eats breakfast;
Brushes her teeth;
Asks her mother
deep questions about
how the world works;
And gets on the
school bus.

Meanwhile I sip my coffee and read the news,
horrified by what I learn.

Today, my niece,
sporting her Ramona Quimby bob,
plays with her friends:
they build imaginary nests
under the playscape
pretending they
are dragons
roaming the countryside.

Meanwhile I wonder what makes a person believe
actions such as these could ever be acceptable.

Today, my niece,
curious like the cat,
learns beavers
eat wood and bark;
“tabs” are better for trees
when supporting tree houses;
and before the invention of lip balm
people used ear wax.

Meanwhile I am sad for the mothers and aunts
who might never know if she was one of them.

Today, my niece,
bright eyed, and full of life,
“borrows” my headphones and ipod
to listen to 2CELLOS.
She looks at books
while bobbing her head
to covers of Michael Jackson,
U2, and Nirvana.

Meanwhile I marvel at how
World Leaders,
quick to help those
who don’t need it,
are able to leave the powerless
unaided, in the dark,
subject to such a fate.

Today my niece
eats hot dogs
and macaroni and cheese
for dinner;
she runs around the living room,
jumping on the couch
even though she’s
not supposed to;
she reads her school books,
slowly sounding out
the words
she doesn’t know.

Meanwhile, I read:
Girls,
ages unknown,
kidnapped from their schools
months ago,
are loaded into a car
strapped with explosives.
Their charred remains
indistinguishable
from each other
now decorate
a village square.

Today I ask my niece,
age 6:
“If they said you could
skip first grade,
would you?”
She tells me she wouldn’t,
because
she “wants to learn more”.
Just like those girls,
ages unknown.

#JaneDates – process

Writing this comic is a lot of fun.  I don’t exactly date a lot, but I’m no cloistered nun by any means.  I’ve got ten years worth of stories from my dating life, good and bad.  This is very possibly the best idea I’ve had as an artist, making this comic.  Children’s toys and collectible action figures are the very best mode of talking about adult relationships.  We’re all children again when we’re doing it anyway.

#JaneDates is Coming!

Jane Confessional

I have been working diligently on my brain child, the shoddily put together webcomic about on-, and off-, line dating as told through the use of children’s toys and collector’s dolls.  The first #JaneDates (prequel) comic is set to hit the Internet the afternoon of the 17th of December, 2014 on Tumblr.

Whatever happens with this project, happens.  I’m just so excited for all of it’s amateurish glory!  And happy to have an outlet (other than bad poetry) for my frustrations surrounding dating in my late 20s/early 30s!