Archives for November 2008

Let it go already

There’s this weird transition going from the editing stage of an ongoing writing project to the first draft stage of a new one.

In editing, you’re striving to make things perfect, or at least closer to perfect (I’m big on multiple drafts), but in the actual writing of the first draft, you’re just feeling things out and trying to figure out where it’s all going to go.

I am SO excited about my new project. The idea evolved from that first line while I pulled dead marigolds, into a pitch-type outline while I was in the shower, into some pages that have a tone and pace I’m starting to like. I’m still trying to figure out the parameters of my new characters and the world they live in. It’s not scifi or anything. I’m not world building in that sense, but I still need to know where they live and work and play and what they look like.

Right now, it’s like I’m looking at that new world without my contacts in. Everything is blurry, but I can see the shapes of people, places, and things. And because everything is blurry, I need to give myself permission to write, as Anne LaMott says, a shitty first draft.

Things will sharpen later, and I know this. But it’s a little hard on the ego to go from tweaking something that’s all nice and shiny and polished and workshopped to writing vague details and stale dialogue in an attempt to see things more clearly and get to the point. I know better than to think everything I write will be gold or even plated with a gold-type material that turns your finger green eventually, but looks nice at the start. I think for every 5 pages I write, three eventually get deleted. Even though I know this, I still feel like walking away sometimes when my characters start to sound like wet cardboard. But on the flip side, it’s ridiculously fun to make discoveries, and I have a lot to learn about my new characters.

100 Things – 46-55

Here’s a pic from the hike Argo and I took the other day. I’m obsessed with the yellow/blue dusk combo that was going on in the sky and in the reflection on the creek. It only sort of showed up in the picture.

Figured I’d get back to my 100 Things list

46. I hate the sound of our doorbell, so I unplugged it.

47. I’m not good with tradition. I have a hard time doing something simply because that’s how it’s been done in the past if it doesn’t make sense to me.

48. I used to have a sweet tooth that would put Willy Wonka to shame, but I’ve pretty much conquered it at this point.

49. I think there should be a way to legally declare your friends as family (ie. I’d like to be able to declare Lady as my sister for all intents and purposes, so if I were ever in intensive care, etc. she’d be able to visit me and vice versa). Maybe that’s what living wills are for.

50. I’m upset about Prop 8 passing to the point where it keeps me up at night, even though I’m not gay, and I don’t live in California. I don’t understand why everyone isn’t outraged. It’s a civil rights issue. We decided a long time ago in this country that it wasn’t okay to pick and choose who gets what rights. Prop 8 and other laws banning gay marriage go against what America is supposed to be about. Also, making marriage about something other than consensual love and commitment between two consenting adults offends my marriage, and the institution of marriage in general. And don’t get me started on separation of church and state issues . . .

51. I have two friends I e-mail back and forth all day long on weekdays. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

52. I never liked New Kids, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, or any boy bands of that ilk.

53. I did listen to (and love) Bobby Brown when I was in junior high school.

54. I go through phases where I view most foods as simply a vehicle for Frank’s Hot Sauce. I’ve never just decided to drink it, but I’ve come close. Then the whole obsession passes and I’ll forget we have a bottle in the fridge for months.

55. My feet and hands are usually cold.

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

My neighbors are a very odd collection of people. The neighborhood is a combo of people who built these houses as their dream houses almost 40 years ago and still reside here, and the people who have filled in the spaces when someone has died or moved to a Boca. I often describe our neighborhood as a retirement community without the benefits of water aerobics classes and a shuffleboard court. It’s not a bad place to live, really. I can’t say I love it, but it’s perfectly adequate. It is, however, strange. People here aren’t very open or friendly. We’ve lived in our house for almost six years, and I have only actually directly spoken to maybe five of my neighbors.

So, I decided every once in awhile, I’d fill you in on some of the characters who live near us.

Today, I’ll tell you about The Aging 80’s Hair Band Family.

The Hairbanders, as I like to call them, live a few houses down. I believe the family consists of an older son living with his parents, but I’m not entirely sure. Argo and I have walked past their house while they are outside. I’ve been smiley and polite, but they have never even once looked in our direction while we passed, leaving me to wonder briefly if my dog and I have the ability to become temporarily invisible.

The son appears to be constantly on call to stand in for the lead singer of Europe, and has probably been since at least 1986. He’s got the lion’s mane hair, and I’ve never seen him wearing anything other than faded Zubaz and decaying concert t-shirts with cracked decals. His friends, who are many, all ascribe to a similar aesthetic.

I like to think there’s a club or local message board where people who believe it’s still the mid-80’s congregate. Perhaps if we had cable I would find a public access show on the topic. And the thing is, I have to admit that I have this sense of awe and almost envy of that fact that they have found a genre, an era, a look that works for them, that makes them happy, and they have the courage (or maybe blinders) that allows them to stick with it. I love people who march to the beat of their own drummer, even if that drummer is Tommy Aldridge.

When I was a bartender, one of the cooks proudly told me that 80’s hair band music was the greatest popular music genre ever for it’s ability to consistently pack massive arenas with fans. I always wanted to ask him how hair bands died then. I mean if people consistently showed up, why aren’t we still listening to Winger or Warrant without any hint of irony. And when it started dying, weren’t the arenas spotty in attendance? Weren’t hair bands something of a flash in the pan, really?

But I’m starting to realize for him, it never died. Maybe, like the Hairband family, it’s still going on in his mind. And maybe Mr. Hairbander can’t see Argo and I because he’s been blinded by imaginary stagelights.

Update: Apparently, the cook and Mr. Hairbander aren’t alone. Check out the masterpiece that is Rocklahoma! Excuse me while I go eat crow. I don’t believe there’s anything being done ironically at Rocklahoma. Perhaps hair bands never die.