Busting Up the Concrete

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I took this picture where I work a few days ago. Look at this mess. The parking lot was fine, but there were problems with the curbing. To fix the curbing, a whole section of the parking lot had to be dug up and the spaces were unusable. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how perfect the concrete is, you have to bust it up. 

I’m working on a new ending when the current ending worked fine. It was fine, but that’s all it was.  It wasn’t a zinger. It wasn’t wow.  It was more like an ‘eh’. Don’t get me wrong.  I loved parts of it.  But even when I read it in sequence for the first time, part of me knew that I was taking the easy road.  Perhaps I had poured concrete over a large root to a dead tree.  Perhaps I had poured over an uneven area. Over time, it became more and more obvious that i would have to dig up that section and make it better.

But it was paved!  (Sigh). It was a beautiful piece of concrete.  (Insert justification here.) It looked perfect. But the characters whispered to me that this ending wouldn’t hold up to foot traffic.  They didn’t think anyone would buy it.

“I would so not do that,” Windsor told me, her hands on her hips.

“She’ll do it, because she loves me,” Grady said and winked.  That’s when I knew it wasn’t going to work, because Windsor wasn’t there yet, and Grady was still being an ass.

William Faulkner once said “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”  It doesn’t matter how beautiful the writing is, or how cool the scene is, if it doesn’t contribute to the story arc it has to die.  I can’t wait to see my fresh new paving.

Where do Ideas come from?

Where do Ideas come from?

A writer friend of mine posted this in her blog talking about where her ideas come from. Friends ask me this all the time.  I’ve found my hardest problem is coming up with the main premise, and that often, the main premise or tag line changes completely from what I originally thought.

Once the characters are there, they take on a life of their own. They can create all sorts of problems when they won’t cooperate with what I want them to do! Nonsense, you say, they are your creations. You try telling them that!  If I attempt to go in a direction they’re not interested in, they will clam up and not feed my muse.

The Creative Process ~~ or Roses in the Trash Can

Trashed Roses

Broken Heart, or Dead Flowers?

One of the things about having all of these imaginary people in your head is that they show up in every day life in the oddest places. Yesterday at work I was surprised to see these beautiful roses resting in the wastebasket just inside the restroom door. To me, they still look beautiful. They aren’t dried, they aren’t wilted or faded, and they made the trash smell fabulous. But why were they in the trashcan?

The writer in me envisioned Windsor (the main character in the book I’m editing) tossing these into the trashcan because she was furious with the sender and didn’t want to see any part of him in her office. Would she smell them before she tossed them? Did a thorn catch her finger on the way into the trash? In this little vignette you’ve got four of the five senses: the lush red of the roses, the soft texture of the petals juxtaposed against the sharp thorns, the scent of roses under the antiseptic spray from the restroom, the sound of the leaves crinkling among the plastic of the trash liner… All we are missing is taste. Add in a salty tear… Maybe that’s overkill, or maybe that brings it home.  The anger of tossing the roses, the tear for what might have been…

The real story? The assistant of the woman who threw them away told me that they came from Ecuador in a box, and they had died too quickly.  I guess her standards for roses are higher than mine, because to me they were still beautiful.  My story was better.

 

 

About “Don’t Call Me Sugar!” or Why GWTW Wouldn’t be Published Today

I was looking around for quotes that might provide some insight into my background and goals in starting this blog, and I returned to an old favorite of mine, Gone With the Wind. I know that the book has faded from the public eye, because of the painful issue of slavery and the famous “rape” scene where Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs. Frankly, my dear, I don’t care.  The book remains one of my favorite of all times. (And for those not aware of the differences between the book and the movie, there are many, one being that the word Frankly is not in the book.  The line is “My dear, I don’t give a damn.”)

“Don’t Call Me Sugar” is directly from Scarlett herself.  She made it through the Civil War and started a lumber business in a time when there were few women of business.  While sexism has decreased in the workplace, after twenty years of working I still find myself on the receiving end of that condescending tone. My goal as a writer is to create heroines who are strong and independent women, and to help them find their match–someone strong enough to not be intimidated by her intelligence or ambition.

From Wikipedia:

Margaret Mitchell began writing Gone with the Wind in 1926 to pass the time while recovering from an auto-crash injury that refused to heal.[1] In April 1935, Harold Latham of Macmillan, an editor who was looking for new fiction, read what she had written and saw that it could be a best-seller. After Latham agreed to publish the book, Mitchell worked for another six months checking the historical references, and rewrote the opening chapter several times.[2] Mitchell and her husband John Marsh, a copy editor by trade, edited the final version of the novel. Mitchell wrote the book’s final moments first, and then wrote the events that lead up to it.[3] As to what became of her star-crossed lovers, Rhett and Scarlett, after the novel ended, Mitchell did not know, and said, “For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less difficult.”[1]Gone with the Wind is the only novel by Mitchell published during her lifetime.[4]

In one article I read a long time ago, the story is that Margaret Mitchell gave her book to Harold Latham in eleven battered boxes, with scraps of paper everywhere.  If she were searching for a publisher today, this is what she would hear:

  • It’s too long. Cut it in half.
  • No one wants to read about history.
  • You can’t kill Bonnie Blue.  It’s too much of a downer.
  • Why isn’t there a happy ending? You have to end with them together.
  • Last but not least, lose those other husbands. The book should focus on the hero and heroine only.

You know I’m right.

The purpose of this blog is to share ideas and thoughts about writing, publishing, and everything in between.  Please feel free to leave comments.

Happy reading!