Monday, February 27, 2012

THE WAY OF THE WORLD

Children are natural story-tellers. With little experience and limited vocabularies, they try to fit new discoveries into what they know. That can mean roleplaying as favorite TV characters, determining the cat is a gumball machine after she vomits kibble in front of him - it's the same basic principal, minus the feeding of spare change - or performing the same ritual over and over again until their little brains have finally digested it.

My son is three and a half. At the moment, he is simultaneously convinced of the following:

  • That everybody he knows is a character in the kid's show The Octonauts (This is actually a pretty good show. It's educational and low on the irritating background noise scale)
  • That he is the Dread Pirate Roberts
  • That Peter Pan's shadow regularly latches on to him and causes mischief around the house (Ask me how much I like this one. >:(   )
  • That he is the commander-in-chief of a snow fortification in front of our house called Fort Burrito. (Don't laugh. That thing is booby-trapped to the frozen hilt!)
  • That his dreams take place in an alternate reality called Engine City, where things move very fast and one must always be alert to villains intent on stealing one's ice cream and sandwiches. The bastards.
Meanwhile, with decades more experience and a decent grasp of how the universe works, my world consists of:
  • Get up
  • Go to work
  • Cook stuff
  • Clean stuff
  • Pay bills
  • More work
  • Think about sleeping in, kind of sleep in
  • Think about working out, don't work out
Which of us is better off, I wonder?

Friday, February 24, 2012

SONGS ABOUT CALIFORNIA

Is it just me, or do all these songs that mention "California" sound at least a little bit the same? Maybe 32% similar.


California All the Way - Luna (above)

Also, to the people who went to the Luna and Galaxy 500 show with me back in the early '90s, I really want that shirt back. KTHXBYE.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

EXCLAMATORY JUNK: A SPAM AND SEARCH TERM POEM

Novel writing, with its soggy middle,
how I laughed.
The best caulking is guaranteed for life, Your Life!
Peechee folder, with the spine on the outside!
This farmacy (sic) is open all night!
Travel toiletries shouldn't be this hard, hard as a Rolex.
Doesn't hard work bring happiness?

With my Goonies lunchbox,
with my blue eyed warrior king,
with my easy money,
can I make Mongolians cry?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A DAY IN THE LIFE - EVENING EDITION

5:10 p.m. - Leave Work.

5:20 p.m. - Pick up child from day care.

5:35 p.m.  - Get home, divest child of snowgear, admire his artwork, wash his hands. Feed cats. Fill humidifier.

5:45 p.m. - Make dinner. It's late in the week, so it's cobbled-together leftovers.

5:55 p.m. - Child comes into kitchen and drops 6-inch by 6-inch cube of building blocks on top of your foot, proclaims that he is Wall-e. Grind teeth until pain passes.

6:00 p.m. - Set table and call child to dinner. Child consumes entire glass of milk and proclaims himself full.

6:01 p.m. - Child grips stomach and complains he's dying. Send child into bathroom.

6:02 p.m. - Eat in peace and quiet.

6:07 p.m. - Because you have learned to eat like a starved honey badger in the few minutes you can scrounge up between obligations, dinner is consumed and dishes are already done.

6:08 p.m. - Settle onto couch with book.

6:18 p.m. - Spring from couch when you realize the house has been silent for 17 minutes. Open bathroom door to find child standing in front of the closed toilet, completed naked.

You: Are you done?
Child: Yes.
You: What's going on in the toilet?
Child: Nothing!

6:19 p.m. - Open toilet lid. Find 1/2 a roll of Charmin settled uneasily on top of...something wretched.  Explain to child why we use less toilet paper. Child, upon hearing the word "clog" for the first time, runs from the bathroom.

6:20 p.m. - Begin the painstaking process of progressively flushing small amounts of the toilet's contents, using the toilet brush as a dam.

6:21 p.m. - TP disintegrates; dam fails. Overcome by drama, cat pukes in hallway outside bathroom.

6:23 p.m. - Power-walk past child, who is naked, clutching his clothes to his chest, and on the brink of tears. Explain it's time for Plan B. Tears.

6:23:30 p.m. - Retrieve toilet plunger from other bathroom, begin Plan B. Outside the door, cat #2 steps in cat #1's puke, gets mad, commences to beat cat #1. Separate cats with foot.

6:25 p.m. - Plan B complete. Clean bathroom. Dress child. Wipe tears. Clean up puke.

6:30 p.m. - Decide to refill soap dispenser. Child drops 6-inch by 6-inch cube of building blocks on your foot. Soap everywhere.

Child: Wall-eeeee.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

YOU'RE SO VAIN, YOU PROBABLY THINK THIS ALBINO BEAVER JOKE IS ABOUT YOU

The most difficult part of starting a new story, for me, is finding the voice. This is different from style. Author style and story voice [which is heavily influenced by or even dependent on the nuances and perspective of the main character(s)] should be complimentary if noticeable at all, but they aren't the same thing.

Voice isn't dependent on plot, though plot can influence the tone, which in turn can help shape the voice.

I'm writing in third person, which I haven't done in awhile, and with alternating point-of-views, which I rarely use. So, I have to find both the characters' unique voices, and then bring them together under the tonal umbrella. Not to be confused with the intentionally-stuttered Umbrella:


This story is supposed to be a romance. Romance has, at its essence, a few traditional components. The couple (or more, if you're going for slightly less-traditional). The meeting. The falling. The HEA (happily ever after).

What does this story have so far?

  • A small airplane that might be in crashing
  • A rant about indifferent architecture
  • A beaver - nay, an albino beaver - joke
  • A sea cucumber reference (possibly involving snot)
  • A single member of the couple
Why have I not yet had these two halves of a single heart waltz into a room and swoon in the other's direction? Because I haven't found the voice yet. I'll continue to write in circles and tangents until the discordant strings come together to play a single note.

There shall be quirkiness, judging from the things my single so-far character thinks about. There shall also be a great sense of adventure. Because, hell, isn't that what falling in love is all about? Taking the running leap and hoping the other party comes with?


Do you ever get hung up like this when you start a new work? Or do you have the characters and the voice, but not know what to do with them?


In separate news, if my cat says I beat her, please ignore her. I just refilled her water bowl and, when I went to set it on the floor, she darted beneath it and got hit on the head. Also, doused. Then, after running out of the room while I was looking for paper towels, she ran back into the room and slid through the spilled water, going ass over teakettle into the kid's old toddler potty. She then gave me a look that said she knew I'd pushed her into it. I hadn't, but I did laugh. Loudly. At her.