It’s been forever since I posted because of the hectic holidays and life in general. It’s also been a long time since I’ve had the chance to read, which, needless to say, means I haven’t done any writing. I’ve avoided reading because I know that as soon as I do I will want to write, and that’s something I’m not ready to do yet. As I’ve posted before, my father died a few months ago, and it’s become obvious to me how much he is a part of my writing. I know, I know. I can remember him when I write and that’s nice and all that jazz. But the problem is that it’s not nice. It doesn’t help to have loss and grief hit you when all you want to do is get a story out. I’ve had several story ideas in mind for a while, and I finally made a list of the ideas and showed it to my husband, but it wasn’t the same as calling Dad when I got ready to write and tellingl him about story a, b, and c and have him help me work out the ideas on each and decide which story would be best…. But I do feel he is still there, helping me through my writing, encouraging me, and for that I’ve realized during these past few weeks that it’s time to buck up and do what I’ve always been called to do, regardless of what life has to say about it.
I last posted about the death of my father and how I hoped to finish stories he had started. Over the past year, he and I had had long phone conversations about our story ideas, and he was trying to get all his out so we could finish them together. Last week, I tried to look through his papers… and realized it’s not time yet. But I have the urge to at least share a little of him with others, so here is the start to one of the stories (unfortunately, only two chapters, but at least he did half an outline!).
Excerpt from “Eden’s End”
The Director settled his silver-clad form into the contoured confines of the master control chair. A quick glance of his ice-gray eyes across the length of the control board assured him that all systems were functioning according to his program. Apparently nonchalant, he crossed his legs and elevated the footrest of the chair, allowing his body to relax.
The Director was the embodiment of human perfection. His wlel-formed head was topped by a wave of metallic colored hair. The high, intelligent forehead and firm brow offset the cold steel eyes, which seemed to pierce through whatever they allowed their gaze to look upon. The smooth face had a slight, mystical smile that never faded, and a not-too-firm not-so-soft chin. This regal head was supported atop a body which conveyed an aura of controlled power within its every move, in spite of its smooth contours.
He possessed the ultimate authority. He reigned supreme in his realm, unquestioned by man and machine alike. He had a single, solitary purpose in life; he lived only to command, and he would die when this purpose had been carried out.
This meant nothing to the Director. It was his destiny, and he was fully aware of it, for he had been brought into being to serve in this way. Death held no fears for him, and it could not, because he could not truly die. He could not truly die for, after all, he had never truly lived.
I lost my father yesterday, and the world lost an eccentric, hidden genius.
Daddy (I’m from the south–even my older brother still calls him “Daddy”) was a country boy. No–he wouldn’t agree to that. He was a mountain boy, raised in the hills of Eastern Tennessee, a home he loved and cherished even though the military sent him around the world, from Alaska to Vietnam, with hardly the chance to live there again. He lost his dad when he was young and joined the army so he could send money home for his younger brothers and sisters. Most people would call him a hillbilly, especially when they heard that accent (“I-talyen”), but my dad was one of the most learned men I’ve ever met. He read everything he could get his hands on. He could tell you the entire plot of a book just by reading the first and last chapters. He knew the histories of most countries around the world, and you didn’t want to get into a discussion about religion….
Every few weeks, I would call him and tell him my latest story ideas, and he would tell me his. This wasn’t anything new. At four years old, he had me telling him stories, and he was shoving new books into my hands. My brother and sisters and I were reading “Les Miserables” and “A Tale of Two Cities” by thirteen years old. Our dinner table was a trivia session. We all would toss out questions and see who could answer the fastest. His goal was not only that his children were moral people but educated ones who wouldn’t take anything at face value but question everything. Some would see this as a fault, but I see this as… well, Daddy.
I called him on his last birthday and told him I finally finished a novel and that it would be posted online in a few days. I’d waited and waited for years, hoping that one day it’d be a published book, but I went ahead… and I’m glad I did. I’m glad he got to see it. And after that, he began writing and writing. He’s always wanted to be a writer but never had the time or health to finish books. He told me he was writing down all of his plots and would mail them to me so I could edit them and post them online. Last week, I asked him if he’d sent them yet. He said he hadn’t but that he would send them to me anyway, so I could finish them. I now know what he meant.
I have a lot of my dad to give to my son. I can tell him how he gave up everything–his goals, his life–to provide for his brothers and sisters and for his children. I can teach him to love literature and to love knowledge. But I hope I can give more of him to the world by finishing those stories and finally making Daddy a published author.
It happens too often, and it’s getting old….
I wake up too early in the morning, usually with a three-year-old jumping on my bed yelling “I want toptops!” (pop tarts). Get up, get him breakfast, get him ready for school. Then I sit down to work–technical writing, theses-type stuff. By four, my brain is fried, and the rush begins–housework, dinner, playtime, baths, and the fight to get him back into bed (usually begging for more toptops). Then my bath, cleaning, etc., and finally I can sit down to write! So I do. And I stare at the notebook or computer. I write out a few forced paragraphs and then give up. Go to bed around 10:30 and lay there for half an hour to an hour and then it happens. My mind starts rolling through the upcoming scenes in my book, and the characters start the dialogue, and I tell myself to stop but I can’t. So I grab the nearest paper, writing utensil, electronic device, or whatever and try to scurry it out of my mind as soon as possible. Exhausted, I try to go back to sleep, but I’m usually wired for about half an hour. Six hours later, it’s time for toptops again.
Maybe I should give the right side of my brain more of a workout during the day so it’ll go to sleep on time….
For months now I’ve searched out blogs to review my books and I see how overwhelmed these reviewers are. Many have year-long waiting lists, and I have to wonder about the need for more reviewers, since hundreds of ebooks must be published daily. I wonder if I should jump on the bandwagon and take on some reviews, just to relieve that burden and help out my fellow writers. But what will that do to my writing schedule? I have a stack of paperback books, most Christmas presents, sitting by my bed unread. Having a toddler, a job, and a desire to write, I have to force in some reading a few times a week. And I also have the habit of buying more books when I still have many to read. Hmm. What of you writer/reviewers out there–how do you balance your passions and interests with work and other responsibilities?
After three weeks of no Internet and little computer access, I’m back, and I have a lot of catching up to do! Updating here, replying to emails, updating and adding to the sequel to “Achieving Apollo,” and now posting a short story prequel. I hope to have it uploaded to Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble by the end of the weekend, but we’ll see how that goes, and I’ll post here as soon as it’s ready for (free) downloads.
I think the break was good. It gave me a chance to rethink my sequel, so far titled “Titan Reborn.” I was about 8,000 words into it and going nowhere, but I’ve spent a lot of June and July on the road, and that leaves time for little else but watching traffic and plotting plots. I’ve managed to twist and turn the story, choosing which characters will do what and how and when and where and now I’m just ready to pen the damn thing–though I have added about 3,000 words in the past week. It has a long way to go and a lot of development and I’m excited to get the chance to do it, but I know that at the end of the month I have to pull another novel out of the bin for third-draft editing, so that’ll put it off again. I think my self-imposed October 2012 deadline may get pushed back to March 2013…
I thought I’d be so eager to sit down every day and work on this novel… and I suppose I am, but it’s crazy how a few days off from writing leads to weeks of struggling during writing sessions, and after over a month of writing I only have 9,000 words and no idea where the story is going. Then again, much like this post, my books aren’t planned-out plots. They’re “what ifs” that grow and grow, and, yes, they ramble (also like this post) but after careful editing I get a finished product that surprises even me.
The main challenge with this sequel, besides having various different outcomes in mind, is the new character perspective. It’s difficult to explain without revealing too much, but, as I’ve said before, “Achieving Apollo” was my baby, my hidden project I worked on for nearly a decade here and there. I knew the main character and saw the other characters from his point of view. Now those “others” are the central characters, and I need their views. Sounds easy enough, right? Not exactly. Perception of a character changes so much when you get in his/her head. You have to show his thoughts on things while remaining true to the speech, reactions, etc. in the original story. And then you have to write about the others from that person’s point of view… Whew…