Next time

Stay true to your own voice, and don’t worry about needing to be liked or what anybody else thinks. Keep your eyes on your own paper Laura Dern

I decided quite a long time ago that when it came to creatively expressing myself, regardless of what medium it would be in, I had to do it for me. To do it for anybody else other than yourself is an invitation to disaster and disappointment. I’ve discussed this before.

And if you think I’m going to go into a fucking rant, you’re damn right I’m going to go into a rant. You can stop reading right now or watch the train wreck I’m about to create.

Now, with my first draft for the second novel slowly moving closer towards completion, I will have to deal with the concept of talking about it. I don’t have a problem with talking about it once the book becomes a tangible physical object. I’ll engage in a discourse with anyone who has read the book and is willing to have a thoughtful discussion about it. Key word being thoughtful. It doesn’t need any further clarification than that.

But what I was/wasn’t anticipating was reading an excerpt of what I had written so far to members of the writing group I belong to. This I should clarify. While I have no problem reading an excerpt, what I do have a problem with is people making assumptions about my characters without understanding or knowing what led up to the scene I was reading. I think there’s a term for this — psychoanalysis. And I’m referring to the making assumptions part.

Here. Let me try to explain without giving anything away about the storyline.

I read an excerpt/part of a scene that will be somewhere in the middle of the novel once it’s completed, to the group. After reading as far as I wanted to go, I got some reaction to it. It was all fine and dandy until one of them started psychoanalyzing one of my characters. I cannot tell you what scene I read because that would be considered a spoiler. I suppose you could consider the scene a bit incendiary. The problem with psychoanalyzing my character based on that one scene alone is that you don’t know everything that occurred before it. Not all the pieces are there.

And since I’m terrible at summarizing what the fuck is going on because I really don’t want to give everything away, this person came up with her own ideas about why this character behaved this way.

It really fucking frosts my lizard to hear her pull uninformed nonsense out of the air when she clearly doesn’t have all the details. Why not just listen to the excerpt and accept it for what it is — a moment in my character’s life and listen to how I strung a bunch of words together to make for (what I hope is) a compelling scene.

I did not ask anyone to psychoanalyze my characters. But if you’re going to do that, then please wait for the book to be published so you can read it before you tell expound your theories onto me.

Did I want to punch her? No, not really. But I did want to lose my shit. Instead, I tried to be nice about her uninformed and unwanted psychoanalysis of my character (one of my boys) and told her I would have to explain what happened before this particular scene.

Unfortunately, I did have to offer up one spoiler because I felt forced to protect my boy. She even misconstrued the end result from that. Yeah, I was this close to losing my shit.

So, the group now knows one of the major plot points in the story. It irritates me to reveal one of the cards I’m holding in my hand. But I do take solace in the fact that while they know one of my plot points, they don’t know the exact details.

I also know it is an issue that none of them are willing to tackle in fiction writing. The general reaction to this particular plot point was met with silence. Not because they thought it was a horrible idea. I think it was the nature of the subject. And probably because I am more than willing to go there. Give me a tough subject that interests me and I will go there. Guns blazing.

Anyway, what I’ve learning from this and the ranting is the next time I have to read something from my work and someone makes an incorrect psychoanalytical assumption about my characters, I will be informing them that I cannot answer the question because their remarks and observations are off-base and therefore irrelevant to the discussion about the story. Because once they read the story in its entirety, they will realize they had it wrong in the first place and I will have saved them from an answer that ultimately has no value to the discussion.

Next time, I will not hesitate to shut down the conversation and throw in a bit of dragon fire to boot.

Next time, I won’t be so nice.

More than borderline obsessed

You must be passionate, you must dedicate yourself, and you must be relentless in the pursuit of your goals. If you do, you will be successful — Steve Garvey

In recent weeks, I’ve become more and more focused — obsessed seems to be more appropriate — with finishing the first draft of my second book. I consider this my version of smelling blood and going in for the kill.

Right now, the obsession is, more precisely, about getting to an exact point in the story before other commitments rudely take me away from working with my boys and the other characters.

I wake up thinking about my boys. I go to sleep thinking about my boys. I couldn’t push them out of my mind if I tried. It’s not a case of me purposefully keeping them at the forefront of my thoughts. They were already there. In fact, they’ve made camp.

No, wait a second.

Actually, there is this crazy ass looking building they’ve built which is a definite sign that they have no intentions of leaving me alone. Not that I would ever want them to. Oh yeah, they’re also ready to fight anyone who gets in the way of what we’re doing together. Hell, I’ll even supply them with the weapons they need for the battles. Don’t ever say I never take care of my boys. In turn, they have a list of folks who are allowed to interact with me as things start to get a little intense. Believe you me, it’s going to get intense with my boys. I so badly need to continue playing and working with them even though life will get in the way.

Life can be such a douchebag. Or a sadistic bastard.

So yeah, this is a very healthy relationship I have with my boys. Some folks probably think I should be embarrassed by how I regard them. Well, here’s what I think about that thought: go fuck yourselves. If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, you have no reason to talk to me. It’s simple as that.

As I try to barrel through writing the first draft and pick up a little speed along the way, someone comes by with a bucket of ice water and figuratively dumps it on my head to remind me I have prior commitments to attend to.

Yeah, one of these days I’m just gonna lose my shit and go ballistic on the unfortunate bastard standing closest to me. And that sound you’re hearing is the sound of my boys grinding their teeth. Yeah, they don’t like sharing me. To be honest, I’m the same way with them. That list of folks who are allowed to interact with me, are the same folks who are allowed to meet my boys. Funny how that worked out.

Well, enough bitching. My boys are waiting for me.

Feels like home

When someone shows their appreciation for you, it’s always heart-warming.

This past weekend amplified that sentiment. The sentiment came from two people, both whom I’ve know for less than a year. Both, with whom I’ve become fast friends. So natural. So frighteningly easy. The only other people with whom I became fast friends and long-time confidantes are my best friend, Ali and another woman, who I affectionately refer to my sister. My ‘sister’ shall remain nameless unless she reads this blog and decides it’s fine to refer to her by her name.

The first person who showered me with appreciation and big love was local birth photographer, Elliana Gilbert. I interviewed her for the Winnipeg Free Press and it appeared in the Saturday print edition and online over the weekend. She was floored by the coverage we gave her and the birthing community noticed what the paper had done in shining a light on her, and therefore the subject of birthing. She is a talented photographer with a huge heart and a strong sense of what is right and what is worth fighting for. You gotta admire that in a person. It was this great big dive into the mutual admiration society.

I’m not one for receiving or accepting compliments in a gracious manner because I’m never quite sure that what I’ve done garners that kind of attention. But, I am one to shower compliments to someone who thoroughly deserves it. I don’t throw compliments around like confetti. I can be a pretty discerning confetti thrower. Yeah, I was throwing confetti at her. Lots of confetti.

She throws it back pretty good, too, I gotta admit. I think I’ve managed to brush most of it out of my hair.

The second person to show their appreciation to me was my technical advisor for the current novel I’m working on. I’m still refusing to name him. And it’s probably going to stay that way. He read the interview I did with Elliana and sent me an email telling me how much he enjoyed reading it. And that led him to confessing how much he loves working with me, tossing out additional compliments I wasn’t expecting and telling me how honoured he was that I would seek him out for his help with some of the finer details in the novel.

Damned fool made me blush. It’s not easy to do to me. But he did it.

To be honest, I’m the one who is honoured that he would be willing to answer the questions I have. I’m honoured that he would share some of his time with me and impart some of his knowledge onto me and into my characters and my storytelling. It’s gracious and generous.

As a result, he is offering me more opportunities to learn from him and expand my knowledge base in his area of expertise. It is beyond cool and awesome. I cannot be more grateful to have this person in my life.

Does it sound kinda like a mutual admiration society thing going on here? Yeah, I thought so. Experiencing this kind of love from other creative folks is weird, but in a good way. Love from non-creatives is just different. It’s something I don’t care to seek out because it doesn’t feel easy or right. It’s sort of intuitive… the choice to be comfortable or not.

Being in the company of other creative minds, who also happen to share similar values and sensibilities, feels like home. It feels safe. It’s safe to be unguarded, honest and raw. It’s safe to be inspired and to grow from those associations and friendships. That’s nourishing for the soul. Well, for my soul, it is. Can’t speak for anyone else.

I have so much love and gratitude for the people who light the fire in me, who keep that fire burning and who inspire me to ask more of myself with whatever I endeavour to take on.

I couldn’t possibly ask for anything more than that.