One of the advantages of writing in first person point of view (POV) is that I don’t have to put myself into anyone’s head but that of my protagonist. I find it refreshing, yet at the same time, it can be limiting. If my character doesn’t know about it, it’s really hard to figure out how to get the information across. Sure, I could use visions–but hey, after doing this once or twice, it can get pretty darned old.
Can I write third person? Sure, I’ve done it in short stories. But for the Blood Lines books, I adore the immediacy of first person, the immediacy of knowing what’s in Keira’s head. For me, it opens up so many possibilities.
It also raises some intriguing challenges. The main plot of Blood Bargainchanged a great deal because I had to be in Keira’s brain, and not outside. Originally, the plot was centered around an Edwards Underground Aquifer water technologist who got lost in the cave (you know which one if you’ve read the book). There was this whole caving/rescue scene plus local area flooding which threatened the cave system, etc. etc. Only, I could never figure out why Keira would be at the scene in any of the above situations. So the story changed.
As I continued into writing books 3, 4 and 5, first person tended to strengthen my tale. It made everything more immediate, more intense. Keira, for all her 37 years, is in the eyes of her people, still an adolescent in many ways. They’re not expected to take up adulthood until after their Change–sometime in their 5th decade. For her, it’s like a 16 or 17 year old suddenly thrust into responsibility for a family and more. Coming at this development in even a close third person point of view might have worked, but for me, I needed the intimacy of Keira’s view; the unreliability of her as a narrator. Sometimes, things we (the audience) take for granted has only been Keira’s understanding of events…and for that matter, has allowed me to reveal secrets about the others within the overarching story.
What this restriction has done for me is made me think harder; make me more creative. I’ve fallen in love with my unreliable narrator and the limited knowledge she has. I’ve been able to hide important facts from Keira, pulling them out when they’ll make the most impact.
How about you? If you write, what POV is most comfortable for you? As a reader, what turns you off or on about differing points of view?
I wrote this sentence to a friend earlier tonight:
“If ANYONE had told me 5 years ago that I’d not only WATCH a show about Texas high school football, but fall in love with it, I’d have recommended their incarceration in the local psychiatric ward.”
Five something years ago, this wee show debuted called Friday Night Lights. I was adamant. No way was I going to watch a show about football. About football in Texas. About high school football in Texas. To me, that combination embodied everything that I hated about the state–or at least of my memories of sophomore and junior years in high school. The rivalries, the shunning of the different, the knowing that no matter who I was, I wasn’t one of them…one of the elite. The knowledge that I was never a part of this bizarre cult of machismo and its attendant insanity–the cheerleaders, the worship of the team, the sheer bias of everyone, from principal on down towards their glory boys.
When I was a junior, more than 80 girls got pregnant that year in my then-high school (note: not Lago Vista). We had just under 600 kids in the entire school. You can do the match. This was a rural farming community outside of Austin, where FFA was king and football was God. I remember attending my first game and being absolutely appalled that they PRAYED before the game–not just the team, but the ENTIRE stadium. I can’t even begin to go into how many harsh realities I discovered while attending that school.
I thought Friday Night Lights was going to embody the worst of these traits–glorifying the players, relegating the girls to nothing but arm candy and baby mamas. But no, after a couple of weeks of utter squee from people I trusted, including a dear friend of mine who also grew up in Texas and felt the way I did, I succumbed.
This ranks right up there in my top ten things I’m glad I did. Tonight, as I (thanks to a friend who recorded the season for me) watched the season 5/series finale, I sobbed. Big fat tears of joy/sadness/emotional investment and utter RIGHTNESS as the show unfolded its absolutely perfect ending. I never thought I’d fall in love with Coach Eric Taylor and his wife, Tammy. With Julie, their headstrong daughter; with Matt Saracen, and Tim Riggins, Tyra Collette, and hell, even Buddy Garrity, who embodied so many things I hated so much about football boosters.
The creators captured Texas. MY Texas. The real dirty, gritty, good/bad/ugly/gorgeousness of what real Texas is like in a small town, where the game is everything that matters, except not always.
So thank you to everyone who made this show happen. You helped me love Texas again; to regain my emotions and feelings enough so I could write about it and turn back to episodes and characters when I needed an extra boost of Texanity. This is writing. This is the kind of thing that inspired me.
Kudos to you all and thank you for a wonderful five seasons!!
(A special shout out to my friend, Chuck Cureau, who appeared several times in the final episodes as a reporter.)
I used to think that striving for perfection was a laudable goal. In fact, it was my primary goal. Perfection in eating habits, in reading material, in writing–in life overall. I wanted to be this paragon of accomplishment; a person who’s held up as an example of how to do it (whatever “it” might be).
Over the years, this quest (as one might expect) failed constantly and without prejudice. My reading wasn’t perfect–I liked to read tons of genre fiction and little “literary”. My TV watching: not perfect. Instead of high-brow PBS offerings (serious news debates, etc), I liked genre television (including some PBS shows such as Mystery! and Masterpiece Theatre). Another fail. My eating habits? As much as I like fresh fruit, veg, and many vegetarian options, I still love meat, poultry and fish. I couldn’t do the vegetarian thing all the time, as much as I tried. More fail. Exercise? Fuggedaboutit. I can’t run, nor climb stairs (bad knees, too much weight). I can’t bicycle outside (Stupidly allergic to sun & most pollen). Another fail. The writing? OMG, total fail. I haven’t become the overnight success that my buddy Charlaine Harris has*; nor Maggie Stiefvater nor am I the next Neil Gaiman. or Laurell K. Hamilton.
I know, I know. You’re probably scratching your collective heads right about now wondering why I should get lost in my perceived failure–and you’d be right. It is perceived–and very much a result of this inbuilt need for an amorphous and undefined “perfection” that seems to have been somehow ingrained in me at a very young age. it is what causes me to feel like I’ve accomplished nothing of consequence when in reality, I have accomplished a lot. I’ve got 4 books in print, one more on its way. I’ve contributed essays and short stories to some excellent anthologies. I eat an overall healthy & balanced diet, including the occasional food group of chocolate (aka balm for the soul). i ride my exercise bike 6 days a week for 7-10 miles each session.
It was a blog post on Get Rich Slowly that finally clued me in. The post, entitled Underachievement and the All or Nothing Mindset was what finally pulled the perfection blinders off my eyes.THIS was me. If I couldn’t do something to my own mind’s version of perfect, in my brain, that meant i had failed and couldn’t do it at all. I mean, I did know this intellectually, as a theory. But something in that blog post finally hit a button of “Oh, duh” in me.
So this year, 2011, as I continue with my theme of efficiency, I append the mantra of Abandoning Perfection and embracing success–no matter how small or insignificant it might seem to me at the time. Every little positive step counts. Every achievement. So I haven’t hit the New York Times Bestseller list. It could still happen. Even if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure as an author. It only means that I haven’t hit that list. I won’t get a Nobel Prize either–and I’ve always understood that.
I will abandon my need to tweak until it’s past done when I’m writing something. Letting go is a good thing. Trusting my writer’s instincts: also good. Yes, I will revise & edit, but I will let myself understand when enough is enough.
I will rejoice in my healthy living, even though I’m consistently losing weight. I know I eat right & I exercise well past recommended minimums, so no matter what the scale says, I’m damned healthy and feel great.
I will continue to wallow in my enjoyment of television & movies & reading what I like. I don’t have guilty pleasures in these things, they are pleasures, pure & simple.
If I don’t ever get another book contract, well, it is what it is.** I love writing, and will write what I love.
Most of all, I will quit worrying about what hasn’t happened, but will live more in the “now” — relishing what has. Basking in the glow of what is good.
Will this be tough? Oh yeah, absolutely. I’m 52 years old. It’s very hard to let go of an entire life’s worth of thought patterns, but recognizing it is the first step. The road to achieving new goals is never straight and smooth, but will have bumps and detours along the way. I plan to enjoy every last one of them…and if I find myself slipping back into old habits, I’ll keep going back to this post and to the one that started this and re-read them.
Wishing you all a great weekend!
* Charlaine’s “overnight success” happened after 15+ years of writing, 2 book series and pure refusal to give up. I met her when she was shopping out the Sookie series. No one wanted to buy the book. Now look at what’s happened!
** Yeah, I’m a bit worried about the contract thing, but my agent isn’t. So I am doing what I can to let him do his job and not fret.
I’ve been thinking about this on and off for many years. I’m sure you’ve all heard the old saying: “Any publicity is good publicity” (in relationship to Hollywood, IIRC). Is that true? How is this post-modern world of instant information and engaged public fora different from pre-Internet life? Or is it really different at all?
I mean, other than the medium (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. vs. chats at the office coffee station or while out with friends), what’s changed? I’m sure that in the hey days of ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, there was the equivalent of “Oh Em Gee, did you *see* that play, too? Wow, that Electra is really a beeyotch!” or even “How ’bout them gladiators, huh?”. The human need to engage, to discuss events is ingrained in our natures. Isn’t this how our stories & myths get passed around? How the guys over in Capua learn about how HAWT that new gladiator of Quintus Albus Fabius is and how he’s going to win the next Primus, or have you heard the Tale of the Three Sisters yet? Stories, sports or the acts of public figures have been the focus of discussion for all us “plebes” from the dawn of humanity.
The main difference now is that a random online surfer in rural Texas has just as much chance to see/hear about/discuss [INSERT EVENT HERE] as the person who was in the [front row seat/dugout/congressional session/etc]. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Inherently, the ability to discuss and engage online with people from all over the world is neither good nor bad in itself. What it does is allow individuals of many cultures to interact, and thus, perhaps begin to understand that we’re not so different after all. Sure, it also brings out the whackadoodles, but then again, they were already there–even in ancient civilizations. No doubt there was an ancient Roman equivalent of standing on one’s soapbox–whether in a more private setting than the town square or not. The primary difference now is that these whackadoodles can and do pontificate all over the place–and by pontificate, I mean everything from “expound one’s opinion” to “shit all over everyone’s squee”–especially when it’s so easy to remain anonymous (by virtue of the ease of creating a sock puppet persona).
I read a comment yesterday on a blog post that amused me to no end. In essence, JohnDoe (not his real name or persona) commented on a blog post about how people who spent a lot of time on various public fora commenting on TV shows, etc. was by its nature, weird. Uhm. No. To me, that is totally human nature to do so. The fact that Facebook, blogs, show/movie websites, etc. provide a platform for discussion just makes it easier to find and join in said discussion. It’s FAR from weird. Sometimes, controversy from these discussions can be quite beneficial.
Case in point: Yesterday, following the airing of this week’s episode of SouthLAnd–on of the best shows on TV these days. Evidently, the fact that officer John Cooper, played by Michael Cudlitz, is gay, had escaped some fans. (Though how that happened is another discussion). There were quite a few postings on the show’s Facebook page along the lines of OMG, John Cooper is gay. Ick. I will stop watching this show–well, and a lot more nasty posts, as well. I discovered this thanks to Cudlitz’s own post asking that: Make sure you visit the SouthLAnd page and post a comment. Keep it positive. Let people know how you feel about the show and Coopers sexuality. We are not looking for conflict we are just gonna’ make sure that the voice of hate in not louder that the voice of tolerance …………. Cause that’s how we roll bitches !!! #SouthLAnd Style …………….. Yup.
Suddenly, wall posts at the SouthLAnd Facebook page seemed to explode in numbers. I don’t have any knowledge of actual stats, but I could see for myself the increased traffic. Is this a good thing? In my opinion and based on this particular case alone? Yes–because in this case, it raises awareness of the show’s existence. This is a brilliantly written/acted series that narrowly escaped oblivion when NBC shitcanned them. That TNT grabbed onto the show and not only aired the remaining episodes in that first season, but renewed them for another season was a move lauded by its fans. SouthLAnd, like Oz, The Wire, and other hard-hitting dramas is deserving of much more attention than it was receiving. If it took a bunch of non-observant show viewers to pop up and bitch about John Cooper’s gayness, then okay, I can live with that. After all, what I’m seeing on the wall posts now is overwhelming support and wholesale squashing of the trolls.
Can controversy/publicity act in the opposite way? Absolutely. Just ask now former Congressman ChrisLee–who, like many of his equally flustered compatriots who’ve been (ahem) exposed, fail to understand that the Internet is public. Was this controversy a good thing?
Not for Chris Lee–but then again, was it right to call for his resignation (via public outcry) because the mad is a sad pathetic loser? Sure, his fucked up personal life isn’t my business. Thing is, him posting these photos to craigslist while being a public figure was pretty damned stupid. Do I hold him to a higher standard? Perhaps. My point is that as a person who has chosen to live in the public eye (elected officials, celebrities, actors, musicians, etc.) – if you know that your reputation and your job may be affected by acts of this nature, then dude, don’t do it. At least, don’t put things on the Internet.
IMHO, the Lee type of controversy is completely different than that of SouthLAnd’s–in the latter, the actions of an individual directly affected the individual. In the former, the writing for an entertainment event engendered strong, emotional public discussion. Apples & oranges.
In both cases, however, it still boils back down to human nature. We are creatures who love to engage, to discuss, to analyze. it’s just a whole lot more fun these days.
Side note: I write kickass queer characters similar to tough-guy John Cooper. I mean, could Keira’s brother Tucker be any more kickass? After all, he was/is Viking Berserker. That’s the part of the “OMG Cooper gay” that baffles me. Firstly, have they been watching the same show as I have? They’ve never hidden Cooper’s gayness. Secondly, what about “teh gay” makes someone unlikeable/unable to be a kickass, strong, tough cop? ::shrugs::
I don’t normally post about political topics here, but this isn’t political. This is reality and reality pretty much bites right now for people in the U.S. who are uninsured/underinsured. This affects every one of you living in the U.S.
READ BEFORE POSTING COMMENTS: I shall follow the example of my two writer colleagues below to state: You are welcome to post comments. To discuss, to hold rational discourse. My one basic rule (as Wil Wheaton succinctly stated in an unrelated blog post) Don’t be a dick. If you’re commenting to cause trouble or just doing the ranty all-caps handwave of OMGDOOM and won’t play nicely with others – I will shitcan your posts. This is MY personal blog and it’s my sandbox. If you can’t disagree rationally, then don’t bother to post.
(Others, please feel free to link back to this post; share on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I think this signal needs some serious boosting).
Jim & Laura Anne both have great reference links in their posts. I won’t duplicate those here.
A great YouTube video linked on Facebook by Supernatural actor Jim Beaver (Bobby):
Why is this so bloody hard? Why isn’t every single person in the United States eligible for healthcare, for free prescription drugs?
Why I know from whence I speak:
In my previous life in Corporatelandia, my job was employee benefits manager. This meant, I handled the healthcare plan(s), helped new staff fill out the forms; counseled staff when they couldn’t understand the coverages/choices in plans, etc. I did this for > 15 years as HR!Drone/Manager.
* I saw FIRSThand how a couple, expecting their 2nd child, had to face 100s of 1000s of dollars in ADDITIONAL medical expenses because the procedure that would SAVE their unborn child’s life was not covered.
* I constantly talked to countless employees about why they had to pay ridiculous amounts for certain drugs (on the special formulary); why their visit to Dr. X wasn’t covered because they didn’t get the proper paperwork/paperwork was lost/etc. from their primary care physician; why they or their dependent’s surgery wouldn’t be paid for because of pre-existing conditions. I held people’s hands as they cried. I did my best to help cut through the Gordian Knot of incomprehensible rules & paperwork, yet still, in the entire 15 years I did this job, I can’t say that any one day was a success, since most of the successes were shadowed by the (IMHO) failure of the corporate health care plan to work for everyone. (Yes, it worked GREAT if you were very healthy and only saw a doc once a year for your annual checkup!)
* I saw a family, both employees of Corporation, nearly lose EVERYthing when the husband, shortly after his wife gave birth to triplets (already a financial burden), nearly died in a horrific car accident on the way home from work. He was effectively out of a job for more than a year. She had to cover his medical copays; change to family coverage on her plan; and work fulltime hours at the job while somehow affording child care for triplet toddlers. They were both in their late 20s/early 30s. It nearly broke them. They managed because family & friends were able to rally & suppor them with time & donations of goods.
THIS above? Was all when I worked for two rather large corporations who offered what was then (and I can only speak to the practice then) some of the BEST employee sponsored health plans in the nation.
When I left Corporatelandia to work for a small family owned firm (as office manager). I had NO health insurance for nearly 3 years. They tried to get a small business plan, but the costs were far too high for me as a single person, making a whopping $17,000 a year before taxes. When I tried to get my own major medical plan, I was denied because I didn’t fit into the height/weight charts. Yes, I was fat, but you know what, I was young and damned healthy. I worked out, I RARELY had anything more wrong with me than the occasional cold/sinus problem. I was outside their stringent allowable parameters. [This said, this is NOT the post in which to discuss beliefs about obesity/fat/etc. – this is about healthcare for all.)
Eventually, I came to work for my current small company (incorporated, but a small business), where I’ve been now for 10 years. We have a good health plan, sometimes, even great (compared to many others). The company pays 1/2 the premium each month, I pay the other half (> $400/month for single coverage). That said, the often ridiculous hoops I have to jump through (and I’m not the only one) because someone somewhere forgot to key in an office suite number (true fact) makes me cringe. I’m still trying to straighten out a mess re: a $395 bill for some in-network lab work that should have been covered at 100% according to our plan document. I spent nearly an hour this past weekend, reading the plan document, the various Explanation of Benefits (EoB) letters (the original processed one where they sent the payment incorrectly — no suite number; the bill from the lab wanting their money; the follow up EoB letter from insurance saying that I needed to satisfy deductible (for a procedure that, according to my own reading, was not subject to deductible)–and I am far from a n00b at this. I KNOW the jargon & the lingo and yet, I can’t bloody well figure out why the claims department has done what they did.
I see this happening time and time again in many places. People afraid to go to the doctor because the paperwork is too confusing; because the co-pays/out of pocket costs are too much to bear.
No, as Jim put it, universal health care is not perfect – no system is. IMHO, it *can’t* be, because as a wiser person that any of us said: You can’t be all things to all people. Instead, a universal health plan, where anyone can go to a doctor, get competent care, prescription drugs and necessary surgery without losing their homes, their livelihoods, their humanity is NECESSARY. This is no longer a “would be nice” benefit. It needs to be a “Can’t Live Without” benefit for everyone.
How can opponents of this type of plan even sleep at night knowing that there are individuals and entire families out there, fellow human beings that have to choose between feeding their kids or buying a life-saving drug? Why is this even a point of discussion? What the politicos *should* be talking about is how best to implement a plan, not whether or not to do so.
It’s weird finishing a book & turning in revisions without another contract waiting in the wings. I feel a bit adrift. That said, I’ve been noodling through notes & such on quite a few ideas that I need to put together in some sort of coherent format to send to Mr. Agent.
I spent yesterday and today reading & catching up on TV. Finished watching Downton Abbey (thumbs up) and caught up on Fringe. Very glad the hellatus is over for Supernatural, though I’m a bit peeved that they didn’t [spoiler redacted] sooner. I mean, really? We had to wait until we’re halfway through the whole season?
I just finished reading Allison Pang’s debut book: A BRUSH OF DARKNESS. Enjoyed it muchly. It’s got a hot incubus, Fae, all sorts of nifty characters including Bonus!SnarkyUnicorn named Phineas (he’s about the size of a small dog and likes to hump legs). Really fun debut book from my own house, Pocket. Next up: Karen Mahoney’s debut: THE IRON WITCH. After that, will be Jaye Wells’ GREEN-EYED DEMON.
Been riding the exercise bike 6 days a week. Today, rode it twice – mostly b/c I woke up from very short nap coughing (thanks to sinus drainage) and chilled (thanks to no sun). Have crossed the halfway point to my initial goal of 400 miles by riding 20 miles today. Now at 208 miles ridden since 1/1/11.
Hoping our weather doesn’t get nasty (a possibility mid-week) and that you all are safe & cozy @ home!
When life hands you a ginormous bowl of rotten lemons (hey, I *like* lemons, so just being handed one isn’t cause for despair!) – sometimes you just have to bow to the inevitable and coast along for the ride until its over.
And boy, howdy, did we all get handed rotten lemons this past week! First there was the Thundersneet*, followed by rain, followed by an all too brief respite, followed by heavy wet snow. Followed by, you guessed it, power outage for more than 400,000 people in the DC metro area. Yup, I was one of those people.
It doesn’t take long after an unexpected power outage to make a person thankful and thoughtful.
* I really, really am an internet/tech junkie.
* I really, really need to buy matches.**
* I really, really HATE being cold.
* I really, really LOVE my iPad & iPhone & NookColor.***
* Down comforters are awesome.
* DeerPark water dispenser systems: also awesome.
* Wild Planet sustainably caught tinned tuna: very, very good out of the can.
* Beef jerky: also good (great source of lean protein)
* My UPS driver is AWESOME & delivered much needed cat litter in the middle of the outage.
All in all, a bummer of two full days (45 hours) without power in less than freezing temps. I couldn’t do what I’d intended to do which was (a) work for my office job on Thursday and (b) work Wednesday night & all day Friday on revisions for BLOOD SACRIFICE. That said, the 2 days away from the computer made me think some things through and I’ve worked that into my revisions.
Work continues apace with the book and it shall be turned back in to Mme. Editrix soonest. Then, I can work on the really awesome sparkly shiny idea that came to me early this morning…basically, where to take the series next. Not that I have a contract or anything, but before I can get that I need a proposal.
Hoping that you all keep warm (or cool if you’re in the lower half of the globe) and that Mother Nature is kinder to you than she’s been to our area this past 12 months or more.
* Thundersneet: aka wintry mix, aka sleet snowy rain
** Matches: those things you used to be able to pick up for free that come in real handy to say, light a candle or perhaps even the gas stove/oven when said stove/oven has electric starter and there’s no electricity.
*** I survived by reading, tweeting, emailing on the iPad & iPhone and being able to read real books on the NookColor was priceless.
Woke up sick yesterday – some sort of intestinal bug compounded with sinus issues. Did a lot of sleeping. I woke up about 3:30 this morning, my brain brimming with scenes and dialogue for a short story. My belly seems to have subsided a bit, but my head is still pounding with sinuses that are very unhappy. Normally, I would’ve just rolled over and gone back to sleep, but I knew that if I didn’t get up and write down my thoughts, I’d lose them forever.
So that’s what I’ve been doing in between bouts of sneezing & coughing: writing down the bare bones of what’s becoming a short story. So far, I like the premise. It’s something different, more noir than fantasy, though with definite paranormal elements.
Diana P. Francis talks about the “shinies” – all those story/plot/novel ideas that dangle themselves in front of you like so many diamond encrusted baubles, begging you to touch, feel, grab. Like her, I’ve got my own set of shinies–a list on my white board. Six story/plot/novel ideas that continue to whirl in my brain. This morning, it was Idea 1 that forced its way forward (I’ve numbered them on the board, though they are in no actual priority order. This is just how I jotted them down).
At some point, I need to stop whirling and grab on to one of them, writing up a formal proposal for my agent. Not for the short story, but for at least one of the other four that could become novels. The final listing is for a short piece, as well. As Di said, there’s all that shiny, all that glitter and temptation. I love them all. I want to do them all. Only right now, my brain is only capable of holding a jotting of notes, especially as it’s soon to be muddled with sinus meds.
HOW TO CHOOSE?
Maybe I should go back to bed and start to drift off…After all, that’s usually when the ideas hit. Only–the cable guy is coming as early as 8 a.m. to disconnect cable TV. Just my luck, I’ll fall back asleep just in time for him/her to arrive.
Maybe I’ll just take the sinus meds and hope for the best. ::g::