The need to stretch further

I never thought of myself as one who has writer’s block ; and yet after speaking to my writing consultant, Julie., on Saturday, I felt blocked.  I had a setting, with characters and a theme. I’ve decided to write  a modern ghost story–with the very haunting theme of violence against women… (Please forgive the pun…but for me the word “haunting” is appropriate  as the fact that women–being one myself–would put themselves into a position to be harmed even killed by a partner does haunt me)..

This made even real  someone I respect for her wisdom and kindness  could herself become  a potential victim of violence from a  soon to be ex-spouse.  I say “potential” because although the “signs” are there…nothing has happened, or may happen…She’s choosing to live her life believing that it won’t…and who am I say she’s wrong?

Yet, it’s the kind of  incident that throws me back on my fiction writing. Creating story a story around  what’s up for me gets me in touch with my deepest feelings;  and I have a sense of “Ah..Ah!” in a transforming way,  that touches my inner being.

And so I set up a story where the protagonist Suzanne, herself coming from an abusive relationship,  doesn’t know to do with her mentor Belle’s revelations.  It so happens that they are with a group in an old hotel; and  Suzanne quickly befriends  Meg, whom she takes to be a rather oddly dressed member of the Hotel staff.

Meg has her own  story  of violence against her–and seems to be unfolding parallel to Belle’s  situation…although when she’s actually killed,  it become obvious that she’s a ghost. What happens in Belle’s situation is more up in the air…

And typically I’m finding that to go where I need to go–I need to go further in writing the story…

The three male characters at present all represent different–yet similar–aspects of abuse. I need to create at least one sympathetic male character  in both  Meg’s and in Belle’s world… not only to be fair (I hate  it when women are stereotyped; I don’t want to do that to men.)….but also–more selfishly–because  that’s the only way the full story can be told…the only way that I can have the “Ah Ah” moment….that leads me to what’s most true for me: fiction writing feeds my soul in the way nothing else does…

Something that I am priveledged with other writers

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

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“The plans of mice and men…(and women writers too!)…”

As usual lately, I feel I need to begin with an apology, as I haven’t  been blogging in any consistent way over the past while.  Of course, I have my reasons: a major move, job change, and “all hell broke lose” on my job recently.  What happened was something that happens every once in awhile as a matter of course.  It made me think of the expression: “the plans of mice and men (and also women writers!)…” I can’t remember if there’s any more to the actual expression…and the gist of it–is that not only do plans sometimes not work out; but that–in the scheme of things–they may even be irrelevant…

Another intriguing theme for a novella…

I’m also feeling that way about my writing. I’ve given the latest draft of my second novella to a colleague of my writing consultant to read. Julie suggested that I needed a fresh pair of eyes to read it: even she felt that she knew it too well to be able to say what someone coming to it “cold” would make of it. The truth is that when I got that leave from work in the spring, I thought: at least, I’ll be able to finish the final draft for “Agincourt” (the working title). And that hasn’t happened–not in the succinct way I wanted. I hear myself chiding: Surprise! Surprise! I know intellectually that writing is re-writing and that it takes the time that’s needed. I’m also aware that my second novella is more complex than the first; and that the fantasy hero, Xavier, needs more “flushing out” than the lovable cowboy hero, Trace Gallant of my first one. Trace and his fantasy world comes from a simpler time and the novella reflects that.
So it’s not surprising that “Agincourt” isn’t coming together as easily as it did. And I agree with Julie: a fresh pair of eyes are needed–just to get a sense of how “Agincourt” comes across to someone who hasn’t spent all this time on it. I also agree with her–maybe it’s time to let go of “Agincourt” for awhile so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes, too.

And I resist! It’s not that I don’t have other story ideas–I’m always coming up with the thought: “that would make a good story!”
And have more story ideas that I’ll ever know what to do with. But–darn it!–I want to finish “Agincourt”. I want to get it “out there”– the second in a series of novellas, etc.

And I’m sure I will get it “out there.”

But a little patience, a willingness to let of my timeline, to let go of even working on it for awhile–seems like a good idea.

Maybe I just need start working on something else…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

The first day of the rest of my life…and where to start…

April 1…I’m now officially out of my “day job” with three months paid leave. The closest to severance pay the organization I work for would ever give; and certainly not something I ever  imagined would ever happen.

I feel adrift, though I dutifully have taken my aging car (“Goldie”; she appears in  “Passionate Hero” ) in for a major service, managing I guess to put one foot in front of another in a sensible matter. I’m also looking to this period as a gift for my writing. I certainly will have to look for another job (and any new job for me involves a  major move); and I also need to do something fun, something to remind me that there’s more to life than my present work dilemma… And this morning, I’m struggling with a writing dilemma: what I feel I “should” be writing and what I want to write. As those who follow my blog know,  in my writing, I go back and forth between a fantasy world and the “real” world of the protagonist, in order to explore themes that come up in my own life.  It’s a fun creative way for me to explore these themes; and I hope those who read the stories will enjoy  them, and be able to relate what’s going on.

My writing  dilemma today is that I believe I “should” continue on the story in sequence, and the themes that keep coming up are definitely out of sequence. Not that I haven’t done writing that’s out of sequence.  I have a great writing consultant, Julie Rodriguez, who encourages me to write whatever comes. I just completed a scene where the protagonist Connie realizes that she’s like her fantasy hero, Xavier, in her “inability” to compromise; except that she’s more indirect, something that has consequences she doesn’t necessarily want so see This scene would come near the end of the story, as it  happens after Xavier has ventured into Connie’s world; and is part of  the story’s resolution.  It certainly was  important for me to write it when it comes to me. And I realize where I am at –in the actual story–is nowhere near that: Connie is still in Xavier’s world, as a way of trying to escape from the stress of her job.

Now it’s true that the “theme” I’m struggling with today–grief about leaving a situation that clearly wasn’t working, almost preferring that over the uncertainty of not knowing, not having something to cling to–does have something to do with the next section of the novella.  After all, Connie is trying to escape from her job through the fantasy; she’s not prepared to admit: maybe it’s not working, and  she needs  to take steps to get out of here.  And  her fantasy world is also becoming rather complicated.

Xavier is about to champion her cause–a claim to some ancestral lands–which  she’s not even sure she’s comfortable with, seeing the land as really belonging to the people who’ve lived on it for generations. And then there’s the other people in the situation: beginning with the aging  King Leopold, who sees himself as gracious and fair; but who leaves the details of granting Connie’s request, to his son, Prince Rainier.  Rainier wants to add Connie’s land to his, in order to keep up his family position,  and to provide for the upkeep of the court, etc.  The other character in the scene is Princess Madelyn, once the beloved of Xavier who later  disappointed him by marrying for money and prestige, as her family desired.  More diplomatic than Rainier, she’s concerned about things appearing just and fair; but in the end, what needs to be done–in order  for herself and her family to flourish–is what she’ll do. She also has a fondness for Xavier and enjoys teasing him about “what could have been.”  And to  Connie’s frustration, Xavier buys into it.       

Certainly, a lot of what’s going on here does fall into the category of : “maintaining what we have”, regardless of what it may cost others, or, in the end, ourselves. The alternative isn’t even considered…which is something I can really relate to at this point in my life..

Just some thoughts

 

M.C. Piper

Getting back on track…and why am I doing this anyway?

I’m aware that I want to get back on track with my writing. For me that means getting on with my next novella in the Kooteani Brown series. In some ways, I’ve never left. I have an excellent writing consultation, Julie Rodriguez, and I’ve been careful to keep up our regular consultations–because on principle, I wasn’t prepared to give up my writing, regardless of what was going on around me. And, not surprisingly, my heart just wasn’t in it in the same way as it was before. And now I’m prepared to get back into it.
And the issue that comes up for me around all of this is: why am I doing this? Why is it so important for me to continue?…Maybe it’s as simple as: this is a creative way for me to be with what is happening–that not only gives me the distance that I need, but also gives me the opportunity to create a story with fun characters who– in their own way–grapple with some of the issues that I find in my own life.
In the most recent novella the protagonist,Connie, has to deal with “niceness” both within herself (that causes her to dishonest with Xavier, her would-be hero) and within the work situation (where the people were “too nice” to tell her what was really going on with them). In the framework I’ve chosen (with the protagonist, Connie able to escape to the fantasy world of her hero, Xavier; and Xavier able to cross back into hers), I’m able to be with the whole “niceness” things–even learn what I need to learn about it–and yet do so in a creative fun way, in my writing.

And that’s why it’s important for me to continue to write.

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

fun idea…that’s going nowhere…

One of my frustrations as a writer is  that I constantly come up with fun ideas–that I know will never go anywhere…I’ve sent enough unsolicited material to producers, etc. over the years to know that it doesn’t work: I’ve never had one “bite”. And while on occasion I still do send it– thinking what do I have to lose?–there are other things(like the idea below)that  I just  have to accept–fun as it is–this is as far as it will go…No-body’s waiting in the wings to develop it …or even look at it–if I do the developing..

MY FUN IDEA…THAT’S GOING NOWHERE…

It’s a comedy…about the descendants of a well known TV western family….

Pseudo Reality Show   Bev Cartwright  “The Nevada Pines”

A direct descendant of “the” Cartwrights, Bev Cartwright 50 lives on small ranch, a pie wedge of land that overlooks Lake Tahoe.

A conservationist, who’s passionate about her land, she runs some horses and –other people off it– on a regular basis. Struggling to make ends meet (if Bev is stay on her land at  the Lake Tahoe shoreline, she needs to direct the horse straight ahead  into the water—if it moves  to one way or another, she’s trespassing.), she finally agrees to be on TV reality show with her family. The only other alternative would be to sell the ranch. That would bring in top dollar from investors and she’s not prepared to do that.

She tells the interviewer about  the ranch :

“A Cartwright’s been on this land well nigh over 150 years.’Course it was hard the first generation or so—the sons couldn’t marry, their perspective wives always dying off. It was known as the “Cartwright curse”.  Finally Great Great Great Grandma Cartwright arrived. She married the youngest when he was 50, managed to avoid all the pitfalls and mysterious illnesses; and actually buried her husband before she gave birth to a daughter—unheard of in the family before that time.  After that the family flourished.”

“Though,” she adds, “the one stipulation for  Cartwright women is that they  can only marry men with the name Cartwright. That’s why I never married my children’s fathers.They weren’t Cartwrights. But it’s just as well.  I would have ended up divorced three times. As it is, I can honestly say–I’ve never been married…And now there’s a new ” Cartwright curse”–none of my children will leave home!

The Cartwright “children” are:
Adrian, 30, is a still working on a PhD at a local College—having changed major three times. His father is Joe Biggar, a Native American who went back home to start a Casino.
Adrian is philosophical, studious, with a flair for technology—sure that what he’s onto—is the thing that’s going to get him launched into a career, or whatever. Except that he can never settle on anything. He’s also gay.

Henry, 27,  is the  second son, result of an affair between Bev and an erring Lutheran minister from Wisconsin, Bjorg  Jensen. After a “downfall” in the Nevada night life scene, the minister “reforms”  and flees  back to his former life.
Henry is big, lovable,  and  sucker for beautiful girls, whom he believes at all costs.This has gotten him into all sorts of trouble, and landed him in various 12 step groups. He also works as a Bouncer—though he’s constantly getting fired—as he’s a sucker for anyone’s hard luck story.

Josie, 24, is the youngest. Her father is African American jazz musician,Lee Dejour who came to Vegas to work.  Jessica is impulsive,  romantic, and  an excellent horsewoman. She often gets into trouble, with Adrian and Henry coming to the rescue. She’s also pulled by her love of music—she’s a talented singer—can’t decide between the ranch, and the life of a musician in New Orleans.

Of course all three fathers  turn up from time to time.

And  finally:

Victor Lam—a Chinese business man comes to make money in Nevada. He invests in  in Liz’s ranch—with the hope she’ll fail and he will get  50% of the profit from the land sale. A nice chunk of change.
But he ends up—supporting Bev in all her projects—against his better judgment…

The nice thing about blog is that–at least–I can put my idea out here…

Any other ideas of what I could do with it?

Thanks for reading

M.C Piper

Write about it / it may be just what you need

Recently I’ve finished an article for my writing consultant’s website–she’s doing a final edit. 

The gist of the article can be summed up:

“And I’ve  learned something very important about writing.  If an obstacle—such as job loss- appears don’t despair. Write about it,  in whatever way you can, as I did.  A good chance to be creative and it  could turn out to be exactly what you need to go forward”

I talk in the article about how I actually ended up writing “WANTED: PASSIONATE HERO, Experience Preferred”  that way–a job loss  meant  I had to let go of my more “serious writing” and write a humorous novella, based on  desire to escape to the fancy world of my childhood cowboy hero, so readily available on Youtube. 

And now–I find the need to continue to follow that advice.

I’m starting a second novella in what’s turned  to be (hopefully) a series.

I’m using the employment milieu of “Passionate Hero”. Marcy Wilkins, the protagonist,  works for the “Kootenai Brown Personal Advertising Agency” in which she helps the clients be “all they can be, and let the world know” . The only problem–she’s not being all she can be in her life; and thus, a Trickster character –Adolphus Cornelius Cartwright( ACC)– appears and  (through a computer worm)  allows her to enter her fantasy world, and then have the cowboy hero (with two other characters) come into hers. Through the interaction between the two worlds, she learns what she needs to know, along the way–encountering some pretty interesting characters,too.

I like the idea that ACC’s mission is to help other employees  who are  also struggling with “being all they can be” , and he does it in a similar way.

And so in the next novella–the protagonist is Connie Butt, and her preferred fantasy world involves a 18th century city where her hero (whose name I haven’t decided yet) is a Byronic hero–moody, broody, yet honorable, chivalrous; values integrity and independence above all else, whose larger–than–life world she craves to be part of.  I’ve been reading biographies about Charlotte Bronte, and her world; re-watching 1990 French movie, Cyrano De Bergerac with Gerard Depardieu; and am looking at reading some of Lord Byron’s  poetry.  Connie is attracted to this world because while she’s good at helping her clients “be all they can be, and let the world know”, but when it comes to her own life–and her passionate desire to put herself and her writing forward–she just can’t do it.

And now–this  morning– I have time to write, and I found myself obsessing about work. I found myself thinking I can’t write; and then I remembered my dictate/discovery: when you encounter an obstacle, write about it; it may just be what ( I )need…

And sure enough it is. What’s coming up for me–at work–are all these  possibilities/suggestions, maybe even expectations that are just overwhelming. And I can write about it  creatively through Connie’s story.

She, too, is  helping people be all they can be (that’s not exactly how I’d describe my “day” job; and there’s a strong element of giving support to others involved in it); and also struggling with not giving herself up in the process.  It’s interesting–being a Victorian woman,  Charlotte  Bronte was schooled in…”Bend inclination to duty…stifle (your) instincts…and do what others expect of (you)…”

Connie also find within herself a stifling sense of duty that she now applies to her job. Now, one of the things I especially like about  the  modern Charlotte Bronte biography is that the writer does point out Charlotte’s part in what’s going on; and of course, that’s true for Connie, too. Maybe she simply needs to be definite about who she is, and what she can do and cannot do in the work situation; or maybe she needs to leave Kootenai Brown altogether.

Now how a Byronic hero might help her here–is a good question. Would a moody brooding mate, involved with high ideals, constantly fighting with those who would bring him down, would he be able to say: “How was your day, dear?”…and support her in doing what she needs to do?

More will be revealed

Thanks for reading

M.C. Piper