Capitol Reef National Park

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Work in Progress...

           For the past few months, I’ve been in between working on the next book in the Blackrock Canyon series (Intersections) and revising the first book (Dead Mouths). This hasn’t been easy for several reasons:
  1. The whole day / night job thing keeps me from having the time to just sit for hours and hours at a time to write without interruption. Instead, I do the work I have to do in order to create a class, grade classes, and tutor people, which means that I don’t always feel so creative when I’m done (instead, I get sucked into my TV addictions or reading mindless things like Bill James’ Historical Baseball Abstract).
  2. Being away from the writing that has happened before creates a worry about connections and diversions from the original facts with the new material. Here, I have had to go back and change / fix things (both with the story and grammar) while I’m re-immersing myself in a world that was completely real while it was being written. Last summer when I gave the majority of my time to the Blanding / Moab / Salt Lake City story, which dealt with the fictional Black Rock Canyon, I was so fruitful that even my dreams were about these “people.” I lived them 24/7 (not that I don’t brainstorm their fates – it’s just that I’ve done little more than outline where they are goin). That said, I was riding into the middle part of the last story on a train of death metal, which worked well for the spooky / horror world (as did many of the ghost stories I was reading and watching), but eventually, I hit a wall with one particular murder (and that music, which does have an energy though it also creates a sense of animosity, which isn’t always conducive to other things), and those 2 scenarios brought me out of the moment so I had to take time off before going in again. By stopping as I did (then and recently), I felt like I had created Pirandello’s characters and left them without an ending. In a related way, I also felt removed from both the metal that was driving and spawning the music that influenced that world. Instead, I am consumed by Neutral Milk Hotel’s last live tour material. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as what is being written at the start of this 2nd book is more like a mix of that surrealism and the character development / creation episodes of The Walking Dead, which is one of the best shows ever on television, by the way (if you needed convinced). However, coming at this story from a different frame of mind (and research) has changed the tone of the story to come somewhat, which demands that the things that have come before it get changed to reflect this new world.
  3. In 1 case, this has seen a character get a name change. That’s not a bad thing or a tough thing to fix since the good folks at Microsoft created the “replace” function. It also allows this character (Ivan Parker, Moab Chief of Police) to appear more like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is the man I envision to play him (though it would be a Rock that is made to look like he grew up in the Vietnam era). The Rock just isn’t a Pankowitz at all.
  4. In another case, this is creating a change in the nature / morality of other principal characters. Like M. Night Shyamalan (or Nathaniel Hawthorne), it means going in there and leaving clues to how these things were always there (but weren’t visible), which takes work. For as much as I’d like to get that original story out there, it feels like I have to be careful with the story and not rush it.
  5. There is also a need to create more mystery and options for some incidents than to just have a straight vision through to the bad guys. I’m more conscientious in creating those and thinking about what they could be than just creating a page-turner that says “enjoy the ride” or “suspend disebelief.”
  6. Rushing the story to an end would lead to some sections that could also be very lame in comparison to some of the suped-up ideas that I’ve been having, which would make sections of the story better than they would be otherwise. This is based in large part on reading a lot about the Colorado Plateau to make sure that my original facts are as they should be. There are so many neat events in history, and while I don’t want to steal them and put different names on things that already were, the nature of historical people in similar world should be understood before making them into fictional people that you, my reader, are supposed to buy into and believe in (root for / against).
  7. This leads to the difficult decisions of priorities with fixing grammar while I am rehashing the old material or going forward with the new, original ideas to come, which I could do without having to make sure there is fact consistency. Inevitably, spring break is set to dawn upon me on March 4th at 230pm. For that week or so, I will push ahead regardless to get some of the new / revised ideas out of my head and onto the paper, even if they are only in some brief skeletal form. I’m definitely looking forward to making things happen that have been germinating in my mind for some time.
  8. On that note, there are other stories that I’ve been thinking about… the wendigo story for my step nephew, for instance. A part of me would really like to knock the first chapter of that out, but I don’t know how caught up in the whole story I want to get, which is the danger that I feel it would present.
  9. As I alluded to earlier, in the new book, there are characters that are mentioned in passing, who seem to get a bigger take than the first book. Benson Villaneuva, the Jeff Mangum-esque singer, comes to mind. I can’t say that I always wanted a bigger part for him, but he does allow me to move characters from different places to the same place. That’s something good. I don’t want to force The Aeroplane over the Sea into the story, but the genesis of a new CD after his success with the story of Nadia could really lead into connections here.
  10. I’m going with a lot of real song names in here (as opposed to fake ones), and I really do want to incorporate the Polyphonic Spree lyrics in the final chapter, so that needs to be at a place before I ask permission to go forward with asking to be allowed to use them verbatim in my work.
  11. In the beginning, there was a feeling that Dave and Charlotte would represent the author and his wife’s persona more than they do. To some degree, they still do, but there is a place where they will quit doing that and instead end up where they were always meant to be. To another degree, Dave was always meant to be a Roy Scheider in Jaws character who was more in place because of the need to balance his faults with his need to be strong in other places. I’ve always liked that place for him, but I didn’t want to get caught up in him mirroring my world, so I’ve let him change and go to the places that he needs to be. This allows the same for Charlotte.
  12. In addition, instead of Dave’s unquestioned path to being the hero of the story, I have seen Tony Lucas as the main, driving force. Rather than divulge his destiny, which is now almost 3 full books away, I can say that he represents the man that all men want to be or be friends with. In some ways, he is our fathers. In other ways, he represents the male force in a rugged universe. When I think of him, I think of Dave Turin from Gold Rush Alaska. From the shaved head and facial hair to the hard-working, blue collar guy image, I can imagine Dozer Dave with a badge and a pistol providing wall-to-wall counseling to the people of Blanding who need some redirection for their bad choices (since there are no bad people).
  13. There’s always been a place for Suzie in this story, and as time has gone by, she’s grown from a passing side note in the original story, which was to be a trek into an underground cave where evil resided to… where the story is (which has also grown from 3-4 total books). In the first outline days, it was about 250 pages of planned activity. In reality, the first book of the series alone is 400 pages of something completely different than what it was planned to be. Now, I’ve wrestled with making the first book 2 books (thus doubling the total to 8 books), but I just can’t do that since the cut off points are where they are. In many ways, thinking of how to print a book that costly (small font?) does concern me, and it might change at some time, but until then… there’s that e-book thing to go with. But Suzie… Suzie… she represents a lot of people and things, and it’s necessary to learn about her and expand her. Here, the cliff hanger that I don’t want to reveal the beginning, let alone the ending of (either here or in the typing of what is to become of her), keeps me away from typing her out and retying some of the stuff at the end of the first book to transition and maintain the new direction well. As for who I see Suzie being portrayed by, I think a good actress for her would be Zhang Ziyi from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Of course, she makes me think of other people, too, but that’s a good image to see her as. However, for where she’ll go, I need a greater understanding of new age and psychic phenomena.
  14. I’ve also been thinking about getting students from graphic arts at the school I’m at to help design covers and e-books. As I get closer to the real, I can definitely see that happening.
  15. Finally, if you’ve read the early 4 chapters, I will have them changed to their new edited versions by 230 today. Feel free to check them out again or for the first time.
  16. I’m always up for constructive thoughts and ideas! Thanks for reading. Have a great 1.