Chasing Inspiration

Monday, August 22, 2011

Magnum P.I. and Me

I periodically suffer from migraines and the wee dark hours of the morning one decided to wrap its cold dark arms around my head and squeeze. So I decided to fight back and sleep in.

Once I came out of my drug and pain induced haze, I decided some form of sustenance was required, stumbled to the kitchen to contemplate my nutrients options. Cereal, that always works for the after migraine munchies. As I looked in the fridge for milk, a rogue thought pops into my head, "Hmmm, I wonder what's on TV?"

Sunday is not known for great programming so I turned to a station that faithfully airs old syndicated TV shows. Imagine my surprise when Tom Selleck winked at me from across the screen. I had a moment of girlish giggles and then I settled in with cereal in hand to what what I assumed would be a comforting blast from my past.

Imagine my shock and horror as I realized that:

a) It's never clear why this magnanimous and anonymous Robin  allows Magnum to freeload off his estate. And where do I find such a fictional person to allow me to live the life of a kept woman? No, really, someone tell me please.

b) Magnum is hounded by flashbacks to Vietnam and yet this definite sign of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is never discussed in a healthy manner. Nor does it seem to impair Magnum from making a living as a P.I. And why is he named after a firearm anyway?

c) Hawaii is apparently overrun by the criminal element but still a damned fine place to live.

d) Tom Selleck in painted on jeans or short shorts is not as sexy as I remember him being.

I couldn't reconcile the poor writing and plot holes of the episode unfolding before me with the eerie appeal of Tom Selleck, who was the main reason I watched Magnum P.I faithfully in the 80s. It was almost hypnotizing the way it sucked me despite the trite dialogue and slow pacing. If you took out the "dramatic pauses" and one or two of the twenty thousand red herrings you could get the show down to a nice action packed half hour.

As my migraine haze burned off I starting thinking about one of my unpublished stories and wondered what readers reactions would be to some of the scenes I included for artistic indulgence. Would they be as sympathetic to the plight of Jordan and Quinn as I? Or would they want to throw the book against a wall and leave it there in a heap? Was I really being witty and charming in my writing or did it all boil down to trite dialogue and lame plotting?

Just as I felt the migraine creeping back in I heard a character from a previous book whisper in my ear, something she did quite often when I was writing her book. Yes, I know its strange, stranger still to admit I hear voices in my head. I'm an author damn it! I'm supposed to hear things.  Jordan insisted on telling me that I can't please everyone. And that this is the story of my now, not my future.

Apt words. Jordan is so smart.

Seriously, that little voice is right. We grow and we mature, I hope. As we do, what we find to be inspiring or even entertaining changes. In my teens Magnum was sexy and charming in a little boy lost sort of way. Today he could tip the scales toward irritating and whiny in a Peter Pan complex kinda way. What I look for in literature and genre fiction has changed. I look for deeper relationship connections and less preaching. I look for subtle themes as I no longer require a baseball bat to the head to get the importance of some stories. I like diversity in plot and I like to see characters grow as a result of their journey.

And some day I will grow beyond my current skills as a storyteller and look back on what I have written and wonder what was so amazing about it. That's growth, and honesty. And we need both to be inspired.

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