Chasing Inspiration

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why the Fox Network Sucks

Once in a while a gifted storyteller is given the opportunity to produce his concepts on TV. Tim Minear is one of those storytellers. He had a concept for Drive and he pitched and pitched and finally Fox decided to take a chance. Only Fox didn't do the show justice and after only 4 episodes, Drive is now being pulled, with the last 2 episodes that have been filmed airing this summer some time. This is not new for the innovative Minear. Fox has not been a good dance partner for him. Stupid Fox!


This is the second time Fox has done this to me. And not surprisingly, both shows have Nathan Fillion and Tim Minear in common. Damn! The husband and I love this show so far. Apparently we and a few critics are the only ones.

Drive Yoinked from Fox Schedule (Updated)

I heart this show! I also heart Nathan Fillion, but he's not the central character so it's not just for him that I tune in. I love ensemble shows. I love shows that slowly reveal who the characters are and leave you wanting more. I don't mind far fetched ideas and things that step out of reality. Prison Break and Lost, anyone? What I don't like is Fox who continues to yank my favorite innovative shows. Give it a chance, people! GAH!

In my opinion, Fox is losing out. Seriously losing out. Just like they did by treating Firefly with the lack of care they did and yanking it within 3 months. There is now a cult-like following for Firefly (yes, I'm part of that cult. What can I say. Space Cowboy Dramedies are my thing. And who can not like Nathan "Mal" Fillion? I mean, really people!)

So, Nathan and Tim, if you're googling your names and come across my blog, know that you have one fan of Drive out there. I'll miss you and I hope that somewhere out there we find out if Alex Tully saves his wife and if Wendy Patrakis is able to not only finish the race but ditch her abusive mo-fo of a husband and save her baby. And if Rob and Ellie will survive their marriage after the deceit and if Rob will actually be court marshaled for deserting. I really, really want to know!

And if, by chance, you are able to take this show and move it to another network who will treat you like the genius you are, please let it not be a cable network or at least have the shows online. Some of us don't do cable. But as long as the episodes hit DVD with commentaries, I'll forgive you almost anything, Tim. Best of luck in the future! Oh, and stay away from Fox. They'll just continue to toy with your emotions. It's not healthy, Tim. Not healthy at all.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

How Much of It Is Me?

I'm reading a book by John Eldredge of Ransomed Hearts Ministries titled Waking The Dead. For those of you reading my blog who aren't spiritual or religious, this book may not be of interest, though I challenge you to pick it up if for no other reason but to see how others look at our world. For those of you who do have a faith in God in some form or another, this book may challenge some things you were taught in Sunday School. In a good way.

Why bring up a religious/spiritual book on a blog about writing? Because as I'm reading through this book and having my beliefs and thoughts challenged, I find myself wondering how much of the story I'm working on will be changed or challenged because I as a person am changed or challenged. How much of my story is a reflection of me and how much is a "just the story?" In the past I would have said that the tenets of the story itself wouldn't change, but perhaps how the characters respond to their situations may sway somewhat.

However, as I approached my story this afternoon, I found myself looking at some of the threads I intended to weave into my story and struggled with them. So I did what I usually do when I hit a block, I called my husband into the room and attempted to look at things for an intellectual, logical standpoint. My husband is good at this. Must be that engineering mind of his.

We discussed and we debated and in the end I threw my hands in the air and said with disgust, "It's all John Eldredge's fault!" That earned a puzzled look and a sneer from the boy. I knew I had to explain. In reading Waking The Dead I've been examining some things about my beliefs. Not a bad thing for a person to do. I think we should always be examining ourselves and our beliefs. It's an act of growth. However, some of those beliefs are beliefs that have been seeping into my story. Now that I'm challenging them, I'm torn between keeping things the same and static or rewriting the story to change with me. The later would allow me to follow my happy path but perhaps not bring a true representation of myself to the story. The former would throw the entire journey of the characters off and the book would become a whole new story. One I'm not feeling compelled to tell.

So you see my dilemma. How much of this story is me? And how much is just the story? How much should a work of fiction mirror the beliefs and values of the author?

I don't have an answer. But I did pull a coaching technique out of my bag of tricks and instead of pushing too far into this mess I seem to be creating for myself, I'm going to do some character interviews to learn more about Mallory & Jason and the rest of the cast. I have a feeling they need to tell me something that will pull my struggle together with their story.

Why oh why does writing have to be so hard? Oh, but you know I love it! *grin*

Friday, April 13, 2007

Are Writers Born or Made?

Tess Gerritsen, one of my favorite medical suspence authors, tackles the age old question on whether writes are born or made. In her blog she states her belief that our ability to tell a story is formed by the age of 12. And that there are some people who have that natural timing and sense of the dramatic that lends itself to good storytelling. And other people who just don't. She also mentions that, in her opinion, many people who aren't able to put a compelling tale on paper are often the same people who don't read.

In a sense, Tess is saying that it's part nurture and part nature. And that people continue to develop their ability to spin a good tale because they continue to expose themselves to books and stories, both written and those told in the oral tradition. They were read to as children or listened to audio books or some of the master storytellers of the radio age. They were enveloped in a world of words.

In an interview, urban fantasy wonder, Jim Butcher stated that he didn't know the first thing about telling a story when he decided to write and become a published author. The first book of his famed Dresden Files series was written for a writing class he was taking. He worked hard at building his skills and at getting his work out there. I don't know if he would argue that he is not a natural born storyteller, but I have a feeling he is one who has always enjoyed stories in some form or another.

There are a lot of authors out there who work hard to tell a story. They pour over every word, every turn of phrase and several drafts, and months, later they have something they give to their publisher. There are other authors who seem to have their stories beamed to them from somewhere in outer space. They see the story and they write it down seemingly effortlessly. I try to not envy those writers. I do, but I try not to.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I have some scenes and some characters who seem to jump out of my head and onto the page and tell me what to write. Then I have other scenes or characters where I sweat to get even a sentence on the page. I have always told stories. I am often found with a book in my hand. But the act of crafting a full length novel is arduous and sometimes even tortuous. So, why do I do it? Because I have this burning need churning in my gut to tell these stories. I'm not longer satisfied to be the only person who knows these characters and their worlds exist. My fingers itch to connect with a keyboard and the pictures and voices in my mind aren't satisfied to exist only in my imagination.

Am I a product of nurture vs. nature? I would say both. I think I have a natural knack for telling stories. But I need to continue to learn about the art and craft of it, not to mention the entire business end of things. And I need to continue to write. Even if I have talent, I won't get published if I can't get the story on the page and tell it in a compelling and marketable way.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Music To Write By

Every time I start a new book I begin to pull together songs that fit the characters, the setting and the tone of the book. I didn't do this initially with Tho I Walk. And I have suffered.

I wasn't clicking with the story on an emotional level for a long time. And when I don't connect emotionally, I write in fits and starts. This makes for choppy writing and a really lame writing schedule. I almost threw the story out in order to start another one that's starting to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Darn stories, they won't leave me alone for a minute! *grin*

This story has the potential to be a really good story if I keep with it, so I decided to spend some time with my draft, such as it is, and try to figure out what was holding me back. Other than my own fear that I'm really going to screw it up, that is.

As I got half way through my draft it dawned on me that I hadn't put together my soundtrack for this book. Not one song had made it's way into a playlist on my iPod for this book. Oh, at times I would hear a song and think about the characters. Once in the car with my husband I heard a song that summed up the themes of my book, but neither one of us had any idea who sang it so it's lost to me forever.

This week I started going through my iTunes to see what I had that resonated. I also started a section in my story notebook for potential songs or what types of emotions I'm looking for in songs. Here's my list so far:
  • How Can We See That Far -- by Amy Grant
  • Will You Be There (In the Morning) -- by Heart
  • Woman in Chains -- by Tears for Fears
  • My Sacrifice -- by Creed
  • Eye To Eye -- by Amy Grant
  • Easy Tonight -- by Five for Fighting
  • Borrowed Heaven -- by The Corrs
  • Come To Jesus -- by Mindy Smith
  • Unwell -- by Matchbox 20
  • Because of You -- by Kelly Clarkson
  • September When it Comes -- by Roseanne Cash and Johnny Cash
  • My Lover's Gone -- by Dido
  • Most of the Three Musketeers Soundtrack (minus the theme song)
  • A Little More -- by Jennifer Knapp
I'm still working on adding the right songs and some of these may disappear. But as I write I'm starting to feel the emotional impact of this story in my gut. Finally.

Do you make soundtracks for your life? What song or orchestral piece best describes this time in your life?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Push Me. Pull You.

I don't know how many of you have ever seen the original Dr. Doolittle movie. The 1967 version with Rex Harrison and Samantha Eggar. I used to watch it every time it played on TV. I'm too young to have seen it when it was first released in theaters.

Anyway, there's this animal, that looks like a two-headed llama called a pushmi-pullyu (pronounced "push-me-pull-you"). Strange, strange animal. It was actually an antelope in the books. When it tried to move, each "head" would move in the opposite direction. Which made it very difficult for the animal to move anywhere at all.

Today, I feel like my husband and I are a pushmi-pullyu. I'm a very global person. That's a kind way of saying I get distracted and have a driven need to look at things from a 100,000 miles up instead of down at the detail level. I also tend to multi-task. A lot. My husband is more logical. He does things in a logical and precise order and manner. He's not inflexible. He just doesn't understand that I forgot to charge my PDA, so I'm charging it right now, while I blog, so I can have a charged PDA to go shopping with. I made my grocery list (on my PDA) and I don't want to run out of battery power.

I also pulled together some books to mail out, some books to return to the library, went through a pile of papers for recycling, cleaned out the mystery containers from the fridge and emailed a few friends. So it's not like I'm sitting around just playing on the computer when I should be running errands.

But because I didn't do any of these tasks in a logical manner, he doesn't see what I've accomplished. He sees that on my to-do list I have groceries, library and post office. I said I was going to go run thede errands 20 minutes ago, but here I am on the computer and my errands aren't completed. All one can see is me blogging. But really, I'm waiting for my PDA to sync and charge up enough so I can use it while I'm out.

Pushmi-pullyu. We want to accomplish the same goals - get the chores and errands done before dinner tonight so we can relax. But we're going at it in different ways. And aggravating the heck out of each other in the process. I can choose to get upset, yell, cry, slam the door on my way out. Instead, I'm going to try calm and rational discussion. And to remember that we're trying to get to the same place. And that there's value in seeing how someone else gets to that goal. I'm not always right. Shocking, I know. *grin*

Okay, kids. It's time to push myself out the door. Have a great Easter weekend. I'll talk to y'all next week.