Thursday, July 29, 2010

Post 7: Resurfaced

Been a bit lax on my writing hours since Jill’s Bang the Keys seminar as far as actual core writing of My Story, but have spent a bunch of time getting down some necessary plot and story elements. One of the things I most enjoyed about Jill’s class, aside from spending time around smart talented writers eager to learn, and soaking up Jill’s obvious passion for writing and teaching, were the timed writing exercises she directed. The two that impacted me the most, were a guided meditation where we visualized our performance of our just set Six Month goal, and where we structured the plot of our story to match that of an existing published story.

In the first case, she led us on a mindfulness meditation where we focused on our breath to find a nice calm spot. I found a nice calm spot. Then she suggested the prompt of visualizing the pages of a day calendar flying off in old fashioned movie style, including our major, and micro, goals in the sequence of pages. The image that immediately came to me was of printed pages of Resonant Frequency stacking up in a loose leaf binder as the calendar pages flew off. Since then I’ve added the image of the calendar pages flying off and becoming the pages of RF in the note book. True, this is only visualization, and it’s much easier to see the pages, than write the pages, but the instantaneous appearance of the image, was empowering. My relaxed meditative self, has confidence in me.

For the second exercise, I chose Fight Club, which in many ways is very close to the plot/theme of RF. I do intend to redo the exercise with a significantly different structured story, but this one had it’s own utility. As I rearranged the structure to match the tension filled placing the end first of Fight Club (Jack/Tyler with a gun shoved in his mouth), and then work through my the story end first and working back to finish what was presented first. A couple things popped out: a) It would be a very derivative and expected way to tell the story, and not for me b) it got me thinking about what I could do to provide a better hook in the opening of the first chapter. The thought faded and didn’t resurface until I found myself spilling out a “prelude’ to the first chapter with an amazing hook that also adds a bit of back-story. It’s simply a rather dramatic episode that occurs, a year to the day, before we meet Carl, in his unique, but somewhat subdued form in Chapter 1.

Another, realization came from reading How to Write a Damn Good Novel Using the Power of Myth (and no it's not THAT James Frey.) Along with a couple needed reminders on plot structure, it also dawned on me that I don’t need to create a Hero’s Journey for Carl, he will create it inside his delusional bubble, which is a hell of a lot easier than me arranging reality into the Hero’s journey.

Actually got some of the "prelude" written at one of the few picnic table by The Falls below the observation platform where good ole Alexander Hamilton keeps watch. The statue,  always makes me both proud of the history of The Falls and Paterson, and sad that more people don't take advantage of this special and unique destination. Hamilton, looks quite lonely frozen there up, literally, on a pedestal, turning green and, if I were him, dreaming of his vision of building a city around the power of falling water.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Post 6: Characters Raising their Hands like Horshack

 New ideas for characters bounce around inside me like bullets in a washing machine. Little harmless pops here and there and not a problem if  you're on the outside of the walls of the machine. I'm not always on the outside, and that is when the trouble starts, but that is another story ... actually that is really the story of Carl's World in RF. Which, is definitely a story, even the parts that are true - especially the parts that are true. I'm reminded of a Bukowski poem where he playfully discusses a metaphor for how his poems come to him, in a similar fashion. Quick Buk poem interlude:


poems like gunslingers
sit around and
shoot holes in my windows
chew on my toilet paper
read the race results
take the phone off the

poems like gunslingers
ask me
what the hell my game is,
would I like to
shoot it out?

take it easy, I say,
the race is not to
the swift.

the poem sitting at the south end of the couch
balls off for that

take it easy, padner, I
have plans for

plans, huh? what

The New Yorker,

he puts his iron

the poem sitting in the
chair near the door
looks at me:
you know, fat boy, you
been pretty lazy

fuck off
I say
who's running this

we're running this
say all the
drawing iron:
with it!

here you

this poem
was the one
who was sitting
on top of the
flipping beercaps.

and now
I've got him
out of the way

and all the others
are sitting around pointing
their weapons at me and

I'm next, I'm next, I'm

I suppose that when
I die
the leftovers
will jump some other
son of a bitch.

Ok, a little long for an interlude, but this is how I've been feeling about my characters now that I'm on a roll, or at least, now that they are rolling about in my head. Regardless, this is one of Buk's whimsical lighthearted poems that I love so much, and I bet not many are aware of, especially those who pigeon hole him as nothing more than an angry drunk.

My big break through character-wise yesterday was dumping a recovering drug habit for Karen as well as  her relationship with a crazy meathead jealous anger issues still addict ex-boyfriend who was to step up as a major villain. As much as this would have added some immediate danger, an old friend of mine, a Muse even (whether she likes it or not) suggested this wasn't a good fit, and that I try just letting Karen be Karen without wedging in a storyline just because I'm aware of such a storyline. She was right on the mark, and it's really what I wanted to do anyway, I just had to explore it as an option.

But where now do we get a antagonist for Carl who also is close to Karen in some way? Easy, since Karen is Wiccan, she has Wiccan Priest or is it a Warlock? (Still some research to do) who, along with a Wiccan Priestess are managers at the Book Store where Karen works as a Barista. Of course, Carl was recently fired from said Bookstore by him. It was totally not his fault either (rolls eyes) - I mean, with what they were paying him, he was pretty much entitled to swipe all those books.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Post 5: Prime the pump

It began with my 3 mile run around Pines Lake. I’ve done this run thousands of times, and it is a fair measuring stick of how I’m doing mentally. When I’m feeling low, although exercise always boosts my mood it only happens AFTER I finish the run. During the run my mind is looping all over the place with impossibilities. In short, all the things I don’t have, and all the things I won’t have because of the things I don’t have and the way I am thinking. Lot’s of self-defeating circular logic. However, when my mood is good, or I at least feel some sense of centered, my mood and mind operate in reverse, and I get the boost WHILE I am running. Now I’m caught up in possibilities. I say caught up intentionally, as sometimes chasing all the things I imagine I can have, can take my just as out of the moment as obsessing about the difficult things. Either way, I’d take the up-mood run over the other choice every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Today I was equal parts chasing my optimistic thoughts, and catching them, roping them down, and, if they were little bronco thoughts, they were getting busted, and put into a corral for later. Here’s what I got.

Songs. RF is very song driven, which would be instantly fantastic if it were a screen play, but as a novel I’ve been at a loss of how to communicate the songs only by mentioning them and including just enough lyrics to not get sued. I’m pretty sure there is a standard word limit. However, something else came to me.

I’m not going to mention all the songs here, but I will mention the first song: Om, by the Moody Blues. My idea is to make the first 5 sections into a chapter, or if each section is a chapter, group them under Part One. Whether it be a chapter heading with 5 sections, or Part One heading with 5 chapters, I will place small portion of the lyrics, in this case from Om, in front of what will be read. For instance:

Part One: Om

"This garden universe vibrates complete, Some, we get a sound so sweet." - The Moody Blues

What is amazing serendipity, and it is by no means an accident, since I've been playing with finding the right songs for years, is in the first 5 sections, Carl is nothing if not moody. The present song or sound he is chasing is Om, regardless if the Moody Blues are mentioned - although they could be.

Post 4: Slight delay

Due to factors the were somewhat beyond my control I'm moving my 6 WEEK Writing Program Start up to today. That it's the first day of a new moon, leads me to believe, that this last week was designed as a quasi traumatic yet cleansing, ritual to start on a better date.

More to come as day progresses but I will add a bit of coverish art that I've been using as a background on my computer. Because, after all, RF, IS a story of vibrations of the Feminine Divine AKA The Goddess.

Just imagine The Vibes drawn smoothly, not by my shaky hand in some free online photo editor. While I'm at it I'll throw in the Lyrics to The 13th Floor Elevators song: She Lives in a Time of Her Own. These lyrics sum up Carl's Goddess experience fairly well, and the YouTube video is at the bottom of RF's home page.


She lives, no fear
Doubtless in everything she knows
Through time unchecked,
The sureness of her flows.
She leaves herself inside you when she goes.

She lives in a time of her own...

You have always heard her speaking,
She's always been in your ear.
Her voice sounds a tone within you,
Listen to the words you hear.
Her time has no past or future,
She lives everything she sees.
Her time doesn't spin outside here,
It's in every breath she breaths.

She lives in a time of her own...

Her love whips hard
Like wind and stands in eager pain.

She wins your thoughts
And drives your inner planes.
She clears and shares
A love that never strains.

She lives in a time of her own...

You have always heard her speaking,
She's always been in your ear.
Her voice sounds a tone within you,
Listen to the words you hear.
Her time has no past or future,
She lives everything she sees.
Her time doesn't spin outside here,
It's in every breath she breaths.

She lives in a time of her own...

Her eyes like light reflect the aura of her hair.
She sends, attends, behind an alpha stare.
She seeks the stars and spirals up their stairs.

She lives in a time of her own.
She lives in a time of her own.
she lives in a time of her own.
she lives in a time of her own.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Post 3: The ... Wheel ... of ... Fortune!

Resonant Frequency is up to about 4,000 words, broken into 5 untitled sections divided by the standard "***"

I've been stalled out at 5 sections for quite a while. What broke the blockheadedness was Writing Guru John's presentation of a method of organizing charters into a wheel. The protagonist is at the hub, and the characters with whom he interacts, are connected to him by spokes. All I had to do was put down three characters, to see how I'd been limiting my vision. Instead of focusing only on the protagonists journey, I could add how the two other characters might interact, as they certainly will, further down the line. From my three character base, I spoked out two more characters, and imagined, with only having loose plot past the first 5 sections, how each of them might interact. For instance Carl (the protagonist) is close with Karen and Oliver, who at the start of the story, don't know each other yet. Tim, Carl's asshole land lord, is certainly going to be at odds with Karen, as she  visits Carl here and there. And Oliver and Karen are certainly going to get along. BOOM - ideas for subplots appear effortlessly. And the pressure to know everything about Carl's next step on his journey vanishes.

Above is my dry erase calendar tacked on my back wall. The first column and a half  are for measuring out my SIX WEEK schedule. The bottom half of the second column and the bottom contain my Plot Curve. As you can see, Carl is heading for a doozy of a drop-off after the second peak. The right column is my Character Wheel with a list of potential locations and potential delusions for Carl underneath.

My probable characters are:

  • Carl -  out of work, soon to face eviction, desperately seeking something, bipolar protagonist.
  • Karen -  Wiccan, possibly OCD, recovering addict with an a very jealous ex-boyfriend. Potential love interest for Carl
  • Unnamed very jealous ex-boyfriend; Addict, muscle head tool, with anger management issues. Favorite band is Metallica
  • Oliver - possibly schizophrenic, but highly functional pub owner (Oliver's Place). Metaphysical Catholic, writing a novel, close friend of Carl's
  • Selene - Mormon, goddess-esque, bipolar, long distance relationship over Internet with Carl
  • Tim - Carl's passive aggressive asshole land lord; Carl thinks he's out to get him, and he is
  • Unnamed married comically inept  new age neighbors of Carl
  • Unnamed family of three living below Carl - devoutly religious.
  • Unamed lesbian couple neighbors of Carl
  • Ariel - eccentric artist who frequents Oliver's Place. Even Carl thinks she is too crazy to be a love interest.
  • Unnamed exotic dancer (OK - stripper); not a potential love interest for Carl, but he is too deluded to realize that
  • Stoner Mike - cynical pot head who is permanent fixture at Oliver's Place
  • Additional Pub Crawlers


SIX WEEKS start tomorrow. Or rather, started 20 minutes ago.