The Leaky Faucet Theory

All right. I’m back at Starbucks, on what could be described as a pseudo-day off. I don’t technically work, but I do have a supervisor meeting over the lunch hour.

So, I’m sitting here attempting to use my time wisely. Iced coffee is just beginning to pump through me and my ‘Cards’ playlist is swimming through my ears.

Since I’ve moved to Oregon, every piece I’ve written has an attached soundtrack. A playlist of songs that, either through the lyrics or the actual music, make me think about the writing.

The playlist for ‘Vessels’ had a lot of Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars with some Incubus sprinkled in for good measure.

This playlist is a bit different, but it’s working. Way more varied than the last playlist. The Civil Wars, Incubus, Nine Inch Nails, The Heavy, AFI, Cage the Elephant, just to name a few.

As a test I had coworkers listen to the playlist after we closed, and asked them what they thought the story was about. Generally they were confused, but came away with a sense of the wild west and outlaws.

Which was close enough. The steampunk element was lost to them, reflected in AFI and Nine Inch Nails.

Music is a funny thing. And I take it more seriously than most people I know. Though I love reading and writing, obviously, I call Music my religion. Music is what I turn to when I feel lost, when I need an outlet I can turn it up and scream along. When I’m happy there are key artists who make repeat appearances, like Snow Patrol.

And while I can play instruments, its not the creative outlet I seek. I can play trumpet, piano and guitar, but very rarely do I feel the need to play. And if I do, I don’t compose. I play someone else’s music that really spoke to me.

I’m starting to believe that creative energy is like a water faucet. The more you tap it, the less comes out of each tap.

Trevor has recently taken up drawing. He says that he tried in high school and was awful at it, so he gave up. But, he’s been planning out projects, drawing nerdy mash-ups for potential t-shirt ideas. And you know what?

He’s pretty good!

He has zero training, he’s just going on his gut, and it’s working for him. I’m urging him to take a class in the fall, and he just might, since he enjoys it so much.

And I’m reminded of how I used to draw. I loved drawing in high school. But then I danced, choreographing pieces and learning other student’s choreography.

It wasn’t until college, after I’d broken my foot and decided to stop dancing, that I started writing.

And so I return to the faucet analogy. I feel like my creative energy is limited. But, if I only tap it for one project at a time, I can never run out. If I try to write a novel and draw, neither one will get finished.

Also like a tap, you need to leave it leaking, so that it won’t freeze. That’s what reading and drawing and listening to music does for me. I can take in the creative elements from each one and feel my mind absorb them, and start applying them to whatever I’m working on.

I’m curious to see what others think of this analogy. Does this apply to your creative processes, Blogland?

 

Anyway, yesterday’s work on the novel was decent. I only wrote about 250 words of chapter 2, but I outlined the entire novel. 16 chapters and an Epilogue. A lot of plot details that I hadn’t known were discovered yesterday, and I’m really excited for them. Subplots are growing and making themselves heard.

Like learning that Mal is a little bat-shit. That he’s keeping a strong front, but he’s hurting too. He lost his twin sister, but he’s a leader, and he’s trying to keep his people unified and safe, all while helping Whit take care of himself and his daughter; Mal’s niece.

Like learning that there’s a slave trade, and that’s why Whit’s daughter is kidnapped.

Or that Mel, Whit’s deceased wife, was planning a sort of revolution for her people, and that’s why she was murdered.

Or that Cora was once owned, and escaped. That’s why she’s so incredibly secretive about her abilities.

So, you see, yesterday was actually quite productive. Even if the word count doesn’t reflect that. And I’m already more concerned with word count than I should be. I don’t know why, but this novel is outlined at just about 50k words. Now, ‘Vessels’ was almost 10k words longer than its outline suggested, and I’m guessing ‘Cards’ will follow that pattern. But that’s still only 60k.

That’s a pretty small adult novel. Because this definitely isn’t YA. ‘Vessels’ is, and can use that label to justify its size. But, why can’t I write longer works? I keep asking myself that, and I know the answer.

Brandon Sanderson said that if you read novels and want to write novels, then write novels. Practice writing novels by WRITING NOVELS.

I have only written one novel. But I’ve written and read and practiced short stories for years now. I’ve never had a problem with writing over the word limit. I am good at concise.

So, I’m practicing. And, I think it’s working. This project is bigger than the last one, so it should follow that the project after this will be longer than this one.

I’m sure hoping so.

Anyway, enough blither-blather. I’ve got a novel to write!

 

BZ

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The Reinvention

Another one of those nights. Alarm set for 6:15am, still awake come 1:30. And there’s no sight of sleep.

Trevor’s out hard. Snoring and all the rest. It’s for the best. I handle lack of sleep way better than he does. So while he snores and laughs at some amusing dream, I lie awake, brain bouncing from inane topic to inane topic.

For instance, I want to cut my hair. Something drastic, with red streaks. Something that hints at the rocker chick I remember being. And from there I think about the cartilage piercing I’m getting for my birthday, and the tattoos I want to give myself for Christmas. I’m imagining my rebirth, in full blown technicolor, all at the cost of my functionality come tomorrow.

Sorry in advance, Boss.

But, even as I’m typing I can feel a subtle relaxation creeping up my shoulder blades. AFI plays in my headphones, respectful of Trevor’s slumber, and I’m excited. We had a bizarre weekend, full of “important” talks, and soul searching. And ultimately I decided that the relationship had nothing to do with the boredom I felt. It had nothing to do with how unhappy I was with myself. I’m not sure if I thought he wouldn’t like me if I changed. Like he wouldn’t love me anymore if I had some crazy asymmetrical haircut and started wearing makeup.

Sometimes I’m just stupid.

When we first started dating I had a pixie cut. Fire engine red streak on top and black on the sides. It was awesome. And while I’m sure his mother hated it, I loved it. I still love it when I look back at the photos. Now, I don’t think Starbucks would appreciate the do, so I’ve come up with something equally thrilling, while easily disguise-able.

So, I want a new haircut. I want my cartilage pierced. I’m getting more tattoos. I’m actively experimenting with makeup. I want to stop biting my nails. I want to pay attention to what I eat, and try to put a cap on my red meat intake. I want to go to the gym. That one still makes me laugh a bit, but I’m hoping it will come with time. I want to have my eyebrows waxed. I’ve only ever had it done once, and I remember it hurt like the dickens, but it would be worth doing again.

I feel like the last few years I’ve ignored myself. Not internally. I generally feel good about who I am on the inside. I like her. But, I tend to hide her from the world behind this fashion hopeless tomboy, with the long beautiful hair that she does nothing with.

I want my outsides to reflect the inside. The girl who can hold her own in a Korn moshpit. Who loses her voice at concerts, and curses like a sailor. Who drinks beer with the guys and can beat most of them at Call of Duty.

…OK. That last one was a bit of an exaggeration. But, Mass Effect 3? Bring it!

So, my dad will cover his shock when he sees the new haircut, but generally say nice things. And Trevor’s mom might die of shock, but I want to be a little shocking. Take people off guard, just a little.

I’ve even been considering Lasek eye surgery! I have the astigmatism from hell, which denies me the option of contacts. So, I’m a glasses girl, and I’m good with that. But, if I could be without them? Have my face back? And wear sunglasses that didn’t cost me $300 or more because they have to be prescription? That would be AWESOME!

So, the list so far:

  • New Hair do
  • Stop biting nails
  • eat better
  • gym…?
  • Teeth whitening
  • Possible eye surgery
  • makeup experimentation
  • tattoos and ear piercings
  • eyebrow wax

Now, I know what some reading this will think. That I should be happy with who I am. And I agree. But, the person I am today is the result of past decisions, or the lack thereof.  And, they’re all reasonable fixes. I SHOULD eat better, and I SHOULD go to the gym. I’m going to get tattoos and piercings regardless. I’ve always wanted to stop biting my nails, but have lacked the discipline. I love makeup, but have been too intimidated to figure it out. Teeth whitening would just be nice, and give me a confidence boost. Eye surgery…. I’ll admit, that one probably won’t happen. Mostly because I don’t have the funds, and it’s not necessary. But, I think it’s worth looking into, and if I find it’s something I really want, a reasonable goal to strive for.

Most people make lists like this around the new year, but that always seems like a special brand of sabotage. I feel motivated to take control of myself. I am an independent person, capable of making my own decisions in all of these areas. I want to truly express myself. For people to see me and recognize some key things about me. Right now people are always startled to find that I listen to music like System of a Down or AFI. I once had a guy flip out because I was singing an Incubus song. He’d assumed I was a Celine Dion girl.

Fucking gack,,,

No offense to Celine fans. She’s just not my bag.

And that’s what I’m talking about. I don’t want people to be shocked to discover things that I feel are pretty crucial to how I identify myself. Not everyone will get this, but music, books, and tattoos were all key factors in my upbringing. But at first glance, none of those are evident in my outward appearance. And I’m just bored with myself.

A favorite teacher of mine once told me, “only the boring get bored.”

That saying haunts me. I don’t want to be bored, or boring. And so I constantly seek something to keep my wheels spinning. Whether it’s a new book, video game or TV show, or some new hobby. I have a short attention span, so I have to change pace quite frequently, or I will get bored. So you see my dilemma.

I keep telling myself to wait on the haircut, just to be sure. But, it’s haunting me. Every spare thought is filled with how exciting it would be. Something so different from what everyone in this town has come to associate with me. I imagine all my regulars and the shock on their faces. I imagine my coworkers, and the comments I’ll get. And I imagine my mom, dad, grandma, and Trevor’s family. I love it.

My mom will like it. She’s awesome like that. For that matter, so’s my grandma.

I really think I’m going to do it. But, I will try to wait until I’ve bought and shipped my siblings’ Christmas presents. There have to be some priorities, after all.

So, let’s shoot for just after Thanksgiving. That’s my plan. Probably get the eyebrows done around then too. My birthday’s December 4th, so the cartilage is somewhere around there, and then tattoo for Christmas-ish.

Three and half hours to wake up call. Still not feeling tired, but not as wound up as before, either. I might be able to fall asleep. Maybe. I’d pull an all-nighter, but that’s just not realistic when the shift isn’t until 7:15, and it’s an 8 hour one. That’s just crazy. Now, if I were opening, sure! That’d be doable.

I guess I should go. I should at least try and sleep.

 

BZ

NaNo, AFI, and Cards…

So…

I don’t have very high expectations for this year’s NaNoWriMo.

I’ve submited 1,495 words. And that’s cheating because I wrote those ages ago.

All I want to do is listen to AFI and write, but I’m having a hard time pinning down just what I want to write.

I get these flashes of scenes. Possibilities. But, I don’t know how it all connects. I don’t know how to get from my opening sequence to the rest of the novel. My previous education and experience tells me that I’ve started too far from the main action of the story.

But I don’t actually think that’s true. I just have to get through this awkward dinner scene, and then we’ll be back in it. I think. And this dinner scene is supposed to be awkward. My widower main character is having dinner with his three old daughter and their new live in nanny, who is of course attractive. Whit wouldn’t have thought twice about her if his brother-in-law hadn’t suggested it in an earlier meeting.

And so, Whit is trying to ignore all the appealing qualities of his daughter’s nanny while enjoying her cooking.

Past that I can get him back to work, and get to the real plot of the story; serial murders targeting the oppressed magical community.

And all I really want to write are sad scenes. Whit remembering his wife. Flashbacks. And I was taught early on to avoid flashbacks at all costs. So, if I want to write them, they need to be important. I’m thinking that each flashback needs to link in to how Whit solves the murders.

Which means that I really need to plot and outline this story. And I’ve never done that before. Or at least not to this extent. The most outlining I’ve done is a two to three sentence synopsis of a chapter. This is detailing at its finest…

So, there’s a lot of work to be done. And I’m finding motivation to be a bit thin on the ground.

For instance, I’m here. Posting all my thoughts and ideas instead of acting on them. Although I wrote another line in the novel while I dillydallied on Facebook. And after this I’m going to update my iTunes and iPhone. Maybe read through the ‘Burials’ digital album art.

Yeah. That sounds about right.

I’ll be around. Words will find their way, even if I’m being stubborn. Maybe I’m burned out from the first novel. But, it’d be pretty legit if I could write two rough drafts in one year.

Things to think about.

 

BZ

A Fire Inside

November 1st.

I should be elbow deep in original fiction right now, but instead I want to talk about last night’s AFI concert.

For those not in the know, AFI, shorthand for A Fire Inside, is a musical act. It’s hard to describe them. At their roots they’re a California-based Punk band, but over their 22 year career their music has gone through many evolutions.

I was in high school when I discovered AFI. I stumbled on their album ‘Sing the Sorrow’ when I was a freshman, about a year after the record’s release. It’s full of dark songs, filled with words like ‘anathema’ and ‘preternatural’. Exactly what I wanted to listen to while reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. From my love of ‘Sing the Sorrow’ I had to have their older stuff too. So, I bought ‘The Art of Drowning’ and ‘A Memorandum’. I remember being surprised at how different the music was. Instead of the lilting melancholy, the poetic affliction, there was coarse shouting, and far more frantic riffs. These were punk albums. I was baffled. But, I couldn’t deny their awesomeness. I was hooked.

When AFI released ‘Decemberunderground’ I had no idea what to expect. What I got was a continuation of the poetic, but instead of the visceral dark so common on ‘Sing the Sorrow’ I was greeted with electronics and generally more catchy songs. I loved it. I absorbed it. I was officially a fan.

And then the lead singer, Davey Havok, and guitarist Jade Puget announced they were focusing on a side project entitled Blacq Audio. Ok, I can roll with that. They put out two albums, though I only bought the first one.

AFI seemed to fall off my grid. My musical tastes continued to grow and change, and as I aged I forgot my goth/punk love affair with the band.

Years went by. My hotmail inbox stopped receiving newsletters from the band’s website, and though I rarely listened to them, they were always on my iPod, never totally forgotten.

I got the email in August. AFI new single and tour. There was a link to the video, and I said to Trevor, “let’s watch this and see how bad it is.” In my defense I thought the band had broken up ages ago, so far off the grid they’d fallen. So we watched the video and were stunned. It was amazing. The melancholy, poetic, visceral darkness was back. And holy hell when did Davey Havok start growing facial hair?! That one video reignited a fervor only a fan can understand. It’d been almost 5 years since I’d seriously listened to any of their music, and I was suddenly desperate to see Portland listed amongst their tour dates.

And there it was. Roseland Theater, Portland, Or. On Halloween. I bought the tickets a week later.

In the almost three months from ticket purchase to the show I discovered an entire album had been released without my knowing, and I promptly bought it and learned every word.

But, this is a lot of back story just to tell you how epic last night’s concert was. I’ve been to more than my fair share of concerts for my age. Linkin Park twice, Korn twice, Staind, System of a Down, Green Day, Snow Patrol twice, Jason Mraz, Chris Cornell, Soundgarden, Placebo, Papa Roach… And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

This was the best show I’ve ever seen.

The show was sold out, and the closer it got to 9 o’clock the more cramped the small venue became. As the lights went out the crowd starts chanting, “Through our Bleeding, We are One”, a line from ‘Strength Through Wounding’, from one of AFI’s older albums. So, we’re chanting and fist pumping as the band walks out through the dark. We’re cheering, and then the song we were chanting actually started playing. It’s the only time they played that song on the entire tour, and the first time they played it since 2003. The first time in ten years!

The song is short. But before my ears can adjust from the amps, before my chest can stop vibrating with the bass, AFI moves into ‘The Leaving Song pt. 2’. And we all lose it. I’m head banging, fist pumping, and screaming my lungs out. The crowd is roiling, a living thing with one need; to move. And it keeps moving all the way through ‘Girls Not Grey’. Still, Davey hasn’t really acknowledged us. He hasn’t been conversational, and we’re happy that way, it’s about the music after all.
AFI

The last symbol crash echoes through the room as we cheer the end of  ‘Girls Not Grey’ and Davey walks away. Rolls his neck. Preparing. Before he turns back to us, we hear it. The eerie scraping sound, an echo, the beginning of their newest single ‘I Hope You Suffer.’ The song that reawakened my love for AFI. The drums and bass hit us hard, and Davey returns, his voice is nearly lost in the crowd’s chanting. He sings the first half of the song leaning out over the crowd, dramatic and chiseled.

“Pretend I’m no longer here….”

The music turns, entering the bridge. As he sings, “All hope for forgiveness dies,” Davey’s crouched, almost face to face with the lucky bastards in the front row. The guitar echoes out a keening, poignant sound, and Davey steps out ON TO the crowd!
Davey being a stud

He sings the rest of the song from this position, and it is the most badass thing I’ve ever seen someone do at a concert. He pulls this trick one more time before the show ends.

‘File 13’, ‘Love Like Winter’, ’17 Crimes’, ‘Ever and a Day’, ‘The Leaving Song’, ‘Heart Stops’, ‘Kill Caustic’, ‘Beautiful Thieves’, ‘Miss Murder’ all fly by. And then they play the one song everyone can lose their minds to, ‘The Days of the Phoenix’. This may have been the song where Trevor stiff armed a girl to keep her from running into me, but I didn’t even know because I was too busy flailing and screaming to pay any attention to the world around me. It was right after this that we watched someone attempt crowd surfing in our relatively calm corner of the room, and subsequently get dropped. Good times. Then they play an oldie, ‘God Called in Sick Today’.

And then AFI thanks us, and say goodbye. The lights go out and they exit stage left.

But we’re not having it. “Through our bleeding, we are one! Through our bleeding, we are one! Through our bleeding, we are one!”

And they come back and play a cover of the Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’. I’ve always loved that song, so Trevor and I danced, sweaty messes that we were, and it was cute.

And then the tearing guitar of ‘Dancing Through Sunday’ rips through me, and I am a girl possessed. I don’t know if I’ve ever danced and jammed so hard to one song in my life. There’s something irresistible about the song just playing from my headphones, live it was downright undeniable. I was forced to dance, there was no choice in the matter.

And then, their actual farewell, ‘Silver and Cold’. The song that hooked me on them in the first place. The single and video that was so dark and intriguing that my vampire filled mind could not say no. And it was wonderful. My body aches today, reminding me that I’m not 15 anymore, but I don’t regret a single minute of AFI’s set. It was more intense, active, and amazing than I ever could have imagined. Even Trevor, who isn’t very familiar with them, had a great time.

I will never miss an AFI show ever again!

Anyway, I need to get ready for work now. I’ve wasted enough time while the laundry tumbles in the dryer in raptures over the best concert of my life. Hopefully I didn’t bore y’all too much!