Author, Books, Fiction, Movies, Novel, Opinion, Reading, Writing

Inspired, but ignorant

I had planned to write today’s post on a completely different topic, but yesterday I took a break from reading to watch a movie, and it’s still on my mind. Recently, I looked at my Netflix queue and saw it had grown to almost 300 movies. If you knew how infrequently I sit down to watch a movie you’d know how totally ridiculous that number is.

So, I went through the list deleting many I no longer had an interest in seeing. I came to one I didn’t recognize the name of at all. When the little info bubble popped up—an immigrant son has a conflict with his father—I realized I must have added it back when I was still doing research on the novel I’ve now finished. Although I no longer needed it for research, I decided to move it up in the queue.

I didn’t note the movie’s category. Because I saw it starred Kal Penn (of Harold and Kumar fame) and thought I had a vague memory of the trailer, I assumed this movie was more a comedy. I don’t know what trailer I thought I remembered, but it wasn’t for The Namesake. Yes, that one, the film adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel. Her Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The one I’d never heard of before this. Pathetic, aren’t I?

Although there are some humorous moments, The Namesake is far from a comedy. It’s a beautiful drama. Beautifully acted, beautifully filmed, beautifully scripted. I cried. More than once. I loved it. Absolutely. I want a copy.

When the movie was over, I went to Amazon to look up the book. I read some sample pages, and though it’s written in present tense, (not my fave) I will read the book. But more importantly, I want to write a book that could be adapted into such a movie. I want to touch someone’s heart that way. Not necessarily to make them cry, but to make them feel they’ve experienced something special by reading it.

Have you seen the movie or read the book?

By the way: I’d like to note that my last post, which was really only a photo of a painting and not a post at all, received as many page hits and comments as most of my real posts. Hmmm, I’m wondering if I should read something into that.

Craft, Critique, Dream, Editing, Feedback, Fiction, Group, Movies, Novel, Query, Revision, Writing

Scene shifting

I’m still a little dizzy after seeing the movie Inception yesterday. I tried hard to keep each thread of the story straight, but ended up in a tangle. To me, dreams within dreams within dreams … was more confusing than time travel. (Or maybe I was just too distracted by how much Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks like Heath Ledger.) And what about that ending that doesn’t end—did it topple or not? Nonetheless, I felt satisfied with the experience.

I’d like to know how they crafted the Inception storyline. I can’t imagine it was written the way it played out. I would write each dream/reality sequence  chronologically and then shift and intertwine them. But what do I know? I have never, and don’t think I could, write a story like that. Not just because it’s so complicated, but also because I don’t have the kind of writer’s mind for mystery/thrillers. My latest chapter revision is difficult enough.

At my last critique group meeting, we agreed I should rearrange the order of all the scenes in my new opening chapter. On Friday, I printed out the chapter and cut the scenes apart. It looked an impossible puzzle with all the scenes spread out on the table. My first attempt at reordering was a mess; the second was better, and on the third try it fell into place … I think. Then I used a glue stick to put the scenes back together in a new order. Now I’ll have to write new connecting narrative between these scenes.

Another suggestion from my C.P.s was that I might be trying to fit too much information in one chapter, so I’ll be considering that too. All this is good. Deep down, I felt I’d started this novel wrong. Now I’m correcting that. Next up will be a query letter revision. Fun, fun, fun … not.

Your turn: What will you be working on this week?

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Movies, Musings, Writing

The stuff I blog when I tire of relevancy

Yesterday, I watched Ponyo, an animated Japanese children’s movie. It reminded me of another movie, Spirited Away, and a quick check at Netflix told me they were both directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2003. The animation in these movies is gorgeous, though some of the imagery disturbs me, as do the stories.

Fujimoto @2008, 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT

In the one I saw yesterday, I’m not sure I ever understood what the father of Ponyo was. Though he lives and breathes underwater, he looks human, with bizarre hair,  but he’s horrified that his daughter—born a fish—wants to become human. In the English-language version, Liam Neeson is the voice of this character, and though I’m a Neeson fan, his voice coming out of this character’s mouth only added to the weirdness.

Although both these movies mesmerized me, they seem so different from American animated children’s movies, I’m surprised our children like them. Then again, I don’t see a lot of children’s movies anymore, so maybe they’ve changed. Or maybe I should be comparing them to our folk tales of old. These two Japanese movies did remind me of the fairy tales I read as a child. The ones that frightened me.

Did I worry there might be real witches with candy houses and ovens built for children? You bet. Did it cross my mind that my father might do something like indenture me to spin straw into gold for the rest of my life? In a word, yes. Think of all the tales that feature a wicked step-mother. I did … every time my parents argued. As an adult I understand those tales reflected the harshness of the times in which they originated, but as a child that aspect flew over my head. A part of me believed these things might be possible.

Gran Mamare @2008, 2009 Nibariki-GNDHDDT

This image from Ponyo particularly spooked me. Every time I stand at ocean’s edge, I fear I am seconds away from seeing something huge—and alive—rising out of it. So, even though she was beautiful, the image of Ponyo’s mother gave me pause.

Sometimes imagination is a curse.

Tell me, did any children’s stories worry or scare you? Or were you precocious enough to go deeper, analyzing the symbolism and allegory?

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Fiction, Humor, Life, Movies, Novel, Writing

What did I learn during one week without writing?

With my youngest son home for a visit, I didn’t expect to get much, if any, writing done. So I was not surprised that all I wrote was two blog posts and two more paragraphs in the first chapter of a new novel. I watched a lot of television, ate too much food, and survived our first 108° day of the season.

What else did I do? Well, there was some family stuff: a birthday party, a Wii challenge, and a concert where another of my sons played trumpet (magnificently, of course!), but I learned a few fascinating things too.

  • Among the 18 and over crowd around here, hookah lounges are the big thing. Why does no one tell me these things? And how far over 18 can you be?
  • On the same day the temp in the valley was 108°, it was only 66° on the beach less than three hours away! Not that I was at the coast.
  • I can’t pronounce the phrase Warp Tour without a pause between the two words. My mouth just won’t cooperate, though I can say it with a Texas(?) accent—Wurp Tur.
  • One event you might see at said Warp Tour is something called the Wall of Death, where the male concert goers separate, backing up on either side of a wide path down the middle and then, at a signal from the band, rush at each other shoving, stomping, fist flying, whatever. It’s bizarre behavior to me, but then so is war.
  • You can see something like the WoD—on a miniature scale—in the new Twilight movie, which I was coerced into attending. I’ve read none of the books, nor have I seen either of the previous movies … but in case you’re wondering, I would choose Jacob.
  • The next Harry Potter movie will be in two parts—but I’m sure you knew that already. The trailer looks great!
  • According to the frequency with which I had to ask younger family members to repeat themselves this week, it appears I’m losing my hearing. I blame it on my husband who now turns up the sound on the television to 25! See what I get for trying to spend time with him?

However, the most important thing I learned this week of essentially no writing is that I could actually do that—no problem. That disturbs me. My life returns to normal tomorrow, and I’m a bit anxious to see what happens then. Maybe I should run over to the Lebanese deli and buy a hookah.

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Fiction, Horror, Movies, Writing

Paranormal activity?

Yesterday, I went to see the movie Paranormal Activity. I had the best time possible while being terrorized—and eating Junior Mints! I have never experienced such tension. It took me ten minutes, after the movie ended, to get my breathing back to normal and longer than that before my muscles completely relaxed. (For you movie critics out there, yes, I could have done without the last thirty or so seconds of Hollywood cheese.)
paranormal_activity

Obviously, I love a good horror movie. And by good, I don’t mean the movies that are just an excuse to show a thousand gruesome ways to kill someone, I like the ones that play with your mind. The ones that maybe … just might … could possibly … really happen. Last year’s The Strangers was another movie I loved though, again, I think it ended two scenes too late.

A psychological element to the horror is far more interesting to me. I love walking a “what if” thought into the darkness. I have that kink in my mind. Every time I stand at the ocean’s edge feeling the wind and sun or mist, gazing out over the endless sea, I always have this thought: what if something HUGE rose up before me?

tule fog
Sometimes on winter nights, we have fog so thick you can’t see the front of your car as you’re driving. On those nights, I’m never quite sure my car won’t drive right into another dimension. When, in rare moments, I realize I hear no sounds at all, I fear time has frozen and I quickly look out the window to make sure I can see something moving. Once, while hiding in the dark bathroom, moaning like a cartoon ghost to fun-scare the kids, I frightened myself so, with the sense that something stood behind me, that I had to turn on the light and stop the game.

I’m telling you this because I’ve been thinking about writing horror again. Cold and dreary winter is almost as good as dark and stormy nights for writing dark tales. There’s an art to probing into that visceral layer where blackness rages, then pulling back into the light at just the right second. The dark half in me knows she will never master that art, but she needs to purge her thoughts about what really goes bump in the night.