Craft, Doubt, Editing, Fiction, My Books, Narrative, Novel, Revision, Tips, Writing

Spaghetti Gone Wild

Yesterday, in a Tweet to Kayla Olson, I described the state of my chapter-in-revision as spaghetti gone wild. Switching the order of the scenes had seemed a simple task. I had four scenes to deal with: one moves down, two move up, one stays in last place. No big deal. Next step: write/revise the narrative to link these scenes.

That’s when the mess began. I wrote words. I deleted them. I wrote different words. I deleted those too. Nothing felt right. Desperate, I thought maybe the fault lay within the scenes. Even though I’d loved them when I wrote them, I began to edit. I highlighted words, phrases, whole sentences I could improve, but I knew there was no sense working on those until I was sure they wouldn’t be cut. But then, the more I read the more I became dissatisfied. (If you’re a LOST fan, this is when I nicked the dural sac. :-))

Suddenly, none of it made sense to me. Everything was wrong. The writing was mediocre, the story silly, and I questioned why I wrote the chapter in the first place. When I realized I would rather play games than even open the file again, I knew I was in trouble. I now hated the chapter I once loved. Where had I gone wrong?

Without a clue, I gave up and played TextTwist, and as I did, I was reminded of way back when I first wrote about Jalal. I would write until I was out of words, and then I played Bejeweled. I don’t know why, but the background music brought Jalal’s voice to me, and I would play until I knew what to write next.

So, yesterday, as I sat there playing TextTwist, the fog lifted. This chapter was about Jalal, from his point of view, but I had ripped the heart out of it by trying to revise without him. I barged right in and started hacking away and shoving in more, without “getting into character” first. That’s how I totally screwed it up.

I must now step away (Or count to five? :-)) and listen until I hear Jalal’s voice. Then I’ll get this mess untangled.

Now, your turn: Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done this.

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Photo credit: Susan at Timeless Gourmet

Opinion, Writing

Explain it to me then!

I tried really hard not to write this post. I had phone conversations with or wrote emails to a few friends hoping they would enlighten me. I’ve read several online critics’ reviews. Despite all that, I still can’t help but call foul at the LOST finale. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the show. It was some of the best TV ever. I’ll just remember the story the way I think it was always meant to be.

Bear with me, non-Lost fans, there’s a connection to writing here. It’s the writers of Lost I’m angry with. For those of you who don’t know, Lost was a TV series ostensibly about a group of passengers who survive their plane breaking apart in mid-air and crashing onto a tropical island. (Overlook the fact that no one could have survived that crash, for now.) Ah, but this is no ordinary island they find themselves stranded on. They soon discover their plane was way off course when they crashed so their chances of being found by a rescue mission are slim to none. They also discover there are mysterious Others living on this island as well as a murderous Smoke Monster,  there used to be a scientific group called the Dharma Initiative running things, and the island has healing powers. Eventually, they discover other island oddities such as: a man who never ages, the ruins of an ancient four-toed statue, and time shifting. No, no, Lost Isle is definitely NOT an ordinary island.

The writers introduce the survivors’ backstory in what they called FlashBackwards. All well and good. We learn who these people were, though, as the main character points out, their pasts no longer matter; they get to have a fresh start on the island. So for five seasons we get to know some great characters. We watch them struggle with themselves and others. Relationships are formed. Relationships are broken, sometimes by death, sometimes by mistrust, always by the machinations of the island. What we don’t get are many answers to what is really going on with these survivors.

During the later seasons, the writers introduce another device called FlashForwards. In these, we see some of the castaways back in the real world. Some of them have better lives than we saw in the FlashBackwards, some not. Are these true glimpses into the future? We think so because when six of the castaways are actually rescued, we see them living these lives. Unfortunately, the island calls them back … and they go.

Now we come to the sixth, and final, season and this time we start getting answers to the mysteries. Not to all of them, of course, not even to all the ones introduced in this last season. But the writers purport to give us an answer to the biggest mystery of all—What is this island? Hmmm … when all the Smoke and Mirrors clear, do we really know the answer to that? No! We are told it’s not what we all suspected from the beginning. The island is not purgatory—the writers have vehemently denied that since the first season. Ah, but the new device—the FlashSideways—are purgatory!


That’s where you LOST me guys. That’s where the writers’ arrogance jumped the shark. No. No. No. I’ll set aside my pet theory that Jack was the only survivor of that crash, and then only briefly. But you cannot tell us that what happened to these survivors on that island was anything other than a stay in purgatory. That was where they examined the lives they’d led. That was where they discovered their true selves. That was where they prepared to let go and move on. If the island wasn’t purgatory, what was it? It certainly wasn’t reality.

Like magicians, the writers tried to misdirect our attention to the FlashSideways because they did not want to admit they underestimated the viewers who saw the island as purgatory right from the start. In writing analogy, they put the gun on the mantel in scene one, then tried to pretend they didn’t. Shame on them.

Okay, all you Lost fans more brilliant than I, explain why I’m wrong … but do it nicely because I have a delete button and I’m not afraid to push it.

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Fiction, Imagination, Inspiration, Reflections, Time, Writing

What is this thing we call writing?

Since I don’t watch a lot of TV, I missed the debut season of the series LOST, even though two of my sons had independently mentioned they thought I would like the show. So, right before the second season started, I loaded up our Netflix list and my husband and I watched the whole season in a week … or was it a weekend. Whatever. The experience was intense.

In case you don’t know what LOST is about, it’s the story of a mysterious island that, seemingly, is under control of the forces of good and evil. These forces control the lives of certain people, at least to some degree, and eventually bring them to the island. This series focuses on the survivors of a plane that crashed on the island.

WARNING! Possible spoiler alert in the next paragraph:

This final season seems to be showing us that these “survivors” are leading lives in two dimensions: they crashed; they didn’t crash. Of course, this is an examination of the nature of time and existence, which is something I consider daily. And naturally, I like to consider it in the light of writing.

What is the nature of The Muse? What exactly is this state we call creativity? Do we truly “make up” our stories or do we channel some alternate reality, or past life, or even future life, if you consider time a man-made convention. Are we simply recording the collective unconscious?

Your thoughts?

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Editing, Fun Fridays, Humor, Novel, Writing

Seventh Weekness

This is just a Fun Friday post, just silly bits about my week, so if you have something important to do, click away now. This seventh week of the year has been a little out of the ordinary for me. I gave up sodas for Lent, even though I’m not Catholic, and in the spirit of Mardi Gras I made gumbo … two days late, but still.

My "prunus persica."

Winter took a vacation from the San Joaquin Valley … no rain and temps around 70° (F). As you can see my nectarine tree started blooming.

I’m not a big sports fan … correction: I’m not a sports fan at all, but I do usually catch some of the Olympics telecasts. I saw the men’s figure skating, women’s skiing, and both in snowboarding. I sort of freaked out my husband with my knowledge of Shaun White. Trivia does come in handy at times.

The LOST episode was excellent this week. Of course, we all know Sawyer will recognize the con. You’re watching this series, right?

My husband tuned in several episodes of LA Ink this week and since we sit in the same room, I got sucked in too. Seeing Kat VonD with all her tats covered for a photo shoot was a surprise. Now, once again, I’m thinking of getting a tattoo. Of course, I’ve been thinking about it for twenty years.

Two sides of Kat.

Surely you knew I wouldn’t end this without mentioning writing. I had very little time for that this week, and it was all spent on editing my novel. I’m only a third done, so next week will be more of the same, except, instead of non-writing things, I’ll have critiquing to do for my group.

So, now it’s your turn. How about sharing some of your seventh weekness with me?