I’m Writing [2]

Welcome to another installment of ‘I’m writing,’ though maybe you’re already well-informed on my projects – or so you think. There is always something I’m not sharing, you know, I’m secretive that way. So, let’s have a look at my current projects – and rejects.

NaNoWriMo: Carpe Tempus – now, I have talked about this at length, I know. Let me just add the synopsis from the official page:

After her mother’s death, Wells Brandis returns to her hometown to settle her mother’s affairs. The relationship between the two women has never been good and they haven’t seen each other in years. But with no family left, Wells feels the obligation to take care of the funeral arrangements.

While looking through her mother’s papers, Wells discovers non-sensical scribblings, blueprints for a strange machine and documents that seem disturbingly out of place and time. As she is searching for something or someone to explain her mother to her, Wells has to struggle with her own life’s failings, a girlfriend/agent who pushes her creative bounderies and an old flame stoked into a fire.

When she uncovers her mother’s greatest secret, time loses all meaning while becoming the focus of Wells’ life – like it has once been her mother’s.

And an excerpt – also from the official page – from the first chapter (it is not the beginning, exactly):

A memory flashed before Wells’ eyes – she came running down these stairs, pulling a parka over a sweater. She hadn’t even worried about being asked where she would be going at this hour, her mother rarely cared enough to ask, but then she had heard her mother’s voice from the kitchen. She had been on the phone, arguing with someone.

„Why would I tell her? She’s never even met him and she doesn’t care!“ Her mother had almost yelled into the receiver. Wells had walked down the small corridor toward the kitchen. She didn’t mean to eavesdrop, she was just curious because her mother never lost her temper. It was an odd sound, the tone of her mother’s voice raised in anger.

„I don’t care either!“ And after a short moment: „I’m sure he’s got enough relatives to take care of that, I’m not going to worry about it! Goodbye!“ And she had slammed the phone onto the cradle just next to the door which she had pushed open a moment later and right into Wells’ face.

Her mother had stared at her for a long moment just around the door. Wells had thought that she would tell her not to eavesdrop next time, but instead she had said:

„Your father died.“ Then she had turned and instead of leaving the kitchen she took the door that led down into the basement where she knew Wells wouldn’t follow.

That was how Wells had found out about her father’s death, that was how she found out that she even had a father, had had a father.

Keep in mind that it’s a first draft, there’s a lot of work to be done yet. I’m still behind on my daily word count but I’ve found that I can write under ‘orrible conditions (sorry, Titanic flashback, right there) – with the TV blaring and me trying to black it out with music via head phones. I’m expecting mistakes galore from those sessions but at least I’m writing words.

If you’re participating at NaNoWriMo yourself and you’re still in need of a writing buddy, buddy me up – Corikane is the name, written as one word. I would be happy to hear from you.

Versch(l)ossen – don’t worry, it’s a German title (and story) and it’s okay, if you don’t know what it means. It’s actually kind of a pun. The word including the l means locked, the word without the l means crushing on someone.

The story is about two young women who meet when one of them accidentally locks their bikes together. The other then does the same on purpose, so that they have to meet to unlock their bikes together. It turns out that the second girl has been crushing on the first one for some time but was too shy to approach her.

This idea is actually several years old already. I started it and then let it drop, but it’s still a good idea and I absolutely love the title. I’m now reviving it for a Valentine’s Day anthology submission. As I said, it’s gonna be a German story… I added it for full disclosure’s sake.

Eternal Thirst – I already told you about this in my blog post ‘Writing Vampire.’ This is the short story I had wanted to submit for another Valentine’s Day anthology. I didn’t finish it, but I would like to just as a writing exercise now. It’s supposed to be an inner monologue of a female vampire. She’s watching her ex-lover through the window, thinking about her need for her, her thirst for her. It’s a little dark and borders on stalking. I guess, it’s too dark for a Valentine’s story, really. And I already wrote about some other problems I had with it in my blog post.

I think it’s a good idea, I’m gonna keep you updated on whether I’ve written it or not. It will probably have to wait until after NaNoWriMo – unless it’ll just come over me that I have to finish it.

These are my current projects. Halfway Home is on the back burner for the moment but I’m plannning on picking it up again in December – which will probably be good for the story since the first part is about Christmas.

I’m looking forward to this month of getting back into the swing of writing.

Carpe tempus, lovelies.

Writing Vampire

I do believe that all writers (and maybe some other creative folk) who read Twilight and didn’t like it (like me) have sat down one lazy Sunday afternoon and thought about how they would do it differently. Not the original tale, or not necessarily, but an idea along those lines – a vampire novel. Or a novel with a human protagonist who meets a vampire and a werewolf and even, possibly, other supernatural creatures. Maybe it’s a romance, maybe it’s a murder mystery, or a vampire hunter novel, who knows.

I did that one day (I don’t really remember if it was a Sunday but in my mind sundays are the best days for doing something like that – possibly in autumn) and the thing that immediately sprang to mind was: don’t make your human main character enter an affair with the vampire, a crush would be okay, but go no further. If you have read Twilight you may remember how Meyer went on and on about how cold Edward was, like a marble pillar (or some such phallic metaphors she used). And I thought: urgh. Now that’s romantic – lying next to someone cold and hard. And that was the main reason I would rather have Bella be with Jacob (no, I’m not on Team Jacob, that would have taken more involvement than I was willing to put into the novel[s], but body-wise he was the better choice – never mind that they were both big douchecanoes).

I am aware that Stoker imagined Dracula as both vampire and werewolf – which is just another variation of the man as beast-theme, one where both or all manifestations are beasts – but I must confess I like the tale of a feud between the two races better. I especially like the tale of Underworld and must confess that the third movie (I haven’t watched the fourth yet) is my favorite. One reason is certainly Rhona Mitra, another is that I seem to be more invested in the Lycan story than the Vampyre lore. Much like with Batman, I now confess freely that I don’t get the attraction of a vampire, not entirely. I kinda fell for the female vampire of Frght Night 2, but I’m sure that had more to do with Jaime Murray.

But that was the premise I kind of set myself. Now, this is a difficult premise. I’m a writer of romance, though I guess it’s more by default than by conscious choice, and writing a supernatural story that has a vampire in it, even if it’s not a Mary Sue-like figure like Edward Cullen, and most certainly not a vegan vampire, and not have her be the love interest… difficult, to say the least.

I still do have that idea on my back-burner, it might even be a trilogy, but this idea is not the reason I was thinking about vampires. I was trying to write a short story from the I-perspective of a vampire, a Valentine’s story for a submission. And I got stuck yesterday because I couldn’t overcome my own cynicism that poured into the character. The question is: how do you make a stereotype that is as typecast as romantic hero as the vampire think about love? How can any creature which is as naturally cast as perfect lover not be disillusioned by that role? We are all aware of the sexual power of the bite (and I guess that’s acutally more sensual than being mauled by a werewolf), the allure of darkness, add a foreign accent (just remember Antonio Banderas in Interview with a Vampire) and even I start to swoon. But those are tropes – overdone, outdated maybe, and I do feel that a vampire, a creature of our time and cultural upbringing would be aware of them.

This is where I’m stuck – a Valentine’s vampire story. I feel like I need to go thinking out of the box for this one, give myself a little more time, make a writing exercise of it maybe. Just so I know how to write vampire when I go writing that novel that is not Twilight.

The Good Scribe

Shakespeare, Woolf. And Austen. These are my favorite writers. If you’d ask for a forth, it would be Kate Chopin, Djuna Barnes after that. They were brilliant, their talents and abilities last, and there is no end to finding something to love in their writing, in a phrase, a single sentence, the placement of a word.

I studied American literature (English, as they say). Professors don’t care what you think about the reading material they chose to teach you. They just want you to dig into the text and find something, some kernel of meaning that nobody else has found yet. I always did tell my instructors what I thought of the text, though, whether I liked it. Just because I could. You see, it’s easy to say whether you liked a text, if you consider it a good text, a worthwhile text. That is, if the text was written by someone other than you.

Because all objective evaluation flies out the window if you look at your own text. Sure, you love that one phrase, you actually think it’s brilliant. There’s that one story you worked so hard on to get it right, you love it. But that’s not objective. You don’t actually know whether the text is good or not – you love it because you know the kind of effort it took to write.

I find that this is one of the most frustrating aspects of writing – you need someone else to tell you how good you are. And oftentimes, you need someone who is not related or emotionally linked to you to tell you how good you are, because relatives and friends are too nice to tell you the absolute truth.

Writing fanfiction, I often find that my audience does not appreciate the stories I especially like. There may be a story into which I poured my heart, where I find the characterization especially felicitous, the plot wonderfully gripping – and then it gets four likes and one review. And another tale I just put down in an hour, without much effort or attachment and people are enchanted. And I’m wondering, what happened? Is it the story? The timing of the post? Mere coincidence?

I often say that I write for myself and that’s true. I’m a reader and appreciate good stories. I’m a consumer and a producer, if you will. Thus, I know what I like and if I lose interest in a story as a writer it follows that the reader in me also lost interest – bad story. But if I stick with something it’s for me as a reader as well as the writer. It’s the only way for me to evaluate my own writing, but it’s far from objective. Also, I’m kind of a temperamental reader and don’t always finish books even if I liked the beginning… weird, I know.

So, what I did these last few weeks was thinking about and writing a short story for a publication in a zine (if they take it I’ll tell you, if they don’t, well… I may post the story here or hide it where nobody will ever find it). It’s a story about a queer character but it’s not about their queerness – that was the premise of the submission. Since I cut it short to the deadline, there really was no time to have somebody else beta-read. And I sit and I read and have absolutely no idea if it’s good. I just don’t know. I sent it in anyway because the worst that can happen is that they reject it but… it’s one of those times I would really like to be able to evaluate my own writing. To be able to say, this is good enough. But that’s not how it works.

There’s a constant element of surprise when one is a writer about what people like, what people think about your writing. It works both ways. Sometimes I’m surprised that people like a certain story, sometimes I’m surprised that a story I thought was really good is being ignored or even rejected. It kinda makes for a community of writers that is desperate for acknowledgement, to be positively surprised. Or maybe it’s just the way I function. It’s addictive to know what people think about your work because they’re the only ones who can say that you’re good.