Friday, February 18, 2011

021911 I Premise... More Specifically Place & Setting

place, a memorable setting that is so important
to the story that it functions almost like another

EXAMPLE: This is a novel of place -- the story
could not have happened anywhere but in New
York City (or the Yukon, or the African desert,

Now, I am not so sure I would describe my story as 'a novel of place' but I think it is an interesting thought because of another story I had been working on, which I tucked away for a later time, to write this, which I could consider a novel of place. Before the Lexicon I didn't really consider the concept. That idea had sprung from a place. A place I was living. A place I am weeks away from moving back to! (My lover and I are both so on edge.) And in being away from that place I found myself unable to write with the fluidity I had when I wrote in the afternoon sun light on my lunch breaks. I wonder if, when I move back I will have trouble writing this story because even though this novel is not a novel of place, the setting is an important character. The scenes in the lone cabin, high in the mountains reflect Angela's isolation. The gazebo that is built in the womens' yard when Beatriz is thirteen, looking over the cliff upon the ocean has it's particular color, size and shape that belong to what happens between it's pillars. And Beatriz studio apartment above her bakery, the flour that coats the wood floor, and how the sunset is always perfect if you watch it from her balcony. Could the story of Beatriz and Angela take place anywhere else in the world? I think it could, but no matter where it all happened, the setting would have to be central in order to tell their story.

Maybe it is always that way... Not always that way in a novel or a story but in reality. Where you are is so central to you, even if you try to deny it. I have tried to deny it before. But, every year it becomes more and more obvious, with every change, every addition to my memory, I can see more clearly how I am Oregon.

Maybe that is why it has been easier to write this story verses the aforementioned story. Maybe Miami had shocked me but I still had not affected enough so that I was able to capture it. The Portland, Oregon, North West, Pacific Coast culture is my culture. And the further I step away from it, the more I am able to separate my ideas from it. I thought maybe I had figured it out, in the youthful fashion of my naivete. But in coming back, what were once minor details, nuances, dance in front of my eyes, so obviously. And as I attempt to see it for what it is, only then I am able put it into words. I feel like if I write something that I would give to others to read, I would owe the story at least that. At least the truth, even if told through a type of lie.

It wouldn't be fair to say that our place makes us, and it wouldn't be fair to call my story a novel of place, but I love the idea of making the setting a character and I strive to do this!

setting, where a novel or scene takes place.

EXAMPLE: I can't tell if these people are talking
in a jail cell or a church lobby. You need to put
them in a setting --- give them beer glasses and
have them shout over the noise

I have included setting in this entry because it obviously ties in with place, but also because this was one of the examples I ran across that I thought I had tackled well so far in my story. Remember the scene in The Hours where Robert says:

"I wanted to be a writer, that's all. I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up, like it's all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less. Sheer fucking pride and stupidity."

When I heard those words on film the struck me. He said what I had wanted to accomplish, to only explain a moment. Everything about that moment because everything is part of that moment. Maybe it is impossible, but at least I want my reader to feel the moment they are viewing. Looking back over my writing with my new, more critical eye, I can confidently say that I have weaved in the different settings well. The way I do it is subtle, but the image is obvious.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

020111 Courtney Meets the Lexicon 66

I have been writing this entry for the past couple of days. Thinking about how I was going to fit all I wanted to say in a single post. Today I decided that I would split it up.

So, in this entry I am introducing a series about the Lexicon. Broken down in the style of the book itself.


This series will be spanning more than six entries and I will be updating on the writing process, and life and how it relates to writing and to my story. However, this entry is mostly about how this whole idea started. So... How did it start?

I guess, yesterday, when I printed out my story so that I could edit it as I had been feeling lost. Something wasn't feeling authentic.

authenticity (also, when your story rings true), the quality of being realistic. An
authentic story is one in which believable characters act and respond realistically
totheir circumstances. It's a story whose theme generally captures a feeling most
of your audience would call "true."

EXAMPLE: Although this is science fiction, it lacks authenticity. Your readers will
wonder why the main character ignores his mentor for so long--something about
his willful ignorance doesn't ring true.

I had decided to add a snow storm to overcome a creditability bump.

credibility bump, something unbelievable that jars the reader.

The very absence of the storm was hindering my writing. But I have been inspired lately. So very inspired! The Lexicon, for one, has really helped me hone in my writing and understand why some things felt bumpy. It has helped me look at the manuscript with a more critical eye.

A lot of what I have read about comes naturally, but I have had many struggles to. And now that I understand them better, I feel I can fix them.

When I feel there is more structure to the story I will begin again to add to the plot. I have a disadvantage as I haven't taken a writing class since I was seventeen years old. Though, I feel more well versed in how to write fiction now than I ever did before. Or maybe I just can't remember. Which is very likely.

The other reason I have been feeling so inspired is because I started aerial dance classes. I am studying silks and trapeze. I started this class because I want to add this to my resume. Wherever we live be it Miami, Barcelona, or somewhere I wouldn't predict like Buenos Aires, I can get regular work with belly dance, and aerial, and gogo dancing if it doesn't get in the way of being supportive of my husband as there is a time conflict his job. Also I want to seriously challenge my body. I regularly challenge my body with dance but I haven't taken on a feat like this since I was a teenager. I want to be physical. I want to be strong and have more power over these muscles and bones! Maybe Angela has inspired this in me, maybe this part of Angela is an extension of me. Most likely its a little of both. Above all this has helped me understand what it would feel like to be in Angela's body. To know what type of pain she could handle, and without realizing it, I was foreshadowing coming events when I decided she would be an acrobatic .

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

012611 The Editor's Lexicon 68

My mother bought me the Editor's Lexicon for Christmas.

I have almost read through the entire thing but really it is a book to be visited and revisited during the writing (and editing process).

I am going to add a review from that explains it perfectly and why you should own this if you write fiction.

"This is a very helpful book. It gives names to many of the pitfalls we try to avoid in our writing, such as scope (which I would call "getting bogged down in one little detail") and info-dump (nobody wants to know that the conference table was rectangular or the taxi was drive-by-wire). The author even has the courage to use a passage from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight to illustrate weak style! She includes typical editorial comments to demonstrate how one might come across the terminology, as well as book excerpts illustrating good and bad execution and concepts that might otherwise seem obscure. It is a very short book, but its treatment of editorial lingo gives writers another tool for looking at their work with a bit more objectivity." -- Libby Cone (press her name for Amazon link with her review)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

012411 Cold Again 64

I'm home now! It has been VERY busy. I have been VERY busy and VERY distracted. I have not written as much as I would like, but I have written every day. I have told a few people I am writing. I told a friend that I named a character after her. That she wasn't the character but they had they same attitude and beauty. That they reminded me of each other.

There are a few reasons things have slowed down.

First and foremost, though I am embarrassed to say, I have been spending way too much time on the internet. Over the past months, especially since becoming so serious about my novel, I have spent much less time on the internet. I have wasted a lot of time on the internet in my life. I don't even like to think about it. I have also invested a lot of productive time on the internet. But lately I have just been loading and reloading facebook... Why would I do this? Well, my first day back at work I get pulled into the front office. Long story short, I receive an iPad. This is what they do for us instead of a bonus. Instead of a raise for taking on a huge project, and especially for me, who covered all of the Spanish accounts in the company as I was the only person who spoke any Spanish. I realize they saved a lot of money by doing this and though it is unfair, I would never buy myself an iPad, EVER. I don't buy myself gifts. I don't have a smart phone, I don't even have text messaging on my 4 year old flip phone. I rarely buy myself clothes. I hate malls (but I love fashion). I like window shopping and long wish lists on amazon and what have you. But I don't spend money that way. I travel and I invest in my passions and my husbands passions and our business. Our education. I invest in good cuts of meat. Good wines. Nights out. I try to enjoy life while allowing only a sliver of my overall happiness to belong to material objects. But...


Yes, my feelings about the thing are that intense. This is the first time I have been introduced to this whole touch screen thing. Apps. All that. I swear. I am a complete novice. I am a poor and simple girl. I prefer to hand write. Or not speak with you at all. Okay, that is an exaggeration. Anyway, point being, I feel like I have jumped forward in time or maybe it is that I have been far behind times. I'm thinking it's the latter. It's most certainly the latter.

But, I am giving that up now. Tonight. Only fifteen minutes a day on Facebook from here on out.

But, the iPad is not the only thing that has kept me busy. Of course working. We are still working on the same project from the summer. The VISA project is what we call it, you can speculate as to why. And though it has downsized, the DOB project has been jacked on.

I also got hired at a new club. I work in clubs as a dancer. A gogo dancer but a good one. I am a real dancer. Before this I have worked for a few years as a belly dancer and have a job lined upon our move back down south. I started gogo dancing because when I drop this god damn weight I can probably get a job down there doing this as well. It would be awesome to only be working as a dancer. All that time to write. Sleeping in late, beach during the day! The life! What a life!!!! I am such a dreamer. I have worked every weekend doing that. Waking up early the next day, going to work, taking a nap in the afternoon. I am running on four hours of sleep a night. Codeine cough medicine. I am high 24/7.

Also, one day this week I did a photo shoot with another gogo. This was the first time I had met her. She had an amazing body. Beautiful face! I told her she should keep modeling and I meant it. She was nice. A little shy but she opened up at the end. I tried my best to make it as comfortable for her as possible and I think we got some good shots. However, I planned to have this shoot in the day light but the sun sets early this time of year, she was running late (I told her not to worry) but it was dark when we started. I don't have any equipment to facilitate this process, like an external flash, for instance. But in the end I am happy with a couple and that is fine. At least I am investing my time in creativity instead of the internet.

Anywho, those are all of the reasons I HAVEN'T been writing as much as I have wanted to. Also, I have been doing a lot of editing lately. Really enriching the story, trying to add a bit of truth and a lot of beauty to my prose. Actually, much of it has gone very well. I am very happy with the story and my writing. My satisfaction surprises me.

I opened up the first first draft yesterday after a few days sticking only to the legal pads but the inspiration I felt was not as powerful as my exhaustion. I passed out soon after I turned on my lap top!

I will begin writing................. NOW!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

011311 Stranded at the Drive In, Branded A Fool...

I've had too much wine tonight. I am a bit sad.

Coincidentally, I am the one who got stranded. My connection flight into ATL got canceled. My new flight out is Friday morning and the connection is JFK, so there isn't much hope that will happen either. Ironically, my lover's connection was in Denver, he landed in snow and made it home local time 9:00pm Wednesday evening!

How am I to sleep without him tonight? I wont be able to. Even though I only got four hours of sleep today (after staying up all night to take him to the aeropuerto at 5:30am). I was so worried about him traveling alone. Maybe it is obvious, maybe it is not, but we don't spend much time apart. In the four and a half years we have known each other maybe we have spent twenty nights apart. I don't know how to sleep without him. Ever since the the very first night I slept in his arms, I have never remembered how not to.

So, now I have had four or five or six glasses of wine. Soon I plan to disconnect from the internet and go to bed to write. Well, maybe I will have one more glass of wine. Okay, maybe two. I am not going to sit here and deny that I like to drink. That I don't like to alter my conscience with one drug or another. Alcohol usually when I hurt.

I saw a movie tonight, with my mother in law, and it has deepened the sadness within me. I've Loved You So Long, written and directed by Philippe Claudel, touched me in a way few films do. Though, not a romance, like my novel, still a great character study and it had me thinking about how, why and when we forgive people, which will be important in my story. As forgiveness is important in life.

Also, today I joined forum to help immerse myself in the writers culture. I made an introduction post and replied to someone else's. I have to reply to five posts before I am granted permission to start a new thread and I am interested in seeing how many people use substances to help them write, like I do.

Writing is still coming along well. I still feel confident. And besides missing my lover, my thoughts are consumed by my story. I am proud of myself. Really, I am!

Monday, January 10, 2011

011111 Peter in Media

Every chance I can get I have been writing but I haven't had many chances. Our last few days down here have been hectic. I leave tomorrow (well, today, technically). I have to pack. I have to clean the apartment (a little). And my lover has already fallen asleep.

We have septate flights 17 hours apart yet arrive at our destination within an hour of each other. And because we will have to be apart my lover has been testing my love. What if there is an earth quake and I am stuck here, no planes can leave or come for a month? I would take a boat to be with you. What if I get injured and have to stay in the hospital and you don't find out until you are already home? I'd turn around take the next flight out.

I am feeling much more confident and motivated since starting this journal. Writing has been coming to me easier. Some of my prose are turning out to be really beautiful. I am pleased.

In this entry I want to collect some songs and poems and pictures that evoke the idea of Peter.


A Case of You
Joni Mitchell

Just before our love got lost you said
I am as constant as a northern star
And I said, constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice

Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
Oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid
I remember that time that you told me, you said
Love is touching souls
Surely you touched mine
Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time

Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed

Oh but you are in my blood you're my holy wine
You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet


I don't know the authors name
At home I have her poetry book
I will update this part then

Today was insane
not knowing my name
I took the giant step
while a giant slept beside me
cozy, come darling
today was eternity
in the realm of reality
I took the giant step
while a giant slept beside me
cozy, come darling
Inside gave way as I asked permission
to go beyond
where a giant's steps invade
A giant slept beside me
Yes I'll always be
forever living free
under giants heavy steps
a giant sleeps beside me
cozy, come darling.

Now, that poem had a lot to do with the character of Peter. First and foremost, when my aunt gave the book to me that this poem was in, I immediately fell in love. I must have been sixteen or seventeen years old. My mind and body filled with romance! This was my favorite poem in the book (except for the special hand written poem on the inside of the cover, written for my aunt by the original gift giver). I loved the idea of the woman being so small in her femininity. And a man being so large he was a giant. That imagery is so masculine. The two sexes contrasting with each other as much as they compliment each other. This poem is sexual and mysterious and was written about Peter, I have no doubt!

The Ballad of Peter's Lovers:

We live on a mountain
Right at the top
There's a beautiful view
From the top of the mountain
Every morning I walk towards the edge
And throw little things off
Car parts, bottles and cutlery
Or whatever I find lying around

It's become a habit
A way
To start the day

I go through all this
Before you wake up
So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you

It's early morning
No one is awake
I'm back at my cliff
Still throwing things off
I listen to the sounds they make
On their way down
I follow with my eyes 'til they crash
Imagine what my body would sound like
Slamming against those rocks

When it lands
Will my eyes
Be closed or open?

I go through all this
Before you wake up
So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you


And, lastly some still images from X-Men Origins: Wolverine that I watched on TV a few weeks ago. When I saw this scene I immediately thought of Peter and his home.


And, lastly I will leave you with my favorite line I have written today:

"You can fall in love with simple things like snow, and the heat of a man’s skin against yours after he’s just made love to you. The tenuous rhythm of the swirling snow can hypnotize you. And even a good girl can be convinced to do a very bad thing."

Friday, January 7, 2011

010711 Peter Discovers a New Path 63

I have been thinking about Peter more, as was my intention. I began to write a short story about him that I intend to include in the novel. Quite soon actually. A story about him and another lover.

It has been helpful to write about Peter when Angela is not around. Just to take a break from the first draft has been helpful because it has been frying my brain. Also, through writing this, I have learned to better understand why a woman would be attracted to this man. For instance, if I met him in a bar or if I were at his house for a party, how would he seduce me? How would he seduce you? Because he would.

So, this is what has been on the fore front of my mind, this is what has been keeping me up at night. And when I began to understand Peter, he became more real. He became whole. And my short lived writers block was gone, the first draft began to move forward once again.

However, since understanding Peter, I have discovered a huge flaw in the first draft that sooner or later I am going to have to go back and fix. You see, the story begins as Angela is leaving her husband. You don’t know why, at first you don’t even know she is leaving him at all, you don’t know why she is packing, or why she is drunk or why she is putting on stage make up. Then suddenly a new timeline begins and Angela is a young woman in a bar, being picked up by a handsome giant. These two stories are told simultaneously, jumping back and forth to and from one another.

In the second story line, Angela meets Peter in a bar and then stays locked in his house for a week. I know why she would do this, as impulsive as it may seem, it is because she falls in love, madly and deeply in love, so much so that she is obsessed, almost depraved! But, as I was writing it, I was having trouble presenting a scenario in which this would happen that was believable. The problem has been the fluidity of the scenes that deal with her deciding to quit her job and basically become this man’s sex toy.


It dawned on me as I was tending to the first (typed) draft that all I need is a snow storm. The snow storm of the century, they will be trapped in that house for a week and there they will fall in love! It’s perfect, it’s romantic, it will provoke beautiful imagery to tease the senses. It may be a bit cliché, yes, but I think it will work. I think it may but just what we need.

I am about to go back up North to my parents’ home. I hope it snows, a big snow storm. A lights out, constant fire, candles lit, blankets on, no contact with the world kind of snow storm. I hope, I hope! Regardless if there is or if there isn’t, I am going to do the things Angela and Peter would have done. I am going to sit next to the fire place, I am going to cook grand breakfasts, I am going to make love in the cold, gray afternoon. I’m going to soak it all up, paying close attention to how it feels to exist!

P.S. I am adding this as I post this to the blog, because it took me two days to write this and another day to post it. And before I wrote this I wasn't on the writing streak that I am now. Non stop, all day! I don't know how I am going to sleep tonight but I must because tomorrow is Friday, our last Friday down here, and it will be busy. Anyway, I just wanted to add that the words have been flowing, looking back over the first full draft has been a real success. I have begun weaving in the snow storm and I do think it is perfect. Anyway, it is 3:20 in the morning and my husband is already in bed. Goodnight!