Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Writing Progress

It's only Tuesday but I'm having a good week of writing so far. Last week was a tough week.
I got two lengthy scenes done in longhand today, so I am pretty pleased. Also had lunch with a dear friend. And am now unwinding with a glass of unoaked Australian chardonnay. All in all, a good day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ah Oooh!

That's the call of the werewolf, as rendered by the late greate Warren Zevon. Werewolves wishing you a happy Lunar New Year (which is naturally the new year that werewolves would celebrate, no?) I'm picturing Asian werewolves lunching on raw meat dim sum.

Ok, I have been working at a coffeeshop since 8:30 am today. I have finished a scene I started Saturday. The female werewolf is on a date with some poor schmuck. She knocks him out with a date rap drug in order to steal his flash drive. What does she want with his flash drive? Ah, that I'm not telling. But she doesn't eat him...yet... because he still has something else she wants.

And now, on to the next scene. (I have a list of 12 that I need to add to the manuscript.)

Catch you later, gentle readers!

Friday, January 23, 2009

In Case You're Wondering

what I had such a bug up my ass about in that last post... it's actually an idea I'm playing with for a character I'm working on for a future novel. He is in that awkward period bordering Gen X and the Baby Boom, and he finds a lot of his problems in life come from blindly following the example of the Baby Boomers. Am I this down on the Millennials? No, not really. Although I do think their parenting skills leave something to be desired, and I do wish they had a slightly less conservative bent. But that's just me. :-)

Parents and Children

We (Gen X) were the last generation to separate from our parents. In some ways, the Baby Boom's trajectory was all about separation: separating from their own parents, of course, but also separating from the generations before them, from the established institutions of the time, and from the entire culture. The point of separation is to make room for one's own adulthood, but once they made the room and walked into it, they did not bring adulthood with them, or even the seeds thereof. They brought instead the leftovers of adolescence: the narcissism, the self-indulgence, the naive idealism, and most of all, the overweening sense of entitlement.

And we (Gen X) followed eagerly in their footsteps, never considering that to destroy a culture without presenting a viable alternative meant destroying the collective identity and a major component of each person's sense of self. Listen to the music of those in their twenties. You get one of two things, You get either self-absorbed whining or you get militantly antisocial posturing; one or the other; nothing whatsoever to promote a positive vision of the place of the individual in society.

So I ask: What have we wrought?

Now the children of the baby boomers are parents and the children of Gen X are also reproducing merrily. It's difficult to imagine more laissez faire parenting. Watch the children running around shrieking. Any expectation of control has vanished. Even TV commercials are full of parents of toddlers who have given up. They just shrug as if this is the way it's supposed to be.

You can't blame the parents, though. Look in their eyes; you can see they are clueless. The baby boomers are only now (as they join AARP) overcoming their distrust of adulthood; they never let their children grow up. Is it any wonder we now see such miserable parenting? What's to become of this country?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Mystery of Subplot

I finally have a working title for this werewolf novel I'm writing. It's Chapel of the Wolves. I'm working on what I consider to be the seconed draft, although I haven't written all of the subplot yet. I'm thinking it will take 4-5 chapters to be interspersed among the main plot chapters, with some editing for continuity. I have compiled all the existing chapters into one file, and to my amazement, the printout is 270 pages long.

The suplot has been scaring me for two weeks now. I have an idea but not THE idea. But I've learned that, if you don't know what comes next, you'll probably find some answers in the early chapters of the book--things you didn't realize were there. That's why I printed the draft and am working on it--editing and gleaning ideas at the same time. I have a couple of good ones, so I'm feeling distinctly optimistic at this point.

The problem with writing is that I get so nervous that I won't have any ideas, I can't help eating massive quantities of junk. So I'm putting on weight. It's not a good thing. Any writers out there, if you have ideas about how to combat this, let me know. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cats with Short Fuses

Okay, we brought Natasha upstairs last night, and she cuddled with Kurt on the bed until we turned the lights off. Then she started hissing at the boys. All night long.

I asked Kurt to take her downstairs when we were leaving this morning, to keep her safe from the boys' harassment. He did so, but what a scene of mayhem ensued. He has deep bites and scratches on his hands, so deep that he bled through the bandages on the ferry this morning. This cat has a short fuse. She turned her nose up at her morning meal and scorned her dinner because she's still mad. So she also carries a grudge. Sigh. I tried to bring her upstairs tonight, but she took a snap at me. I tried to entice her out of the room, to no avail. Still, I think things are going as well as they might after a period of nine days. Still need to get some photos of her. I'll tell you it's frustrating, however.

Inauguration Day

I've been more cynical than I'd like to be about the Democratic Party during the election process. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud to have voted for our new president, and I certainly hope the change in economic policies bring about a more farsighted approach to business development, peace, and improvement of our own self-image as Americans and our image abroad. But I'm not optimistic. Power is bad for people. Look how corrupt the Republicans were under W and H before him. Look how corrupt the Democrats were under Clinton. I don't expect better under Obama, because people are people and there are too many opportunities for graft and deceit in Washington, D.C.

Nevertheless, I found myself tearing up several times today with the cool, unexpected breath of hope rushing into my face. I wish the Obamas and the Obama administration every success in reforming the system. I rejoice that our nation has taken this huge step towards racial healing. I pray that the people of our country join in a new vision of what they can be, what we can be, if we let go of our fears and let ourselves surrender to the feeling of goodwill to our fellow human beings.

Kind of sappy, so I apologize. But I know you feel the same, whoever you are.

As I was saying

yesterday, I have had the privilege of seeing three possible masterpieces on the silver screen in the last week or so. Yesterday it was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and Tilda Swinton, and Taraji Henson--and other actors as well, all of whom amazing.

What I was trying to say is that the movie really hit home for me, and it was a little painful, actually. At the most obvious level, I recall two different references in the movie to characters who were nearing the age of fifty and didn't have anything to show for it. And of course, I could fall into that category myself. On the other hand, I think it's pretty clear I did the best I could with what I had. Sometimes I made bad choices, sometimes I made good choices--no more of either than the average person, really. But I think where I fell short in the decades that have gone by is in always living other people's lives (the life other people wanted me to live, or the life I envied in other people) rather than following the call I heard, very low but still audible, deep down inside.

And of course, there's the message about time slipping away. That's a message that's hard to avoid in a movie about time. I don't know if I'm especially susceptible to the message because I'm pushing fifty, or because I'm trying to write this novel on a (self-imposed) deadline, or because of the deaths that have happened in the last year, or because it's Inauguration Day, or what...

But the fact is, our time is short, and growing shorter with every second. And so we have to live the lives that we're supposed to live, that we are destined to live, starting right now. And if we're supposed to be writing, then write, damn it, write. Right now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Three Amazing Movies

Must recommend Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Just when you think the movies have all become ridiculous and irrelevant, along come three that make you stop and take notice. And these are three. Great filmmakers require great writers. So writing has not yet become obsolete.

Friday, January 16, 2009

False alarm

OK, I found her. She was downstairs in "her" private chamber, the TV room. When I looked there before, she must have been upstairs. When I looked upstairs, she must have been downstairs. But when I brought the food bowl down, then she made an appearance. Go figure.

And cats help us how exactly?

Maybe that title is a little passive aggressive. Maybe it's my fault. I brought the boy kitties home from the vet today and shut them in the laundry room to give Miss Natasha a chance to explore the upstairs for the first time. She spend 40 minutes in the bedroom. Then I watched her go into the living room, where she promptly disappeared. I have searched the upstairs several times and find no sign of her whatsoever. Spooky. Had to let the boys out for their dinner, and I figured she'd pop out and hiss at them as she seems to like to do, but there's no sign of her anywhere. Ulp. I lost the cat. Oh no! Now what do I do?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I'm trying to get the second draft done around the end of the month. It won't be perfect, but I will have to let my sweetheart and a few interested people read it...as frightening as that prospect is. There's a lot of work to be done, and, as usual, life intervenes.

We have a new kitty, Natasha. She's adjusting in seclusion. She's got a bad habit of biting--and drawing blood--without warning while you're petting her. She seems to be terrified of hands (unless they are in a fist). Makes me think someone must have slapped her around in her previous life. I don't want to name names or point the finger here, but I do think the animal shelter pulled a fast one by not disclosing this peculiarity up front, and I also suspect they misrepresented her age. She's not able to walk well and she's not able to jump. Makes me think she's older than the six-year-old figure they gave us. Of course they're trying to avoid euthanizing animals so they try to present them in the best possible light, and I guess it's hard to blame them for that. But I do think they've been less than truthful, and I don't expect to ever adopt from that particular shelter again as a result. All of our kitties have been rescue kitties; but I do think a shelter has an obligation to be truthful about the animals they are placing. There are some other facts I'm not disclosing here because they would give too many clues as to who I'm talking about.

Anyway, we are dealing with the situation and trying to train Natasha gently through positive reinforcement and mini timeouts that biting and clawing are not acceptable. Today we'll let her explore the house a bit while the other kitties are kept in a separate room. I would like to introduce them face-to-face for a brief period tomorrow.

Meanwhile, werewolves... I went by the Elliot Bay Bookstore in Seattle yesterday. They have a window on the side (overlooking the outside entrance to their cafe) which seems to contain a Halloween display, full of books about bats and wolves and some griesly things. (I hope I'm using the word griesly correctly; if not I'll come back and change it to grisly.) One of the books that caught my eye was The Lost Wolves of Japan. I'm being very careful with $$ right now due to the macroeconomy and my personal economy, my microeconomy, so to speak, so I didn't buy it. But it sounds intriguing.

Has anyone out there (out of my many many followers) ever read Ghost of a Smile, by Deborah Boliver Boehm? It consists of stories about ghosts and spirits of Japan, including some of the traditional hauntings that my sweet Japanese mother used to tell me about as I was growing up,
like the Mujina, the ghost without a face. So some of it was sweetly familiar, and terrifying but not too terrifying--and updated for a contemporary urban sensibility. The author did an amazing job here. I recommend this book highly, particularly to hapas like myself. And to werewolf aficionados, one story in particular: "The Beast in the Mirror," which is about a Pacific Islander living in Hawai'i, who goes to Japan to become a sumo wrestler and is turned into...you guessed it...a werewolf.

Another interesting thing to me is how extraordinarily skilled the author is at writing in a male voice. Even though I'm a gay guy, I've not been successful at producing a female voice that sounds true.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stuck in the Slog

No, I'm not talking about all the rain and snow and mud and muck in Western Washington. I'm trying to transcribe 70 pages of longhand work on this novel. Transcribe, and edit, and improve it at the same time. And it is agonizing! I don't know why it's taking so long--I only got through five pages yesterday. Today I've gotten through fifteen, so it's improving, but still.

There's a lot of other stuff to take care of at the same time. Talking to the insurance company about the damage to the house from the storm; getting bids for roof repair, etc. Chores. Yard work. Getting dinner on the table. Freelance work. And getting this draft of the novel done done done. There's been some discussion on the blog I Love Werewolves (http://ilovewerewolves.com/blog/) about how to get it all done. I wish I was as capable or good at time management as some of the commenters there. But I keep trying...

Hope all's well with the werewolves out there...and the people who love them... and the people who fear them....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

All this snow and ice, followed by the holidays, followed by the rescheduled make-up festivities, it's been fun but it's really thrown my writing routine off. Today I'm trying to get back into it.

Yesterday, Kurt and I headed off to the Wing Luke Museum to see the exhibit about Native Hawaiians in the Pacific Northwest (www.wingluke.org). I grabbed what I through was a blank notebook to work on a particular scene I've been having trouble with. The ferry to Seattle is usually a good place for me to write--couldn't tell you why. But the notebook I grabbed turned out to be full. No room for more writing. The good part is that it was full of scenes I KNEW I had written (and done a pretty good job on too) but could not find. Does this ever happen to anyone else? I should be more organized. It's a problem, though, when you're working full-time and your commute is a long one. You lose track of what you've written and where you put it. Outlining helps, but if you outline too much, or get too detailed, then you kill the creative spark that adds life to your work.

I know I'm very blessed to have this time for writing. So I need to make more of an effort to make use of it.

The main thing that's on my mind at the moment: Wolf packs and werewolves. How much do pack dynamics affect werewolf behavior? (Sounds like an anthropological or, dare I say it, a lycanthropological treatise, doesn't it?)

Happy New Year--good luck with your own writing.