Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Wheel of Time will be the death of me... (that, and snake-attacks!)

I was walking home earlier, and was in-sight of the house. The day had been cool and it was still a bit overcast. Usually I would be sweating something terrible but there was a cool, wind, too. I was listening to the audio book of Towers of Midnight -had just returned to Perrin, still early in the book- and I was a house away from the end of the block and the STOP street; all I would need to do was cross the road and I'd be home.

I remember that I was looking down, in thought or something, when I heard a clatter and saw dried-out palm fronds skid across the tar from my right - some bouncing off my sneakers, some not. I turned and looked behind me and saw that an orangey straight stick, quite long, at least as long as my arm, was literally streaking toward me. It struck my shoe and I turned fully to get a better look at it, thinking that some kids were playing a game and had knocked a ball or something into garden, dislodging garden debris. That's when I felt the stick tug at my shoe.

That's also when I saw the stick was, in fact, a snake, and that it was attacking me. It darted at me again, struck my shoe again. My brain finally decided to send the signals to react, thank goodness.

I've always joked about how cartoon characters run - either their lower or upper bodies are extended too far ahead - and that's what I must have looked like. I swore, "JESUS!" and kicked out. I felt the snake's body whip across my calves and outward but I was already kicking out again; when I came down the second time I was running. I don't know how many meters I covered but when I felt I was far enough away I turned around looked to see if it was following me.

It wasn't. It just lay there in the road. Completely still. And I couldn't take my eyes off it. I realized I was breathing very hard and very fast and that I had kept on swearing. I took another couple of steps away, had the presence of mind to watch out for cars, and reached the end of the block. When I looked back it was moving across the road. When I looked back again (still watching for cars) it was gone.

I still can't believe how incredibly fast that attack was. I'm sure that it went at me twice but I think it struck three times - and each time it hit the thick rubber soles of my sneakers. I've checked them for marks, checked my foot, and haven't noticed anything. No marks, no broken skin, nada. So I'm probably safe.

I have no idea what kind of snake it was - I honestly wasn't going to get closer to have a look. The dude obviously didn't like me.

But damn, it was fucking fast.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Breaks and Short Stories

So, it's been a while since I blogged. It's been a strange couple of weeks, sometimes stressful, sometimes lazy... I guess I can make as many excuses as I want to, but I guess if I'm honest I have to say that I was writing quite a pivotal scene and I wasn't sure how to get across what I wanted to get across in the scene.

I was agonizing about the dialogue, too - two characters, both in the process of really discovering themselves and finding the roles they'll be playing in book 2. Added to that, I've now got all my characters where I need them so that I can start charging toward the finale - that's damn stressful, too. Exciting as hell, for sure, but stressful.

Anyway, I would think of the scene every day, watching as it went off in different paths and nothing really struck me as the right path, know what I mean? Anyway, time passed and two weeks ago we were watching movies.

We watched Repo Men, (awesome, incredible movie) and I had an idea for a short story. I knew it would be a short story because the title leapt into my brain first and then the characters, the scenes, etc. Anyway, I had the idea and then wrote it. That was Birthday.

The following day we watched Astro Boy and Splice, and guess which movie gave me the idea? ;-) Astro Boy. The story was The Orphan.

A couple of days later I was lying in the bath. I had this idea-avalanche, a succession of ideas that linked together and formed a story - plot, characters, even some dialogue, and at the end of that avalanche I was insanely pumped to write. But because I was so pumped I took it slow... Wrote around 500 words on the first evening and then finished the story the next day. I struggled a bit with a name for it, had the idea to read some of Percy Bysshe Shelley's poetry and chose a name. Breathless Sleep.

And this is the one, I think, that got me thinking differently about the novel. Breathless Sleep is unlike any other short story I've written - it's not Horror, it's not SF, it's not Dystopian. It's something else, and the first time I've tried to write this particular melding of genres. It kept me and my girlfriend up, talking about it. :-)

Anyway, I think that because it was so different, and because it got me thinking of and exploring different ideas, when I sat down to work on the WIP again I was able to finish the scene and the chapter. I guess I've learned something:

When I'm struggling with a scene, I'm going to try and write some short stories. Keeping the brain ticking over, keeping the thoughts running, that's the important thing. Not writing is not an option. After all, if I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life, I'm gonna have to learn how to do it well, and on command.

I'm a bit tired tonight, but I'm gonna get started on Chapter 20 anyway. I'm going to back to one of my favourite chapters and I have to start setting her up for major anguish and an impossible choice, which will, of course, end up affecting every other character in one way or another. :-)

Wish me productivity so you don't have to wait as long for another post! :-)

Wordcount so far: 75917

And no, 'aint taking part in NaNoWriMo - this novel is not joining the Unfinished pile...