Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo - (-30-)

As a journalism/mass communications student, I learned the story of -30-. It signifies the end of the story. One journalists, upon finding out he had cancer or a brain tumor or looming bankruptcy (the tale changes, depending on the source), wrote his goodbye and - rather than signing it - ended it with -30-.

Most public relations pros and journalists use ### now, but it does not hold the allure of -30-, the story told by the dreamy college professor whose face was lit by an overhead projector as he told the silent class in cool, clipped words. It took years for me to adapt to the ### format. My brain and heart do not adapt as quickly.

NaNoWriMo is being -30-ed. My story there has ended. Under the pressure of an avalanche of words, I cannot focus on my story. Last year, when I had no real sense of my novel, it was a fantastic experience where I could play and smear things on the walls with no sense of reprisal or fear. This year, I know my story. I know my characters... in some cases, better than I know my friends. In pushing for word counts, I found myself creating unlikely scenarios for these characters, and the waste of it made me sick to my stomach.

So, I tried to shock my system in another manner. My greatest vanity (highly encouraged by my husband and sons) is my long, blondish hair. It hits the back of my shoulder blades, perfect for a child to stroke or my man to grab and pull me down for a kiss. My youngest would play barber and brush my hair, but even then he would not pretend to cut it.

I colored it red... dark auburn cherry fire red. The color of my heroine's hair, the color that let her be known to her soldiers during battle.

Because, after all, I am fighting a battle of my own. I am writing the novel, after playing with its sister-screenplay for almost eight years. Typing instead of swinging swords, the clatter of keys instead of the clang of metal. But I am going to finish it, and my beloved Celtic queen will finally be released from our strange, intimate bond.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Day 10

I am struggling. I have never written such crappity crap in my life, just for the sake of writing it. While I like the forced march of writing, I wonder if I will be able to use any of this in the final draft, and that is a depressing and debilitating thought. 50,000 words by November 30, and I have had none of the promised responses, like a renewed idea of the plot or a twist in the characters' stories. Still, discouraged > failure.

As you may have noticed, Photobucket gave me the boot because I did not log in for a year. I get my access back if I join their premium program. Pshaw! As if! Insert your own 80s phrase here.

So, I will be remodeling the blog - but not until December. NaNoWriMo, work, and family take precedence over my silly little blog. Still, I welcomed my 10,000th independent visitor last week (thank you whomever checked in from the Netherlands), so I will continue to read and post my boozy thoughts for other crazy bibliophiles in search of a friend.

60. REBECCA - Daphne du Maurier

No, it is not a "new novel." In fact, many of this blog's readers have recommended Rebecca for years. I've followed your advice because you have seldom been wrong.

Until now. Or not?

I am sorry dear blog readers, but I had such a difficult time with the plot of this novel. The writing was extraordinary - her use of language incredible. Descriptions danced off the pages and into my imagination. Allowing the main character to stay nameless throughout the book could be considered an amazing literary accomplishment for the times (and by a woman! you can hear the critics of old gush).

But I think I needed more backstory - the things she told Maxim about her past but never revealed to the reader. Then, I would understand her desire to stay.

For those who have not read this book (I thought I was the last one, but you never know), Rebecca is the dead wife of the narrator's new husband. Her presence seems to haunt the huge house of Manderley and distract the husband, Maxim, from his new wife. Mrs. Danvers, a nasty old servant of the house, is so dedicated to her former employer that she and the others insist that certain things (menus, the placement of flowers) be like Rebecca would want.

What kicked this over to the plus side was Daphne du Maurier's post script in my paperback version. She didn't give the narrator a name because she could not come up with one. Love it!

3.? out of 5.0 Boat Drinks.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

59. WOLF HALL - Hilary Mantel

Winner of the coveted Man Booker award for fiction in 2009, Wolf Hall charmed and challenged this reader.

First, I will admit some bias. As readers of my blog know, I have been exploring the books about European royalty, including several volumes about Henry V alone. This book shows the relationship between Henry and Anne Boleyn, yet it is through the eyes of dark merchant/lawyer Thomas Cromwell.

If you know enough about British history (or, Thor forbid, you read Phillippa Gregory novels as truth), you already know these characters. Otherwise, it would be a confusing read. Still, these are not the characters that I have known through different pages. Thomas More is older and fierce in his religious beliefs, while Anne Boleyn is both automaton and vengeful bitch.

What was brilliant about this book, however, was the dry humor. Whether at home, in court (meaning the court of royalty), or back alleys, I re-read bits of dialogue over and over to fully enjoy the snark veiled by manners and questions.

4.75 out of 5.0 English Highballs.