The Muse

Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Get Your Husband to Buy You a Horse, and more...

 Couldn't resist--just for fun...

And now I'm going to get serious--dammit.

On the last blog I mentioned my novel Song of Africa, and that I had 35,000 words to go--still have almost. I don't think I can do it. I’m too cryptic; to afraid I will bore people, too much to the point. I've been discouraged all week, and here I am wanting to spread good-will and a happy life. (Don’t count on me.)

Yesterday I looked up the Gambia online--one editor told me to never use google in your research for people will laugh at you, yeah, like everyone googles everything. I just wanted it to spark something in me. When I began this novel I had no pictures same the Encyclopedia, and talk about cryptic, but there are pictures online. Don't know if I want my romanticized view of Africa clouded with facts, but I looked up The Gambia, a river in West Africa. To ride that river is my character’s dream. She heard it looks like the Hollywood stereotype of an African river—and so that was her choice, her river. (Now it is called The Sara Rose by her lover.) The adventure begin at the river.  Well, no, it began on the first page where the postmistress tells Patrice and her mother that her grandparents are dead—lost on what the world calls the Dark Continent. Strange to call Africa dark when the sun shines for nine months of the year, but isn’t the light level that has motivated the word, “dark,” it is the mystery.

I got to thinking about my characters. The book ends in 1996. That means Patrice, the young 15-year- old girl in Africa would be 34 years old now. And Sara, my heroine was 77 in 1998. I have fallen in love with my characters, which is the way it ought to be with a novel, but I’m feeling sad about them, for with them, like with me, and those around me, time marches on. I wonder what they have been doing for the last 19 years. 

The Gambia River flows through Senegal West Africa.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bird by Bird*

“It is no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn’t.” –Mark Twain

If a gun appears on the wall in act I, it must be fired by act III.

It’s a fiction rule, like the one shoe dropping. We hear the man upstairs undressing, one shoe drops, and we wait. No fair if the guy upstairs quietly sets down his second shoe.

Suspense is created by foreshadowing.  The gun on the wall, a palmist gasps when she examines the hero’s hand, you see a torn letter stuffed into a mail box and knows it has significance, but what?

I’m contemplating my novel Song of Africa, one that has been on my shelf, in my drawer, in the computer, traveled from California, to Oregon to Hawaii to Oregon—it’s still in my computer, added to, written over, and finally an ending found. It’s a miracle.

 The problem? I have written 40,000 words and I need 75,000 by the end of the month. I read about foreshadowing, structure, plot, beginnings, middles, endings, style, technique, suspense, all of which is overwhelming. Like Real Estate study, you throw too much at a person and they become catatonic.

“Take it bird by bird,” Anne Lamont’s father told her brother. He was collecting bird names for a school project, and felt there were too many birds, he couldn’t do it. “Just take it bird by bird.” Anne uses that advice in her writing and *Bird by Bird is the title of one of her books.

Right now, after attending a concert and wondering about art, and the artist, and realizing that while they (those authority figures) tell us to “Give our gift.” “To do what you love.” “Built it and they will come.” You know the drift. “Do what you love and money will follow.”That sort of thing. I wonder, though, there is a fine line between entertaining and self-indulgence.