Narrowing the Gap

quill pen

I’ve been working on a new story, in the hopes of adding to my Fifty by Fifty list. It’s an idea that’s been rattling around in my  head for awhile now, involving a local poet who lived in my area in the mid-nineteenth century (who I’m fictionalizing in the story), a contemporary young woman who is researching him for her graduate thesis, and a strange stone she finds near a local landmark built in honor of him, a stone that has the strange power to flash her back to the poet’s life. There’s a mystery involved concerning his wife, and though I’m not sure how it will play out, I’m very excited about it.

However…as I’m writing along, I’m finding it’s going to be quite a long short story, if not a novella. It may even have the ingredients for a novel.

Crap.

That’s not what I intended. It always seems that as soon as I set a course of action, my mind immediately veers off in another direction. And though I’m enjoying writing the story, I’m well aware that there are a lot of holes and fuzzy areas. For one thing, I’m not a poet. Nowhere near. And my protagonist is an aspiring poet, trying to decide if she wants to finish the thesis, become a teacher and marry her doctor fiance, or ditch all that and stay in this small town to write her poetry. So I feel I need some poetry in there, both the poet’s and my protagonist’s. Yikes.

I often feel that my great ideas surpass my talent to tell them. Great ideas are a dime a dozen–anyone can come up with one, but the real test is to actually pull if off and write it. I always fear that my stories fall short of what I had envisioned in my imagination. What I’m capable of writing can never live up to the “brilliance” of my vision. That’s frustrating, and a little depressing.

But I do know that just picking up the pen and trying is the first battle. To have the audacity to give it a go. And if it doesn’t work? Oh well. Keep trying, and learn along the way. Maybe the next one will be better. Keep writing until the gap between what I achieve on paper and the movie inside my head narrows and they meet.

“Fake it til you make it,” as the saying goes.

 

Dracula Untold

draculauntold

 

This movie has been languishing on my DVR for 5 months. I had some time on a Friday afternoon last week, and although I “should” have been writing, I grabbed some popcorn and settled in.

I’m always interested in new interpretations of the Dracula myth–I’ve read the book a couple of times, and enjoyed the 1992 movie “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” This one combines the historical figure of Vlad the Impaler (a Romanian prince who lived in the fifteenth century, known for his cruelty and impaling of his enemies) and a few elements of Bram Stoker’s vampire novel.

In Dracula Untold, Vlad (Luke Evans, that guy from Laketown in The Hobbit) is a loving husband and father, who will do anything to protect his people. Taken hostage by the Turks as a child to ensure his father’s loyalty to the sultan, Vlad now rules his kingdom and pays tribute to the Turks to keep the peace. On a scouting trip, he and his men encounter a terrifying supernatural creature in a cave atop Broken Tooth Mountain. Vlad learns that centuries before, a man had made a terrible bargain with a demon; he got the demon’s powers but became stuck in that cave forever until someone else comes along to take up the burden.

During an Easter celebration, the Turks  barge in and demand 1000 boys for their armies. They also demand Vlad’s young son (Art Parkinson, young Rickon Stark in Game of Thrones) as a hostage, just as he had been held captive years before. At first, he feels compelled to acquiesce, but at the last moment changes his mind and slaughters the Turks sent to bring his boy back. Now he’s in big trouble, and needs a miracle to save his people.

He races toward Broken Tooth Mountain to face the demon-like creature he had encountered earlier–he wants his powers, and sees it as the only way to defeat the Turks.

power

He faces the vampire (Charles Dance, also from Game of Thrones), and agrees to his deal: he’ll get the powers, and if he refrains from drinking human blood for three days, he’ll go back to normal. If not, then he’ll be a monster for eternity, and agrees to help the present vampire get revenge on the demon who tricked him into his present state.

Simple enough, right? Right. It’s fun watching Vlad take on the entire Turkish army by himself (and with his millions of bats), but you just know things are going to go terribly wrong. He’s pretty much useless by day, his own people start to distrust and fear him, the thirst for human blood becomes unbearable, and personal tragedy isn’t far behind.

I thought this was a pretty entertaining movie for what it was, dark and sweeping and wrenching, and the ending promises a sequel at some point (remember that bargain with the original vampire?) I’d go see it.

untold montage

 

 

 

Another Book Roundup

I haven’t been keeping up with full-length book reviews here, so I thought I’d just jot down a few lines about the books I’ve been reading lately.

  • The Last One, by Alexandra Oliva. A woman competes in a Survivor-like reality show, only to find the line between show and reality beginning to blur. As her Solo Challenge progresses, it becomes clear to the reader that something terrible has happened in the outside world, but Zoo thinks it’s part of the game-or refuses to see it. An interesting tale on how we can blind ourselves to the truth.
  • the-last-one
  • Low  Country Bribe, by Hope C. Clark. A Department of Agriculture employee finds herself mixed up with bribes and murder. Not my usual cup of tea, but I love Clark’s website Funds for Writers, and thought I’d give her fiction a whirl.
  • The Bookseller, by Cynthia Swanson. A woman dreams an alternate life in 1963 Denver. By day, she’s Kitty, a single woman who runs a bookstore with her friend. When she goes to sleep at night, she’s Katharine, wife to perfect husband Lars and mother to two beautiful children. But it turns out that perfect life isn’t so perfect, and Kitty struggles to make sense of the two lives she’s living.
  • bookseller

 

What I’m reading now:

  • The Light Between the Oceans, by M.L. Stedman. I’m reading this one for the book club, about a couple living on a lighthouse island in 1926 Australia, who decide to keep a baby washed up onshore in a boat. Like that won’t have devastating repercussions.
  • light oceans
  • Children of Earth and Sky, by Guy Gavriel Kay. Kay is my favorite fantasy author, and I’m finally reading his latest. Opening up one of his books is like coming home.
  • Children

So that’s what’s been going on in my reading world. Have you read any of these books? What are you reading these days? Let me know and we’ll talk about it!

 

Fifty by Fifty

It’s been a weird couple of weeks, as I’ve dealt with some personal funks that’s caused some highly philosophical musings, such as: what’s the f***ing point, anyway? I couldn’t focus on writing, so I decided to take some time and just do whatever the hell I wanted to do. Important things like long walks, napping in the middle of the day, and listening to music I love. Reading books, as always. Some not-so-important things, like aimless TV watching, and tooling around on Facebook, Pinterest, and You Tube. It felt good to indulge in a little bit of time-wasting.

But it’s time I pulled myself together, because the truth is I’m not happy unless I have some concrete writing goal. Since I suspect the source of my funk has been Time itself, as in, the swift passage of it, my youth in the dust, and my perception of having nothing to show for it, I devised a goal that would help me look forward to the arrival of the next decade. Namely, the big 5-0, less than 5 impossible years away.

hourglass

I love writing short stories. Why not try to write 50 stories by the time I’m 50? If I let myself count the 16 stories I’ve already written (some here on the blog, the rest on my hard drive), that leaves 34 to be written. That’s roughly 7 stories a year.

I can do that.

Here are my parameters: they have to be completed stories, not sketches or fleshed out ideas. They can be flash fiction, or short stories of any length. They don’t have to be submitted for publication anywhere, or posted on the blog (unless I feel they’re good enough to do so). They just have to be written. They don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be the best that I can achieve. They can be about anything, in any genre. They have to please me.

If I do this, I think hitting fifty won’t be so formidable and depressing, but rather, an achievement, a culmination of a creative goal I’ve set for myself. If I don’t quite make it, that’s okay. The point is to keep writing as if I will. It’s the act of writing itself that’s always gotten me through the tough times, no matter what it is.

Time flies, as I can attest, so I better get going!