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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Funky Definitions

A funky member of Parliament. The funkiest, in fact.

(written on my tablet during downtime, please excuse typos) 

We sit in Supreme Court, waiting... There is lots of waiting. It is awfully exhausting to sit around and do nothing.

My table mate and I joke and chat casually, but mostly we read in between hearing cases (sorry, no details allowed).

I am doing some research until the very personification of my villain walks into the courtroom or emerges fully formed into my head.

Meanwhile, I do research and have found an interesting tidbit.

I have always been curious about the nomenclature used when classifying groups of animals. Animal collective nouns are funny sometimes and I wonder what immigrants, learning the English language as adults make of it -- assuming they get this far in their language immersion.

I am not entirely sure native speakers are particularly familiar with these congregations either, and wonder if the knowledge of such things has fallen to the wayside when schools determine curricula to save or discard in the age of test scores ruling the education game.

Today I've learned that a group of ravens may be called a congress, conspiracy, parliament or unkindness. That the first and the third may be synonymous with the second and last nouns fills me with glee.

At the same time, I've learned that the collective noun for crows may be horde, hover, murder, muster or parcel. Here you find five words that wouldn't seem to have antyhing in common, given the immediate definition that comes to mind for each.

Further research indicates that some nouns are repeated and apply to more than one grouping of animals. Baboons form a congress; owls and rooks form parliaments; peacoks are also known as musters; and, gnats, hamsters, mice, and wolves are called hordes.

Details of where these names originated or why they stuck are a mystery to me, but endlessly entertaining in their potential for obscure puns. Although I wonder if calling Congress "baboons in D.C." won't confuse the issue (as well as be offensive to baboons in general).

The other consideration is whether to freely use this knowledge in my writing. I write for my own amusement and pride myself in the assertion that my readers are smart folks (and a few smartasses, you know who you are!).

One wants the meaning to be understood, and yet it has always been clear to me that once written, the message becomes whatever the reader ascribes to the words.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Speak To Me, Daemon

Magic StilettosI am in a sort of limbo that isn't as deep as it sounds.

I have a character who has suggested himself to be quite important. The moment he reared his monstrous head from the darkness, he told me what he represented, what he'd do and why he was the story, not "that other little story" I'd been peddling...

I know some of what happens, but not all of it. I know what he looks like, in jest. I know how he moves. I even understand how he operates.

The problem is that I do not know what he sounds like. I need a voice. I cannot know who he is unless I know his voice. I need to hear him in my head. He needs to tell me his story and I cannot commit to it until he comes to me and gives me the details in all their slithering glory.

I told a friend that I needed a caricature of a man and I was looking forward to my court adventure for this. He asked if I needed a real person to plant the seed and that is exactly it!

I can write some things on my own, but I find that the easiest passages to put down are those narrated by a character. But it needs to sound right. It needs to sound true.

We were talking about my writing process and how I wanted to write some of it longhand and how it simply awakens a different vibe. And I mentioned using voice memos. If I only write or type, and I do not vocalize, I just spend entirely too long in my head and that is not a good idea. I need to hear it too! 
There is a musicality to words strung together properly. It has to match the feel of it, the context, the hidden meaning. It has to resonate.
But in order for the words to resonate (literally) the characters need to speak their truth in their own voices. A plot idea may be incredibly sexy but it doesn't sprout wings and fly until one of the characters makes it his or her story and tells it with all the love, joy, hatred or fear it requires to move you. That is when you write, when you are moved.

And this is why I am not too worried about letting the story float in limbo until a voice emerges that owns the story to tell. If I cannot be moved to write it, and force it, I am certain you cannot be moved to read it. That's a mockery of both our time and I will try not to ever do that.

Right now, I am not sure if he is slow to emerge or if he is already in my head and is just toying with me because it's part of the way he seduces its victims. One way or another, this will be an adventure!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Artist Interrupted Plans Sweet Revenge

Keep reading, you'll find the relevant link.

The US Constitution allows that “[N]o person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury...”

The Constitution of New York State has a similar statute.

This is a tool in the arsenal of our Justice system and I appreciate that ideal that our system was conceived to have checks and balances to at least try to protect the rights of those involved in it. It fails occasionally, but it is generally a relatively fair system.

The Grand Jury meets in secret and I break no rules in disclosing that soon I will be a part of its proceedings. I cannot blog about it once it gets going and, to tell the truth, I am not really looking forward to it.

It is my civic duty and I accept it, but it also interrupts my job search and I can't postpone it again. This annoys me more than I can say. It's frustrating, especially because I saw some progress in terms of good prospects...

Ideally, it would make for great observations what with the parade of characters that come into my narrow field of vision. A good writer would internalize all of it and incorporate them discretely into future works.

Certainly, the surroundings and the circumstances make for a hyperspecific people-watching experience and, if I am lucky, a plethora of raw and colorful archetypes to populate my stories.

I have been amusing myself with the idea of creating character studies of fictional characters, comic book types, based on the dregs of society (from lawyers, to crime victims, to the unethical underbelly of our metropolis).

In my head it ends up being a sort of Dickensian dark comedy with Shakespearean overtones, but the reality will probably be more akin to amateur porn on grainy night vision goggles. Realistic but not as pretty as one would hope—because courtroom dramas are highly stylized and never even close to what it is like to be inside a courtroom.

Or, if you prefer, it might be more like a really bizarre puppet show as viewed through the eyes of a bad flashback. But that may be a jaded assessment owing to my frustration. Whatever!

I found this out the hard way when my cousin had me sit through a day at the bench. It was interesting to me, but nothing like the stuff people see on TV or film and certainly nothing like the courtroom of literature.

And yet, it seems to me that the whole thing lends itself quite well to the exaggerated noir found in graphic novels. Think on that... you interrupt the artist, even when she is idle, and she plots. Plots!

The “Read an Ebook” promotion at Smashwords is on right now! Visit my page and take advantage of the discounts and even some free titles for a limited time (through March 8).