Recap for “The Rags”

For starters I’m going to clarify what I mean by a recap. There’s been some confusion with this in the past. I’m not rewriting the story in any way. The way I see it once I’ve published a story on here I’m honor bound to leave it alone. Sometimes, late at night, if I can’t stop running a sentence around and around in my head, I’ll hop into an old story and move a comma, maybe change two words, but that’s really it. I swear.

When I write a recap it simply means I wound up with a lot of background information while writing the story that I think might be of interest to my readers and I’ve decided to share it (sometimes I don’t feel like sharing). Anyway, since I jump around and talk about all parts of the story my main point here is to mention that you should read The Rags first, and then this post second. Unless you don’t feel like it. Whatever. Do what you want. I’m not your mother.

Read more

A title? What’s that?

Completely didn’t realize that this story is still called “Untitled 4.” Although “Untitled 4” really does capture the dichotomy of my main protagonist, I should probably come up with something a little punchier. And fast.

I feel odd commenting on this story much further as most thoughts are sort of being shelved for the recap. I really have nothing much to do but blow off steam at a project that has become Hydra headed. This story is so strange on so many levels, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever tried, which is good, but that makes it so difficult to tell what’s coming across well, which is not good. Anyway, trying new things is very much a part of this project. I’m going to attempt to push myself in strange new directions…because apparently I’m a masochist and the two-week deadline isn’t enough. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll create a genre grab-bag…or a big wheel with different genres on it and I’ll use a random number generator to pick one at random. (Wheel! Of! Genre!!!!) Really strange stories and fabulous prizes. Sounds about right.

I don’t know that I want to write this story anymore.

This is turning into an inordinate amount of thought for what sort of ends up being a bit of a joke. I’m getting a little sick of pondering such questions as what the equivalent of snow in a laundromat is, or what pants eat, or how a bra and a cable-knit sweater might fornicate. It’s Monday night; I shouldn’t be thinking about this on a Monday night (I’m not sure why it being Monday strikes such a chord with me, I’m not sure that any day of the week is a good day to tackle such questions). Two things I do know are that A) all of those cartoons and movies where the main characters are talking cars or whatever actually have a ridiculous amount of thought behind them and B) the writers of all those movies cheat by just making their characters people who are shaped like cars or whatever…and then at the end someone poops out a bolt or gives birth to a sandwich or something and it’s all clever and what have you. I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore. The next story, I can assure you, is going to be about a guy who sits around and doesn’t do much, maybe he watches some TV before dozing off for a little nap, but that’s it.

Can’t decide if this is going well or not.

I’ve got my story now…basically. I know where I’m going but I have no way of knowing how long it’s going to take me to get there so I really can’t figure out if I’m on a good pace or not. It’s really a matter of what comes into my head as I write. Much as with Second Choice there’s an element of world building going on here and I’ve got to decide just how much of that I want to do. It’s not easy stuff and I wind up stopping every few sentences to try and figure out just how this bizarre-ass idea is supposed to play out.

On the other hand I’m having fun. Every time I walk through the few steps I have and improvise my way to the ending in my head I burst out laughing. Which isn’t to say this is a comedy, mind you. I did laugh rather frequently while writing Liquid Calling as well and that was about a hit-man. I don’ t know. My point is that laughing out-loud while writing doesn’t necessarily translate over into laughs coming from the reader. Sometimes the process is just funny, no matter what you’re writing. That’s the best way I can put it.

Anyhoo, I’m pretty sure that there will be a recap for this story. The pattern seeming to be that whenever I spend a lot of time laughing during writing there’s justification in my head to intrude on your thoughts about the story.

Always an interesting phenomenon.

There has been a lot (to put it mildly) of thought put into the debate of whether art imitated life or life imitates art. Personally I think it’s a little in one direction and a little in the other. I can assure you that I get plenty of ideas from the outside world, and I have also heard my own lines (usually dialogue) come out of people’s mouths in real world conversation. So, go ahead and process that. What I think gets overlooked too often is how often art imitates art. I can’t speak for everyone but I get a large part of my boost, my get-up-and-go, my whatever it is that makes me do this from the art in the world all around me. There is nothing like looking upon the work of a master to fill you with hope about what you might accomplish with your own work. And to a lesser extent there’s nothing like viewing a complete failure to make you think that maybe your own work isn’t so bad and at the very least you can do better than that.

But I digress, back my original point, which is how much life imitates art and the other way around. I’m not saying I have an answer, I’m just here to point out a strange moment from my morning. I’m a little freaked about getting this current story done and I actually found myself splashing water on my face in the bathroom and giving myself a pep talk in the mirror. Not once in my life have I ever done this. Mentally perusing my writing history, though, yields at least three characters who have performed this act…the most recent being Matthew’s first mark in Second Choice. I have nothing insightful to say about this, I’m only here to point out how weird it is when you start acting, even in some tiny little way, like one of your own characters.

Am I repeating myself?

A worry that I might be starting to repeat myself has crept into my head. And you might be thinking this is a little nuts. I’ve gone from a hit-man held-over from the Cold War to twenty somethings drinking in New York to I’m not sure that world Epp and Matthew exist in to a story that is (apparently) taking place in a laundromat with anthropomorphic clothes running wild. But if you strip away the bells and whistles I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself. I can see a pattern forming between all the stories. I guess this is perfectly natural. Someone wiser than me once said that there are only seven basic stories: Love, Hate, Revenge, Journey…um…I can’t remember them all…I think one involves some sort of hostage situation in a theme park. At any rate, it’s probably pretty hard not to get this feeling every now and then when one is making up stories as often as I am right now. I guess it really depends on my mood. For example, someone once gave me everything I’ve ever written summed up in one sentence. And depending on my mood this either strikes me as an interesting insight into my work or it feels like pigeonholing. The sentence, if you’re wondering, was as follows: “You write deeply flawed characters who at the end of the day find themselves hoping for nothing more than a shot at redemption.” Some days that strikes me as nice, some days I think maybe I should try writing something that doesn’t fit that statement. And who knows, maybe you disagree with that and have a completely different sentence in mind. Which brings me back to the whole, “I don’t enjoy telling my readers what they’re supposed to be seeing,” concept. I’d much rather you occasoinally floor me with a sentence like that which I don’t see coming.

Where was I? Oh. Right. A talking pair of pants. Yeah I’m still nowhere with this story.

Okay, time to roll up the ol’ sleeves.

I was looking over the posts from last story and I guess I’m not completely screwed yet. Apparently things didn’t coalesce for Second Choice until the Thursday before it was due, giving me a week to put it together. But I think I’ve got even less to start with here, plus my weekend is filling up so I’ve got less time to work with, plus it was a tight-wire act keeping that last story under control (reception has been good but I was convinced it had gotten away from me and spiralled off into a train wreck), plus…well plus quite frankly I’d like to not be hard up against my deadline for once on this project.

Basically, this is what I’ve got. Here’s my whimsical idea. I’ve got it into my head to somehow write about a laundromat where the various types of clothes come into conflict. You know, you’ve got the Lights and the Darks and the Delicates and…I don’t know. All I know is it’s pretty out there and it’s pretty hard not to sound like a racist talking about Lights versus Darks. I guess it worked for George Lucas. At any rate, I think it’s time to fall back with faith upon my creative process (a paraphrasing of sorts from my inspiration/guy-who-got-me-into-this-mess, Jonathan Coulton) and just start writing some things. That will help solidify it, I hope, so my head can get around it and maybe come up with a decent storyline, cause all I’ve got right now is a gimmick. Most likely I’ll just kick around characters tonight, I’ve mentioned before how making choices for them can help guide you into a story sometimes. Anyway, here goes.

Fourth time going to the well.

It’s strange, but I was in exactly the same place two weeks ago. I had the tiniest bit of something in my head. So tiny you could barely say it was more than nothing. I had a guy, and I thought he wore glasses, and he was at a wedding. And I got my story done. I met that last deadline, but right now I can’t in any way keep that information in my head. All I can think is that with a deadline in ten days there’s no way I can take this little itty bitty next to nothing in my head and turn it into something. And I’m pretty sure that no matter how many times I do this, the same fear and bafflement at what I have to do will be with me. No matter how many times that tiny nothing turns into a whole story, it’s still basically impossible to have faith that it will happen again. It’s just so hard to ever believe that the well isn’t going to run dry and to actually accept that the creative process might materialize yet again.

Anyway, ten days out and only two details rattling around in my head. It really isn’t a choice any more, those two details have to blossom into a story. And you all are in for a treat.

This is getting interesting.

There are always ideas floating around in the back of my head for stories. Truthfully I think that these are just slightly modified versions of the stuff everybody has floating around in the back of their heads. Most people wonder if they remembered to pay the electric bill or what have you and it just sits there, but for some reason when I’m thinking about whether or not I remembered to pay the electric bill it sometimes solidifies into characters and dialogue which, if I continue to think about them, work with them, toy with them, can get fleshed out into stories. This happens on a daily basis; while I’m, say, walking down the sidewalk there will be a little tug and I’ll get a glimpse of someone doing or saying something and then it’ll be gone. Every once and awhile I’ll get the tug it will seeem interesting enough to, as I mentioned, play with a bit and maybe see if there’s a story behind it. What I’m learning for this project, though, is that I in no way have the luxury of rejecting the few ideas that solidify outright. I’ve got to make myself play with anything that clicks in my head to see if I can work a story out of it. Anything. Which is just the long way around of saying, unless lightning strikes inside my head over the weekend, we’re in for one rather strange story two Thursdays from now.