Thursday, February 2, 2012

Volcanoes and wizards

Alas, I have some bad news to share.  I did not complete the volcano story on time, and thus did not submit it to the anthology.

I'm kind of bummed, and a little disappointed in myself.  As I've said a few times, I have lots of time to write.  But once I sit down to write, it's tough for me to focus, and I end up puttering around the internet looking for just one more distraction.

And there were three additional last-minute factors that did not help:
1) My computer seems to have acquired some sort of evil invisible ninja virus.  I get all sorts of pop-up windows, and it runs slow, but two virus software problems report "no infections found!" I'm in the process of getting the problem resolved (it might be a rootkit, still not certain), but having my computer suddenly freak out and slow way down on Friday was NOT helpful
2) Last Thursday, a good friend announced she was having her birthday party Happy Hour on Tuesday, January 31st- the night the story was due.  I thought about it for a long time, and didn't feel I could skip.  I mean, birthdays are important, and so are friends.
3) On Sunday night, I went over to write at Lawyer Friend's house. We took a break to eat dinner, and she introduced me to the TV show Merlin.

In case you haven't heard of it, Merlin is relatively low budget British tv show about Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Morgana, and others as young adults.  As Lawyer Friend summarized it: "King Uther banished magic from the kingdom, but he did a really bad job, since something magical happens in every episode." I've actually grown really sick of the whole Arthurian legend, so I surprised myself by liking this.  I'm also surprised because this show is really terrible. The acting is horrible, the plots have more holes than a donut shop, and none of the characters seem to ever act with anything resembling  common sense.

But yet, I love the show.  My process of addiction went like this:
-This is terrible
-Why am I still watching?

I'm still trying to figure out. I think it might do with the fact that the show doesn't try to take itself seriously.  And also because, despite the bad guys and the one or two townspeople who die per episode, it's actually a rather cheerful show.  And the guy who plays Arthur is the major exception to the bad acting. His character is pretty hilarious.

And I like what they've done with Guinevere (one side note: this story is not set in England, but some made-up land that I can't remember the name of.  This allows them to have a diverse cast).  See, Gwen isn't the standard drop-dead gorgeous girl, not like she usually is in these stories.  I mean, she's definitely pretty, but not your classic supermodel beauty.

Cool, no? I'm really happy that the heroine of the show is going to be more about her strength of character and less about looks.  And in these first few episodes, she's actually rather awkward and dorky.  I'm looking forward to seeing how she grows as a character. 

Wait, was this supposed to be a blog about writing? UH oh.
Let's see… so, to sum up what Merlin can teach us about writing: don't worry if your idea follows a pre-defined track, as long as you're original, and you find your own twist. If you make it fun enough, and have good characters, you'll get readers.

It also doesn't hurt to hire this guy to play one of your characters:
Bradley James as Arthur

What can I say? I like blondes.

Okay! Back to the writing, I swear.

Didn't I start out talking about Volcano Story?

Well, I might not have made the deadline, but at least I learned a few valuable lessons about myself as a writer.  So it's time for yet another list:

1) I can't yet write a story in a month.  So maybe I'd better pay closer attention to those anthology deadlines.
2) I need to learn how to focus.  It's something that could really help all aspects of my life.  There may be a future blog post about this.
3) I should always listen to Melanie.  Not that I didn’t before, but she was 100 percent right that I needed a deadline. It takes me too long to finish short stories.  So, starting now, I'm going to start imposing deadlines for myself.  This month: send out Volcano story, revise the opening of my story "Beneath Shadow" and send out again, and resubmit two other stories that were recently rejected.

Volcano story will probably come in at about 5,000 words, and there are all sorts of markets for stories of that length.  I'm really busy this weekend (another birthday party Friday night, a superbowl party on Sunday, and possibly another party Saturday afternoon… why do these things clump together like this???), but I want to get Volcano Story out to reviewers in this early stage (warning: there may still be passive verbs!!!).  I had several offers for readers last time I posted.  Anyone still interested? Don't worry… there's not deadline to finish your review. 


  1. Comment #1: Bradley James is definitely easy on the eyes. I keep meaning to get back to Merlin--thanks for the reminder.

    Comment #2: I'm still interested in critiquing the volcano story!! I've given up on writing short stories lately. My mind tends to create in 100k spurts.

    Comment #3: I'm happy to hear that you're going to listen to me from now on. Someone should benefit from all my sage advice, since I'm not using it.:)

  2. Sorry you missed your deadline. :(

    But sometimes real life is more important. I'll be happy to read your story when you are looking for crits.

    Never heard of Merlin. I'll have to check it out. I love new twists on old stories.

  3. Sabrina, I was so behind on my blog post that I wrote it before I even caught up on yours! But as you'll see, the issue of focus is one of my favorite distractions.

    I'd love to read your volcano story if you haven't met your quota of readers :) If you want, name the date and I'll start sending increasingly impatient emails. Or not.

    I haven't watched Merlin, but the three step process you described is pretty much how every single TV addiction I've ever had has played out :)

  4. Perhaps we need to rethink the definition of "Proser" since it seems to include a healthy love of television. :D

  5. Life comes first, Sabrina.
    And, if you still need it, I'd love to take a look at your story, too. It sounds very intriguing.


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