Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Meet Me in the Middle

Taking the new computer downstairs helped a lot in the productivity department, but when I needed to do some serious rewriting on a scene, I ended up copying that scene into a new file and transferring it to the old computer to really work on it. I guess I haven't conditioned myself to see the new computer as a place to work, or maybe I just needed to separate myself from the marked-up document in order to think.

Today I'll have to really focus, as not only do I need to get more work done on these revisions, but I have some other projects that need attention today, and then I'm in charge of the preschool choir tonight, so I have to come up with a lesson plan of activities that will keep 4-year-olds occupied for 45 minutes, with each activity lasting long enough for them to learn something but not so long that they lose interest, and with a mix of quiet and "active" activities. The nice thing is that kids that age like repetition, so I can repeat a lot of the things we did last week, just mixing it up a little.

I finally found that article I mentioned yesterday about fairies maybe being the next big thing in publishing. It turned out to be in the Facebook feed of a publisher blog, and I'd only read the headline. When I read the actual article, it was just some random person's opinion or idea, not anyone with any particular publishing knowledge, which makes me wonder why it was worth passing on. At any rate, it's not so much the subject matter for me, but rather the tone. I'm afraid I've become very tired of the Standard-Issue Urban Fantasy Heroine -- you know, tough and jaded, a little bitter, drinks and curses a lot, maybe even smokes, lives in a fleabag apartment and functions within the underbelly of society. I guess it's that noir influence. At the same time, I'm also not crazy about the other extreme that shows up in some of the paranormal romance that has a lot of chick lit influence, where the heroine is obsessed with designer labels and her idea of a crisis is ruining a pair of Manolos. There really ought to be some room in the middle, where most people live -- a middle-class apartment and buying clothes at Ann Taylor Loft, not moving in the high end of society but not associating entirely with street people. But the entertainment industry (including publishing) seems to think that the middle ground is boring. It has to be one extreme or another.

That makes finding books tricky for me because the extremes don't appeal to me. The same thing happens with the depiction of romantic relationships. These days, it seems like a romance novel is either super-hot, where the characters have a bad case of chronic hornypants and never think of anything but getting each other into bed, or it's inspirational romance, where the characters pray together and never have an impure thought. I don't mind a chaste relationship, particularly if there are other things going on that would preclude sex (like being in immediate danger), but I don't necessarily want religious content (and I am a religious person). There aren't too many romance novels that aren't overly sexual without being religious.

I was thinking of this yesterday when I was using a Twilight Zone marathon as my background noise/distraction for exercising. There was an episode I hadn't seen before, "The Fear," in which a state trooper stops by a remote mountain cabin to check on the new resident, a single woman who's moved there from New York. There's lots of loaded banter as she makes disparaging remarks about the sophistication of the locals and he takes offense, but then when there's a loud noise and a strange light in the sky, they surprise each other -- him by quoting Shakespeare and her by being just as candid about being afraid as she was about her impressions of the local yokels. When his police radio and her phone go dead and there's a definite but unspecific threat outside, they end up trapped in this remote cabin together for the night and have some interesting conversations about the nature of fear and courage. I was absolutely riveted. It was some of the best pre-romantic dialogue I've seen in ages, and I never would have thought of Rod Serling as a romantic writer. Not that it was overtly romantic, but it had a charge to it, and by the end of the episode I was desperately hoping this couple would get together. Of course, the episode ended in the usual abrupt Twilight Zone way, so we didn't get any kind of epilogue showing that going through this experience together had brought them together as people so their relationship would endure beyond this night. Still, I was sighing wistfully at the end, and then I laughed at myself for looking to The Twilight Zone as a source for romantic entertainment (I am such a geek).

But that got me in the mood for something good and romantic. Unfortunately, for the reasons stated above I probably won't find something that gives me what I want in the romance genre. It might happen in fantasy, science fiction or mystery, but you never can tell if that's what you're going to get in those genres, and if that's what I'm looking for and don't get it, I'll be disappointed -- and yet, it takes away some of the impact if I know they'll get together because part of the fun is in the desperately hoping without it being guaranteed. It's really hard to tell if it's going to be that kind of book ahead of time, and that makes it difficult to find the right thing when you've got a craving for a particular kind of story.

Maybe I'll just re-read Stardust. That's exactly the kind of thing I seem to be in the mood for.

In other news, it's raining! I'd almost forgotten what that was like. We broke the record for the most 100-degree days in a year yesterday, and it's also been the driest summer ever. Now that the record's been broken, it looks like the weather is relenting a little.

1 comment:

Nolly said...

I love the Enchanted, Inc. books precisely because the main characters are in that middle ground you describe. I mean, I like lots of things about them, but that's the element that seems hardest to find in the genre. Can't stand the shoe-porn type books; I find them entirely too implausible. If someone like their heroines existed, I would want nothing to do with her. Yours, I could totally hang out with.