Monday, June 08, 2015

Productive Distraction

Well, I'm not done with the book. I did a lot on Friday and felt like I was perfectly positioned to fly into the big climactic showdown, so writing it would be a piece of cake. It turned out to be a struggle. I just couldn't seem to concentrate. For some odd reason, my brain picked that time to start thinking about the at-home vacation it might be nice to take before the new book comes out, so I found myself sitting around researching things like day spas. That led me to think that a nice hotel I've stayed at before for a conference has a spa, and then I was planning a hypothetical vacation and looking up hotel rates. Mind you, my one day spa experience wasn't something I enjoyed all that much because I'm not crazy about being touched. I was mostly thinking about a therapeutic manicure -- not about nail polish, but skin treatment -- because my hands are kind of a mess. Somehow I got from finding a local place to get a manicure to planning a weekend getaway. We're talking master-level distraction here.

I finally forced myself to get to work, wrote a couple of scenes, got the pieces in place for the big showdown … and hit a brick wall. There wasn't really any conflict or action inherent in the showdown. So, off to brainstorm. During the brainstorming session, I realized that I was making the showdown happen in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that's why there wasn't so much conflict or action. All the distraction seemed to be my brain's way of getting the conscious mind out of the way so the unconscious could do some work and figure it all out.

I was still distracted on Sunday, so I mostly let myself have the day off because I still wasn't sure exactly where I needed to go with it and there was no point in forcing myself to write something I'd end up deleting. Then late at night, just before bed, I had the big realization: I still had things happening at the wrong time. Like, a day too late. The way things were going, there was a lesser showdown between the villain and one of the heroes that led to a clue about what the villain was up to. That hero discussed it with another hero, and they realized something. Then there were more scenes in which the various heroes shared information with each other. And then there was another showdown. But once I started really thinking, I forced myself to admit that the hero shouldn't have escaped that lesser showdown, that it should be the starting point to the real one, and things get a lot more interesting if the heroes haven't had a chance to compare notes and all be on the same page.

This means scrapping most of what I wrote on Friday, including some scenes I love, but it also cuts so much talking. I have some details to work out about how things will go and what to do about one subplot that now doesn't seem to fit so well (the resolution to it is one of the things that gets cut because one of the characters is needed elsewhere, so either I change the resolution, move it, or cut the plot entirely), but this makes so much more sense.

Something I've noticed when I get really caught up in a book like this: other people's stories are less interesting to me. I can't get into a novel to read it, and I'm not even all that interested in fictional TV. Most of my TV viewing in the last week or so has been World War II documentaries, though I did branch out into one on the Black Death and one on Atlantis on the American Heroes Channel (formerly the Military Channel, and now basically what the History Channel used to be before it was mostly about rednecks, pawn shops and alien conspiracies). The Atlantis one was interesting because it wasn't a cheesy "In Search of" kind of thing. It was about an archeological find on a Mediterranean island that fit the descriptions of a fairly advanced (for the time) civilization that had been wiped out by a volcanic eruption larger than Krakatoa. Like the History Channel used to do, they used some reenactment to dramatize events, but unlike the History Channel, it wasn't just a bunch of extras running around in bad costumes, with the same few clips repeated over and over again. They actually wrote a story and hired real actors -- it was a BBC production, and I think I recognized a few people. So basically, it was a cut above a SyFy disaster movie in quality, with bits of science interspersed to talk about what would happen in each phase of volcanic activity and how it would have affected the people. Mostly it was about the science and the archeology, with the only speculation being whether this was the city that was later written about as Atlantis. This meant we got scenes of our "Jack" and "Rose" playing out as they tried to avoid being captured by priests to be human sacrifices to the volcano (the dig found what appeared to be the remains of a young man at what looked like an altar), with a narrator giving us play by play of what the volcano was doing. It was kind of awesome, and I wish it had been feature-length instead of just an hour.

Aha, some digging around on IMDB reveals that the dramatization parts were from a feature-length BBC TV movie, thus the recognizable cast. Then they stuck clips from it into this documentary that's apparently part of a series on various scientific topics. Now I want to see the whole movie, though it wouldn't be as much fun without the science lesson about volcanos going on in voiceover.

But maybe if I'm really good today I can get back to enjoying real fiction.

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