In Pursuit of Happiness

According to the preamble to the Constitution of the good old U.S. of A., this is one of those little inalienable rights that we are endowed with as human beens.   And it’s this particular right that I am in the process of taking out for a spin.

I know that it doesn’t guarantee happiness, but if the right to pursue it is there, that’s good enough for me.  (Random thought:  how is it possible to guarantee this?)

What this means for me is that I am going to chase this little fledgling (actually full-fledged) dream of writing for a living.  I don’t say “being a writer” because I am one of those — I just don’t get paid for it.  Unless I am a horrible person and write at work when I should be doing other things…ahem.

Today I was thinking about my story.  And the stories of others.  There is a quote that says a story is life with the dull parts taken out.  I don’t know if that’s entirely true, seeing as how plenty of stories have dull bits in them — and the idea of what is dull is subjective.  However, I will say that I think a story has to be told as though it’s unfolding in front of you.  Some authors manage to make it work in other ways, like telling it through letters or through dialogue — I’ve seen that work effectively in the past — but most of the time it needs to just play.

Even though 99% of novels are written in past tense, when they’re written well, it’s like you’re in the same room with the characters.  You can smell their sweat and feel the shivers.  If it’s told like you would tell a friend what you did yesterday, it won’t keep my attention.  It lacks the flow, the tide that sucks you in.  Such a flow is not something that is easy to accomplish, especially in a vomit draft.

A lot of times, when we write, we have a concept in our head and we write it down the way it makes sense to us.  It’s in the editing process where we go in with a scalpel and cut into it until it makes sense to others.  The best writing makes readers forget they’re reading — and this holds true with non-fiction as well as fiction.

I remember the best books I read as a child — they made me want to be the characters.  I would have visions of being a copper-haired Dryad princess or a stubborn star-gazer.*  I still go back to those books.  Whenever I feel the need to hold the hands of long-loved characters, I just reach for my bookshelf and immerse myself in those worlds.  Some of these books I’ve had for ten years or more.  I’m incapable of getting rid of books.

This post is really not cohesive.  For that, gentle viewers, I apologize.

Here’s a brief update on my writing progress before I attempt to cajole my body into sleeping:

(Ooh!  “Sleeping” put me at exactly 500 words so far!  How exciting.)

Today one of my characters got blown up.  I kind of think she deserved it.  She’s been in a snit this entire book.  Regardless, I feel bad for her.  She has a lot going on in her noggin.  I just wish she’d stop acting like a 12-year-old hormone bomb and more like the badass lion she is.  Seriously.

I am making some good progress.  Elemental looks like it will wind up being about 100,000-120,000 words, which is right where I want/expect it to be.  Primeval will probably get trimmed a bit, but its successor might be able to get away with being a bit longer.  Right now I’m at roughly 85,000.  I did the math on Primeval yesterday and found that as is, it’s about 440 book pages if you count it out assuming around 250 per page.  That’s the length I’m going for.  I’m not Jo Rowling…yet.

To round out this meandering sort of post, I just stumbled across a rather perfect metaphor thanks to a friend who posted a picture of a little dark cloud against an overcast sky.  It reminded me very much of Winnie-the-Pooh, who decided one day to disguise himself as a little black rain cloud in his pursuit of honey, which happened to be at the top of a tall tree.  He did so by rolling in some very black mud and holding tight to a balloon, hoping that the bees would not think he was threatening their livelihood.

Whilst floating above the earth, Pooh sang, “Oh, I’m just a little black rain cloud!” (The full lyrics to which can be found here)  Needless to say, the bees were not fooled by this endeavor, and Pooh swiftly found himself plunging rear-end first into a gorse bush.

The moral of this story is this:  We have the freedom to pursue our honey by whatever means we see fit.  It may be at the top of a very tall tree, but if we’re not afraid of falling a few times and getting some gorse in our bums, we just might get there one day.

*In case you’re wondering which books these are, they are, respectively:  David Eddings’ Belgariad and Malloreon series, which are phenomenal; and Daughters of Darkness, by LJ Smith, who was the woman responsible for hooking me on vampires about 15 years ago.  The characters to which I’m referring here are Ce’Nedra and Mary-Lynnette.

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About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on May 20, 2010, in elemental, Uncategorized, writing process, writing progress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    Enjoyed the above…Your are not Jo Rowling – you are
    Emmie Mears and nothing further is required.

    Know yourself – Know life and…write and write and write!

    Thanks,

    Phil E.

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