Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August was the Weirdest Month

I will burden you with no details, this being primarily a post to test whether the outmoded internet juryrig currently available to me will in fact let me add to the blog. Only, be assured that I have not been idle during the last two weeks. Len's story is advanced to the point that the agonizing doubts have started kicking in. My spontaneous ideation has gone from "surefire Printz winner which will turn into a series and a blockbuster movie that brings the horse opera back to popularity, with a soundtrack by Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang in an historic collaboration" to "takes too long to start, I spend more time on establishing shots than on action, Di has hardly appeared on stage yet, all the men act like women insteade of Len acting like a man, and the timeline doesn't work at all."

This self-doubt business is ahead of schedule, but not disruptively so, and not strong enough to make me walk away from the book to see if it needs more growth time, or to kill my belief in the story. I have, after all, set myself a steep set of hurdles with this one, the highest of which probably is creating characters in a conflicting zone where modern ideas of gender normative behavior meet, not only historical ones, but modern ideas - mediated by the likes of John Ford, John Wayne, and Louis Lamour - about what historical ones were. Add in the fact that a Civil War-era Texas frontiersman relieved tedium by reading everything he could get his hands on and therefore knew Shakespeare, Schiller, sentimental poetry, Scott, and Homer better than most modern college freshmen, and you can see my problem clear enough.

I'll solve it, or I won't. Stories that are within my proven capability are boring to write. An author's reach must exceed her grasp, or what's a heaven for? Not that I believe in heaven; the more incentive to perform great labors on the earth, in hope of getting one of them right and leaving a monument to my own existence. Though, if all my castles in the air get built, odds are good it's the actress playing Len who will benefit most in the shining halls of public memory.

Speaking of which - what the heck is up with remaking True Grit? Damon and I are disagreed on the purpose of this travesty. I think it is an insidious plot to kill huge numbers of rednecks with strokes and heart attacks; he thinks it is to galvanize them all to pick up their deer rifles and revolt en masse. Either way, it is clearly an evil measure and should be exposed as such. I suggest that everybody give your favorite John Wayne fan a copy of the book for Christmas as a protective measure.

The book, by the way, is "really" YA. The narrator and protagonist, Mattie, is 14, the mover and shaker of the plot, and as full of true grit as any character John Wayne ever played.

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