Music is important to me. Perhaps too important.
My wife loves the movie Ladyhawke. Beautiful, romantic, blah blah blah. I hate it. Why? The music. Modern, electronic music in a film set in a time before electricity was discovered and domesticated. Geez, Richard Donner, I know it was the 80s, but really? Electronica???? Completely pulled me out of the story.
Most recent Star Trek movie? Like it, but didn’t love it. Because of the music. Not that the soundtrack is bad; on subsequent listens, I have to admit it’s pretty decent. But the trailer music was, in my opinion, much better, and I went into the movie expecting that music, not the actual soundtrack that accompanied it. Major letdown that colored my first impression of the movie.
I think we, as people and as writers, are a reflection of everything we’re exposed to in life. Not just how we were raised and our experiences, but what we read, what we watch.
Hi, I’m the author of this month’s Turtleduck story, “Lonesome Hearts”. Cool, right? There’s just one problem. My bio says I write science fiction and fantasy (also known as speculative fiction). I identify as a genre writer. So why isn’t this story speculative fiction?
The original idea for the story was to combine folk music and fantasy. I wasn’t sure what the fantasy element was going to be, but I knew I was aiming for a story in the tradition of the wonderful anthology The Horns of Elfland and the music-related portions of Elizabeth Bear’s beautiful Blood and Iron. When I started writing, I had a strong sense of place and character, an idea of the situation, and a vague sense of the plot. I wrote half the story and still no fantasy element had shown up.
I’m no pretty-handwriting-in-a-pretty-journal-while-sipping-tea writer.* I like coffee in big mugs that make a statement on the side, and I use 70-sheet, one-subject, twenty-notebooks-for-a-dollar spiral-bound notebooks. And I eat pretty stationery for breakfast. (Okay, not really.)
Christmas 2005, an acquaintance gave me a lovely journal. It had an iris on the cover, and music notes, and gold writing. It wasn’t my thing, but it was too pretty to give away. So when I felt the need to do something different, that journal was near at hand.
On 1/15/06 I wrote inside the front cover the date and the title: Dreams to Truth Journal (Yes, I felt the need to write that it was a journal.) Below that, I wrote Because I am an excellent writer and I deserve to be published.
I needed to say that, to tell myself that. I felt stagnant. Stuck. Another vacation had slipped by without my accomplishing anything I meant to do. I needed accountability. I needed to write it down. The goal was some progress recorded every day. Every single day–I felt I’d waited long enough to get my butt moving.
When I was a kid, I was made fun of by other kids. I don’t know what I did to them. I was always nice to everyone, and I was painfully shy so I kept to myself most of the time. But for some reason, people found things to laugh at. They also pulled some horrible pranks on me: once, they locked me in a closet (and to this day, I’m terribly claustrophobic); another time, someone tried to set my long hair on fire. These weren’t harmless pranks, and they hurt me badly. For years, I existed as a joke, not a real person with real feelings.
As you can probably guess, my self-esteem was non-existent. When I was fourteen, I contemplated suicide. Going to school was traumatic and not fun. I had no real friends, no one to talk to or to care about me. I was nothing. I was worse than nothing.
I was a freak.
All I wanted was to be accepted. To be acknowledged as a person and not treated like crap. I wanted people to look at me and see me, not the girl who’s the butt of jokes or my imperfections. I was convinced that I’d never find that, that it just wasn’t possible.
Enter Job’s Daughters.
I took my dad out to lunch recently for his birthday. As we talked, I was struck suddenly by how old he looked. Okay, I’m no spring chicken myself, so this is hardly shocking. But I looked at him and could see shades, substantial shades at that, of my grandfather. He seemed smaller, even, I dare say, wizened.
Why do people let me near the blog? They should have patted me on the head and then taken away my keyboard.
Do you like the logo? I drew it and then gave it to more talented people than me to make it pretty.
This month marks a milestone that’s being celebrated all over the world: it has been six months since the idea of Turtleduck Press was first floated. Oh, and it’s 2011. Happy 2011, readers! Here are just some of the things we’ve learned in our first six months:
1. When the time is right, things start to happen very quickly. The idea was first proposed on July 8. Within a week, we had our own venue for private discussion. In less than a month, we had three (already edited) long works going through our approvals process.
Knight Errant is available for sale. Wow. It’s hard to believe.
Taro has been with me a long time, you see. More than…wow. More than fifteen years. He first appeared under a different name and far more bland aspect, in the book about his sister Eve Marcori, former Marine. It wasn’t until years later that he came alive.
Oh, I tried. I changed his name. I invented a background for him, more than just “Eve’s long-lost adopted little brother.” I investigated his family, and the years between Eve losing and finding him. I changed his name again. I said he was sneaky and mouthy, but I couldn’t seem to make him be either. So I followed time-honored avoidance techniques, and I moved on. He didn’t matter that much anyway. Minor character. No big. I finished the book. Over years, I edited the book. In my new novelist happy shiny glow, I sent that book off to DAW–all 249,000 words of it.
Guess what happened. It took them a week–and some of that was transit time.
I got angry. I got determined. I got to writing.
I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of the year: family, friends, gifts, magic…the snow, the tree, the lights…
What isn’t fun for me, though, is wrapping gifts. In fact, it is so not fun that my gift wrapping skills are legendary. Mind you, my gifts look fine, but I was born without the Gift Wrapper gene because my gifts are never wrapped perfectly. There’s always some bumps and the seams aren’t perfectly straight and sometimes my bows are lopsided. Sometimes, I use handmade tags (from the wrapping paper) and apparently that’s not done. Oops. Anyway, my mom and I were discussing what else? but gift wrapping and how awful mine is. She and my sister have double the Gift Wrapper gene because their gifts are always wrapped perfectly. There are no ragged seams; the bows are perfect; there are no bumps. They’re gorgeous. Works of art. See, they are into the whole “presentation” thing and it shows. And that’s really cool…if you’re them.