Saturday, February 18, 2006

Anticipation or Avoidance?

So I've been trying since November to write the end of Act 2 of Hero Go Home, and I realized I wanted to do more scene-setting for the big climax to the act. So now I've got a bunch of scenes lightly sketched in which build toward the climactic confrontation.

On the one hand, I think it's necessary for the story to have a certain amount of build-up. It's like foreplay; a certain amount of teasing works well. I think one of the better passages of Blue Falcon is the long build-up to war at the end of Act 1, climaxing in Colonel So's rousing speech and the soldiers shouting "Victory" in unison. The book as a whole embarrasses me a little more with every passing month, but I still think parts of it are really good.

On the other hand, it strikes me that I'm spending so much time on the build-up because I'm a little hesitant, if not downright afraid, to write the actual climax. It's a complicated scene with a bunch of characters and a load of action, and my mind just seems to shut down every time I contemplate starting it. Maybe a part of me thinks that if I spend enough pages setting all the dominoes up, that they'll fall that much faster when I finally tip one, but I worry that the other part is just using the dominoes as an excuse, the way my daughter suddenly finds vitally important things to do right at bedtime.

Then again, as I began writing the first of the build-up scenes, I found the characters really breathing in a way that they never did when I was rushing through, trying to keep up NaNoWriMo pace. So it's not as if I'm not getting anything valuable out of it.

In other news, I experienced a couple of cool personal milestones. I got invited to a NeoPro online writers group, which made me feel really good. Of course, now that I've joined, I feel a little like an imposter, a kid being asked to sit at the grown-ups' table. I'm not sure I take the whole writing game as seriously as most of these guys. But I'll stick it out for a while, at least; I must admit, the discussion there is on a whole other level than most of what I was reading on Baen's Bar.

The other thing is, I got invited to my first Con as a guest. Granted, it's Conestoga, put together mainly by folks in my writing group. Last year, I was about the only member who wasn't an invited guest. But it's another signpost to me that I'm making legitimate progress and not just spinning my wheels the way I did for for the fifteen or so years before I joined OSFW.

I've always thought my stuff was good, but lots of people delude themselves. I've seen lots of people who thought they were awesomely talented while they produced pure crap, if they actually produced anything at all. And I've always had this secret fear that I could be one of them (I still do, actually - I've never been good with the characters and the themes and the substance that makes the witty lines and funny turns of phrase worth reading - Sargon, feel free to slap me anytime). So it's awfully gratifying when someone else comes out and says I'm doing good work.

Now I've just got to do some more actual writing to pay off on that.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Christian Jihad

You, know, I don't want to harp on this, but I'm a little surprised* at how entrenched the attitude I mentioned in my last post is. What brings it up again is a story I read in the online slush for Baen's Universe. Without going into too much detail, the story features a character who is a cross between Jerry Falwell and Rev. Don Wildmon, who is protesting a particularly violent TV show. When he is supplied with military weapons, his followers not only attack the remote island on which the TV show is taped, but also begin randomly attacking abortion clinics and homosexual-rights groups.

This is at least the second story I've read in past months in which Christian rightists (and more specifically, American Christian rightists) take up arms against a world of sinners in order to impose their own moral views by force. And what's more depressing than the assumptions implicit in the stories (and though both authors denied that the stories represented their personal views, the denials seemed disingenuous - I can write a story about elves without believing in magic, but can I seriously argue that my story about lazy, stupid blacks who prefer slavery to freedom doesn't represent my personal views in any way?) is the lack of protest from anyone else on the boards. There were plenty of criticisms of this point or that point, but none about the stereotyping of Christian conservatives as being one step away from worldwide jihad.

Am I just crazy? Look, I think it's silly and ignorant to believe in the six-day Creation, the worldwide Flood or the Virgin Birth. But I think people who believe that we're just a Supreme Court appointment away from outlawing abortions, legalizing homosexual murder and reinstituting slavery are just as silly and ignorant (and they're out there, apparently in large numbers and supported by famous names). It's a hateful caricature, and I'm getting tired of it.

*to which a friend of mine would reply, "I'm only surprised that you're surprised"

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

To the Alarmists About the Christian Right

You know, I left the whole Christianity thing behind long ago. And I'm not one of those milquetoast agnostics who says, you know, even though I don't go to church, I kind of believe in Christianity in a general sense. I don't. I'm an atheist. I don't want the Ten Commandments hanging on the wall of the courthouse, I'm not a fan of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, and I don't want to see the blue laws enforced.

Having said that, for the American liberals who piss and moan that the Christian Right is the greatest threat to freedom in the modern world, you cannot seriously argue that the Christian Right would do anything like this. So count your blessings.

Could this thing keep escalating? Could the civilized world survive something as barbaric and shocking as 9/11, only to go to the mattresses over cartoons?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Another Dose of Irony

Am I the only person who watched the Stones' Super Bowl halftime show, in which 62-year-old Mick Jagger sang (among other songs) "Satisfaction," and thought of his famous quote, "I'd rather be dead than singing 'Satisfaction' when I'm 45"?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Truth in Advertising

So this dude who works with me came in with an Arby's cup, and on the cup, it talks about how they only use 100% chicken, not chicken containing significant percentages of water and phosphates.

No, that would be their roast beef. (scroll down to read ingredients list for "Roast Beef")