Monday, August 29, 2011

Hearing Voices

           People often ask me, “Larry, where do you get your ideas?” and I addressed that topic in a previous blog. But I recently discovered a brand new resource. Drugs.
Legal, of course, administered at the hospital.
Hospital, you ask? Why yes. 
I don’t know where a gall bladder is, what it does or what it’s supposed to do, but I do know that when one goes bad, you just want the damn thing out. I was scheduled for surgery the morning after I saw the doctor.
Once admitted and once the nurses were done collecting blood and hooking me up to hoses, it was time to sleep—or so I thought, but the bed creaked and groaned, and the IV pump made its annoying racket, and then I moved my arm and set off the alarm for the IV pump. The nurses came back, always cheerful, poked, prodded, fluffed. They made me wear booties that fit around my calves and pumped up and down like a blood pressure cup to keep me from getting blood clots.
Oh, I felt emasculated in those booties. At least my gown wasn’t breezy. I’d fought valiantly to keep my underwear until surgery.
Again alone, which is all I’d been wanting, I began to doze. At one point in my sleepy haze I clearly heard the word “God.” Suddenly wide awake and listening intently, I heard the growling voice speak again. “God.”
Was I nuts? The strange voice came from the IV pump! After throwing up all night and facing surgery the next day, it’s a little alarming when your IV pump wants to talk to you about God. So I listened. And listened. And listened. The pump whirred, clicked and growled in a rhythm, in which the growl sounded like words.
I recalled a Ghost Hunter show in which the ghost used a box to somehow speak through.  The hospital is said to be haunted—this would make a great story, I thought. I listened and plotted and created characters. I tested scenarios from horror to romance, to comedy. There were so many interesting ways to create the story that I was a little surprised to see my doctor pop his head through the door. I’d been so busy with characters and story that I had missed another opportunity to sleep. Oh well, I’d sleep during the operation.
That evening I had company. I’m not complaining—it’s nice they care. But by the time they left and the nurses got done assaulting me and fitted me in those damn booties, it was after 11:00. I slept like a log until 2:30 when I was awakened by another growling voice. This time it was a three word phrase, “Don’t wait under.”
What the hell?
“Don’t wait under,” the IV pump repeated. I was awake and not likely to go back to sleep until I figured out what not to wait under.
It was a different night and a different drug induced haze. This time the pump relayed messages from ET wanting to come back to earth. I had to decipher the code and help him return safely. ET was more talkative than last night’s ghost. He said “Five” “All try” “Forego,” and many more words my now sober mind can’t recall.
Great stories floated through my mind, filled with adventure and suspense. FBI, CIA, men in black all trampled across my bed searching for information only I had. All too soon it was morning and my regular nurse’s visits interrupted my stories and my brain became occupied by other matters.
Now, we all know that to be a writer you have to be at least a little loopy but combine that loopiness with prescription drugs and you have a treasure trove of ideas, plots and characters.
Hmmm. Where to begin…

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bored Brain

As much as I crave getting away and unplugging while on vacation (I never checked Facebook, and turned on my phone only twice during the whole trip), I really missed the intellectual stimulation. Sitting on the boat with a fishing pole staring at the horizon is wonderfully, amazingly relaxing (until something bites and people jump and cheer), but even I can take only so much down time.

My mom brings puzzles on the trip with her--Sudoku and word games from the newspaper. She tears them out and saves up a pile of them for her trips. That’s a great idea, very low tech, and she doesn’t need anything but a pencil.

I, on the other hand, for my intellectual stimulation, I have my laptop, something I’d NEVER take on the boat, and ditto the Kindle. They both stay safely locked up back at camp. I have a couple word games on the Kindle, but I’d never forgive myself if I leapt up to set the hook on a catfish and knocked it overboard. So mostly on the boat I fish and doze.

So one day near the end of the trip, I stayed in and did some intellectual stuff. Went through a Beta Reader’s notes and typed them up for Larry. I wrote a couple blogs. I played games on my Kindle, finished a novel and began another one.

But I really wanted to write a story. Be creative. Use my brain. Unfortunately, although I felt the urge, topics eluded me. I could have typed up a beginning scene for Book 2 to send to Larry. Instead, I downloaded the Planet of the Apes novel on my Kindle. (That turned out to be sort of like I AM LEGEND. The movie makers used the title, names, setting, and little else. But still a good read.)

Vacation was good, but I’m ready to be home for a while. Either that, or plan time to stay at camp and do brain things. Two weeks on the water six hours a day is just too much for me. Yes, we caught a LOT of fish, and will fill up a corner of the freezer nicely, but as my freezer fills, my brain empties.

Next time, I will have a plan, a schedule, and a creative outlet. Unless the fish are biting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fishing for Committment

There are two ways of fishing--the man way and the woman way. The woman wants the fish to not only nibble and play, but to also commit to the hook. Men are interested only in the nibble and play, constantly yanking the rod to set the hook, whether the fish has committed or not.

As I sat in the boat (my pole bobbing and Justin muttering, “Set the hook, already!”) I was not only considering the different ways men and women catch fish, but also how they write. I’ve always preferred male authors to female, likely because of subject matter, but I’m sure style figures in as well.   

Which brought me around to what men want to read. Our male beta reader keeps making the same comment in our manuscript: TMI. He asked, “Who wrote this section?” and each time it has been me over indulging in description. He doesn’t speak for all male readers, of course, but he may have a point. Anything that slows our pacing, however cleverly inspired by female wit, will need to be hacked.

Our novel--written by a man and a woman--is written for those who like fast pacing and interesting characters. When the readers open our book we want them to nibble, play, AND to commit.