Friday, August 2, 2013

Stephen King on Writing. Also: Does "Jonas" still has a future?

Over the past week, I'd been reading Stephen King's book "On Writing"... part memoir, part instruction manual... 

I figured it'd be the piece of literature I'd get through during last week's long weekend at the shorehouse. The plan was originally going there Friday and coming back Monday. Because the weather looked iffy, we decided to stay another day.
Luckily, Point Pleasant was awesome as always when we went Tuesday. The only downside was that it was a little hot for my tastes... felt like I was melting. And our lunch wasn't the best I'd had.

It's good to note that the best food we had, we all had at home and cooked on the grill. Most of it came from this small family-run food place that had the best fish we'd had in ages. Astronomically delicious red snapper.

So I took out this book the first day and read it outside at our long table on the patio with the large umbrella.
The first part was memoir, Stephen King going into his childhood and earlier parts of his life to establish how he came to be the type of writer he was. I forget the exact page, but somewhere in the section labeled "C.V.," I experienced weakness like I hadn't since my back surgery.

Apparently the dude had bad ears when he was a kid and back in the 50's, they didn't have "ear tubes"... the procedure involved... wow, I'm feeling a little weak trying to describe it... big ass needle punctured the ear drum and drained the liquid...

Afterwards, I went a section or two before I had to stop. My stomach rolled over several times. I felt like I was going to vomit, sincerely for the first time in what feels like ages. 
Eventually I decided it was best for me to get inside and lay down. 
Damn... I never felt so close to fainting before. I grabbed onto the island in our small kitchen, my vision fuzzing out like snow on an old TV, with the intent of feeling my way to the sofa. Luckily my dad was there to help me cuz I might have ended up on the floor.

Laying down instantly took care of the faintness, but it would be hours (and one short nap) before I stopped feeling sick to my stomach. 

Geesh... I "donate" four pints of blood to myself in prep for my surgery and have to spend a week with an IV strapped to my hand and it leaves me freaking about needles for the rest of my life. Not so much that I get dizzy at the small hint of blood... I need a lot there for me to feel ill about it. 
Not to mention I'm sensitive about my ears anyway... as if that keeps me from cranking up my iPod when I have trouble hearing the music... 

so... thankfully... (would underline three times if I could)... that was the most graphic part about the book and I REALLY got a lot out of the rest of it. least I felt like I did :-P I know for a fact that I will have to have a second read on of these days (in the "On Writing" section only) armed with a pad and pencil because there's plenty there to keep in mind for future productions

but in general, it'll be highly unlikely that I'll read any of his books after that...
not just my fainting spell, but because the horror genre freaks me out and I'd rather not have nightmares over it.
But I will be more likely to read the books than see the movies. "The Shining," I simply will refuse to watch.

Places where he got his ideas were also pretty interesting... how he came up with "Carrie" and the number of details in his life (past and [then] present) that came into it... sounded like genius to me.
My friend Dave loves his writing and has a lot of his books.
My dad, on the other hand, despite how much he loves movies like "The Shining", puts it as the following: "I'd rather not read 10 pages describing a room"... the man himself confessed at one point in the book that running long IS one of his greatest issues.

Let it be remembered, though, that Stephen King HATED the film's rendition of his book.

If I were to read any, I'd read "Carrie" and "Misery" because the way he described them were pretty interesting to me... all the stuff that went into it... 
"The Stand" also sounds kinda interesting... post-apocalyptic themes, talking about human nature, and all that... 

but I'd stay away from Salem's Lot, Pet Semetary, Cujo, The Shining, and a couple others for sure... because I know they'd give me nightmares. 
Not sure what it is about demonizing animals, but it just doesn't sit well with me, so anything of his that involves animals, I wouldn't touch.


That was the easy part of the discussion...

I have been less than enthusiastic about my most cherished novel...
heck, I haven't been...
I'd been a downer about it.

Things haven't been quite right since I started subscribing to Writer's Digest and what really did me in was hearing agents hating on prologues.
The dozens of rejections I'd gotten, I'm afraid are because nobody gets my work... or worse, I'm lacking in my writing in places I'm not aware.

Is Jonas is the wrong type of protagonist to propel a novel to the best seller's list?
Are my characters developed enough?
Does my storyline even make sense?

Recently, I'd considered deleting all of the files on my computer because they're nothing but confusion. I got as far as chapter four with my whole re-vamp idea and that's where I'd been road-blocked ever since.
The person I was 10 years ago and the person I am now are two different people... okay, not entirely, but the writing styles are so different.  I even cringe at some passages I'd written because it's not quite right. I know for a fact several areas are drawn out and slow and the pacing overall is uneven.

Then there are moments like today and the other week when I hear songs that bring me back to that time... 
and quite honestly, a couple of Madonna's songs made it into my story because they were among my favorites when I was in 2nd grade... I don't even know why that is, but something about that time of innocence came back to me and seeped into my writing.
If only I could remember the choreography for "Dress you up" that Nina had a daydream about when she saw the dress she wore to the dance. 

All I know, back then, a few artists resonated with me and their music fit into my work one way or another.
Nina was a gymnast before coming to this new school where she became a cheerleader. She could have taken dance lessons and, convincably, Jonas could have taken a few ballroom classes so he'd be able to keep up with her on the dance floor.
Then there was Plus One, that Christian boyband I took a chance on because I liked one song they did on a soundtrack. "In my heart" was featured in that Disney Channel movie "An Endless Ring of Light," supposedly based on a Madeline L'Engle book. Mischa Barton (before she was Marissa Cooper on "The O.C.") was visiting her grandpa in Hawaii for the summer and she found she had the ability to telepathically communicate with dolphins. The song just played during this scene where she's dancing in the campfire light with a young guy who happens to be a dolphin trainer at the water park.

I guess that could explain (in part) why I wrote Jonas as someone possessing psychic powers. Most of it, I'm sure, came from "Spirited Away" (Haku had magical qualities, including the fact he could transform into a dragon)...
sometimes I wonder if the "Voice in the Wind" idea has any logical reason for being there at all... it's not as if Jonaseriah was an air-bender or the spirit of wind or... so on and so forth... 

Wow... if I keep going, his entire story will unravel and there'll be nothing left but the fact he was a reincarnated angel who could manipulate the elements...  
So most likely, I'll end this entry with the bare essentials... details about Jonas and his universe that my story absolutely must have, things I refuse to edit out or make any drastic changes to.

Honestly, a bunch of the details in my story generated from "Spirited Away"...
Nina was Chihiro and Jonas was Haku, but part of me wrote it in homage to friendship. What would it be like if, years later, they met again? What kind of relationship would that be?
Also, Mai is Lin. Lin being Chihiro's only friend among the bath house workers, but also the person she asked about Haku's whereabouts. She happened to take on some of the characteristics (and stole the name) of "Yu-Gi-Oh" character Mai Valentine because Lin reminded me of her so much.
Megan Hollingstead really does sound a lot like Susan Egan and vice versa. Nowadays it's pretty interesting to hear Megan as Rangiku from "Bleach"... just as chesty, but their demeanors couldn't be more different.

Haku's unusual true form is the reason why Jonas became the "voice in the wind"... and there's also that line Lin has when Haku disappears for a while.
"Not Haku again... he just disappears sometimes... rumor is he's off doing Yubaba's dirty work."

Supposing I were to take that detail out of the equation, there'd only be one issue:
I copyrighted an earlier draft of my story under this name... I figured that was an important thing, but nowadays I hear that a story is yours once it's written down, so you don't need to do the copyrights.

I could get more to the point and call it "Nina and the Reincarnated Angel"
because it'd be a little more accurate.
Perhaps the time could still come where Jonas's voice will be in the wind, at a critical point in the storyline, so I wouldn't have to change my title.

What I ought to do is ask around one of the LinkedIn boards. Ask if anyone's interested in reading my story and giving me feedback on it. Just to see if I'm going in the right direction.

Technically speaking, I could let go of having my prologue in the beginning. But if anything, it could be a snippet of my mythological origin story.
Then I'd have to work on one crucial detail: how to begin?
Recently I'd considered just starting with Nina's first diary entry, spare the details of her family driving up to the new house and the events that follow. If anything, it's right out of the opening of "Spirited Away"... 

But that'd leave me with a slight problem if I take out the "voice in the wind" bit... 

I think I'm still a little shell-shocked from my previous attempt at rewriting the story, so I'm immediately starting to freak out in my attempt to cover my tracks.
Have I really done so much to it that it's unsalvagable? Will I really have to set it aside for years and years until I'm ready to give it another shot?

I should probably get a few opinions on it first before making any hasty decisions.
In the meantime, much like the key words at the back cover of "Twilight," I'll try to sum up the important parts of my story that I don't want to lose.

  1. Nina- blonde hair, hazel eyes- she's the new girl in town
  2. Jonas- dark hair, pale blue eyes- he's the mysterious guy in school that nobody knows anything about
  3. Jonas has psychic abilities, including mind-reading with the slightest touch and telekinesis, moving objects away from him when he's under great pressure
  4. Jonas has social anxiety
  5. Mai- blonde hair, blue eyes, loves purple- is the aspiring head cheerleader, editor-in-chief of the school paper, and the gossip who knows something about everyone
  6. Mai is one of the few people in school who notices Jonas and it annoys her that she can never get any "dirt" on him
  7. Jonas has three horses and two iguanas.
  8. Unbeknownest to Jonas, his animal companions are the earthly forms of the creatures that embodied the elements after the confrontation in his past life
  9. Jonaseriah- Jonas's angel incarnation- was summoned to rid the world of evil
  10. Nightariel- the essence of darkness of evil- wants to destroy the world and plunge into chaos
  11. Sooner or later, Jonas will have to realize his destiny because Nightariel's reincarnation will soon be here
  12. No matter what anyone says, Nina believes the best of Jonas and will support him no matter how strange things get or how many doubt him
  13. After a psychic panic attack in 2nd grade that cost him his best friend, Jonas is determined to keep his distance from his peers
  14. Nina is the only person Jonas has ever wholeheartedly trusted and whatever reason, Jonas feels he has no choice but to trust him... although he cannot explain it himself
okay, so much for it being the short version... then there's the sub-story line about Corey and Eric vying for Mai's heart, creating an enemy in one and an ally in another, and the school dance is the last moment of true happiness Nina and Jonas have before the final confrontation he has with his archfoe.

I can't help but think during this: I REALLY hope people won't read this and believe it has anything to do with "Twilight"... I wrote this story 10 years, long before Stephenie Meyer even dreamt the idea for her vampires.

And for anyone who made it to the end of this entry, send me a comment if you're interested in reading my story :-P 
...a little too little too late, but my offer still stands. I worked with Jonas for so long, I owe him that much. Because to give up on him would be giving up on myself... we have more in common that I'd prefer to let on.

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