Writing Journal

Today, while I was at work, I came up with a great line.  For a book and a story that is not the one that I am currently writing.  I mean, I may be able to work it into some memories of Grandma Betty's, but that's about it.  It just doesn't sound like anyone else.  And, since Chiraq and Grandma Betty were both going as far as Chicago, there's no real need for me to bring in any more characters, like I've been doing between Sacramento and Salt Lake (which is the stop I'll be writing about tonight.  It'll be interesting to take the story off the train for a while.)

I'm considering putting it up for adoption on the appellation station, but I selfishly want to keep the line for myself for a future story.  One that actually involves a budding romance.

"S/he went from not trying to flirt with him/her to trying not to flirt with him/her." 
Maybe used as a direct quote in dialogue as two characters discuss their relationship: I went from not trying to flirt with you to trying to not flirt with you.

It's beautiful, and I just want to use it, but I can't!!!!!

On the plus side, I thought I was going to have to drive to Norfolk to write again, but then one of my coworkers invited me over to use her kitchen table and keep her company while she makes a cheesecake.  She said those were her plans, and I said that mine were to try and find a place to write 10k words (really closer to 6k) tonight.  She said, "How about my kitchen table?"  I said, "Ok.  I'll give you my number and you can text me your address."

That's how my life works, people.


Writing Journal

In February of 2014, I took the train from Omaha to SLC and back.  The return trip is the entire basis for my novel.  I've known since it happened that this story needs to be told, and now I'm wishing I had actually finished it last year.  Because.....one of the people I met on the train introduced himself as "Chiraq."  That's what he asked us to call him because, in his own words, the part of Chicago (south side) he was from was more violent that Iraq.  When I asked him what he did for work (as a small talk question), he said that he was in the, uh, distribution business.  (nudge, nudge) One of my college classmates posted a status about how he wasn't going to "knock Chi-raq" until he had "seen it."  Figuring it was a movie, I went to imdb, and, sho' enough, that was one of the featured trailers on the site.  Directed by Spike Lee, due to come out December 4.  A modern-day adaptation of the Greek play "Lysistrata" about the violence in Chicago's Southside.

One more odd bit of insight about tonight's learned lesson is that I was on the floor in the living room, avoiding writing, and realizing just how white-washed my movie collection is.  The only movies I have that my MC could possibly even come close to identifying with is Akeelah the Bee and Drumline, which stars Nick Cannon, who is playing the character Chi-raq in the movie.

....and now, after a bit more research into the term, I've found some homework to do.
Namely, watching this.
I also have to put up my map to track Lawrence's journey by train and I realized today at work that I forgot to assign them all families.  Like, I know that Lawrence has an older brother who doesn't live with their mom and I think a younger sibling or two, Chiraq has step grandkids, and Zoeyanna has a younger brother, a stepdad, and a mother. But do they have names?  Not yet in my NaNo world.
And I also only have only about half of the timeline up on my wall/storyboard.  Have to finish that before too long.


Writing Journal

I'm doing NaNoWriMo prep, which, right now, means cruising the forums.
One of the reasons FFaD failed last year is because I tried telling Lawrence's story from my perspective.  I can't.  I wasn't there with him before or after I got on the train, you know?  I can't tell his experience from my perspective.  I have to tell his story from his POV.  But, I've never been a seventeen year old black kid in Detroit.  I've actually done quite a bit of research about this, and have come to terms with the fact that I can imagine myself in his shoes.  I can do a lot of research into how someone with his demographic makeup might act or react to certain things.  That part, I'm getting to feel confident about.  Maybe not comfortable, but confident.  If that distinction makes any sense.

There is still one problem, though.  Really, it's just one word.  It's when the climax hits him, he reacts by mumbling, "Nigga gotta lie down," repeatedly.  I don't feel comfortable or confident using that word.  It makes me nervous even here, on my own little blog.  I don't like that word.  I don't use it, I don't like hearing it, but I generally feel the same way about most other heavy cuss words.  (The difference is, those cross my thoughts on rare occasions.)

But, as a white, female author, I feel like I need to ask the black community for permission to use that word.  I feel like I need to get someone's stamp of approval before I quote him on that.  Even if there were one person or organization to grant me that permission, it wouldn't be easy because even within the black community, there are mixed feelings about that word.  Some people feel it's acceptable use is based upon whose mouth it comes out of.  Some feel it's not acceptable in mixed race company (i.e., black people will say it around their black friends but not their white friends).  Some people want to do away with all forms of the word (with and without the hard "r" sound at the end).

I foresee many more sleepless nights trying to figure out if "Brother gotta lie down" packs the same punch.  I want to be authentic, but I also want to be positive and not perpetuate anything offensive.  Overall, I expect to portray Lawrence as a kind, loyal young man with potential for good works, even though he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Because that's how I saw him.  But now I feel like I'm "justifying" my use of that word.  I don't know; maybe disillusioned Chiraq can give him a talk about not using that word in front of white people.

I don't want people to dismiss the entire work because of that one word.  But I don't want to dilute the experience, nor do I want to censor the characters.  Like, if that's what he's would (did) say, that's what he should say, right?

Like I said, many more sleepless nights.


Writing Journal

Well, I did it.
Millennial Mormons made an official facebook post asking for regular contributors.  I asked, and was told that meant about 2-3 posts a month.  I responded that I would pray about it.  I knew that I would find my answer somewhere in the talks of General Conference.

I couldn't watch live on Saturday, but thanks to internetty stuff, I was able to catch most of what I missed.  (Saturday morning and the first talk of Saturday afternoon.)  As I was listening to Elder Hales, I got the green light on officially applying to be a contributor.  And by green light, I mean warm feeling.

The only reason I had hesitated in the slightest was because I don't know if I'll have enough energy to keep up year round, although that was swept away when I read my patriarchal blessing.  But I also have been wanting to open an etsy shop/facebook page for crocheted items (blankets and scarves).  I had made plans to work on creating an inventory for that before I saw the MM post.  So, this past week, I've been trying out how an every-other-day routine feels for writing and crocheting.  And it's been working out ok.  Well enough that I think I can do both, anyway.  I figure I can take Sundays "off" from the pressure of pursuing those goals and work on either or neither of those hobbies/crafts on those days.


Writing Journal: On Hallowed Ground

For some time, I've been thinking in generalities about writing a book about the history of the Winter Quarters temple.  This past week, though, the "do it" vibe has been gathering momentum.  Like, I actually came up with a schedule of deadlines.  I don't remember where I wrote them down, though.

I've been getting the impression that I need to do this.  Not just for me, but to hasten the Lord's work.  I feel almost conceited thinking that.  *runs off to listen to "In Me" by Casting Crowns*  The middle of the Venn diagram of People Who Can Get The Stories and People With Gumption to Write Them is slim.  As in, I may be the only one.  Over the course of the past, let's say eight years, I have heard so many stories that pertain to the building and dedication of the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple.  And they have all caught my heart.  Why else would I notice how many times I heard about the snowstorm of '97?  Because that actually played a role in obtaining the ground for the temple.  Why else would I have been assigned to work so many shifts as an ordinance worker?  To develop a love for the place.  I can think of no other building I want to wrap my arms around.

I even have a title for the book, too.  On Hallowed Ground.  I checked Amazon and Goodreads, and neither of them have a book listed by that name or one about the history of that particular temple.  Not that I'm surprised.  Like I said, who else would write it?  Who else would think enough of this idea to think it a good one and come close to going through with it.

Honestly, though, it scares me.  It scares me that it will be well received and I'll get praise for it.  I don't want praise.  I don't like limelight.  But I don't want it to not do well, either.  I want to write it so that it will inspire people to go there and do work for their ancestors.  To learn about and hold sacred the covenants made there today.  A lot of people know the history of the place; there are plenty of books about historical Winter Quarters.  I want people to know about the temple.  To know the stories of the people who dedicated a portion of their life to seeing it come about.  I want people to love it as much as I do, so that they will go there and grow closer to our Savior.

But it's not just success that scares me.  It's taking that first step.  It's calling people, on the phone, and asking to talk to them about their experiences.  It's the interviews and setting them up.  Not because I don't want to talk to these people or talk to them about the temple, but because then they'll know.  I'll have people who will be holding me accountable.  I can't interview someone for a book and then not write the book.  I need a cheerleader.  I need someone I feel knows me.  Someone I can believe when they say, "I know you can do this.  You need to do this."  Because I'm sure I can find someone to give me empty encouragement.  I'm looking for someone who can tell me when I've bitten off more than I can chew.  I need someone who knows my skill set and someone who understands the depth and breadth of this project on both a professional and spiritual level.  And I don't know if that person exists.
(True story, though: when a local paper interviewed me via e-mail about doing NaNoWriMo, the wife of the temple's architect read the article and told me she was impressed by my dedication to the craft.)