Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh, Aardvark, you're so weird

I honestly don't plan to post them all, but I'm doing it again today. This is partly because I think it'll be neat to re-read them later once I've actually picked which idea becomes Aardvark, partly because it illuminates how I, at least, think about my books, and also because it's a weird one.

Last night, Mr. W gave me my random number and I looked up the item, which read:

Dad's movie - ask questions or have people do things, but the movie shows a different question or activity request (e.g., C. running away to catch a football is really running to tip a cow)

Clear as mud, yes? Well, my father has rumbled a bit about making a movie starring all the family members. This is NOT a novel idea, it's a thought I had for his movie... you've probably seen those joke TV shows where they've interviewed celebrities, and then show their answers as if they'd actually asked a completely different question. (So, for example, they really asked the celebrity whether he prefers light or dark chocolate and he gives this big speech about how sometimes he's in the mood for dark but light tastes better to him, and then they show the interview and make it look like they asked him what kind of Jedi he'd be. That sort of goofy stuff.)

So anyhow, I protested, on the grounds that this wasn't a novel idea and shouldn't have been on the list. Mr. W suggested I try it out and see what I got. I wasn't going to, but then I thought about how the topic's really about being one thing on the surface and something completely different underneath, and that got me thinking about political speechwriters and how much lying they must have to do, and do they keep lying in their real lives...

While I still think that's cool, I dropped it about 10 minutes into the first work session today. :) Might pick it up at some point, but things veered VERY far away. I'm going to post an excerpt from my note file. This is a free-writing session, wherein I just keep typing and see what falls out. Sometimes I get a lot of "I'm tired, my fingers hurt", but not this time. I DID get a lot of typos; rest assured I actually know how to spell and punctuate. :)

Welcome to a tour of the inside of my head. Keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times, please. No poking at the brain cells! It's a scary place, but you'll make it out okay. Pity me - I LIVE in here. :)
This is a tough one! It's not really a story idea at all in the true sense. I could take it literally, and write a book about someone making a movie that's supposed to trap someone else or mislead people. Creating a propaganda film? Maybe working for a politician and making this film and realizing as she goes that she doesn't believe in what she's doing any more.

It needs a major twist, though. What if she's the politician, and the star of the movie? Or it's a documentary really. And the filmmaker is young and earnest and B isn't that way any more and wishes she was.

This feels over-done and stale. There's some way to make it NOT that way, though. How would people expect it to go down? The politician would eventually change her mind and probably quit her party and all that. What if she instead decided to suppress her doubts and go ahead with the party line? It's kinda big-brother-like. But that doesn't mean it's bad necessarily. The guy in 1984 thinks he's happy at the end, but of course he's just completely brainwashed. What if my girl decides she's doing more good things by being where she is than bad things?

Or not a politician. Maybe the head of a huge company. First woman CEO in some industry. And while she comes to believe that her company's bad, she can also see where it's doing some good.
Ok, fine. Now try another route. Something completely different. How else can what you see on the surface not be what's underneath? Someone hiding from who they really are. A gay woman pretending to be straight? A straight woman pretending to be gay? Why would she do that? Believes in the cause and wants to help them? Hates men for some reason? She'd get found out at some point... she wouldn't be able to date men, and even if she was supposedly friends with one she wouldn't be able to do more than be friends. I'd need a really good reason why she's pretending and an unexpected way out of the situation.

I don't know what else to put. I need to keep typing during these - no distractions! I will do it for another 5 minutes without a single stop in my typing there has to be another way that what you see on the surface isn't what's real. It happens all the time. Beauty pageants, high school, other things, I can't think of other things. Where else? Cosmetic surgery, job interviews... someone who's been faking for so long she's not even sure what real means any more.

Who would be like that? A model, maybe, who's pretending to like stuff she really doesn't. an actress who hates acting. But she could quit. Maybe not, if it's something she always swore she'd do. Hard to give in.

I still want to do something around the female tendency to blame self. Is there a link here? Pretending to be someone you're not so that you don't show your vulnerabilities? Maybe. I think there's more, though. If you are vulnerable and you know it, that's one thing. I think this is about someone who no longer even knows who she is.

The classic one is the divorce and everything is suddenly so different from what you knew before. So I won't do that. What about the sudden stepmother? Maybe this is a woman who said she'd never have kids but now she's in love with a guy who has them.

Again, this isn't new. But nothing's new, really. It's up to me to decide how to make it different and exciting. What I want, though, is the core of it. Someone who so doesn't know who she is any more that she can be anything yoou want her to be.

A fantasy woman somehow. Who wouold that be? A model and actress, sure, but what else? Maybe a woman who, for once, stood up for herself when someone did something to her. And somehow it made the news and everyone was talking about it and her. And she doesn't know what it means and she doesn't know why she did it, but nobody wants to hear that so she ends up creating this elaborate story around it all and then she has to live it and be who she's made herself into, since she doesn't know who she really is.

Something like that subway shooter guy. She's always been something of a mouse and then someone does something and she just snaps and fights back. It'll turn out that the 'something' triggered something that happened to her way back... maybe she HASN'T always been a mouse, not really. Something big happened to her - or no, just something small but it ate away at her - something happened, anyhow, and it's just the last straw and she can't take any more.

Another bunch of pages ensued, largely driven by tarot cards, and in the end I have:

Bernadette, like many women, secretly believes the steady stream of minor abuses and rudeness she receives on a daily basis is her fault. One day, though, she sees a delicate young woman who reminds her of her late sister being harassed by a gang of young black men on the street and she can't bear it. She explodes and the men leave, but not before the whole incident has been captured on bystanders' cellphones.

The footage hits the Internet, making the white 250-pound Bernadette both a reluctant hero to millions of women and a valuable figurehead for any number of militant groups on both sides of race, gender, and size issues.

I have some solid ideas for how it ends, but I don't want to share 'em. There are distinct differences between how I felt about yesterday's results and how I feel about this one. Yesterday, I was DONE when I posted it... I haven't thought about it again. This one is still percolating, and I feel an excitement I didn't have after yesterday.

The biggest difference, though, is that I feel scared about sharing it with you. :) I didn't mind so much if people didn't like yesterday's, but today I do. NOW, that does NOT mean that if you don't like it you shouldn't tell me. I still want to know what people think, or else I wouldn't post. It just means that this one has touched me in a way yesterday's didn't, and that's a very good sign.

I've never tried coming up with two book ideas two days in a row, and I'm delighted that it is apparently possible for me to do so. I want a career, and a long career, in novel-writing, and for that to work I need to be able to come up with the ideas when I need them. I'm seeing that I can, and I love it.

That being said, I'm takin' tomorrow off. :) I have a dentist appointment in the morning, which is supposed to be to fix two cracked teeth and one small cavity. Unfortunately, the day before we left on vacation I SHATTERED one of the teeth (seriously, it's like a quarter gone), so I don't exactly know how this appointment'll go. So I'll spend the afternoon doing whatever feels reasonable and doable. If I'm okay after the appointment, I'll clean the house. If I'm somewhat okay, I'll probably polish up Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo in preparation for making it available for free download. If I feel grim, I'll be on the couch with my crocheting watching some movie I've already seen a hundred times. :)

But regardless, I gots two Aardvarks, and that ain't half bad! So, let me know... a) do you like this Aardvark and b) is it better/worse/the same as yesterday's?

Heather

6 comments:

Lauria @ Brackenbury Lane said...

This is much more interesting than yesterday's!

Keep at it!!

Laux said...

They're very different.

I really like the idea of picking a new story to work on every day though. Sounds fun, and very challenging.

I want to say I lean towards today's, but for some reason (that I don't feel I can really articulate correctly, so I won't try) the "gang of young black men" feels stereotypical and makes me queasy.

Good luck at the dentists!

Heather Wardell said...

I hear you, Laux. It gives me the same feeling... I wasn't sure whether to go with it BECAUSE it's stereotypical or not.

Ah well. No worries, as there'll be a new aardvark tomorrow!

aimeewrites said...

Ooh, ooh, ooh.

I love them both, actually. Based on those synopses, I'd read both.

But, I can't TELL you how much I'd like to see how Bernadette comes out. The "gang of young black men" made me queasy, too, at first, until I read the part about the issues it opens up on a national level. Like it or not, many people still draw racial lines. It could make for an interesting dialogue.

You know, something else to think about...I'd love to see a plus-sized female protagonist who doesn't have MAJOR self-image issues. (I say major, because we all have self-image issues at some level, don't we? Large or small...) What if she's essentially fine with herself, even though she diets and would love to be thin? And not one of those brash, large women who are obviously covering up insecurities by being loud, kwim?

Okay, now I'M free-writing! LOL It's my favorite way of brainstorming, too. I just don't seem to have the patience to work out the entire book.

Thanks for the meme tag. It's going to be tough to respond to...I'm not sure I have seven people to tag, but we'll see!!

Heather Wardell said...

I absolutely do know what you mean, Aimee. I am no small chick myself and never will be, and it is frustrating that a) any 'fat girl' in books is neurotic and b) the ones who are 5'10" and 125 pounds are all desperate to lose another 5 so they'll be perfect. Grr.

Bernadette's story may currently be the frontrunner, but the race ain't over. I intend at least another week of aardvarking (new word :) and possibly two depending on whether I still have brain cells after next week!

Jennifer said...

I couldn't choose! But it's really cool to see into your creative process. :)

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