Monthly Archives: July 2016

Any Resemblance to Actual Persons is Purely Coincidental

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The problem with writing a novel that’s realistic instead of being a murder mystery, or sci-fi or fantasy or anything else, is that people who read it are going to think that they’re actually in it.

There’s a reason why novels have some version of a disclaimer on the copyright page stating that it’s a work of fiction and that names, places, events, yada yada, are imaginary or used in a fictitious manner.   There’s some version of that idea written to make it clear that it’s pretty much everything that you’re going to be reading is all made up.  Sure…  Even the completely made up stuff is inspired by our less boring moments of reality though.

So I wonder…  Who’s going to be the first person to ask me “Is so-and-so based on me?” when they read my novel.  Sure. My main character has a dad, so is that dad character based on my dad?  The main character has siblings, so are they based on mine?  Are the ex-girlfriends based on my ex-girlfriends?  And on and on…

None of the characters’ names in the book are the same as anyone in my life.  I’m not going to say that “names were changed to protect the innocent” though because, after all, anyone from my life who’s been completely innocent would be far too dull to make it into the pages of the novel.  And what fun would that be?  So don’t be looking through the pages for your name.  If you’re in there, your name isn’t going to be typed out on a single page.

And, thinking of pages, on my bookshelf there are a number of books that have little scraps of paper sticking out of the top, marking the pages that have lines I really want to remember, lines that inspire me and lines that remind me just why I write.  One of the marked sections I pulled out this week highlights a line in The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper (one of my all-time favorite books and one that I very highly recommend if you haven’t gotten around to reading it yet) and it says:

Everyone always wants to know how you can tell when it’s true love, and the answer is this: when the pain doesn’t fade and the scars don’t heal, and it’s too damned late.

And I find that line pretty much sums up the concept of my novel.  Well, one of the major storylines contained in my novel anyway.  And it fits the overall style that I use when I’m writing.  It’s a lot like Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.  Both authors – Hornby and Tropper – write the ‘male confessional’ kind of book and I’d say that mine fits into that general mold as well.

But the dangerous thing about that is having everyone try to figure out how much of the “confessional” is true, and where they figure into the story.  Because if the main character is telling you about his life, his feelings, his secrets and all of the good stuff, it’s just more fun if you expect that there’s some truth buried deep inside.

So where is that truth?  I’m not telling you.  If you’re located somewhere in those 300 plus pages (under an assumed name of course because you – like me – aren’t at all innocent), you can probably figure it out for yourself.  And that’s where the fun of reading begins.  Right? 😀

Drawing Dinosaurs

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As I’ve been spending a lot of time going through the book giveaways I’ve received lately, I came across one that can supposedly teach me how to ‘Draw People in 15 Minutes or Less’.  I’m not sure if my end result after those 15 minutes would actually resemble my less than complete willing models, or if those subjects I selected would be flattered by my attempt or just insulted by the sight of the final product, but I guess an ugly drawn person is still a drawn person.  So the author would still be technically correct, right? Because I drew a person in 15 minutes (or probably much less ’cause my attention span is…oh, a squirrel!,).

But, more important than the lesson it thought me about my lack of artistic talent, that book reminded me of another one from years ago…

Back when I was a kid, we went to the library each week during the school year (and probably at least twice a week during the summer).  Sure, it was probably just a plan conceived to get us out of the house and keep us out of trouble for a few hours (me more than my sisters of course), but we loved it and I always came home with a big stack of books to try and get through before it was time to go back and find some new ones.  At least until this one time when, as a 7-year-old, I made it onto the library’s banned list.  Yep, I started my life as a trouble maker young…

According to ‘the system’, and what ‘the man’ told me (through their 68-year old woman representative behind the desk), I had never returned one of the books I’d checked out and it was now overdue.  No new books for me until it was returned.

“I returned it,” I told my dad.

“I know I returned it,” I told my mom.

“I’m 100% certain I returned it,” I told both parents.

“Shut up,” I told my sisters for what I assume was a good reason.

I had no doubt whatsoever that the library was wrong, that they had it somewhere in the back and were blaming me for a crime that I didn’t commit and enjoying my emotional pain.  Weeks went by.  Months went by.  $1.24 in late fees accumulated.  And, completely against my 7-year-old wishes, my parents went to the library’s front desk and paid for the book.

I was shocked.  I couldn’t believe my parents’ lack of belief in me and their lack of willingness to fight the system on my behalf.  It was disturbing but, then again, at least I was allowed my previous library rights and the librarians treated me as if nothing had ever happened.  But my faith in my parents was still shaken.  So much so that when, two years later, I found the book behind my dresser, I was tempted not even to tell them about it.

So a thin, orange hardcover book showing me just how to draw the 40 top styles of dinosaurs that everyone would want to see was now mine.  Permanently.  It was bought and paid for.  But, due to the immense amount of 7-year-old shame attached to the find of that book, I don’t believe that I ever opened it up again.

Now, if I try to draw a dinosaur, it pretty much looks like a couch with arms.  So owning the book for all these years hasn’t helped me one bit.  And, opening it up and re-reading it now won’t help because…well…I’ve lost it again.  And I’ve even looked behind the dresser this time.