Thursday, April 30, 2009

you’re invited.

I’ve made a little life out of muttering on paper.—N.E. Bode, The Nobodies

If you like hopping about through the blogosphere, then hop over in this direction, and visit my new blog! (Well, relatively new. It has two months behind it.) It talks even more about writing than this one does, so if you like that sort of thing, come check it out. (I’m also hoping—eventually—to talk a lot more about pie, hence the title.)

I haven’t quite gotten the knack of keeping two blogs going at once (though some people have lots of blogs, and hooray for them!). I always feel like I’m keeping one blog out of the conversation… so, if you’re interested in what else I might be saying—all those secretive things about protagonists that you never knew you wanted to know!!—then come visit, leave a comment, and say hi.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/30 at 03:49 PM
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finding the dark side of jenn

Villains are the salt in the soup of a story.—Cornelia Funke, Inkspell

Villains made history. Villains changed the destiny of the world.—J.V. Hart, Capt. Hook

Well, I pushed past last week’s exhaustion by that time-honored college technique: skimming. What a wonderful invention. Scan a page, trust that the good lines will leap out, and move on.

I am profoundly grateful for the chance to revise my work, to rewrite it basically from scratch. How many places in life can we literally rip things up and start again? Not many. So, goodbye to the Old Part Three! Paragraphs I’ll learn from, but hope never to see again.

It seems that every section of this rewrite has taught me something: in the first section, one of the characters closest to my protagonist became enormously interesting. Once I heard his voice clearly, Part One stood up and started running, and I just had to keep up. Then, with Part Two, the love interest got a complete personality overhaul—and off went Part Two.

With Part Three, I’m zeroing in on the main antagonist. I’m convinced that she’s the link to Part Three, and if I can just hear her voice clearly, if I can just get her right, then Part Three will yawn and stretch and then tell me precisely where we’re going. It’s a feeling I live for, now, when the book tells me just what it wants. (Oooh, this kind of talk makes non-writers shake their heads at me, but it’s still true, so shake away.)

The antagonist was okay in the earlier drafts, just… not very frightening. More like a cardboard box with mean black-crayon eyebrows. Not like a person of flesh and blood who could seriously give you nightmares, and that’s what we need for this story. Someone stronger than, well, cardboard. A lot stronger. Especially now that the rest of my cast is more dynamic.

She’s been mean and hostile and relatively powerful. Manipulative and cold-hearted. Perceptive. Changeable. But it’s just not good enough.

So now we’re peeling back the layers of her motivation, this character and I. Figuring out her past, and why she wants what she wants. (And what is that, exactly, after all?)

All my characters have a pinch of me in them: a bit of someone I know mixed in with something of me, or sometimes it’s just a lot of me, mixed with things I’d like to be. But then we come to the antagonist, and so far, no one I know really fits her. (I need to meet more warped people, perhaps? Or—maybe not. I value sleeping well at nights.)

But some very good writing advice says that antagonists see themselves as heroes. In their version of events, they are the ones struggling, the ones overcoming obstacles, working for a prize.

Now I’m looking at my story through those other eyes, trying to put my antagonist at the top, and see where she would go, what she would do. And since no one of my acquaintance works for her, I’m using myself as stand-in. How would I feel if these things happened to me? What would I be looking for? How would I behave? And how frightening and tooth-chillingly bad could I really be?

Whew! That will make me want to take a break from my writing chair. Let’s go have a latté... and I’ll spook the barista by using my new evil voice.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/30 at 03:24 PM
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

why i am not a builder of sand castles

Why gnaw you so your nether lip?—William Shakespeare, Othello

OH, this is one of those days where there just isn’t enough tea in the world, there isn’t enough coffee.

I did actually finish my work on Part Two last week, in a blaze of exhaustion and weary eyes last Wednesday. But after a half-week break, and then another half-week of chaos… I feel more than a little disconnected, disoriented. (Hence the cry for tea.) On to Part Three, this bear of bears that I rewrote last November.

I’m doing my usual torture-in-the-form-of-reading-old-drafts. Why do I do this, when it makes me feel so savage and wretched?

Because I’m terrified that some forgotten, brilliant scene or dialogue interchange or passage of description will slip past me into the Neverland of my computer’s recycle bin. Ugh. But is it worth the cost? Maybe not. Especially as it’s an enormous section, and rereading it is taking an age.

I am so much older than I was this morning.

But blogging and being grumpy isn’t much more fun than being grumpy on my own, so I won’t bore you with an extended rant. Still. Working through a massive old draft, all the while knowing that I’m just going to write it again from scratch? Sorta takes the heart right out of me.

And no, no, I never did go in for sand castles. Obviously.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/23 at 10:02 PM
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the merry eggs of easter

I am so smitten with this year’s Easter dyeing (though I don’t think I can stomach another hardboiled egg, not for a few weeks at least…) But surely, this is the highest and best use of rubber bands.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/23 at 09:55 PM
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

easter corrections

To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.—The Book of Jude, the last verse.

Forget all my hedging, side-stepping words about fearlessness at the end of this post.

God can do whatever he wants, whatever he will. After all, he is God, and though I always forget it, I’m not.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/14 at 01:05 PM
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Friday, April 10, 2009

rainy night cuppa

If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.—Albert Einstein

All my scruples about discussing the weather vanish when the weather is rain. Rain is something else entirely: it means that everything is right and good and cozy.

Mom and I dashed out through the grey twilight to get my dad from the airport tonight, and as we came home, all I could think of was: 1) find a good novel. 2) and warm socks. 3) and tea. somehow, make your way to tea.

I’m a coffee girl at heart, and somewhat new to tea, but it’s the perfect night for it. Trees are black-silhouetted against a grey, low sky, the pine is dripping in the gutter outside my bedroom, our house is warm and peaceful. And there’s Peach Blossom White Tea, loose, waiting for me.

Cozy nights do not call for washing the mesh tea-infuser thingy, do they? They don’t call for preparation of any kind, you just zap your water and go, right? I dumped the loose tea into the teacup to steep. It seemed like a good idea, but now I realize that I have to fish all those twigs and things out of the water I’m going to drink… and suddenly it’s like puddle-water, however sweet smelling.


seemed like a good idea at the time…

Sorta sucks the romance out of the whole thing.—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/10 at 12:06 AM
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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

fearless, or something like it

Worrying, indeed, seemed to be the twentieth century’s specialty.—P.G. Wodehouse

I’d forgotten that “stop being afraid” was one of the lines on this list. It will probably take more than just a spring, more than Lent, more than just the habit of writing the word fearless on my arm.

Though that helps.

More than anything, I want to be as strong and courageous as God meant for me to be, when he says—so many times!—do not be afraid.

He knows as well as anyone all the reasons we would have down here, for fear and terror and caution and worry. All the reasons why. And all the reasons why not.

Some nights I feel completely bold, ready to take on anything, anything at all.

And other times, I realize how completely vulnerable I am, how afraid I am for the safety of everyone I care about, how the future can look fanged and clawed from here.

It will take longer than Lent for me to learn this lesson—maybe longer than 2009. Probably. Of course it will. But I hope to keep walking and running in that direction. And Easter, oh Easter is Sunday! And what better reminder of all the things we don’t have to fear?—jl

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/07 at 02:54 PM
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Friday, April 03, 2009

late night musings: the results

If there were a market for insecurities, I could sell mine for a buck a piece, and make a FORTUNE.

And then I’d just buy a villa on the coast of Italy, and write my brains out. Minus all my insecurities. Which would be bliss.

Posted by Jenn Langefeld on 04/03 at 11:18 AM
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