I really don’t know how interested anyone will be in this, but I really am trying very hard to blog, even when I don’t have anything to say, so here goes.
Working on The Land of the Beautiful Dead is not a happy experience. I don’t mean I hate the book or anything, but it’s the zombie apocalypse. The world I have to live in when I write is a deeply unpleasant one and it is necessary that I feel those emotions in order to project them onto the page. Unfortunately, the more I allow myself to sink into the bleakness of the landscape, the more my emotions tend to bleed out into the characters. It kind of becomes this vicious cycle after a while–the book affects my mood affects the writing affects the book affects my mood, etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam.
I cope with this in a lot of ways. I listen to music while I write, for example. All of my books have a ‘soundtrack’ that is distinctly their own, and even though LoBD’s ‘album’ is still pretty dark, just being able to sing along, even with the sad songs, keeps me at least halfway grounded in the real world. If it’s a really bad scene, I may turn on a well-loved movie I’ve watched a bazillion times to act as white noise in the background and subconsciously lift my spirits. In emergencies, I may go get my hedgehog. It’s impossible to be depressed when there’s a hedgehog licking your thumb as you’re trying to type.
Having said all that, I have to admit even Posey Q. Pricklepants is not always able to combat the malaise that comes along with working on a book in which I scrag the entire human race. In fact, there are days when the only way I’ve found to deal with the book is to put it entirely aside and work on another one.
Yes, Land of the Beautiful Dead. I’ve been cheating on you. With fanfiction.
I find fanfiction to be extremely soothing to my soul. It’s just so comfortable and easy, writing a story where all the hard work is already done for you. The characters are there. The setting is there. The world is already built and peopled. All you need to do is provide a plotline and watch the story tell itself.
This is probably where I should stop and rant a little while on how wildly out of control fanfiction has gotten these days. In my day, when we wrote fanfiction, we used the characters and the setting of the actual original source and just made up new stories. If there was a new character–and let’s face it, there was always a new character–he or she was a plot device, like any you might see in a new episode, there to engage and be engaged by the canon characters. This business where so-called fans take…I’m going to use Star Trek as an example, because it’s one most people are going to recognize…take the crew of the Enterprise and make them teenagers who all go to the same high school, and also some of them are vampires and the biggest plotline is who vampire-Spock is going to ask to the dance (hint, it’s either Kirk or Picard) is NOT FANFICTION.
I’ve been writing fanfiction more than half my life. The first story I ever wrote was fanfiction–Disney fanfiction, no less. The day I knew I’d arrived as an author was the day someone sent me fanfiction of one of my own books. Fanfiction is great, but if you’re going to write it, for the love of God, write it for real. If you’re going to change every single goddamn element that made the story in the first place, go ahead and change the names of the characters too. You might be doing yourself a favor.
So I’ve been writing a fanfic in-between editing chapters of The Land of the Beautiful Dead. No one will ever read it. Like all GOOD fanfiction, it simply cannot work outside the parameters of someone else’s copywritten work. I won’t even tell you the name of the source material. It exists for my pleasure and for my pleasure alone. However, since it’s what I was working on today, and today is the day I set aside for blogging, you, the reader, get a snippet.
One of my characters is a musician. He is in the source material and so he is in my book (and THAT, kids, is how you write fanfiction!) He’s not obnoxious about it, but it is an important aspect of his character, so I’ve done what I can to keep it, and one of the things I found I had to do as the story progressed is have him write a song. So I woke up this morning and wrote a song he could write for the girl he is never going to get. Disclaimer: There is a reason I am not a professional songwriter.
Baby girl, when you talk, I hear such complicated melodies
But it’s a song and I could sing it if you let me.
All I need’s a little time to hear the tune and make it mine
I’d play it for you and maybe then you’d see
How beautiful your music is to me
Won’t you listen?
For a little while…just one night is all I need.
Oh me and this guitar are both as broken as they come
But even we can make some music if only I
Replace these broken strings and play it right
Put a lead guitar and a bass beside me and I’ll prove to you
There’s still some harmony.
It’s not too late
For you to learn the words….and sing along with me.
Girl, I’d need an orchestra to play the story of your life
But if only I could play piano, I would try.
Any song can be written down once you have the key
And if I could find the note to build upon, I know you’d sing along with me.
And if I could play the drums, maybe then I could set the time
That brings the shattered rhythm of your heart into beat with mine.
And I’d get horns to be your courage and violins to be your tears
And one by one, I would find instruments to take all your hopes and fears
Until there’s nothing left but you and me and one simple melody
That’s been there, baby girl, all along.
And I’ll teach it to you…and it can be our song.
Girl, when you talk, I hear such complicated melodies
And it’s a song I know that I can’t make you hear.
Because I’m not the man you want tonight but before you go, I’ve got to try
To make you understand that if you can’t
Play the tune
Or sing the words…still, we can dance.
So let me put this old guitar aside…and we can dance.