Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, November 05, 2007

namRdo Stuff

I find myself on the road once again—or should I say still. Buffalo is lovely, but I think it would be even lovelier in say late April through early September. I think my salespeople just like to torture me.

That being the case, I don’t have time for one complete coherent blog. So I thought I’d try a couple of short nuggets of (hopefully) semi-coherent thought.

Thought 1—It is the end of the 2006-2007 NBA season. You are the Boston Celtics and you were pathetic. Some say you even tanked the second half of the season to get a good draft pick. You ended up with the second worst record in the NBA. Fortunately for you, there are two elite players coming out of college. Two players so good they could change the direction of your team for years to come. All you need is for the ping-pong balls to place you number one or number two. And since your record was so bad you have more ping-pong balls, by far, than any other team except the Grizzlies.

But a funny thing happens on the way to the draft. You don’t end up number 1. You don’t end up number 2. You end up number 5! Despite the odds being so far in your favor, you won’t get either of the top two players. Your season is ruined right? But let’s fast forward several months to the start of the next season. Turns out the number 1 pick—the one you REALLY wanted—had knee surgery and will miss the entire year. Had you landed the first ping-pong ball, you’d be right back where you started.

But because you didn’t get the first pick, you traded the number five pick and some other odds and ends for an all star guard by the name of Ray Allen. Then you magically ended up with possibly with one the top fifty players of all time. An all star power forward by the name of Kevin Garnett. This in addition to your own all star, Paul Pierce. And suddenly you are picked by many to go from worst to first in the East. Funny how things work out huh?

How many times do you think everything has ended up in a total failure because of a choice you made or even something beyond your control only to look back later and see how it was exactly what you needed to reach the spot where you are? Several years ago I failed to sell my national horror novel despite landing an awesome agent. I wonder if I’d still have a YA fantasy coming out with Shadow Mountain (which will probably sell ten times what my horror novel would have sold) if I’d published that horror novel.

Thought 2—This actually isn’t a thought but answers to a couple of questions from my friend Jon. (Saving me an extra e-mail response.)

Jon: First, let me congratulate you on your honorable mention on LDSP's opening paragraph content - yours was my favorite, without me even knowing it was yours. =) Pretty sure the one that mentioned the SASE was yours, too.
Me: Thanks. I love LDSPUb’s contests and how can you resist scary stories? If only there had been smores. The SASE one wasn’t mine. I don’t believe in SASEs.
Jon: Second, were you supposed to send some stuff out to the class yet?
Me: Yes
Jon: Third (and my real question), do you have any opinions/reviews of electronic writing aids? I can't remember now where I saw it, but there was something I saw that was basically a keyboard with a tiny LCD screen that you could edit maybe one line of text at a time. I've certainly considered getting a little voice recorder to dictate thoughts while driving. My latest thing is just to jot down a skeleton of ideas for my next chapter then flesh it out when I sit down to the computer. I don't own a laptop, but it's certainly something I'm considering.
Me: You are probably referring to the Alphasmart products. Although I haven’t personally used them, I know several people who read this blog regularly who swear by them. The cool thing about them is that unlike laptops they can run for days on a single set of batteries, they don’t require any boot-up time, so you can turn them off and on in an instant, and they have a full-size keyboard built in. You can also download your work to your PC or Apple any time you want. If you do a lot of writing on the go, they are a must.
Jon: I just found my first chapter that I had sent to a couple of people (major infodump!) and realized I've only put 3 chapters together in 6 months! So, I need to work harder AND smarter. Any thoughts? Feel free to use it in a blog. =P
Me: In my opinion, you can not write a quality book if you don’t feed and nourish it close to daily. The longer you go without writing the story, the less urgent and real it becomes in your mind until it fades completely away. Good writing requires immediacy, the story must fill your mind and soul, you must think about it before you fall asleep and when you first wake up. That doesn’t happen when you don’t write for weeks or months at a time. If you let your book slide for six months in usually means you started before you had the whole story in your head or you were never completely sold on the story. Either set a deadline for yourself and stick to it, or wait after you get that first idea. Let it formulate in your mind, adding pieces and characters and plot points, until you absolutely have to give birth to it. Then write every spare second you get. Keep the story alive but working on it all the time. Breathe life into it by writing. The longer you go away from it, the more like it will suffocate.

And don’t send out the first three chapters! That is the kiss of death. Write then darn thing for better or worse; then send it out to everyone and their brother if you want.
Jon: Fourth (oh, why not?), if you were looking to categorize your Job book, how about inspirational fiction? My mom is always sending me this stuff for Christmas - like tales of dogs that have rescued their owner (fiction and non-fiction) By the way, I have friends who are convinced Job was not a real person, that the book is more like a play than a historical account, what with all the dialoguing between God and Satan.

Me: That probably is the genre I would have chosen for Into the Fire had it been published nationally. But since it was published in the LDS market, that really doesn’t say much about it since most LDS fiction is inspirational by definition. Of course then there are the stories of the dogs that eat their owners, but is another genre altogether.

As far as whether the story of Job is real or fictional, no one knows for sure. But here is my take on it. When Joseph Smith was in the Liberty jail and asking Heavenly Father for help, God answered that he was not yet as bad off as Job. Would a loving Father have answered that way if Job were a fictional character? Listen Jon, I know things have been going badly for you, but at least your life isn’t as bad Captain Kirk in Star Trek Episode 12 when he almost got eaten by that giant snail, eh?

That being said, there is no question that the story of Job is written in a fictional style. There is clearly an introduction, or prologue if you will. (I know, Chapter 1) There is an epilogue. There is a climax. There are even chapters or scenes if you know what you are looking for. But just because Will Smith played a character in Pursuit of Happiness does not mean that it wasn’t based on a true story.

I think people get thrown by the whole “bet” thing. God would never place a bet with Satan over a soul would He? My take on that is: Yes He did. Satan wanted us to be forced to do what was right in this life. He didn’t think we would voluntarily choose to be Christ-like. God believed so strongly that we would choose the right that he sent us down to be tried and tempted by the very person who didn’t think we could make it. Sounds a lot like a wager to me. If we prove God right we return to live with him. If we don’t, Satan wins that bet.

Thought 3: Rob, when are you going to do another interview? I haven’t spewed milk out of my nose in a couple of weeks.


At 11/06/2007 12:46 AM, Blogger Josi said...

Love my alphasmart--it has rechargable batteries so you plug it in for an hour and it will run for about 30 hours. Great for drafting, awkward for editing. It shows 4-8 lines of text depending on what model you get and has NO EMAIL, which means I get a lot more writing done when I do it on that instead of my laptop.

I agree, Job was real. Whoever wrote the story simply tried to make it more readable, hence the 'fictional' feel. Happens all the time when people write a memoir--in my opinion anyway.

I just got over the last sinus infection caused by the lactose build up in my my nasal cavities, must you encourage him, Jeff? I mean really :-)

At 11/06/2007 12:38 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

You know what's, like, awesome? I wrote my blog this week before even reading yours. Jeff, we're connected, mind and soul.

At 11/06/2007 1:02 PM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

I agree with Josi, but half of me wonders if Job could have been fiction, and God still refer to him like he did. I mean, the Savior used fiction (parables) and we refer back to the characters as if they were real.

Oh, and there's an early Christmas gift for everyone who wanders over to my blog today. Enjoy!

At 11/07/2007 4:13 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Who's Job?


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