Don't Judge Me By the Cover of My Book

I had just gotten some feed back from a friend who is an avid reader.  And one of the things that was interesting were the questions she'd written on post it notes, placed along the pages of my book. She had immediately asked questions about what certain things looked like, questions about the culture of my fantasy world, time line, etc. All of this within the first few pages.

Fall dammit!

Fall dammit!

There's a couple ways I can take this. A writer should always ignite questions within a reader's mind.  That's a good thing. Create interest.  Reward them by giving the answers or enough to at least spark debates like the movie Inception.

You talkin' to me?

You talkin' to me?

A writing example would be the Davinci Code. Robert Langdon always comes across plot elements that forces us, and him, to ask questions. Why was he called to aid in a murder investigation?  He's symbologist and the victim has a symbol carved into his chest. Did he do it?  We only met him when he got the call to help, so we're not sure.  But we find he didn't because of the victim's granddaughter. She confirms the French sergeant is trying to pin the crime on Langdon . Who's the nameless teacher?  We find out at the climax.

On and on with the questions but we eventually find out the answers.

So am I saying I'm just as great a writer as Dan Brown?

As I've lent my book out to people, they first see the book as not published and, therefore, not done by a professional.  They're judging the book not by it's cover but by it's credibility.  As a result, they're not patient enough to let their questions answer themselves, as I've made sure to do.

If she had placed the post it notes late in the book, then there would have been storytelling issues I would need to fix.  You can have certain questions linger on, like leaving the butler did it till the climax. Questions that either build the world or help move the plot along should be answered as we move along.

On the road again... 

On the road again... 

When we look at The Road by Cormac McCarthy, a post apocalyptic novel, we can't help but ask questions of time, setting, and what brought this disaster? But they're not answered.  I assume because McCarthy only wants the reader to focus on the father and the son, letting us be the judge of what brought the "flash". But would my friend question him?  Probably not. McCarthy is, after all, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.

So perception is key, and I did ask her to just read it and tell me if she enjoyed it. She said she did, but the post it notes stopped abruptly. Either her questions got answered or she didn't finish the book. Knowing her, she didn't finish. And I'm all right with that.  I can't make everybody happy. I can only make me happy.

They're all perfect

They're all perfect

And no.  I can't compare myself to Brown. How can one perfect cherry blossom be better than another?

The Unbeaten Path

In my postAre You a Complainer,I ask the question, "Are you a complainer?"  Some of you may complain that the last sentence was a bit redundant.  My friend made a comment:  Odd that people would accept a habit that makes them feel miserable.  I think the reason may be people are comfortable.

People want the above picture.  A road that lights up that leads to their destination.

People will even follow a road like this, which I think reflects life a bit more.

But if you were the rock, which path would you follow?  The straight path?  The curvy one?  How about the third?

I was reading another writer's post, and they were talking about why writers write, knowing thechancesany kind of success is freakin' low.

Here's my view: Learn the lesson of the turtle.

I wrote The 7th Province and will continue to write the two books in this series and the prequels because some how for some reason these stories were given to me to write.  I write these posts because when I come across something that invokes a thought close to my heart, I write about it.

It is what it is cuz it ain't what it ain't.

Duh.

Despite the millions of books that are written each year, writing is the unbeaten path.

When I went to the San Francisco Writer's Conference, I talked to a lot of writers.  Many were published.  Many had written books.  But I was also surprised to find that many writers hadn't even begun.  Was it their destiny to write?  That's not for me to answer.  But it seems that those who write, write because they are inspired to.

God!  Here's that freakin' word 'inspire'.

That word invokes an internal meaning.  It's not 'outspire', which isn't even a word.  Nor is it perspire, which invokes strange odors.  But it's inspire.  In.

In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi asks Daniel to close his eyes and imagine a perfect picture of a bonsai tree.

Mr. Miyagi:  Wipe your mind clean.  Everything but the tree.  Nothing exists in whole world...only tree.  You got it?  Open eyes.  Remember picture?

Daniel-san:  Yeah.

Mr. Miyagi:  Make like picture.  Just trust the picture.

Daniel-san:  How do I know my picture's the right one?

Mr. Miyagi:  If come from inside you, always right one.

Do what you love, love what you do.

THE ROAD to STRIPPED

Netflix.  It's totally revolutionizing how people rent movies.  And it's economical.  But this post isn't about that.  It's about The Road to Stripped.

Netflix offers a free two-week trial, and I thought I'd explore that.  Moving into my own place requires that I explore entertainment choices other than paying for cable.  And what was the first movie I watched?

Stripped

Jill Morley made a documentary about the lives of strippers, being one herself.  She's not anymore but you can check her out at www.jillmorley.com.  Her new documentary Fighting It, follows the lives of five female fighters.  That should be interesting.

So you may be asking why I chose to watch Stripped. I'd like to say that I was doing some research for a new book or character.

No.

Plainly, I wanted to watch something naughty.

Then why didn't I go to the millions of sites that hosts saltier types of media.  Been there, done that.  I also have a soft spot for strippers.  During my acting days in the city, I'd come to know and befriend a few strippers who took acting classes who wanted to break into mainstream entertainment.  And I became close to one in particular.

In talking to them, their perspective on men, strip clubs, work, children, and life is echoed in Stripped.  And unlike watching saltier types of videos, I didn't find myself fast forwarding to the good parts.  The whole documentary was interesting.

But the thing that stuck out in my mind was how each stripper felt trapped.  The money they earned seemed to outweigh the toll it was taking on their soul.  Because it was the club owners who truly benefited from the clientele, the labor of these beautiful women, and the intense hard work, both emotionally and physically, they put in.

Aside from the tragic circumstances some of these women were in, what struck me was their view of men.  Everything a stereotypical male chauvinist pig represents is what their view of men is.  I saw how desolate they felt when talking about men.

And for some reason it reminded me of the book The Road.

No, the book didn't contain any strippers.  Despite that essential element, wink wink, I loved the book.  The desolation described was incredible.  Incredible that I saw real images as I read.  Incredible that it's one of the few books to affect me, to help me realize the abundance that I have, to remind me of the unending strength of the human soul, to show me what people could and would do when dignity is gone.

There was a scene in the book where a group of cannibals had chained about a dozen prisoners, and they were herding them back to their dwelling.  This coincided with a passage McCarthy wrote about cattle.  How we use cattle as beasts of burden, then slaughter them for food.  No one is ever shocked that we do this to cattle or any other animal.  But we're totally shocked when we see people do this to other people.

Is there a difference?

Look at the owners of strip clubs.   Earning their meals on the labor of women.  Preying on men's desire for sex.

Is there a difference?

Yeah, Jimmy.  Club owners aren't eating these women.  Literally.

What about the soul?  Is that not as important?

I deeply explore the soul in my book.  I've thought about it a great deal.  I know I have one.  Art is an expression of the soul.  And because life mimics art, or art mimics life, I chose to make it important both in art and life.

In saying that, pieces of strippers' souls are being taken away each night they dance.  Each lap dance they give, a part of their soul is lost.  Each dollar they earn, they give up a part of what makes them a human being.  This is what I felt when watching Stripped, or whenever I talked to my friend who worked in that industry, or when reading about the cannibals in The Road.

Now here's a question for you.  When you work in your day job, as I do, do you feel a part of you is torn away?  At the end of the day, what is your life about?  At the end of your life was working all those extra hours worth it?

Or are you the fortunate few who've discovered your passions, your life's purpose, and truthfully love what you do?