Punched In The Gut By a Woman

In a world where Evil Bastard has laid his devastation, a hero rises above the devastated world and finds a way to devastate Evil Bastard, ridding the devastation befallen on our devastated U S of A! This sounds like every action movie ever made, giving the audience a moment of satisfaction, like getting a happy ending at a questionable massage parlor in downtown San Francisco (I wouldn't know. Never gotten one. A happy ending. Well, from my past girlfriends. TMI?). Action movies happen in a black and white world. That's why the antagonist is the evil bastard. He deserves his final fateful fatal finish.

Bam!

Alliteration. 

What throws a wrench into the whole black and white picture is when the antagonist isn't an evil bastard. Or when he's not even a bastard but a really cool guy (like Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall). This happened to me once vying for a fair-haired maiden who was bare in a bear's lair just off a rare path used by mares whom dared to tear through hay to get to a pile of pairs with no care. And I thought I was the cool guy cuz I have long luscious locks like Aldous Snow, the rockstar. I can actually do the head banging thing, except I don't have an electric guitar let alone a guitar. Not even a fiddle.

Barring from giving too many details, on paper, my competition was pretty impressive, and pretty. I mean, I'd date him if I swung that way. I guess he'd have to swing that way too. But it was more than a little daunting when I realized he was my competition.

Imagine David calling out Goliath, but David only has a small rock that was really a pebble that was really, really small, and it turned out to be a grain of sand, and given the existence of air resistance, David couldn't chuck that puny grain farther than he could chuck the cool guy if his life depended on it (taking a breath).

On his sole TV interview, Bruce Lee once said, "Honestly express yourself."

What in God's name did he mean by that? Be you. Live your truth. Go after what you want. Live your life. So often we find ourselves trying to emulate someone else, fulfilling our parents' dream, staying our wants and needs, living what society wants us to be.

I thought to myself: OK, Jimmy, what do I say to my competition? Honestly express yourself...dig deep, Jimmy. Common, Jimmy! Cough! Hock! Deeper! What would Sifu the Sensei of masters Lee say?

Here was what I came up with, "Muthafucka, dat's my bitch!"

No, no I didn't say that. I'd say it in jest, but not about a girl I've yet to form a relationship with. Ugh...maybe I would. Gawd, what's wrong with me?

I began to suspect that the fair maiden liked the cool dude on our first, and, unbeknownst to me, last date. And I found out that I was second fiddle.

And because the other dude is pretty and impressive, there was no satisfaction for me, like she's gonna hook up with a loser or an asshole. Could he be an asshole? Sure. I don't know him that well.

But, man, that rejection was like taking a punch in the gut, like it went through my stomach and out my back. It's hard to come back from a hole like that. It was difficult to deal with because suddenly my mind was flooded with doubt, trying to analyze what I did wrong, what could I have done better, or did I not honestly express myself when I was with her?

And that was the thing! The cool guy had lived an awesome life, has great attributes (again, trying not to be too specific to protect his identity), and all I had was my humor and my writing. Since I've yet to be published, my humor was left with the job to win over this maiden. That's a lot to ask for from one skill.

What did I do afterward? I thought about the whole situation a lot, trying to come from different view points to see if I could have done anything better, and all I had come up with was, "I'm not sure what I did wrong."

I'm headed to New York to endure the coldest winter they've had and indulge in being a tourist.

Reading People

How do you read people? Go with your gut. What more is there?  Body language.  It's said that at least 80% of what people say is through body language.  And in fact, people intuitively read body language.  They may not be conscious of it.

If someone is assertive, their posture is straight, chest out, shoulders back, head craned like a flamingo.

What if someone slumps, hesitates to look you in the eye, crosses their arms, and even angles their body away?  Could be signs of deception, signs of low self worth or esteem.  With everything remaining the same, but you add the characteristics of someone who's assertive, then we can assume that person simply doesn't find you attractive.  Or they can be looking for someone and just doesn't see you.  Or they may be angry because someone stood them up.

But when reading people, I tend to go with my gut.  I do this with women.  Friends of mine have tried to set me up on blind dates.  The problem with that is within the first minute I can tell whether I have a connection with the woman or not.  And I'm old enough to realize the difference between lust and like.  Lust for men is pretty obvious.  Let's just say feelings toward the woman I'm in lust for don't originate anywhere within my chest.  And my eyes will most likely be focused on hers.

It sucks when I don't feel a connection.  Cuz I gots to talks to her.  Kinda like talking to a blank wall.  I'm sure it's the same for her.

Most people can't seem to read people.  Why is that?  Have they lost that special power?  Can anyone read people?  First off, any human can read another human, unless said human doesn't want to be read.  And you can lose that power by mistrust.  Whose trust?

Going with your gut means that you have to trust yourself.  Do you?  Well...do you need or ask others for their approval or opinion?  Read my post onGo with your gut. It'll give you an example of how I seeked approval outside of myself.

The way to practice this is by people watching.  Sit in a mall.  As a person walks by, let your mind create a story.  And trust that it's true, no matter how strange.  If you want to take a step further, go up and talk to them.  See how close your story came.

A better way of doing this is bring a friend.  My best friend and I used to do this a lot.  Most of the time we came up with the same story.  If our stories didn't match, then we'd discuss why we read what we read.

Writing the emotions of different characters can take the form of telling:  He's mad.  It can take the form of action:  He slammed his cup down.  It can take the form of body language:  She shoved him off and turned away.  Or it can take the form of dialogue:  "Get off me!"

Oooh.  Too much information.

Actors people watch a lot.  When I studied acting, I spent a lot of time people watching.  Now, I use that resource in my writing.  Because if you communicate emotion through just one way--telling, action, body language, dialogue--it can get boring.  Combining different ways allows for character development and variety.

Most important of all, trust yourself.  As kids, parents tell us 'No', 'Do this', 'Do that'.  As a result, we've become reliant on others.  Rely on yourself, open your mind, and let the stories come about.  You may be surprised.

Go With Your Gut

About a month ago I got a rejection letter from a big time New York agent.  I'd met him at the San Francisco Writer's Conference.  He's been in publishing for years and is an author himself.  On theagent panel,writers had the opportunity to ask them questions on the industry.  If you're a writer, listen to it.  It has valuable information. There was a question asked about prologues, and that agent said he hated them.  Other's liked them, so it shows you how subjective this industry can be.

One of the most vivid images that came to me before 7th Province:  Nightfall came to being was the prologue.  I didn't even know it would be a prologue.  The thing it did was set up the whole story and character arc, grounded the hero, and it allowed the reader to care for him.  From that scene the 7th Province world exploded.  As it happened, it was the first scene that I wrote.

Man, I remembered being extremely excited.  To this day it's my favorite scene.

So when the agent expressed his hatred of prologues, I was stunned.  I was going to submit my manuscript to him.  What was I going to do?

The most grossest thing ever.  Yes, I used 'most' and 'grossest' in the same sentence.  I got rid of my prologue.

"What the hell are you doing?" my gut said.

"I'm succumbing to what others think about me," I said.

I pitched my book to the agent.  He seemed to like it and asked for my first fitty pages (fifty for those who didn't get it).  Victory!  I spent the next four weeks revising my book with no prologue and sent it off.  Four weeks later, I received the rejection letter.

For the most part, he liked it.  Then he said the one thing that kills any story.  He didn't care about the hero.  If a reader doesn't care about the hero, the main character, then there's nothing at stake.  Why continue reading?

Go with your gut.  In life going with your gut, your heart, can be the most important thing you can do.  If you can't trust your own heart, how can you expect others to?  I've always trusted my vision in the story.  I've always taken others advise with a grain of salt, rewrote when I saw fit.  But when it came to my prologue, my favorite scene, I slammed the door in its face.

Never again.

However, the only time I wouldn't trust my gut is if my emotions resided outside of being content or happy.  If someone bumped me on the street, and I got pissed off, I'm not going to follow my impulse to beat up the guy.  That's my ego getting in my way.  If I was happy and content, my impulse would probably be to excuse myself, and we'd go on our merry way.