Slice of Heaven

Sitting in Starbucks, drinking a tall coffee with cold soy, and enjoying CANNERY ROW is a piece of heaven for me. Especially when that Starbucks is located in Cannery Row, Monterey, where John Steinbeck is revered.

Paul Walker?

Paul Walker?

In school, I hated the required reading. I think because it was required. I tend not to read while writing new material, but I've been steeped in a year and a half long rewrite/edits/plot hole closing venture. So absorbing other authors' voices is not too much of a worry. Plus, John Steinbeck's voice wouldn't be so bad to absorb, but then I'm not writing great American literary fiction.

I'm not sure if it's Steinbeck's romanticism of Monterey or the fact that I've brought most of my girlfriends here, but this little vacation spot always brings solace for me. It definitely helped inspire me to read CANNERY ROW, which I'm enjoying.

Tha Row

Tha Row

One of the characters is Henri the painter, who's been building a boat for seven years. Hazel says that every time the painter is close to finishing the boat, he changes it, never ever having to finish it. Doc says the painter does this so he never has to sail, having a great fear of the water. This reminded me of a conversation at a recent holiday party where a university instructor asked me if I was still writing. Seven years, I responded. He smiled at me, a hint of elitism (me self projecting I'm sure), and advised that I need to get it out there. I explained that I have, gotten rejected by all of the agents I queried, and am in the midst of the second book in the series.

I think you missed a spot

I think you missed a spot

Then he said something that I have a pet peeve about.

I'd told him my book is about a father losing a child through a tragic accident, and how he must contend with his and his wife's issues about that loss. My scholarly friend knows I'm neither married or have kids and suggested I write about what I know, chuckling.

Normally, people of "less" expertise and education never suggest I write what I know. With the advent of science fiction and fantasy, who would ever suggest that. Would anyone tell Suzanne Collins she shouldn't write HUNGER GAMES because she doesn't really know anything about rebellions, fighting a war, or how the hunger games would be preposterous?

What is under my shoe?

What is under my shoe?

Stories by humans are always about the human condition. And if you're human, then guess what? You know about the human condition. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't have more insight if I was married with children. But that shouldn't limit me either. Or maybe I couldn't write this story if I was married with children. May be too painful.

Experts are defined as having comprehensive and authoritative knowledge in their field. So is this guy right? I mean, I've yet to be published.

The creative process is really interesting. No matter the subject matter--industrial design, sculpting, software development, writing, robbing a bank, conspiring to overthrow--insights and the creative process always come from within. To take the words from new age fanatics, from the formless to the form.

So if an author is given a story, like the image of Harry Potter in a Manchester train, as told by JK Rowling, then who's to say that she or any one of us shouldn't write it. Who's more of an expert on our stories? The expert not given the story to write? Or the individual who was given the story to write?

Do You Feel Guilty Feeling Attractive?

In my side story, the character, Noshee, was a cheater.  It's part of his backstory.  If you'd like to read the side stories check them out here. I'd talked to a friend about attraction.  In the context of marriage.  He's been married for several years and loves his wife dearly.

One day he stood in a never ending line at Starbucks, totally submerged in his crackberry.  A woman bumped him from behind by accident and apologized.  My friend turned around, smiled, and said, "No problem."

Her red lips widened, revealing her white teeth.  "Aren't those addicting?"

"Ugh.  I can't help but check my emails everytime my phone vibrates."

The blond-haired lady took out her iPhone from her purse and waved it.  "Tell me about it."

After receiving their coffees, they stood off to the side.  What happened next was a fury of non-sexual flirting.  My friend found himself cracking jokes.  She laughed and crinkled her nose.  He  listened to her personal stories of work life, egged her on with penetrating questions.   She noticeably became intrigued by him, not taking any notice of the morning sun glinting off his wedding band.

Interesting.

It wasn't until he mentioned his wife did she withdraw and exclaimed she'd better not be late today.

Unlike my character, my friend didn't follow through with his instincts.  But was he in the wrong for feeling attracted to the nice blond lady?  Most people would judge him in the wrong.  And for those who would dare judge him, he felt guilty.

Everybody gets up in morning, brushes their teeth, washes their face, fix their hair, applies makeup if you're a woman, or a guy if you're like that, puts on nice duds, maybe spritz some eau de toilette or parfum, and leave the house looking like a million bucks.  Lo and behold even married people do this.

Why?

"I wanna look nice."

OK.  Why?

To look attractive.  What my friend did, by following his instincts to be attractive, to lure the woman in, is his way.  It's always been  his way.  It's how men through out our animal history have been.  We want to attract women.

Are women guilty of this?  Hell yeah!  Married or not, women love it when guys find them hot.  It makes them feel good.  It can help boost their confidence.  And I'd suggest they play along.  Have fun.  That's why they have girls' night out.  They want to be checked out in a protective environment among other hens, while the cocks, that's roosters for you gutter-minded, prance around in heat.  Stalkers please keep out.

I told my friend not to feel guilty.  Guilt, something I explore at length in my book, is a victim emotion.  That is left for another post.  His instinct of  feeling attractive, to want to talk to other women, is an ingrained behavior.  That's how his greatest of grandfathers, the Geico caveman, spread his genes.  The human side, the conscious side of our minds, shouldn't follow through with an affair, like Noshee did.

In the end, my friend went home with a surprise bouquet of bright red tulips.  He realized through his guilt that he loved his wife, appreciated the home they've built and got it on.  Actually, I don't know if he got it on.