When Discovering Aberration is a Good Thing!

LADIES AND GENTS: Prepare yourselves for a wonderful treat! One of my dearest and earliest bloggers I met here on WordPress in the beginning, has done all I set out to do except he actually, actually accomplished it!

He is the hardest working, most dedicated author I know of and one of my fave authors sharing that honor with Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Cussler, and yes my main man Charles Dickens.

Sit back, enjoy your read, and please dearest readers, please repost!  Let’s spread the word!

SCBarrusPortraitsOriginals0050

 Creating

There is this thing out there floating around the universe hiding secretly behind every passion. I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s there planting seeds and fueling flames. The Romans called it a Genius (origin of the word Genii), a spirit that would inhabit the bodies of passionate people and make them feverishly create things.

I don’t know if I was ever possessed in such a manner. All I know is my life has been driven by a singular passion since I was young. Maybe it was planted when I was very small, this urge to create things and share them with others. Maybe it didn’t take form until I was older. Whatever the case, this passion, this creative drive has fueled every major decision in my life.

Hi, my name is S.C. Barrus and I’m a writer. I remember writing my first short story back when I was still in elementary school. It was a satire about the growth and bankruptcy of Microsoft and it was all of 2 pages long. I wrote it grinning all the while, convinced that the work was genius.

I was so excited to hear what others thought, I ran to my dad and began to read the work aloud. He listened patiently. He didn’t laugh, didn’t so much as smile. As my jokes fell flat, part of me fell through a hole.

I quit reading midway through. “Maybe I should write about something else…” I said nervously.

My dad looked at me with a quizzical half smile and said, “Maybe you should.”

For some reason, I didn’t stop writing that day. And my dad has been a huge support since (didn’t want to leave him hanging there ;)

I was in highschool when I really sat down and began writing a novel. I wrote it with a deep passion convinced it was a masterpiece. It was full of teen angst and sex and drugs, all the things my adolescent mind obsessed with, and was written with a style stolen directly from Chuck Palahniuk, my teen hero.

When I finished writing, I started exploring the strange world of publishing with a fervour. I taught myself about publishers and editors and agents, about queries and rejection. The process struck me as strange then, but I accepted it because I supposed “that’s the way it is”. It felt strange that I had put in so much work and alone created something, but when the book sells I’d get 15%. But then again, what did I know?

Despite my drive, the book was never picked up, and I was left with nothing but a stack of pages littered with ink. To this day, I’m glad I littered those pages with ink, because I learned so many valuable lessons. But I’m also glad it didn’t make it, because that taught me even more.

Despite the outcome, my creative writing teacher got behind me, and my school counselor began giving me gifts; books of poetry, pamphlets to writing contests, and an award for literary excellence. It might have been obvious, but I didn’t recognize it at that time. There were people guiding me from the beginning, people who believed in me.

Ira Glass once said that artists start creating art not because they are talented, but because they have good taste. It takes years before an artists work is any good. I was going through the motions, hoping to make a great work of art, writing and writing all the while. I pushed new stories into the world one after the other, sometimes publishing, but usually merely for the act of creating.

Then, two years ago, I began crafting another story. About midway through the writing of it, I realized that this was it. I was creating something worth standing behind and sharing with the world.

Check back next week for part 2 where I share with you the story behind my upcoming novel.

Cheers,

S.Cody Barrus

 

 

Oh The Plots We Weave: A Normal Guy and a Smart Guy ..Oh and Eating Crow

Oh the Plots We Weave

Mondays are Plot days.  Stories from the press with a few ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’  which could be the makings of a possible story line.  A bit of creative brain exercise.  Yes I know this is Tuesday but since the last few days have been spent with my Scots Cuz Rachael and other family members, ‘making merry’ as Bob Cratchit would say, I have seen neither newspaper or telecasts.

So today’s ‘What ifs’ are really one line from two different stories, one last week and one from ages ago that I tucked into my grey matter for future use and wonders of wonders was able to extract.

The first was a headline in our local rag; MAN ACCUSED OF ARSON AND MURDER A NORMAL GUY.  Huh????  For some reason the press decided to lead with a statement from the accused’s brother.  Being a wordsmith my response remains ‘Huh”?????  I mean I suppose there are some possible ‘what ifs’ but geez (wordsmithing again) they pretty  much only extend to alien or evil possession and that story has been told time and time again.

The other line from a past story concerned a man whose office was relocated to a very high newly constructed building.  Some of the office staff were apprehensive about safety issues.  The man said he would show them how safe it was and launched himself against the plate glass which promptly broke and he fell to his death.  The statement in the article was, “He was a very smart man.”

I’m sure he was but the statement begs another big ‘Huh’???? I am not sure I can even come up with a what if for this one.  Can you?

Have you witnessed or read anything in the last week that got your mind churning with ‘what ifs’.  They are all around us just waiting to be snapped up.  My hero Stephen King does it all the time.

Now for that less than delectable lunch of crow:

My sibs and I are very close and really like each other.  My brother Keith who is less than a year younger than I is more like me than not.  At least that is what his wife says.  I have always placed my brothers on well deserved pedestals, but there is one specific situation in which we clash.  It has now happened twice in the last two years now.

Here is the scene:  five people are driving in a car to a specific location.  The same location as two years ago.  Our destination is in an area I frequently drive through.  He does not.  I am sitting in the back.

Me:  Keith what route are you taking?

K: 52

Me and my sis in unison:  FIFTY-TWO??????

Through further dialogue not necessary to record here he finally goes my suggested route.  Once we arrive at our destination he madly drives first down one road and then down another until he in fact finds 52.  Not a word is said as we proceed back to our target.  When we leave at evening’s end he quickly heads down the road to 52.  Nary a word is spoken by me.  Somewhere in the conversation earlier he said something to my cuz in the front seat about not having duct tape when you need it.

Okay here comes the Crow eating. Ahem (clearing throat).

Dear Brother,  whilst my directions did get us there I have to confess openly, and generously, and modestly, that left to your own devices you would have reached your destination just fine.

PS (not for Keith’s eyes) I still could have gotten us there more directly.

PPS Next time I shall supply the duct tape and apply it to myself prior to launch.

PPPS I just love how magnaminous I am!

PPPPS I guess 2 head-ons in 2 years isn’t so bad.

***It is highly unlikely that my brother will not read this as he does not read my blogs.  However there is a chance my cuz may.

Oh the Plots We Weave: Fictional Life

Stephen King explains in his book, ‘On Writing‘ how he comes up with some ideas for plots or characters.  In the course of his day he is acutely aware of people and events around him.  It can be a furtive glance from someone or and interaction played out and while he may not know what is truly happening his genius mind begins to question – what if?

So let’s take a look at a couple of possible fiction opps out of this week’s news.

OH ODA – Skip the Juice

Canadian Politics and its politicians are in my opinion dull, classless, lacking luster, crooked, self serving…um better skip this part and contine on…

Bev Oda was most recently Minister for International Co-operation.  HUH?  Me too.

Anyway she ended up resigning from the government for putting a $16 glass of orange juice on her tab.  Oh and $1000/day limo costs. Oh and she apparently altered a document which resulted in denied funding to an ‘aid agency’ (whatever that is).  And I have not read yet anything about her general work quality performance.

Possible What If Fiction ideas (if it isn’t already)

Perhaps Oda had a highly classified job so secret it cannot be divulged to the public and suppose she came across information vital to the survival of mankind.  But just suppose those in power decided to take her out. *In Canada we don’t ‘take people out’ if you know what I mean.  We just make them blush out of shame, lower their heads and shuffle out the door with their $52K pension in their back pockets.

Hmm on second thought maybe this is not the best story to do a ‘What if’.  How about this one?

LUNCH ON THE GO

A woman in Georgetown was sitting eating her lunch at her desk which was located in the foyer of a fitness centre.  An SUV crashes through the large window, strikes her carrying her in the desk chair through the back wall into an office where she was found under the SUV but still in her desk chair.  No mention was made of what happened to her lunch.

Possible plot ideas?

There are quite a few that come to mind but consider:

The driver’s husband was having an affair with the lunchee and while the wronged woman had no planned intent to attack when she saw her enemy so clearly framed in a wide picture window and spotted her smug smile as she ate her lunch with relish (ha ha) the jilted wife found she had no control as her hands gripped the wheel and her foot put peddle to the metal and before you knew it the deed was done.

Of course in another scenario it is possible the driver saw the lunchee pick up a glass…a glass of orange juice..and assuming it was one of those deadly $16 glasses of OJ she sped through the window to prevent the woman from committing a Bev Oda!

Y’all have a nice rest of your Monday!

The Reliable Unsurprisingly Surprising Mr. King 11/22/63

Stephen King unsurprisingly tells a tale in 11/22/63 that is way more than it would seem at first glance, which in itself is hardly surprising because you don’t build a huge readership and fan base by going for the obvious.  Mr. King always delivers that little bit more and he does it with style.

Ostensibly the book is about using time travel to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 in Dallas Texas.  The idea being of course that so many of the bad idea roads America travelled down following that event would have been prevented.  Seems like a short sweet idea with a big final hurrah at success.

I said in a blog recently that we must be careful of what we wish for and Mr. King aptly demonstrates the why’s of that caution and by the time you finish reading this novel you may answer the question: ‘If you had the power what one thing would you change in the past?’ a little differently at the end of the book than you might have in the beginning.

For one thing the story becomes very personal on more than one level.  I like that King writes from an everyman perspective so there are no big talk- their- own- language scientists around.  How the time portal works from Al’s Hamburger joint by stepping through the pantry cannot be explained.  It just is.  And when you go down the steps into the past you always arrive at exactly the same moment: at 11:58 a.m. on the morning if September 9, 1958.  This very fact has a huge impact on everything.

How Al Templeton, the original user of this portal,  makes the best use of the opportunity may at first seem rather mundane, but then he experiments a bit with some deeper subjects and comes up with a plan that will have worldwide impact.  Except, because of a glitch he must find someone else to do the deed, or as it turns out, the deeds.  And that’s where Jake Epping aka George Amberson comes in.

Intrigue and sub plots are woven as intricately and delicately as an elaborate lace tablecloth double and tripled layered here and there and well everywhere.  It’s a delicious story that is not as farfetched as say Michael Crichton’s Timeline (which I adore and reread again and again). Um I must take that statement back because Timeline is believable.

11/22/63 is expansive because it is not nicely encapsulated with a beginning, middle and end, but has endless possibilities in our own minds.  The potential for discussion of those possibilities is immense and leaves the door wide open for more.  What is the story of the man with the yellow card?  I want to know more about him and the others like him.  How many portals are there?  Who else has used them to what end?

I love it that the past is obdurate and like Dean Koontz’ (best book of his all time in my opinion), Lightning the past (or Fate) will seek to return, to correct change.

It is easy to become intimate with each of the characters: Jake, George, Harry Dunning, Al, The Yellow Card Man, Lee Harvey Oswald, Marina, June, Sadie Dunhill, so many that count so much.  The people are as real as you and I and that is why we care so much about them.  There are no heroes here, just folk like you and me, living the best we know how in any given moment, and often coming up just that wee bit short.

11/22/63 ARGHHHH

11/22/63 ARGHHHHH!

I don’t know if it bothers Tabitha King very much that I spend long nights with her husband, but I do know recovery the next day is getting more difficult, but I get sucked into it every time.  Okay, truth be known I am sure Tabitha knows a lot of women spend nights with her husband – and probably men do too.

Stephen tends to be that way.

Now normally I can handle a few hundred pages within a few hours and scarcely notice my addiction until I am faced with what will probably be a very long night.  This was fine in my previous I can sleep as late as I want life, but now I have a cherished responsibility.  And Stephen, my dear frankly does not give a damn.

Ah Stephen

I had a free afternoon so got into 11/22/63, Stephen King’s new killer novel which I cannot put down.  I am 287 pages into it, and (no Rosalyn there will be no spoilers here) and there are a total of 849 pages!

It is now 12:30 am and I have been having discussions with myself about regaining my sanity and putting the book aside until tomorrow evening.  I have tried berating myself, pulling the mother/child self-scolding approach and thought I had actually succeeded when I shut the light off half an hour ago.  But to no avail.

Since these thoughts keep running around my brain, and I blame Tabitha for not being able to control her husband’s attraction for others, I thought I would feel better if I just did this one post.  Something to clear my mind, put things in perspective (NO Chris, once again you cannot possibly complete another 562 pages by daylight!)

Between you and me – if there was even the teensiest possibility I would give it a go.

Now I feel better, have my urges in control and will not, will not I repeat pick up this book again until tomorrow – er – today at 5:30 pm.  I am an adult.  I can do this.  I can.

It is now 12:50 am and I am gong to bed.  I am.

 

11/22/63 The Book

 

11/22/63 The Book


Today most people are thinking about the approaching Thanksgiving thinking, planning, cooking and getting ready to celebrate with family and friends.  It is my experience that this holiday is primo, better than Christmas, or what ever your major day of the year is.  It’s a day where commercialism has no hold, no gifts except that of appreciation.

Unless you were born prior to 1960 you will not have a memory of the events of 11/22/63.  You know I did not appreciate this fully until a day long ago,when I made a comment about Jack Kennedy and my  sons asked, “Who is Jack Kennedy?”

That got me thinking about perception and the things that shape our world.  Now I don’t mean our world in the broad sense, I mean our personal internal world and all the things or events that help shape who we are, that touch us in some way.

For some of a more current generation it might be 9/11, or the assassination, or….?  For my parents generation who lived through the second world war it may have been an event for that, the Holocaust, the loss of friends, sons, fathers, mothers,…well you get the idea.  For my mother who served in the WRENS in Britain, it was the memory of working in a command center and when a submarine went down off the coast of Britain and while radio contact was maintained there was no way to rescue those men and all she and her people could do was listen to them die.

Stephen King, my greatest inspiration, although I cannot read some of his books, has published 11/22/63 and in that magnificent King way of his has given the events a twist – of course.  What if the assassination could be prevented?

I cannot comment on the story as I have just begun to read it, but it does make me wonder – if we could change the outcomes, would we or even should we?

Our growth as human beings depends on our ability to adapt and learn and move forward.  There comes a time when, I believe, most of reach a point of acceptance, liking who we have become and are comfortable in our own skins even though, by that point our skins seem to hang loosely on out bones.

The Nothing Saturday AND A Spontaneous RAK

I had looked forward to this day for more than one reason.  It was going to be the first day with truly nothing to do.  You know there was lots that could be done but this day was to be a nothing day by choice.

When I awoke sans alarm at 8:30 am I lay for a while trying to get my head around the idea of nothingness.  I knew I would work on my book for a bit and do a little shopping but the when of it all was pretty vague.  I considered a morning in bed just reading having started Linden McIntyre’s ‘The Bishop’s Man’ the night before.

Then while out shopping I came across Stephen King’s 11/22/63 on a book shelf and could not pass it up.  This means I now have 2 books to read.  Decisions, decisions.

Prior to going out shopping I got a call from my sister in law asking if I wanted to get together for coffee tomorrow.  She was tied up today taking her grandchildren to the Christmas Parade in Cambridge.  Well immediately I thought…that’s something G1 and G2 should see, first because it is a night parade which I always think is nicer than day parades and because my brother was in the parade manning The Kitchener Ranger float and one of their grandfathers was also marching.

Well my day now had direction.  A little voice said but this is the nothing day..the nothing day.

‘Stop!’ I commanded, ‘a nothing day is nothing until something comes along, and really what could be better than a parade?’

So, at 3:50 pm we, the boys and I, were on the road.  It takes about 35 minutes to reach Cambridge while the boys tried to figure out exactly where we were going.  I had arranged to meet SIL at the McDonald’s on highway 24, otherwise known as Hespeler Rd.  We got there early and I decided the boys should eat.  Oh Lord, standing in line in a packed restaurant, with a million children and attached parents trying to make sense of orders, and nowhere to sit.  Gotta give the staff credit.   They handled it so well.  In addition outside the resident a huge trailer had been set up giving free hot coffee.  I have to tell you I have become very impressed with McDonalds.  Some people scoff that they are trying for a different market with their lattes and McCafes but I have to say I am impressed. (I have always felt their coffee was far better than Tim Horton’s – for those of you familiar with Timmies.)

Now this is where the RAK comes in.  We took our food to set up on the curb – best seats ever for a parade.  When we took our food, since there was no room in the inn for dining, we got a spot at the curb.  G1 asked how we were going to get our chairs (which were in the trunk of my car a block away).  I said I could not leave two young children in a crowd to get chairs at which point he said, ‘It’s okay Grandma I’ll get them.” And off he went through intimidating crowds, retrieved said goods and returned. There was an older couple who told me they were just out shopping and once they realized there was a parade they decided to stay.  Since the children were on the curb we had extra chairs which I offered to them.  The lady decided to sit and he stood behind her.  As the evening got cooler I took the blanket to wrap around her.  I never did get their names, but it doesn’t matter as they got to see the parade in relative comfort and my boys got an experience they did not expect.

My sister and I have become avid advocators of RAK’s and seek every chance to perform one.

The boys got to spend time with cousins they normally would not have, and I must say there is nothing like a wide eyed blue eyed cousin  2 years older to make G1 reach new heights of valor, sudden vision of sophistication and of course to call to Santa….all in all the best nothing day ever!

Literary Lunacy….and It’s Not My Fault!

 

I heard about it but never believed it..no I guess I believed it but never thought it would happen to me..and it did…and it’s not my fault.


I marveled at Stephen King in his book ‘On Writing‘ and a multitude of other well known, even famous authors who talked about a story coming to life when the characters take over their own life/story/tale.

It all started a few months ago, about April I think when my brother asked me out to coffee.  I adore both my brothers and will spend as much time in their company that they can stand.  I am thrilled!  Bro had been reading my blogs and it seemed he liked them enough to think I could help him with a story line..actually a book.  You see he had this vision for a book he had been thinking about for some time and by the time we met he was able to describe intricate characters and events.  No that’s not the lunacy part.

He didn’t have names but he sure had events and sequence and as he related it he stared off as though actually recalling events, places, times.  No that’s not the lunacy part either.

I took as many notes as I could and by the time he finished speaking I could see it..the story..the people.  The first few weeks I did considerable research on a whole bunch of things I needed to know.  In digging into the location out west his name, the main character I mean, came to me.  Then his mom and dad and sister.  Then I began to fill in the gaps between the events my bro described..but it didn’t seem to be me..it seemed to be the characters telling me.  No that’s not the lunacy part either.

Anyway my son’s Royal Wedding came up in May so I had to drop it for a few days.  I worked a little more on it then my move to Hamilton came up and I shelved it fora few weeks, but continued to think about these people.  Okay the lunacy is getting a little closer.

These people will not get out of my head – that’s the first lunacy AND they are changing the story..just a bit..the basic premise remains the same and I can see the changes enrich the fabric of the story..but here is the lunacy..for all to see…..

I am up way too late because I have lost the argument to these people in my head.  I cannot in good conscience make drastic changes to the story without at least letting my brother know.. ..So I started typing out the story line and events and people to him..because …LUNATIC HERE…they, the characters will not let the story go any further without Bro’s being aware of it.

I mean dear brother..there is no point asking you for approval..it’s out of our hands, I must now do their bidding…all the events stay true…for the most part as you saw it…

Real Lunacy = Me hoping now they will let me get some sleep.  It’s gonna be a long long day tomorrow!!

But Has Anyone Published?

But Has Anyone Published?

This is the first day of the National Novel Writing Month and I can almost hear the tapping and scribbling as thousands start off on a month long marathon of creativity birthing a novel.

I so wanted to take part but could not for two primary reasons: 

Time- more than half of my allotted 24 hours now are devoted to G1 and G2.  I have decided that to keep blogging I am going to consistently write on a five minute a day premise, using Gypsy Mama’s Friday Style every day, which may make for some interesting and depth limited thoughts.  I shall aim for one more detailed post each week, so a commitment to produce 2000 words a day is outside my capabilities.
Fear- I fear that the story I want to write will suffer if I charge ahead just to count words.  Stephen King says that when he sits down each day he completes 2000 words.  It may be sometime before I work up to that. HaHa.

My question of the day is – for all the industrious folk who have taken part in NaNoWriMo – has anyone ended up with a work that actually went on to be published?

Technology – Help or Hindrance in Writing?

A couple of days ago Scott Berkun asked the question, “Does technology help you write?”  The respondents via the comments section showed twice as many like technology and actually feel it helps.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/does-technology-help-you-write/#comments

A couple felt it neither helps nor hinders and a few more out rightly prefer pen and
paper.  This question is interesting because it is something I am currently wrestling with.

Advantages of Technology:

1)       For speed in getting what you want to say down on paper, when you cannot write quickly enough to get the words in your brain down on paper, a key board can’t be beat.
Most people cannot write legibly at any great speed for a sustained period of time.

2)      Easy editing.  Correction, addition, deletion – all very easy.

3)      Greater physical comfort in striking keyboards rather than gripping a pen or pencil.

4)      It’s great for those who have lousy penmanship.

Disadvantages of Technology:

1)       It can be distracting.  I get all hung up on form and spelling and language and lose the essence of what it is I am writing.

2)      The urge to hit the internet and get waylaid is tempting for some authors whether it be games, Facebook or other.

3)      Writing, actual writing with pen and paper seems cozier, more personal somehow.

What works?

I have been reading about authors to see what works for them.  Some like Stephen King; I believe can just type it out.  Others like Jeffrey Archer won’t touch a keyboard.  Mr. Archer has a writing schedule where he works for two hour periods throughout the day and
this makes sense as handwriting is tiresome. Peter Straub has indicated through his stories that he will hand write through the day and then type it up.  Now it was some years ago I picked up on that bit of information and for all I know he may be completely techie now.  I think that Stephenie Meyer is more a keyboard kind of gal and J.K. Rowling does both.

I prefer the feel of pen in hand but it is just too uncomfortable and my penmanship has
gone to the dogs or where ever that skill goes in time.  I don’t always feel comfortable having to sit for hours at a desk or with a laptop.  So I continue to seek that perfect blend of both.

What does work for you?  How are you able to be most productive when writing?

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