Thursday, September 12, 2013

Brain pan cooking

No, no... not zombie cuisine. My as yet unnamed sequel is gearing up for the finale. During lunch today, the leading edge to the climax started to appear on the pages. It's discouraging to have only two paragraphs to show for my time during lunch break. I suppose it's all in how you look at it. A regular writing session yields roughly six to eight pages. That's not to say I'm having writers block, but several factors come into play. When I'm on the clock, I work at a pretty high energy output level. When I sit down to eat, the bottom drops out on me. Literally, I nod off while typing. It must be a blood sugar thing. Still, I get some outlining done. Stuff gets blocked out... and the footnotes! When I hear a joke or a really good snarky comment, I quickly write it down. Later on I try to work it into the story.

So the Jabberwocky agency sent me a nice rejection letter. That does bum me out a bit, but I can see their point. Everyone is looking for the next Harry Potter. Choosing the right story can make or break the company. Even if the story is good, there's no guarantee people will take a shine to it. Publishing is a risky business. When you put yourself at the mercy of a publisher or agent, your hopes tend to rise and expectations soar. Then a rejection letter is all that more deflating.
That doesn't mean I've given up. Quite the contrary, I'm going to have to go in a direction that few people are brave enough to venture out to. It's what I'm already doing, but more so. 
There's a bunch of short stories that I'm itching to write. So far they're 'treatments', which is to say short paragraphs outlining the plot and storyline. The great thing is I don't have to finish what I'm doing with the TR sequel before I start a short story. My next body of work is going to be the short story collection. That's the thing with all the creative energy juice: the more you use it, the more you have. Okay folks, sneak peek time.

It didn't take that long mind you,” Charlotte called out from just behind me. After much discussion the two of us settled on a mode of transportation for the journey to Fort Worth. My first thought was to travel by train, but we'd have to journey down to Austin, spend days waiting to catch a train heading in the proper direction, eventually getting to Fort Worth. Not quick enough for me. Charlotte suggested a stagecoach would be faster. For some reason I never took to riding in a wagon. Sore backside. Breathing dust and dirt. Not being able to see where you're going. There wasn't even an in-flight movie!
Charlotte gave me the look that told me I was being a whiner. Eventually we compromised. Sally loaned us a horse so Charlotte could ride alongside Salt and myself. A pack mule rounded out our entourage for our supplies and bags.
“We should get there in a day or two if the weather holds.” I commented. This stretch of the trail allowed Charlotte and I to ride side by side for once. All too often the path forced us to ride single file. Riding beside each other like right now, we had some of our best conversations.
“What's the future like?” She asked.
“I thought we agreed not to discuss specific events.”
“No,” her mouth smiling slightly as she spoke. “What are people like?”
This made me pause for a moment to think. “People are basically the same. A lot of people are good. Some people are selfish. A person you'd meet in the twentieth century would behave somewhat the same now. Why do you ask?”
Charlotte took a moment before speaking. “I've been thinking about that girl in Pensacola, Gemma. Are her people ever going to stand as equals?”
“Yes,” I smiled. “It'll take some time. A lot of arguing is about to take place. But it will change many people's minds. Women will get the right to vote and eventually get the same pay as a man does. There will be wars... demonstrations over who's better: man, woman, white, black... the list goes on. Nationality and religion is going to factor in too.”
“This must all seem so barbaric to you.” Charlotte remarked. Sometimes I think she did that on purpose in order to pick a fight or get me to talk. I'd end up revealing a little more than I wanted to and she'd get her curiosity satisfied. This time around I was ready for her.
“Actually a good idea or invention will stick around.” Charlotte regarded me with an amusing look. “Ben Franklin invented reading glasses. People in my time still use them. A man named George Washington Carver came up with a whole bunch of ways to use peanuts.”
Whoops. I fell for it again.
“If you haven't heard of his name, you will shortly.” I amended, but Charlotte wasn't about to let it go. “What did he do?”
With a small sigh escaping my lips, I answered. “A lot of his work is in soil conservation. More than anyone else, he's going to be responsible for southern agriculture to make a comeback.
“Tell me more,” she dared.
“He was black. A free man I believe.”
Charlotte looked at me with mild irritation. I knew what she wanted me to say, and I was being down right stingy with details about the future.
“What would you like to know?”
“Everything! Anything!” she giggled. “It's not like I'm going to go blabbing my mouth off to the world... and we have plenty of time.”
“So it appears.” I agreed. “Okay, first off: in my time we have fifty states. Alaska and Hawaii are going to be admitted to the Union sometime in the 1950's...”
We had a couple of days of travel in front of us. Might as well make the most of it.

“C'mere you.” I called to the mule carrying our stuff. A firm tug on the rope brough him over to where I could hobble him for the night.
“Why don't we give him a name?” Charlotte called out from the campfire. Taking care of the horses and setting up camp was a one person job. Cooking dinner would fall to the second person. To keep it interesting we would switch off. In order to keep the peace, I usually cleaned up afterwards.
“Oh I don't know...” I tried to sound bored. “We might have to eat him.”
The stirring ladle stopped momentarily as she decided whether I was kidding or not. “That's not going to happen.” Charlotte chimed in her sing-song warning voice.
Truth be told I was considering giving our pack mule a moniker that suited him for a couple of days now. “Let's see...” I thought aloud. “He likes to get dirty... Plays in the trash if we let him. Definitely not a morning person... I know what to call him!” Snapping my finger as I stepped in front of the mule. “I christen thee Oscar!”
Looking up from the stew dinner on the fire, she called out, “You're naming him after that poet, Wilde?”
“Nah,” I shot back. “I knew a grouch by that name.”

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