She Doesn’t Have The Range

The best part of 70s (and a bit beyond) futuristic/post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies are the pay phones.

Pretend to be surprised that this in some way had to do with the original Planet of the Apes series. Do it. Pretend! Also pretend I could find the picture I wanted, which is where Brent has a much less climactic realization that he is indeed on earth when he goes underground and finds himself in the NY subway system – the first clue to which is a destroyed and decayed payphone.

It’s one of those things that can send me deep into splintered and all-encompassing thought, tho, seriously. For so many reasons. It’s the idea that because we keep moving forward (which we’ll argue some other time), we can’t imagine what will exist moving forward. We can’t stop at any particular moment and project the future from that point, because the world or at least the way interact with it changes so drastically in such a short period of time. If today I made a film about tomorrow and tomorrow I made a film about the day after, they would not be film one and sequel, they’d be more related stories of potential futures in separate dimensions. If I make a future cast from this moment, I almost have to stay *in* this moment for that future to be “true.” Remarkable.

It’s why I am so intrigued by vintage scifi films, but also projects like Beyond the Black Rainbow, which was made in 2010 but made as though in the 80s at the  latest. I feel like I’ve talked about this movie before. When I find someone who likes long stretches and excruciatingly slow builds, I will know that I’ve found my soulmate. Or wait. Perhaps I already have.

 

…He likes long, quiet stretches.

Tomorrow – or my version of it which has yet to be determined – I will tell you what’s the haps with me, with Avrilis, with writing… yeah, just with writing. Stay out the rest of my business, kids, k, byeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Speed-Dating With Bethany

As an aside, I considered reusing the blog title “Rando Calrissian” because I just really feel like it didn’t get enough affection and is one of the most underrated of my clever blog titles. Shoulda timed it to coincide with episode VII. The following are equally random tidbits*, in an attempt to reconnect with you, dear reader. The things I do for England.

(1) Yesterday, during our Montreal Sunday Funday – which is what I call our weekly return to the city for church and fellowship…because I’m not great with titles *all the time* – I took a bite of chicken salad and immediately had a full sensory memory of the last time I’d eaten chicken salad. Which was like twenty years ago. I am 33 and feel it is far too early for this sort of phenomenon.

(2) Relatedly, I awoke with the theme to L.A. Law in my head.

So. That’s…

Yeah.

(3) I will be getting cover samples/images any day now for THE LAST LIFE OF AVRILIS, which you should know by now is linked to the Goodreads page where you can add it to your TBR and eventually your eyeballs, and I. Am. Excite.

Beyond excite.

I had a phone conversation with Georgia McBride, you guise. And lemme just sum it up thusly:

(4) This season’s marathon of the original Planet of the Apes franchise has left me with three truths thus far – because full disclosure, Ezra and I haven’t watched #5 yet, but will today! I do not apologize for how much space will now be devoted to talking PotA.

I will never apologize.

(4.1) The 2nd movie – Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the one in which a strange subterranean enclave of telekinetic radioactive humans worships a bomb and which includes an unnecessarily long “church” scene complete with organ and hymnal – which I would have *EASILY* said was my lowest ranking in previous seasons, actually went up in rating, if not ranking. I AM AS SHOCKED AS YOU ARE.

(4.2) The 3rd movie – Escape from the Planet of the Apes, in which Zira and Cornelius come from the future to 1971 and are first the toast of the town and then, well, not – remains the absolute highlight of the franchise. Period. I realize this doesn’t sound like new news, but it was confirmed. Favorite.

(4.3) The 4th movie – Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, in which Caesar begins the revolution in 1991 – tanked in my rating. Just tanked. I think due to the overall comparative strength of the story, I’d given them too great a pass on the complete and utter lunacy. No more.

But, you, beloved…

Yes, you, MacDonald. You were just grand.

(5) They opened a huge Dollarama on Queen Mary as soon as I left Montreal. Thanks a bunch, friends.

(6) There is no Popeye’s in Northcountry New York. The implications of which worked me into a nearly destructive lather at one a.m. Still adjusting to being back in the States, but nowhere near to what I’m accustomed. We’ll get through this together.

*If perchance you followed the link to Rando… you would know that my Planet of the Apes ….fixation, shall we say, is inescapable.

A Relative To Truth

When I was writing Keepsake and imagining its title, I was reading a lot of quotes about memory, a key theme of the story. Well. Everything about the story, really. But the point is, I have a fixation with memories. I’m just realizing that now as I catalog the themes of my novels…

Huh.

I guess anyone who journals rabidly and blogs and writes and documents could probably have guessed this. I never said I was sharp.

Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.  ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels:  it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.  ~Salvador Dali

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. ~William Faulkner

Yeah, most of them are about how our memories are worthless, for being changeable. I’m paraphrasing. I haven’t decided how I feel about that, so I’ll probably keep writing about it, even though I think Keepsake helped me parse some of it.

ANYWAY. The point is, my brain is a wonderland. I was sitting, minding my own business, melting into a puddle of “I’ve just finished writing”/“The rabid squirrels have been released!” when by some unknown wizardry, BAM:

::ahem::

So.

Smelled this. Nostrils. Invaded. I mean, obviously not because I haven’t fed this to my son in ten full and thorough years, aside from which I haven’t lived in the UK in said stretch of time so that it is impossible that I should have smelled this baby food. But my brain decided to pretend. The thing is, and I don’t even know how this is possible – I smelled it in the freezing cold that was our kitchen in Bangor. You’re not getting it. YES, cold has a smell (it does) but I was smelling the feeling.

Whatever.

I know what I smelled.

Okay, but that wasn’t even the last weird time-leap-memory-smell thing. Before I went to bed, BAM:

Childhood. California. Walking with my mom and siblings. Eating off of trees. I don’t even know if these are the plums we had because I am pretty sure God discontinued them and it has been one of the great treasure hunts of my life, about which I will someday pen an epically tragic memoir in the vein of Lisa Simpsons’ “My Own Mother Gave My Last Cupcake Away.”

I will never have that texture and taste and smell back, except randomly, when I’m awake at 3am and delirious from writing.

Thanks for comin’ out.

Postscript: Upon reviewing this post, I suspect I should schedule an MRI, just to be safe.

And Start Again At Your Beginnings

New book, new process. That is the apparent fact of my life as a writer. So despite that I’m writing a “sequel” – and you’re all, Bethany, why would you put that in quotations, and I’m all, Friend, I can’t really go into that – writing Avrilis 2.0 is another exercise in learning to write the book. And that’s not a bad or hard thing.

It’s exciting to me to figure out what I need and what I need to know to really start a project. Once I had my grid process for Avrilis 1.0 (whose Goodreads page I SHAN’T neglect to foist upon you from here on in, get used to it!), I thought that would be the key to all future projects.

Shuttup.

Anyway.

So I still have the chapter grid, altho the column functions are different now because I graduated from needing all of them (YAY improvement!) and also identified which ones I don’t really rely on (like “dialogue” became “highlights”), but I have disabused myself of “pantser” or even “plotter” in the sense that I often see it used.

Hello-My-Name-Is-Label-LB-1992

I have accepted how very much happens on the page. I imagine the writer who can completely plot out a novel and know down which rabbit holes her mind will go, and I think, how nice for her. Or something less committal and equally uninvested. The thing is, go, her. Do you, everybody. But I am very aware that anything I plot will end up sounding super boring or will be so far-fetched that I’d never get there organically once pen goes to paper. Or I’ll summarize a conflict in one sentence and be like, this is gonna bloom once I’m actually writing it! And either, nope, that was it, wasn’t as deep as you thought, or yep, there’s no logic to that. Too intentional.

SO! What worked/is working with this one: I wrote down the major things I knew would happen and estimated where in the book they would occur. (That’s something I’ve never done, btw, tho it feels closely related to word-count segmenting, which I did for This Is Not Heaven.) And then I worked my way back from the first such thing (I mean, the first chapter inciting incident notwithstanding), and voila. First five chapter outline, give or take.

But to be honest, this time the thing that made everything pop-pop! (isn’t it cuuuute how Magnitude went on to be Sid in Galavant, d’awwwwwwwwww)

– wait, where were we?

YES! So the thing that ended up being the MEAT? Totes not the list of big things or whatever the devil I was talking about here. It’s what happened off-camera (Bethany, you’re talking about a book. I know, shuttup.) and how people feel about it. Seems so DUH once it’s decided. But something was missing and trying to just plot out a book and think about the things that would happen and even KNOWING the things that would happen didn’t make it WORK.

All of which is to say, that column I didn’t need on a grid anymore… is basically what I just circuitously defined as being the thing I needed to know.

What Is Life

Today I have been tested by way of:

(1) Letting the landlord and a worker into my bathroom only to realize that my dog had apparently gotten into the trash and strewn all its contents throughout. And so, yes, humiliated that in their minds I live in a constant state of abject squalor, I locked myself in my bedroom for the duration.

(2) Literally feeling my pulse in an eyelid vein set to twitching by the torturously simple and redundant song of what I can only assume was a mentally enfeebled bird directly outside my window.

(3) (In a return to abject squalor:) Tugging the garbage bag out only to find that said bag is decidedly NOT Hefty so when I had adequately stretched out the top and momentarily set it down to get a second bag in which to encase it, this happened.

Cartoon approximation.

Ewwwww, garbage water!

All of which threatened to lead me here:

Because I am but flesh and blood.

And this is not how you treat a Thane of Whiterun!!!!!!!!!

Everything She Wants

It’s about that time, no?

::5 days pass::

::and then literally 3 weeks::

So yes, Jelena, the blogging got away from me. It would be easier if…. wow, that gif quickly becomes distracting… as I was saying: if I were an open book and could just tell you everything I’m doing, writing, et cetera, because the source material never ends. Mais alors. Instead, lemme tell you about the wonderfully random and completely inconsequential minutia of life.

So Josh and I are sitting in a doctor’s wait room this week and people-watching, as one does. First of all, I love the number of people who have a translator with them – and I mean that. I love living in culturally diverse places and what is more interesting to watch than the translator her/himself, navigating two cultures at once? I’ll tell you what. The obligatory old woman pretending to be slightly senile because she is here to win, kids.

Old Woman (OW) has arrived for her appointment.

Receptionist requests her medical card.

OW does not have.

Receptionist says she’ll reschedule her appointment.

OW will see doctor now.

Receptionist like, whu? Gimme the card then.

OW left the card at home. She sees doctor now.

Receptionist is tryna keep the bite out of her voice because the whole wait room can hear whether we want to or not and OW got salty immediatement. Receptionist insists that cards must be proffered.

OW: (verbatim) I don’t have it with me, what can we do? (Rhetorical) I’ll see doctor now.

OW steps. toward. hall.

Reception door opens, refusals are stated strongly.

OW does not understand what you are not understanding. She should’ve brought her card. She didn’t. She is not going home, y’all. She will see the doctor now. She will.

It’s at this point that 2nd receptionist decides to help out because perhaps his being a dude will change something?

It doesn’t.

OW figures out how to grease this wheel. Pulls out OPUS card. That one uses to ride public transportation.

Receptionists are silent. Because what?

OW: (verbatim) Visa. (Shows credit card… and then immediately puts it back in wallet.)

Receptionists are silent. Because where are we. What’s happening.

You guys I cannot wait to get to this age. Head full of white hair – seriously, her tress game was crushing it – and using a cane while simultaneously holding a huge parka, a purse, several bags and clearly this woman has her faculties is what I’m saying.

OW will TALK to the doctor. Final offer.

When the receptionists tell her the doctor is leaving for the day very soon they should really have anticipated her attempt to break for the hall again. They really should’ve. I did.

Receptionist AGAIN insists that OW will be rescheduled. At this point, OW’s indiscernible muttering is her strength. That and she clearly has nowhere else to be. She will stand at this counter all day.

Receptionist, loudly, because she knows that we know that she has been bested: Just have a seat.

I mean. Better luck next time, baby girl. OW knew what she came to do.

Le Fall Down

This is life after revision.

For me anyway. It’s actually every part of the writing life after an intense stretch of intensity. Because nothing can fill the vacuum of a weeks long cocoon of creative expression and mental preoccupation. Every fiber of my being has been directed in one, beautiful direction. And then bam. I’m a little girl laying face down in the rain. What is life even.

Other uses for this posture:

1) The night THAT episode of The Good Wife aired. You know the one.

2) The first day of that week in the life of a woman.

3) After failing as an adult in one of the following ways:

a) having poured cereal without first checking that there was milk.

b) having wet one’s hair before realizing that there is no more apple vinegar shampoo.

c) being unable to find the car keys.

Whatever Rhoda Wants

Rhoda gets…

Then Homer starts his voice-over and we see flashes of the ugliest car that ever put Powell out of business. ‘Member?

But no, so today I learned that when Rhoda decides to talk to you, by George talking shall be done! Who’s Rhoda, you’re probably asking. Just a lovely South African woman who moved to Montreal from Saskatchewan after going to the 1967 expo and who about four years ago went to California for about a week in order to attend a convention but she can’t remember what city. How long have you known Rhoda, you say? For about three minutes on the bus today.

Delightful older women make my day.

Today I also learned that the school board from which Ez is getting a transfer agreement (and in which he’s never gone to school but long story and it’s mostly just more “Oh brother, Montreal”) is just not as well oiled as the one to which he’s moving. Which is itself a blessing. I showed up to do some paperwork and they asked me to sit and they said they weren’t gonna call the person I was there to see because that person was gonna call them when that person got back from lunch. And then 45 minutes later, another receptionist came to relieve the first and promptly picked up the phone only to find said person had been back for like 30 minutes but also wasn’t the person I was supposed to see and why hadn’t the 1st receptionist gotten me the paperwork which was available the whole time. And for some reason, I just kept smiling at everyone. Guess I really had nothing pressing because I was just relaxing without a care in the world in that lobby. I don’t even know.

And finally – but absolutely not for the last time – my last name has been Morrow for 12 years, Montreal. I shan’t be changing that for you. Kindly stop asking, thank you.

Who finished a new short story? I finished a new short story!

If you wanna know more about (some of) my writing projects, check out my Writing page, friends.

Title This After Reading

So I’m listening to Hammock’s Oblivion Hymns over a 10 hour rain track and every time I do this, I just feel like a genius. You know? Like…in some very real way…it’s because of me that this is awesome.

I’m amazing.

And I’m also something else. It’s funny how I don’t trust my writing that isn’t speculative now? Which is easier to feel properly than to relay to you. I have to feel a purpose, which I have considered that I may simply be conflating with texture. Or voice. Something that takes this beyond something that happened that I am relaying to you like minutes. And when I say, why does this matter, I’m really only speaking to myself because I think this is an author-end consideration. I don’t assume the technique will “matter” to a reader, or need to. So anyway, what is communicated by speculative elements brings purpose for me.

All of which is to say, the short story I’m writing at the moment is not speculative. I had to ask myself “why would I write this” for a couple hours before I found an element that provided a “reason”. Geez, this isn’t making sense, is it? L’abort.

Anywho. I have no mixed feelings about returning to my non-speculative-writing soundtrack. It is glorious, altogether. Have some.

 

That and. I just. I need to go to Iceland. I need it. I cannot explain how I know this. But I need to write in a dome-shaped house of glass in the middle of a void.

 

I Keep Saying I’ll Blog

Three Things Which Are True:

(1) I’ll never stop badmouthing George Orwell. *

(2) Never.**

(3) I’ve got work to do. (Wonderful, wonderful work.)

*I’m not saying my sentiments are new to you or this blog. I’m not even saying that’s the best article on the matter, it’s just the easiest one to find that refers to Orwell having reviewed Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We. And I’m still indignant.

**As long as 1984 is on required reading lists and any list of well-received, impacting novels, I will continue to do so.