July 19, 2007

It's a First Draft Life posted by Doranna Yup, I'm back to it. Scent of Danger is back in progress, and once again I'm shifting into first draft gear. Because for me, first draft creates a different world. I love revising, I get a kick out of the production stages, I lo-oove the part where the book shows up on the shelves...but first draft, that's what it's all about. The thing about first draft, though...it takes over your life. I've come to think of the moments between initial drafting as that time that I poke my head out into the world, dust off the surfaces in my office, dig down through the geological layers on my desk, and in general touch base with reality. Depending on circumstances, this time can be as short as several days or last as long as a couple of months. (When it's a couple of months, I've usually fit in several sessions of first drafting sample chapters, but those are so short and intense as to be different experiences altogether.) During revising, it's somehow easier to skip in and out of the world of my book; I'm weaving and reweaving what's already done, not spinning it from thoughts that I'm carding and sorting at the same time. I don't have to hold the big picture in my head all at once; it's been done and recorded. I'm relaxed, and more flexible about what happens during my day. I can interrupt myself for a watercooler conversation; I can take care of the every day details of life. With first draft, though, it's up to my muse to hold the whole book in my head at once. The characters, their motivation, their stage of growth in the book, the season, the setting...whatever else is going on in my life, those pieces have to live in the background, humming on idle when necessary and ready to go when the writing time comes. On top of that there's another layer, the one that's always working the next scene--what do I want to accomplish, and how am I going to do it, and while I'm at it just how can I make life even more difficult for my characters while I'm at it? And on top of that there's another layer--the one that works a scene or two ahead and keeps the current scenes always building in the right direction. So perhaps it's explicable that I tend to lose track of the real world when I'm writing first draft. Oh, just the little pieces, like how long has it been since I saw the dentist and how many magazines are piled up on the kitchen table and oops, whose birthday did I miss not because I didn't know that person had a birthday on that date, but because I had no idea it was that date? It's probably obvious why I go around with notes scribbled all over my hand (no doubt it would be both hands if I was any good at writing with my left), often have a dazed expression, and sit off by myself at social functions, my expression glazed over and my inner muse hard at work. Or why without fail, those who interrupt first draft composition with phone calls say, "Oh, gosh, are you all right? Did I wake you?" No, no. Everything's fine. I was just off in another world, and have to travel quite some distance to get back to the place where I can talk to you. It takes a few moments, that's all. Those who dread seeing me like this don't stay in my life long. Those who get a kick out of it are keepers. And you'd think with all the dazed and glazed and oops that I might dread first draft myself. But oooh, no. These are my people and places to explore, my adventures in which to wallow. They draw me in, and challenge me to get them right. First draft is my world...and I welcome me to it!
What a Spector-cle! posted by Leann Sweeney I loved watching the Watergate hearings. I was pregnant at the time and had quit working during my 7th month, so Watergate totally entertained me. And O.J.? I took my tiny TV to the job so I wouldn't miss a word or a glove or a stupid, lying witness. It's the mystery writer in me. I am fascinated by crime. Will be until the day I die. And now, I am mesmerized by the Phil Spector trial. I barely had a clue who he was until recently and sadly, I have missed significant chunks of testimony, but I am doing my best to catch up since this is all very very interesting. There's the defendant himself, who could be cast for a horror movie. Who is doing this man's hair? Wes Craven? He's creepy. Plain creepy. But on the other side of the courtroom is the assistant D.A. whose name I cannot remember. Gorgeous. Brilliant. And oh how I wish he'd cross-examine me, if you know what I mean. The Court TV commentators range from serious to ridiculous, but they are the side show. The real action is in that courtroom. Phil Spector was a rising star in the music industry very early in his life and married Veronica, the lead singer of the Ronettes after helping the group rocket to stardom. In her autobiography, she talks about how she was a prisoner in their home for five years after they were married--barbed wire and everything. She's had a very strange memory loss since penning that book in 1989. The smell of future money will do that to you, I suppose. But other Spector love interests (or hate interests might be more accurate) followed and they seemed to meet a similar fate as what Ronnie the Ronette can or cannot remember. Yes indeed, several of the prosecution witnesses are ladies Spector once dated. One of them must have had Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon, but I digress. Seems they were all threatened with a gun bySpector when they wouldn't do what he wanted. Circumstantial you say. True. But there is other evidence. Plenty of forensic testimony. Blood spatter experts galore. This is important because the defense claims that Lana Clarkson, the deceased actress who had met Spector at the House of Blues the night she died, took her own life in Spector's house after he brought her home. According to Spector's lawyer's, she put a gun in her mouth and killed herself. (Thus the need for the most expensive blood spatter experts money can buy). We're supposed to forget Spector actually said something like "I shot someone" as he stumbled out into the night where a driver was waiting to take Lana away. Indeed, the defense would have the jury believe that Lana Clarkson went to a stranger's home, drank herself stupid and then shot herself at the very moment an old guy who had taken an overdose of Viagra, is singing "Be my baby now-ow-ow"? Okay, maybe it would drive someone to suicide, but come on. Anyway, this week has been especially wonderful. Yesterday, the defense witness was Punkin Pie. I don't think that's the name she used when they swore her in, but that's what she calls herself. And my hero D.A. made significant non-testimony points by addressing her during cross as "Miss Pie" every chance he got. Hehehe. She's supposed to be a close friend of the victim, who days before the murder (oh yeah, I've made up my mind on murder) says Lana called her, very distraught and told her she wanted "out," as in permanently out. Lana was a B list actress who had broken both wrists and was taking a little of Hollywood's favorite candy, Vicodin, when she had this conversation with Miss Pie. Trouble is, Miss Pie didn't mention this until two and a half years later--to the defense attorneys right before trial. I think the refrain went something like this: "Oh puh-lease let me be on Court TV as a defense witness. Please. Please. Please! I"m writing a book!" And we got to meet Baby Doll, a former Hollywood madam who is also on the defense witness list but because of the "infammatory nature" of her possible testimony has currently been put on ice by the judge. This judge is no star struck Ito, that's for sure. So what does Baby Doll do after the judge nixes her testimony? She decides to tell the press what she would have said, given the chance. Her bad. Judge is not happy and we got to see him admonish Botoxed, Siliconed, Collagened Baby Doll. What theater. And all for the price of basic cable. I'm telling you people, tune-in. Even a fiction writer couldn't make this stuff up.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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