Friday, September 5, 2014

Plot Armor and Why I Need Some Now

Having been fully functioning adults for a while now we rarely run our cars past the "empty" line on the gas gauge. I mean life is just too short to deal with that kind of stress. 

But the kid was in Vermont and needed to come home NOW mom! So help me I'm going to start walking. I was going to make her stay anyway- I had a car full of hangers I wanted to stash in my sister's barn while she was at work. C said we'd come get her. He is a sucker and didn't fully understand the hanger issue anyway.

I feel like maybe we should talk about the great state of Vermont for a minute.

Vermont is a mountainous place full of cows and graveyards. That's pretty much it. Really bad roads wind through fields of cows and/or graveyards. There are some houses, trees and rivers but that's about it. Goats. I have seen goats there. Maybe some sheep. I have a really weird uncle who lives in a yurt somewhere in Vermont. And my sister is there. It isn't a bad place. It just lacks human oriented amenities of any kind.

Amenities like gas stations for example. I assume everyone in Vermont runs their vehicles on cow poop. 

We, being civilized citizens of the Granite State, do not run our cars on cow poop.

A wise person would have bought fuel while she could. We had most of a tank when we left the house and figured we'd get some in Concord on the way home.

It's a long, boring drive down 89. We were listening to C's ipod and I remembered a conversation the kid and I had about Bruce Springsteen. She would not believe that anyone would write a song like the one I quoted.

"C, isn't Downbound Train a real song?"

"Of course it is. It's on my ipod."

And C proceeds to play every Springsteen song *but* Downbound Train. An argument ensues. The kid isn't paying attention. She's listening to Jim's Big Ego or Zombina and the Skeletones or whatever on her own ipod. 

While we were fussing about what songs were on the ipod and what weren't we missed our exit. And suddenly we realized that getting gas was a thing that had to happen *right now*.

We took the next exit which let us off into this weird, very rural area in a place where there should have been a city. 

It was dark.

We were lost.

Bruce Springsteen was on repeat.

Times were hard.

C and I were pretty stressed out but, amazingly, we saw a sign for a town we knew and before too long we were able to coast into an open gas station.

"Whew that was a close one," I said to the kid as C filled the tank.

"I wasn't worried."

"Why? It's a long walk in the dark when you run out of gas out in the middle of nowhere."

"Yeah but we have plot armor. Okay now maybe I jinxed it but up until just now we had plot armor."

Then, before I could respond, Downbound Train came on and we got to talk about how I was right.

Which is my favorite kind of conversation.

Since I have a brain that never quite lets anything go until it's ready I've been thinking about plot armor, why the kid thinks we have it (she'd old enough to know better), and how I can get me some of that.

It all comes down to one thing.

I fully believe that I have it already or, at least, I used to believe it.

C and I have led a very adventurous life. We have pulled off so many impossible things that I kind of started to believe that we could do anything together. 

And I guess I still do.

It's just.

I mean.

We've lived in a ruined shack for a year now. We have spent every spare minute working on it. And it is STILL a ruined shack- it's just a weather tight, squirrel free ruined shack. My cat sleeps on a piece of insulation in the ruins of what will someday be a kitchen. It's pathetic.

I have been assured that we really have turned a corner with the renovation thing. The house is almost there. 

Which I could believe if the ruined room I was talking about didn't also smell really bad like expensive main line issues (if you don't know what the main line is you can count yourself VERY lucky). 

And I know this is silly but it has to do with writing too.

I've been working on a book that I HAD to write. It is certainly the most ambitious thing I've ever written and it's the story I felt I could turn into something great.

I have had to fight to write it. It's, like, been an epic battle to make art. 

"If I just had time, enough privacy and my computer I could finish this book in two weeks." I have said that to myself (and others) about a thousand times over the last six months. 

Well I have all of those things- got 'em yesterday.

Desk? Check.
Computer? Check.
Kids back at school? Check.

I sat down at my desk. I opened up the dusty old word document that is my WIP. I looked at the last thing I wrote and saw a character that I swear I had never met before.

It's entirely possible that my heart stopped.

The last time I worked on this book was (thank you Word for marking it for me) March 14.

In the many months since March 14 I have read at least 75 books. I have watched countless hours of story driven movies and TV because renovation work, and escape from renovation work, is all I do anymore.

Apparently that was enough extra input and time for me to forget my WIP. The story that was so good that I wrote in the car for Dog's sake. I wrote in the middle of the night. It was my lifeline, the thing that made all of this shit worthwhile, and I was away from it long enough to forget a damned character! 

So I took a deep breath and started to read the novel from the beginning. 

That's really the only sensible thing to do in a situation like that.

Except I was completely freaked out. I couldn't pay attention to the story because I was too busy fixing stupid comma problems (frigging commas). Then I started to worry that this book is YA but the two main characters are not YA at all. One is 8 and one is 28 or 29. And that was it. I completely lost my mind.

Through all of the changes and mess this year (really it has been more like 18 months) the one thing that kept me going was that I was going to be a successful writer someday. 

Anyway, like a trooper, I just kept on writing. 

And, until yesterday, believed that I would be great someday. Like really great not just "look at me I'm great" great.

I had my own plot armor.

All the bad stuff- it didn't matter because at the end of the day I would be a legit published writer. I would be able to say "look, let me have some peace so I can finish this. I have a deadline for Dog's sake!" And people would be like "oh, right. Sorry. Keep writing."

Instead of what I get now which is pretty much laughter. I am the BIGGEST joke. Haha look at M writing her stupid books. My deadlines are mostly my own so they should be flexible but you know what? They aren't. They shouldn't be. Just because I am the boss *and* the employee doesn't mean that the work doesn't have boundaries... 

Haha look at me being silly again. It isn't work if you don't get paid. I mean, can I go to the bookstore and see anything I've written? I don't exist on Amazon for Pete's sake. What kind of game am I playing here?

Even the people who love me best think I am playing writer or something. My sister called it the weirdest midlife crisis ever.* 

I guess I can give up on the idea of being great. I just need a tiny bit of plot armor. A chainmail plot vest would be enough. A wee little taste of invincibility.

Honestly, at this point I'd settle for enough luck and skill to have my book published in hardcover.

So I can hit people with it.



* This is part of the reason I didn't feel bad about dumping a car full of plastic hangers in her barn.

No comments:

Post a Comment