Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In which I Tried to be Nice but Failed Miserably (Sorry, Stephanie Meyer)

I promise I'm going to try to hold back from complaining about anything related to Twilight, Stephanie Meyer or anything resembling syrupy, unoriginal, annoying vampire fiction. At least for today. I think I need to read something else that's really bad; then again after I read The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown that sent me on a rant that still isn't quite over, even though it's been several years since I read it. To be fair though, Angels and Demons, the prequel to The Davinci Code. was much worse. I mean, that one had the self-proclaimed 'Harrison Ford in Tweed' hero, Robert Langdon falling from a high flying helicopter and he escaped with nary a bruise.

Here's a confession though: Sometimes I read Dan Brown's fiction because it's so bad, I relish it. There's still a couple of his books I haven't read and I'd like to think I can restrain myself. It shouldn't be too hard. After all the last one I read was so silly, I can't believe it got published. It was something like Digital Fortress or something. There's a couple of them that sound the same. All I know is that he started writing the book with a female heroine who was supposed to be smart but she ended up getting pushed to the sidelines because the men around her were much smarter. It was bad. Though the book had one of my all-time favourite "Don't Write Like This" phrases: "Her olive gaze was keen." To this day, I'm not quite sure whether he meant she had green eyes that turned everything around her green and keen or whether she had mysteriously replaced her eyeballs with pimento stuffed olives. Both of them make for an interesting visual, you have to admit.

Other than the Strictly Research Harlequin books I read, I haven't read anything bad since Breaking Dawn. I've read good books. I don't know if that's because I've just picked good books since then or because that book was so atrocious that everything else pales in comparison.

At the moment, I'm reading a popular fiction book: The Time Traveler's Wife. I wasn't sure about it at first. The time traveling was a bit confusing in the beginning but then it evened out and it got interesting. I also wasn't sure about it because I was afraid it was going to be some silly, too fictional to be real love story. Not that there's anything thing wrong with a love story but if the lovers in question don't at least have a couple of scenes where they're ready to throw knives at one another, it's not realistic to me. Then again, I am the person who couldn't get through Wuthering Heights. Talk about a couple of drips. They actually probably would have thrown knives at each other, come to mention it. Most of the time, it seemed like that hated each other. I think it was one of those grand passions that are so famous in fiction. Unfortunately, they were both so despicable, I really wished they'd both just ride off into the moors and get eaten by the Blair Witch or something.

Um, yeah, Captain Monkeypants may still be feeling a little snarky. Sorry about that.

Back to The Time Traveler's Wife. It was a loaner from a good friend who insisted I finish it. So I perservered even though I don't do well with the concept of time travel. To me, it's the same level of confusion as concentrating while trying to brush my hair in the mirror. I'm not terribly good at the whole reverse image thing. I get befuddled. Time travel befuddles me. All that paradoxical stuff in which future people can travel back and talk to past people but not be seen by their present people or's all rather perplexing. It's one of those things I'd rather be perplexed by rather than have someone try to explain it. Like all things I don't understand, it's magic. That's good enough for me.

But this book isn't confusing now I'm into it. I'm intrigued. I'm almost done and I think I might have figured out how it's going to end and if I'm right, I don't think I'm going to like it but I might love it. I confess, sometimes I'm a skipper. This means that I cheat, I skip to the end of a book because I can't wait to see what happens. I'm trying to be better about that lately so I'm not skipping to the end of this book.

The reason I might not like it is that it's not going to be a completely happy ending. I might love it because if I'm right, it means the author did a brilliant thing in placing an almost throwaway scene strategically towards the beginning of the book and I almost didn't think anything of it. I love it when that happens. I love that I'd have to read the second time to see if knowing the ending spoils the book. I'm weird like that, I suppose but I love to reread a good book, particularly one with an excellent ending.

Endings are hard for writers. There are some writers I enjoy who cannot write a decent ending to save their life. Stephen King comes to mind. He falls into the trap of building it up so much that the ending is almost a complete letdown because there's nowhere to go. I think It is the best example of that. I loved that book until the end. The flashbacks were clever, the story built up, it was creepy and scary and then when you found out that the It in question was really just a glorified giant spider, it was a bit of a letdown. Pennywise the Clown was WAY creepier. Dean Koontz is also pretty bad at endings. I think horror writers have it hardest because creating the horror is much easier than explaining it. After all, it's really just a variation on the old saying that there's power in a name. There's a power in knowing in a horror novel. Once you know what the Big Creepy is, it's far less creepy. It becomes an object that can be confronted because it is known. It's the not knowing that's the scariest thing of all.

Stephen King's son released a novel fairly recently. His name is Joe Hill and the novel is Heart Shaped Box. For a first time novel, it was actually quite a good read. It definitely had some moments of creepiness. When he released it, he didn't publicize who he was but one look at his photo on the back cover and it was pretty obvious to anyone who spent vast amounts of their teenage years reading Stephen King novels that the two were related. They look extremely alike. It wasn't a mystery. Joe has a lot of similarities in his writing to the earlier Stephen King. I can't say it was the best horror novel I read but as a ghost story, it's definitely worth reading. But I will admit, the ending of that wasn't anything I really remember. I remember the hero and his unlikely love. I remember the ghost. I remember how the ghost came to being and I remember being very sad for the dogs. I just don't remember the ending very well. That's probably not a good sign.

I won't lie and say I'm great at endings either. They're hard. Really hard. The more you write the characters and the longer you spend with them, the harder it is. I've written eight novels now. Of those eight, there are five that are a series. I spent a couple of years with the main characters, my boys as I like to refer to them: John, Michael and David. They're all wonderful, even when they're evil and they do bad things. I killed one of them. Actually, no, I killed two of them. That was hard. I'd say that was a spoiler because nothing is ever what it seems, especially when I'm making up the details.

But the hardest part was writing the last book in the series and realizing that their story was done. Though I knew how it would end, getting there took a long time. I've rewritten the ending several times and I don't think I'm 100% happy with it. It needs to be edited more. It needs to be tidied up. It needs to be tighter. But I couldn't quite let go of them because I was afraid that would be it. Those boys would leave me and I'd have to move on.

Those boys haven't left me though. They're in my head all the time. I call it my literary schitzophrenia. They've been joined by a couple of other characters who've stuck with me but whose ending I had no trouble with. I usually don't start to write towards the ending until I know what it will be. Sometimes I know the ending before I know the beginning. Other times, I think I know the end but my characters tell me otherwise and I'm at their mercy.

I'd love to share my books with the world. I've dabbled with query letters but I haven't really jumped in feet first. I want those boys I wrote to get out into the world. I want them to grab the readers the way they grabbed me, their tale of good and evil, friendship and brotherhood and the sometimes brutal way they have to act to carry out their purpose in life. And I love how they take that purpose in life and stomp all over it.

But when I think about jumping in feet first, I think about poor Stephanie Meyer. She might be rich but there are always going to be people like me, brutally stomping on the ending to her Twilight saga and ranting about what a pile of crap it is. I'd like to think she was terrified to let the world read that, that it meant so much to her she almost didn't want to publish it because her heart was in that novel. But I've read it and as brutal as it sounds, there is no heart in there. To me, Breaking Dawn is just the self-indulgent whim of a writer who stopped remembering to let her characters tell the story and forced them into submission so she could write the ending she'd always visualized instead of the one that belonged to the book.

So, though I planned on finishing The Time Traveler's Wife tomorrow, I think I may stretch it out. The ending isn't too far off now and if it's anything like the rest of the book, it's going to make me think. Against my expectations, I like the characters and I like how unconventional they are. I especially like that though the time traveler and his wife are in love, they fight and argue like real people. I like thinking I know how it's going to end but knowing I might be wrong. I just hope that I'm not wrong about how good it's going to be. Endings are hard, in every sense of the word. But sometimes they can be as good as a beginning when it leaves you with a hope, a thought and a memory of how much it meant to have it, even for a little while. It's true for writing and it's true for life. It's always hard to say goodbye.

On that note, it is time for my ending for now. I know I said I'd be nice and not rant about Stephanie Meyer but, well, like I said, I can't always plan for how I write. It just happens. And I said I'd try. Clearly even the best of intentions go awry sometimes. I'll try to read something else awful so I can move on. Recommendations are greatly appreciated.

Happy Thursday, everyone.

1 comment:

Paula said...

I think you deserve to read something completly different. Therefore, I am going to reccomend "Silver Pigs" by Lindsey Davis. She is a fellow Brit and her main character is constantly down and out on his luck private investigator living in Rome circa 79AD. He is a very flawed, very lovable guy and his voice is like a PI from the 1940s. (Dames and dolls type of feel) I dare you to read it and not laugh at his futile attempts to dodge his landlord and his mother. It won't take you long to read it either. Enjoy!!!