I’m doing a little Flash Back Friday, with a post first published on my facebook page. I’ve been doing a lot of posting about the Winchesters lately, so here’s a different topic for your enjoyment.
Thought Verb Thursday! So, now that we’ve discussed what “thought verbs” are, let’s get more in depth. I’ve got a couple of examples about which I’d like your opinions. Let’s talk about know/knew this week, shall we? “Andrea knew Charlie was getting impatient.” So, we aren’t acquainted with Andrea or Charlie and without more information, we don’t know how well acquainted they are with each other. So how about… “Charlie glanced at his phone, pretending to check his news feed. Tapping his foot, he glared at Andrea as she checked her reflection for the fifth time. From the corner of her eye she could see his brow scrunch up as he sighed.” So now we know he’s impatient, why, and that Andrea is aware as well. But take this example. “Sam knew Dean was upset and decided to keep his mouth shut.” Many of you know Sam, Dean, and what Dean looks like when he’s upset. You are aware that Sam has been Dean’s brother all his life, so Sam isn’t in need of a lot of clues as to how his brother is feeling. But still…
“Dean pressed his lips together as he pushed the cabinet closed. He turned his back on the rocking cabinet and stalked across the room. Sam looked up at the sound of the slamming cabinet, mouth open. As he watched his brother cross the room on stilted, heavy heels, he closed his mouth and went back to the computer.” The additional details are nice and we should strive to “show not tell”. But with two well-established characters, is the shortcut of “knew” acceptable in certain cases? What do you think? Which would you rather read? Do you agree with Chuck– “Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing.”
You know what you’re looking at. My review, not recap, of the penultimate episode of Supernatural’s eleventh season. As always,
It has arrived, the battle between “good” and “evil”. But I have to ask the question Dean’s face did as Sam breathlessly explained how they knew they were doing the right thing. Are the definitions of good and evil ever very clear? Sam is too close to God in his admiration to see the picture the way Dean does. And that’s both a help and a hindrance. Dean is jaded and biased, so we have both Winchesters essentially playing both sides of the fence. So because storytelling, we don’t have to pick a side between them. They are able to play both sides for us, so that we as the audience can see the whole picture.
And here’s the whole picture. God and The Darkness never saw eye to eye. They never will. They’re both acting a bit like children. But she wants to destroy creation and he wants to save it. So we’ve come to the battle.
I very much approved of Sam and Dean’s allies. I have heard some rumblings about Sam and Lucifer being in the same room, and have heard doubt Sam would ever team up with dear Luci considering what he put him through. I disagree. Sam has grown quite a lot since his internal battle with Lucifer. More importantly, his and Dean’s relationship is stronger than it’s been in years. The fact is, with Dean at his side, Sam feels invincible. And considering what’s at stake, I know Sam is willing to bite the bullet and do something he’s not 100% comfortable with. It means saving all of existence. You don’t think Sam Winchester wouldn’t be able to put aside his own crap for that? Because I do. I know he would.
Of course Crowley. We’ve talked about him before. He’s Team Winchester all day, every day.
And the ever lovely Rowena. I particularly loved her plan for longer life. Just go back a few centuries and live another few hundred years. So what life isn’t in the future? It’s still experience. It’s still living. Brilliant. She could just do this over and over and over again. Only next time she could avoid the Winchesters and Crowley. Sure she chose to join Team God but I’m pretty sure that was only because she really had no other options. Her witch “friend” wouldn’t help her, and I’m sure Rowena’s allies are slim on the ground. She doesn’t play well with others. Just like her son, which is probably where he learned it, she’s very good at assessing the available options and backing the one most likely to succeed. And, I’m sure, always having a back door way out in case things go sideways.
Watching her fangirl over Lucifer is always funny though. He really does it for her, doesn’t he? A rare moment of vulnerability.
So, the assembled forces of Team God looked pretty good to me. Angels, demons, witches, Winchesters, and the Big Guy. All we’re missing is a prophet of the L…oh yeah. Sorry, Donny. I knew your time would come but I’m sorry it had to be so soon. And that she didn’t just kill you right out. Being soulless gets worse before it gets worse. It doesn’t get better.
Coming into the battle, I knew it would not be the final moment for Amara. That’s because TV. The finale is the place for these kind of things. An episode like this is for building tension. I was impressed, nonetheless, by the fight Team God put up. Team Amara, the team of one, was pretty powerful though. I knew she would break through the guards and get to our intrepid heroes. The only question was what would happen when she confronted her brother.
But first, she had to deal with Rowena (sorry MegaCoven), angels, and demons. After Crowley joined the demonic fray, he really did some damage to her (go Crowley!). It was surprising and refreshing to see Amara finally hurt. When she walked in the door, Dean didn’t even think about going to his poor, hurting Darkness. Luckily, Big and Tall was there to stop him. Nice to see Sammy look out for his big brother when he needs to.
Having them back together and not at odds is seriously one of the best things about this season. I love this season because of it.
Anyhow, the most unexpected of sacrifices, came Lucifer from the dark. But just one archangel, even the biggest one, was no match for Amara. It was a good try, but I was relieved to see Lucifer exit Castiel’s vessel when she smited him. The only question is, did she kill the archangel? Or did she send him back to the cage? I suppose only time will tell. Or maybe next week.
I must admit, I was less than thrilled about the Mark of Cain plan. Sure, it made a certain kind of sense. But I just could not stand the thought of a season’s worth of Sam dealing with the Mark in his own Sam way. Could. Not. Stand. So I’m glad that didn’t come to fruition. What did happen, however, was only slightly surprising. I, for one, was watching Chuck’s face as the boys made their plans.
He was in on the plan, and lent all his Godly power to their cause. But he knew the whole time that most likely it would be him, his own sacrifice, that would save creation. He went along with Sam and Dean, but his original plan was still the one in his head.
I would say that’s probably why he almost lost. You gotta go all in, or you get nothing back. What he got back was almost destruction. Amara left him alive though, ostensibly so that he could watch as she destroyed everything he loves. I believe the truth of it is that she is no more capable of killing him than he is of her. During next week’s finale, I truly think they will both exit the Supernatural universe together. After Castiel gets his grace back.
Speaking of next week, I hope that god is a little more Chuck and a little less Lord. I felt like he really needed to be taken down a peg, to be honest, and I hope that’s what this near death experience did for him. Plus I would really like to see Chuck again.
I still think they will not solve this Darkness problem by fighting. I think they can only cast out Darkness with Light. Just as god did at the beginning. I look forward to seeing the Winchesters bring the light this time.
A couple more notes. Did you hear god totally not rule out bringing Gabriel back?? He said it’s difficult. Not impossible. You know and I know what that means. Oh I cannot wait to see him again. I hope it’s a surprise!
And finally, are you Team God, or Team Amara?
I’m Team Winchester.
See you after the finale! After watching the Shaving People Punting Things promo for next week, Sacrificio, I’m feeling a season finale marathon coming on in the lead up.
Last week, I went on a short, kidless vacation. Also, “Don’t Call Me Shurley” was so emotionally traumatizing, I had a difficult time writing about it on top of traveling. I mean, that was easily the most emotional and amazing episode in seasons. It was also an episode I had been awaiting for almost six seasons, and every bit as satisfying as I hoped it would be.
This week’s episode continued exactly where we left off, which was an interesting and refreshing switch. The differences in Sam and Dean’s reactions were perfectly telegraphed in their expressions, two more flawless performances from Jensen & Jared. Just like their first conversations about angels, Sam was in awe and all but shining with hope, and Dean was disappointed and sad. But oh my goodness did Chuck put him in his place. “Don’t confuse me with your dad.” Damn, Chuck, just cut straight to the heart of it.
Really though, Jensen broke my heart this week, with such a beautifully nuanced performance. When he asked God where he’d been, sticking up for all the people who prayed to him (and who Dean himself couldn’t save), he was both angry and heartbroken at the same time. When the tears broke but his face didn’t… I can tell you mine did. Poor, sweet Dean. Hiding behind bravado and anger.
And can we just talk about his reaction when he realized how much trust and love God had given him? How his face was a mixture of pride and fear? Proud to be so important, yet scared shitless to be trusted with that much weight. Because of his relationship with his Dad, Dean is constantly afraid of failing. And with this, the weight of the salvation of the whole world coming from The Man Himself, Dean’s battered ego couldn’t handle it.
So when Amara offered him an out, we were treated to witnessing just how far Dean has come. Even with all this on his shoulders, he hardly considered her offer. A few years ago, relief from the burden, the chance at eternal sleep, would have been an offer he would have died to take. But now, with Sam in his corner again, he believes in their cause. He believes in saving people again.
And just who brought him here? Sammy. It began in the season 10 finale, another fine job from Jared. One of my favorite Sam moments, actually. Willingly offering to sacrifice himself for Dean yet again, but from a place of tenderness and love instead of anger and fear. That decision has informed so much of this season.
Sam has so much hope now, and it has not been more evident than it was during their conversation with Chuck. He loves God, he always has, and with the faith of a little brother, he believes absolutely in Chuck and Dean. Having them both there to back his play has given Sam a strength of resolve and the confidence to follow through. Sam has been straight up fearless this season. His hope is infectious. I sincerely believe that he and Dean can button up this Darkness problem.
Speaking of buttoning it up, I’m throwing in my chips now. It will not be God, but her love for Dean that will be her undoing. Chuck said he’d been trying to show her there could be things better than they are, and she’s found it in her feelings for Dean. Love is the greatest of all these things. Once she realizes that, her downfall will follow swiftly behind.
A few more things. I wish the Winchesters had been able to see Metatron fight for humanity. It would have been easier for them to trust his intentions when he called them. But that’s how storytelling goes. They were not privy to the same information we had. I was not surprised by his revelation about Chuck’s intentions, it was all over his face last week as Chuck sang “Fare Thee Well”. I was, however, touched by his gesture of sacrifice. We all knew it was foolish, but he put his own ass on the line to save Cassifer, Sam, and Donatello.
The mutant ninja turtle. Good lord, Dean.
Speaking of the newest prophet, I just love him so far. I love the Harvey Fierstein thing he has going, and his reactions to the whole thing were priceless. I’m sorry he one day has to die, but welcome to Team Free Will, Donny! Good luck.
Speaking of prophets, the fact that Kevin had a cameo had already been spoiled for me as I did not watch live this week. I still cried.
So, how do you feel about the arc for the end of the season? Do you think Chuck will follow through with his plan to sacrifice himself for creation? Or do you think the Winchesters will block his play and come up with their own? I’m hoping Team Free Will gets this one.
June blew a hair off her forehead and turned, shoulders hunched. Plunging her hands back into the soapy water, she picked up a plate and glared out the window. Pregnant and anvil black, no less than three thunderheads congregated over the house. She dared the storm to begin, willing the lightning to strike as water splashed onto her feet.
“Jesus Christ, June! You’re getting water all over!”
She turned, smiling through tight lips, and dropped the plate back into the sink. Stretching her arm for the towel, mouth twisting into a scowl, the first dry crack of lightning struck as she snatched it off the counter. The hair on her neck and arms stiffened. Her guts vibrated with the force of the thunder clap. A crash and the tinkle of breaking glass cut through the ringing in her ears.
“Dammit! Junie, can you help me clean this up?”
Dropping the towel to the floor, she opened the back door and glided outside, bare toes wicking through wet grass. The smell of fresh rain and ozone crept up her nostrils.
The lake stretched out in front of her. The corpse of a tree, the one from her old front yard, poked out of the surface. As the wind pushed the storm across the water, the waves rocked. Her mind’s eye saw the rotted, fish eaten cadavers of dolls and tea sets, waterlogged walls and floors, algae coating everything in a green sheen.
The lightning cracked again, pushing air up her nose and down through her ears where it met in her throat. Feeling mud squish up between her toes, June looked down and saw she’d made it to the shore of the lake. Water lapped over her toe nails. She wiggled them, digging into the wet, sucking earth. The corpse tree swayed with the current. The water pushed itself over her ankles and the lightning crashed again, the explosion of thunder following so close the two may as well have been conjoined.
A scream from inside the house followed close behind, and a sound like crackling firewood snapped and popped from the side yard.
She turned, orange light flickering in her eyes. Ozone, a sharp scent of burned air and singed nose hairs, mingled with fire smoke. From behind her the stale flat stink of the lake pushed against her like a wall. As she watched the fire from the lightning decimated tree creep toward the house, the rain began.
Not a light, refreshing sprinkle. Hard and heavy, the drops were nearly hail as they pounded the ground.
Turning back to the lake, she took another step toward the buried carcass of the old house. The surface of the water rippled, inviting. From her back, the wind pushed like a hand, caressing her shoulder blades. As she took another unbidden step, the wind pushing as the mud sucked and pulled, the light changed. She looked up. The sun peeked out as the same wind that pushed her broke the storm and shredded the clouds.
Soaking from the rain, feet encased in lake mud, she watched as the lightning moved on, blowing across the lake.
She sat in the water, mud and sludge soaking through the ass of her pants and oozing over her belt. Plunging her hands into the water, she brought out double handfuls of stinking wet clay and watched, tears mingling with rain, as it drained through her fingers and back into the lake.
I hope you enjoyed this little piece of flash. It was written based on a random photo (the one at the top) flash fiction challenge posted by Chuck Wendig over here on his blog. I have to admit, I was dealing with some pretty new feelings when I wrote this. It was an excellent outlet for them. A perfect time for a little capsule of story to come along.
It’s a not so secret secret: I love Dean Winchester. Not Jensen Ackles, who is a real human bean with his own family, hopes, and dreams. No, I mean Dean.
He’s my hero. I sit breathless on the edge of my seat when he’s in danger. I’ve cried for him on more than one occasion. I despaired when he became a demon because that’s literally the worst thing that could ever happen to him. Well, maybe the second worst.
Why do I care so much? How can you love someone who isn’t real? Why do I cry like a baby when Dobby dies (every time I read it)? Any one of you who are part of a fandom or are avid readers can probably understand where I’m coming from.
Being a writer, I like to examine motive. And since I’m the only person whose head I can actually be in, I have to examine my own. So, I ask myself, how can I love Dean? Not why, I know why and that’s a different conversation. But how, if he’s not “real”? The answer to that is probably far more involved than I’m about to get, but it’s how I understand what goes on in my head.
It’s been going around the internet lately that no one sees you the way you see you. Does that make sense? You look in the mirror and see yourself. But you also see inside your own head, your inner dialogue, the things that make you you. No one else can see that. In their heads, the things that make you you are very different. It’s their perception of who you are. The two of you will never have the same picture of you in their head.
Because of this, I would argue that fictional characters and actual people are kind-of on a level playing field. Especially well drawn characters. Other people, actual people, are largely a construct in your mind. And you care about them. You love them. You make memories with them, you make love with them, you make lives with them.
The biggest, most obvious difference is all the “with” in that sentence, which clearly makes the real people in your life higher up the food chain than fictional people. But that doesn’t mean the fictional people aren’t important. Thousands of people died today, I even read about a few. I don’t know them, but for the ones I read about and their families, I am saddened. I’m suggesting fictional characters are on a level with those people. In fact, our favorite characters, like Harry Potter or Dean Winchester for example, are more to us. We share their highs and lows, their triumphs and tragedies.
Don’t get me wrong, please. I am by no means trying to say those real people mean less. I am trying to illustrate why our favorite characters in fiction mean so much. Why they are elevated to practically real status. Especially for someone like me, who ever has and ever will have a rich and fulfilling imaginary life. It runs alongside my real one, and it means a great deal to me.
Now as for loving a fictional character, I’ll ask you a question. Have you ever been totally infatuated with someone who has no idea you exist? Even felt you were in love with them, although they had never so much as spoken to you? I can bet many of you have. Then, say you end up talking to or even (happy day!) dating them.
Were they just like you imagined them?
I’m going to bet on “no”. Because I’ve been there, too. I’m a bit of a romantic sad-sack when it comes to love. Things are fantastic now in that area, but damn if it didn’t take a lot of trial and error, and a healthy diet of introspection, to get there.
Did I get sidetracked?
Maybe, so let me get back on point. I imagine what other people will be like, and that’s who they are in my head. And that’s who I love. I imagine what fictional characters are like, and I love them just like real people. I have room in my head and heart for a whole world of people, so I don’t see why my imaginary friends should be any different. I cry when they do, I laugh when they do, I struggle with them, and I use their journeys to grapple with my own issues.
And as a writer, I make up stories using my own questions, my own life struggles, and have my characters work it out for me. It doesn’t have to look exactly the same as my problem in order to work, it just has to have the same flavor.
And when we go on these journeys together, we become emotionally invested in the people who went with us. Whether they are real, or “real”. I think that answers the question of how we can love them. In the end, the fictional characters we care about can be elevated to the level of real, instead of “real”, because the illusion of them is no less, nor greater, than the illusion that is our world. Of course, that is also a conversation for another time.
Ah yes, monster of the week, please. If you’re new here, the following will be full of SPOILERS for the most recent episode of Supernatural, episode 11.19, titled “The Chitters”. You’ve been warned.
I don’t know about you, but I love me some Sam and Dean and Baby rolling down the road and prowling the woods. And that’s what we got this week. Baby purred along and so did this episode.
Oh my goodness I’m so distracted right now. Watching “Wendigo”. Bringing it old school.
OK, back on topic. “The Chitters” was classic Supernatural and when it’s done right, as this episode was, it is so, so good. Starting off as many great episodes do lately, we caught the Winchesters “relaxing” at home. And can I just take a distracted pause and say how great it is that they have a “home”? They deserve it.
Seriously, back on topic. I’m pretty sure the brothers at the beginning of the episode were supposed to make me think of Sam and Dean. Even if they weren’t, they did. So it really set the tone for me, thinking about little Sammy losing Dean in the middle of the woods. It was an automatic shortcut for the writers to make me feel bad about what happened to these kids, and it worked.
Fast forwarding to the now, some of my favorite bits of this episode were near the beginning. First of all, there was D (Kandyse McClure, Battlestar Galactica **no spoilers please, I haven’t finished it yet!!**), who is honestly just as beautiful and wonderful as ever. She plays nice and innocent so well, and I think she really pulled off the “I’m new here and I’m just trying to stay afloat” sheriff. But the interplay between Sam and Dean was what was really on point, here. Hahaha, there goes Dean, making up words for monsters again (“Junkless”? I’m with Sam on this one). Hahaha, there goes Sam, calling him an idiot. Aahahaaha good times. And we were treated to some really fabulous Winchester expressions.
Was I the only one who shouted at the TV when they decided to separate? Surely not.
So, I mentioned this elsewhere, and I’m going to bring it up here. When they met the new hunters, was anyone else surprised they weren’t immediately recognized? Sure it was a nice moment when New Hunter #1 (Cesar) said they had heard of Dean and thought he bit it a few years back. He should’ve asked which time they were thinking of. But I always kinda think most hunters ought to recognize them on sight. Aren’t they kind of like hunter celebrities, at this point? And, this is a bit off topic, but any monsters that don’t hear their names and immediately run the other way, like the demon in “Beyond the Mat”, are complete morons and deserve every bit of what’s coming to them.
Back to the story. I was a bit surprised that the new hunters were a couple, but it’s really neither here nor there. Just an interesting little side note, and a nice chance to again see that Sam and Dean are not biased or prejudiced, nor discriminatory, as we knew already. Just another reason to love them.
I have one point to make about one of my favorite moments in this episode, but I want to get to that last. Consider this a placeholder.
I really enjoyed the old sheriff. I thought his story was pretty good, and I really dug the vulnerability that the actor brought to the role. I was going to put in his name, but iMDb doesn’t seem to have it listed yet. I also need to give a shout out to the set department right here. The calcification on the kitchen sink was a spot-on small detail that could have been easily missed. Great detail, excellent dressing.
I know, I’m all over the place here. My transitions are garbage today, and I apologize. I’m usually much better at them, promise. At any rate, I hate it when the boys split up. Although, I did enjoy watching them both do what they’re best at. Sammy asking questions, shooting the puppy-dog eyes at folks, and Dean running through the woods hunting, killing monsters. It was fun to watch that part, but all I wanted the whole time was for Sam to get back.
And he finally did, and I said to myself, “No way! Is that the “Wendigo” set?” As you saw up there, I was watching “Wendigo” when I began writing this. And I have to say, I think the outside really was the same set. The inside was more spacious and better lit, but I swear that was the same exterior. What a throwback.
One more sidetrack, speaking of throwbacks, I love all the throwback music. I think the music has been genius these last couple of seasons. They have brought back some of my favorite background tunes from the first couple seasons, thrown a little bit of spice on them, put them in a mixer sometimes, and shook out some really nice stuff. It’s been both new and old, and a great way to tie these seasons back to the earlier ones, without stepping backwards in the storytelling.
All right, back to that placeholder. My favorite moment in the episode came when Dean and Cesar were riding in Baby together, talking about revenge. When Cesar asked if Dean knew any hunter who’d ever gotten his revenge, who among us did not picture Dean shooting Yellow Eyes, while the ghost of his Dad held on?
And who among us didn’t smile at the thought, just the way Dean did? But then Cesar went on to say that they’re never fixed. And with an even bigger smile, Dean agreed. It’s a really nice thing to watch him come so far, and to be so self-aware that he can admit there is no amount of killing monsters that will ever make him better. That smile was beautiful, strong, brittle, and priceless. Sometimes I forget to notice just how much Jensen and Jared kill it. They really do. All the time. Even when the plot is going sideways, they remain true to Sam and Dean through and through. I think it’s one of the things that has helped the show survive so far. We really have two of the best leads in the business.
At any rate, who didn’t see that Buffalo Head Nickel coming up again?
So Prince is gone. Let me say he was the very epitome of what is Cool. For me, and many in my generation, he literally defined the word. Today, while mourning, I was browsing some photos of his best styles. I will never be as stylish as him, many of us won’t. I won’t, not because I can’t, but because I won’t even try. Some people try, my sister-in-law is ridiculously stylish, and I say let them. I am not, nor will I ever be, extraordinarily stylish. But that does not mean I didn’t look up to Prince, and admire him for the beautiful peacock he was.
Was. Oh it breaks my heart.
Anyhow. What prompted me to write about Prince was looking back over those styles and thinking of the first time I saw them. I’m about to get as honest as I can here.
I grew up in the middle of nowhere, in the South. I’d like to say my home state has progressed beyond the attitudes it held in the Civil War, and I know for a fact that many of its people have. I am sorry to say many haven’t. So, me a kid in the eighties, surrounded by mostly people who haven’t. Kids are prone to feel the same way about things that their parents and elders do, and my mom is from the West, and my dad was from the wonderful, beautiful city of Charlotte. So as I remember it, my parents were fairly open-minded, for the area of the country we lived. That’s probably how I grew my progressive attitude. I fully feel each generation improves upon the attitudes of the one before it, and I know that’s true with Millenials and my own Gen X.
Now I’ve dated myself. You’re welcome.
So while I see myself as pretty progressive, I am admittedly still nearer the center than some. And as a child I was even more so. I had limited access to the outside world, as there were about four stations on my TV. And three radio stations, most of which were country. Seriously, I did not get a rock-n-roll radio station that wasn’t oldies until high school. Besides my parents, I had other elders who I looked up to, who were not progressive nor liberal in any way, shape, or form. With limited exposure, it was sometimes difficult to understand mold-breakers. When I first saw Prince, I remember thinking he was a weirdo.
I told you, honesty.
I remember a family member, I don’t know if it was an uncle or not, calling Prince just that when we saw him in that awesome police hat with the chains. Remember?
And, while my head went, “Yeah, what a weirdo”, I know a part of my heart said, “but…” In middle school I finally realized the fact that I didn’t fit in, no matter how hard I wanted to. That I was never going to be one of “those people”. And in high school, I became OK with that. I began to embrace it. And the part of my heart that had said “but…” reminded me of people like Prince. It told me it was not only OK to not fit in, but to embrace it. To become whoever the f*ck you wanted to be, because you could. It was then that I began rebelling against everything around me, which is, now that I look back on it, a completely normal thing to do. And I feel a little bit bad for people that never did. That just fell into the mold and stayed in the mold and never questioned or were too afraid to break it and run away.
I don’t live where I grew up anymore, but the place I live is not a particularly progressive place. Some of my friends live in Washington State, and sometimes I think it must be pretty nice to live in such a fabulous place with awesome people who are cool. But then again, since I grew up in a non-progressive area, and I live in one now, it’s not like I think it’s that bad. In fact, it continues to remind me just how important it is to believe in yourself, and know who you are. I love it where I live, by the way.
The social attitudes of others no longer define me.
I define me.
So when I think back on that kid who thought maybe Michael Jackson was weird, and maybe Prince dressed too much like a woman, I feel a bit ashamed. Because these days I feel quite the opposite. But if I sit here and tell you I always loved them, that is called revisionist history. They were not cool to me then just because they are now.
But their differentness stuck with me, and it made me question. And for that, mold-breakers, people like Prince, will always define Cool.
Well, now I’ve finished the third draft of my first novel, “You Shook Me”. I thought I’d write a quick note, while thinking about this experience is fresh on my mind.
Completing the first draft was an enormous accomplishment, one I’m told only about 10% of authors have done. And I was very proud of it. You can see my note about that here. I still am very proud of it. Because completing that first draft was something I had been trying to do, in some way, shape, or form, for decades. I’ve begun about sixteen novels. I’ve completed one. All the ones I began before the first complete one taught me something, and I am grateful for them all.
But this one, this one taught me what it’s like to finish something. And once I had finished it, I had to keep going. I couldn’t just let it moulder, half complete. It had to be polished. That polishing took quite some time because I had a baby. Having a full time job, a little one, a boyfriend, and being pregnant, well…that’s hard work. The first draft had to sit a while and wait for me to be a little less distracted. Also, if you’re familiar with what I wrote and the fact that I can only go through one publisher, then I have no shame telling you I was scared. Even if you don’t know that, know that I was scared. Afraid they’d hate it. That it would never be ready to give them. That they wouldn’t even want to look at it.
I’m still afraid of those things. But now that I’m less busy, and the baby is a little older, I pushed those fears aside. Because the bottom line is I love my story. I don’t know if that’s acceptable in writer circles, and frankly, I don’t care. I am the only person in the whole wide world I know for certain will read that story. As far as I know, I could be the only person to ever love it. So guess who I wrote it for?
The one, single publisher?
You, hypothetical reader?
My kids? My mom? My boyfriend?
Nope, Nope, Nope.
All those people in school who made fun of me?
I wrote it for me. Because there was a story I wanted to tell. Not to them, not to you, to me. And I love it. I love it so much, I had to finish it. I had to polish it, turn it, and polish it again.
And I tell you what, now that it’s in its third draft, it’s really coming along. I really like it now. It probably still sounds like a first novel, but I will tell you that I am intimately familiar with the subject matter, that I am totally in love with the characters, and that I am not only satisfied with but happy with the story I have told.
So now, with a new crop of beta readers and a couple old ones (including my ridiculously supportive and wonderful boyfriend), I am reading the third draft. When that’s done, I have a little plan for it.
First, I am going to see it in print, no matter what. I am going to print and bind it using my own two hands. A labor of love. And I’ll have it autographed by the people who portray the characters who live in the universe in which it is set. Because they are part of it, too.
And second, I am sending a letter off to the publisher. Following their submission guidelines. I will hope they decide to give me a chance. I’ve been writing for a long time, but I have not been published all that much. You can find most of my published work on my links page. What I do not have, is immediately provable, available experience. What I do have is my ability to tell a story. What I do have is passion. I deeply care about the world in which my story is set. I set the story there on purpose, not as an afterthought. That universe is real to me. They’ll love the book, of that I am certain, should they choose to read it. That is out of my hands, however, and so I’ll just keep doing what I do.
Writing, and loving what I write. It doesn’t really matter about anything else.
Below is parts of a note I wrote a while back, when I finished the first draft of my first novel. Some parts have been edited, but I thought you might like to see it, so here it is:
My first draft of the Supernatural tie-in novel, titled “You Shook Me” (yes, after the AC/DC song), has come to a close just shy of 90,000 words. My hope is to surpass 90k with the second draft, as anything less would make the book too short after professional editing.
Writing, and completing, the first draft of a novel has been a learning experience the likes of which I have never had in the world of writing. The first third of it will require some pretty heavy-handed edits and rewrites, as much of it was written years ago. Can you say adverbs?! I sure could. I shudder at almost all uses of them. My early overuse of them seems amateurish in comparison with the back half of the novel, and their near-complete disappearance.
I found an invaluable resource in the form of a website called Litreactor and its articles on style and form. One such article (this one, right here. Click this. Do it), and probably near the top of the usefulness scale, was written by Chuck Palahniuk (author of “Fight Club” among others). The article stresses the importance of “unpacking” your descriptions. A good rule of thumb is don’t use 10 words when you can say it in 5. This article contrasts that advice in a specific way. The essence of the advice in this article is to rid yourself of “thought verbs”. Don’t say “he knew”. Show how he knew. Illustrate it with words. Readers are smart. Draw them the dots, they will connect them. It makes the reading experience more enjoyable by allowing the reader to take part in the character’s thinking process, rather than being a simple observer.
There are a number of extremely wonderful articles besides this one which present a variety of ideas about writing and the process. Should all the suggestions be followed? Certainly not. But they are all worth considering on the journey to becoming a more complete author. The website also hosts a paid writer’s workshop which I am considering joining now that the first draft is done. This could help me hone my skills as an author while also helping me connect with other writers in the global community. Writing is lonely business and I hear that human connection is indispensable. Worth a shot! (**edit: I still haven’t done this**)
The most useful tool throughout this process, however, has been just DOING IT. Nothing has taught me more than that. I learned I am capable of doing it, of completing something I started. I am capable of weaving the tapestry of a story. I have my own voice as an author, which emerged and began to refine itself through the process.
And I learned the experience was worth the trouble, even if it is never published. There is one publisher licensed to publish Supernatural books and if they don’t like it or don’t feel I have enough credentials to be considered, the book is dead in the water. Self publishing is not an option, as I can’t afford to be sued by Warner Bros. (**edit for clarity: the book I have written is not “fan fiction” by definition. It is canon, and as such is subject to copyright law**)
For any of you thinking about undertaking a project like this, I say quit thinking and do! Take an hour a day and write what you can in that hour. You’ll eat, sleep and breathe your story. You’ll get to know your characters, and consequently yourself, better than you thought possible. And I daresay you’ll have a great time, too.
THIS IS A REVIEW OF SUPERNATURAL 11.18 AND THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. LOTS.
Last night’s Supernatural, “Hell’s Angel”, featured some excellent performances, particularly from Misha Collins and yesyesyesyesyes Ruth Connell. That’s right, bitches, Rowena is back! And #Rowena trended last night, because we were so blissfully happy that the Queen Mother of Hell herself had returned. #MegaCoven forever. So let’s dive right in.
First, I’d like to address the fact that there was not enough Winchester in this episode. Not enough. While there were some classic moments – bargaining with Crowley, for instance, is an oldy but goody – what we did see of our boys was too short for my taste. Also, some of the dialogue was a little stiff, which is not what I’ve come to expect from Supernatural. It kinda felt like the episode wanted to be just about Castiel and Rowena, and that the Winchesters were almost shoe-horned in, because the show is actually about them. There have been other episodes which were not about them, I just rewatched “Bitten” the other night for example, and I felt like this could have been one. Just let it be about Castifer. We won’t mind.
And oh, speaking of Castifer, could he be any more enjoyable? This is by far the juiciest material Misha has had to work with in his history on the show. And He. Is. Nailing it. The first time we met Castifer, it was a little… eh… but as time has gone on, he has really “gotten it”. Last night was just the best. If you haven’t heard what Mark Pellegrino told him about the role, make sure you read it here. When Luci spoke with the angels in heaven, most of what I could think (when I wasn’t wondering where my Zorro mask had got to) was, “look at how NOT Cass he is! But also how not Mark, yet totally Lucifer! Misha, you’re killing it.” And the angels didn’t stand a chance against the original silver-tongued devil.
But let me quit fawning over Misha, and leave poor crippled Cass behind for now, so we can talk about Rowena. Show of hands, who thought, “another woman bites the dust, of course” when she died?
I’m going to digress for just a moment. Supernatural is a pretty violent show. Most everyone we come to love meets a violent and bloody end. Women AND men. And we do see most of them again. So, to be fair, everyone dies. But, I think we’ve all noticed, the men have far bigger roles when they are alive, and when they come back it is generally for longer, and more often. Some of the ladies are never heard from again, but you know that’s because they threaten our relationships with a Winchester. Still, it’s pretty lopsided. As Jim Michaels pointed out on twitter last night, Ruth has now been in more episodes of the show than anyone else, except the main players (including Jim Beaver). She is a main player now. She’s the only woman to come close to that feat.
And what a woman they chose. Not only is Ruth’s performance pitch perfect every time, Rowena is what Crowley could have been had he not become the frienemy. Honestly, I think we all know the “-nemy” in Crowley exited a long time ago. You still have to question his motives, but that’s just for show. Evidence the way he so willingly jumped into Cass instead of fleeing to save his own hide, as he would have three seasons ago. There is no “frie-” in Rowena. She is on Rowena’s side, 24/7. No question. And she plays it so well. I was happy to see someone not on Team Winchester again, and I hope our resurrected lady stays that way. Why did I think such a powerful witch could be killed so easily? Even when she was star-struck? Silly me.
Speaking of Team Winchester, I warmed up to The Darkness a bit last night. It happened when I realized Amara will never let anything happen to Dean. Just like The Mark, she will save him. And I have to love her a little for that. Just a little. Also, the look on Dean’s face when she was in the room broke my heart and made my night. And the way she looked back… well if there was ever any question, now we know she has to go, because she wants nothing more than to take him away from us. We can’t have that.
All in all, it was a juicy, plot-filled episode which was elevated by some really excellent performances. I eagerly await the return of our favorite drunk prophet, and wonder whether or not the writers will freely admit he’s God.