Tag Archives: Stephen Canning

A chat with my hero, on the subject of being stuck

Stephen, I need your help.

Stephen, are you there?

Oh, so I am to be at your beck and call, am I?

No.  It’s more that I’m at yours.  But I need your help.  Really, truly.

You cannot need my help that badly, if you can stop to play a game of solitaire in the middle of asking me.

Solitaire is an avoidance mechanism.  You know that.

What are you avoiding, pray tell?

You really do want to know?  That’s- that’s great.  I need you to get me  I need to get out of my head.

You need me to get you “out of your head.”  I see the strikethroughs, dear.  What makes you think I am capable of doing that?  I am not much of anything except a burden.

Is that how you feel?  Honestly?

I am sick.  I am basically helpless as you have written me.

You won’t be by the end of the book.  I promise you.

Right now I am quite positive you could not write me out of a paper bag.

I know.  That’s why I need your help.

You wish me to do your job?

My job is to take the dictation.  Your job is to talk.

Well, and so.  I had not thought of it that way before.  Then shall we get started?

On being bullied.

If you’re here to read about horrible experiences of being bullied, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place.  I’m not here to talk about that – I was one of the lucky kids who actually had the adults stand on my side when bullies attacked me.  So I’m not really in a position to speak for those of you who did not have Real Grown-Ups ™ to depend on in the clinch, instead of the fake kind who either don’t know how to (in which case how did they get hired for a job they’re so eminently unqualified for?) or refuse to (in which case why haven’t they been fired?) do the right thing.  All I can do along those lines is be sorry.

No, I’m here to talk about being bullied by a fictional character.  How is that possible, you say?  I suppose I could quote F. Scott Fitzgerald here, but he’s not exactly what you’d call a sane source.  “Writers aren’t exactly people.  They’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.”  Sometimes those “whole lot of people” get a bit out of hand in the writer’s brain.  Sometimes they don’t make a whole lot of sense.

Sometimes they want to go off on their own treks for their own reasons, and refuse to explain why until seven chapters later the writer realizes she’s either brilliant or she’s written herself into a hole from which she’ll never escape.  And you never know which until he’s done it.  Again.

No, those characters aren’t real.  And yes, planning and outlining ahead of time can be an excellent idea.  And, yes, I can hear all those rational writers out there saying, she’s not a real author because she treats this as an adventure she goes on rather than as a job she performs.  A self-published author at that.  Not a professional author at all, although if people are buying what I write isn’t that the definition of professional?  And they are.  A few of them, anyway.

And that’s a subject for a post I will never write.

Where was I?  Ah.  Being bullied by a fictional character who refuses to tell me What Happens Next ™.  Well, I have my methods, too, thankyouverymuch.  I have thumbscrews and the rack and all sorts of metaphorical torture devices.

And you know what the worst one is?

It’s refusing to write that character’s story.  So there.

I can move on to the next story, and the next character, one who’ll be grateful I listen to him and find his adventures entertaining enough to write down.  The recalcitrant fellow can’t find another author.  So he’d better sit down and start talking.  Now.

Later.  Well, and so.  The New Thing now has a title, among other things.  Zoetrope.  If you don’t know what a zoetrope is, here’s the Wikipedia article.  And Stephen is talking again.  He’s not the only one who can be a bully.

And the New Thing begins

So.  As you know, I finished the manuscript for Much Ado in Montana last week.  I’ve still got my new! beta reader’s comments to go through and my excellent copy editor’s comments to receive and go through, but the new! cover designer has finished the front cover, which looks terrific (I’ll show it to you as soon as I can), and is waiting patiently for me to quit dithering over the blurb and send it and a few other details to her so she can create the spine and the back cover.  Making progress, and aiming for a print and electronic pubdate of the first of April.

And yesterday I started the New Thing!  Only 100+ words yesterday, and a lot of “who the heck are you and why did you choose me to tell your story” blithering.  But over 1000 words today.  No, I don’t know why young Stephen Thomas Canning, lately of Savannah, Georgia, who decided to travel West in search of a better climate to help cure his consumption in the spring of 1885, chose me to take his dictation, but I’m not arguing.  I rather like the guy so far.

I love starting a new story.  It’s fun.

Can’t say I’m enjoying researching the history of tuberculosis treatment in the 19th century, though.  Oh, well.  It’s no worse than killing someone off via gangrene from a gunshot wound was in Repeating HistoryThen again, not much would be.