Archive | December, 2009

Moving Out Of My Comfort Zone

I have never held a gun. Water pistol? Yes. A very heavy and seemingly life-like prop gun? Check. I even played laser tag once in high school, but the stone cold truth is that I have never dealt with a real weapon. I don’t know how to shoot one, and probably more importantly, I don’t know how to handle one respectfully.

For those of you who don’t know me, I was raised by hippie parents in Northern California. I had steak for the first time at the age of 18. I recycle used CD’s. Guns are scary to me.

I thought I could get through life maintaining my blissful ignorance of firearms, but the fact is that Talula Jones knows how to handle a gun, so I need to know.

Where to start? I googled “gun shop” with my zip code and found about eight places within a fifty mile radius of my home where I can either buy or shoot a gun. At some point I will need to actually fire one off, but for now I just want to hold one, unloaded, and ask a lot of stupid questions.

The current front-runner is a place called “Gun World” in Burbank. It sounds like exactly the kind of place I need, with a lot of selection, and (lets hope) knowledgeable staff.

They are open 11-7, which makes me think that their clientele shops mostly during lunch/after work. I’m going to try to be there around 3. The plan is to catch them at a slow period, so that my many questions will come off as naively charming, and not obnoxiously time-consuming (in case I haven’t been clear, I have no intention of actually purchasing a gun).

The goal is to figure out what kind of weapon Talula keeps on the farm, and the basic functionality and etiquette of said gun. If anyone out there has any words of wisdom as I head out into the terrifying world of guns and amo, don’t hold back.

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Ode To My Husband

Last night I was in the shower and my husband, who knows I’m working on making my protagonist more three dimensional, asked me what the hardest, most life altering moments in my life have been. This might not be average getting-ready-for-bed discussion in your household, but I didn’t think twice about it. We quiz each other like this all the time, just for fun (and material).

Daniel is, in his own chosen medium of film, a brilliant story teller. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve learned about 70% of what I know about story telling from working (and playing) with him. Another 20% was genetic, and the final 10% I’m getting in graduate school.

So I thought about it for a second, while I lathered and rinsed, and then I told him the top five moments in my life that hurt the most as they changed me, as a bulleted list. Then he said “you should give one of those moments to Lu,” leaned into the shower for a kiss, and went to bed.

Standing in the warm cocoon of my shower, I dismissed him as crazy. I am not Lu. Our lives are very different. It seemed there was no way to lift one of my life-changing moments and place it in the reality of this story, but then something clicked. One of the events that I had listed stood out, practically waving its arms at me.

It was a time in my life when I took care of someone else in a way that was very hard for me. I remember feeling responsible for their pain, and helpless to do anything to cure it.

If you’re reading this and wondering if maybe you were the one I had to take care of, then you see the brilliance of Daniel’s idea. This is something we can all imagine. I can give Talula that feeling of responsibility, and the growth that comes with it. It’s the feeling that is universal, not the actual event.

I hopped out of the shower and ran for my journal. Did I mention what an amazing husband I have?

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The Little Things

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about character. In fact, I am thinking about Ms. Talula almost all the time.

I feel like I am starting to get a handle on who she is, and what she wants, but I’m still missing the little things. Small details of her personality like how she answers the phone, what kind of music she enjoys, whether or not she paints her finger nails.

I think it was Aristotle who said there is no character, only action. Actions, gathered together over time, make a person who they are. Furthermore, characters reacting as only they can to a given situation is what gives rise to story.

Nail biters will chew until the day they die and bad drivers will always roll through stop signs. In real life people rarely change, but in fiction they do, and it’s satisfying. This is why we read books and watch movies.

And what is that change but an incorporation or cessation of all the tiny quirks that make up a person? It’s the little things that make a character real, make us love them and cheer for them as they are forced through the difficult process of change. So Talula must start doing some things, and stop doing others over the course of my story. I’m not worried yet about the changes, just the starting point. Decisions need to be made.

So you heard it here first: Talula Jones says “yel-low” when she answers the phone, listens to old country music like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash (mostly because it’s what her grandparents had laying around), and she doesn’t paint her nails.

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