I’ve some asks about the sex – why so explicit? I guess at this stage of my life I don’t care if queer sex makes people uncomfortable. I’m also always disappointed in lgbtqia writing in which they kiss, maybe fumble with some buttons – then they wake up in the morning with no acknowledgement of the actual sexual interaction.
In this story I also played with voyeurism but sort of lost that thread as things progressed – perhaps Dan’s life got too busy to for that diversion, or perhaps it was a sign of his dissatisfaction with Sanjay? The light ‘Sir’ role play with Peter was interesting to work with but I chose not to push in deeper in b&d.
I also had fun with the Lifend products. I did no research beyond owning a camera. Who wouldn’t love a travel mug & cameras with all the abilities that Dan’s had – again another thread that sort of lost. In next draft I may get rid of the devices that I invented but which Dan never used. I had to resist using them as life-savers for Dan as well. He needed to be more active in his adventures.
Other threads that got sort of lost: Whatever became of those little boxes Dan found in his old bedroom? Maybe, in the next book they’ll show up. Then there was that collection of old photos & albums from the rummage sale — another thread that got lost.
I left lots of ‘seeds’ for the next Dan James adventure – his Dad’s porn career, the tourist photo serial killer, the fate of the Depot, marriage to Jeremy? I wanted to develop something around the effect of coming out on Jeremy’s career as a sports icon. Dan’s charming sister is another plot thread. Why did Dan’s Dad move so abruptly to Toronto? Was there more to it than the disappearing children? So there is more than a few plots to focus on for the next in the series: Daniel James & the Pixels of Peril (just kidding – I have no title for the next one.)
When I started the edit of Picture perfect in January 2020 (https://topoet.ca/2020/01/07/picture-perfect-1/)I didn’t realize it would take over two years to get this second draft blogged. Edits usually make things shorter but this one, even with some major cuts, expanded & introduced elements that weren’t in the original draft. so 150,000 words become 188,000 words by the time I wrote -the end-
Even with that extensive rough draft I found myself getting a lost at times. Notes of names & events weren’t enough to keep names spelt consistently or the sequence of events in the right order. Some of the cuts resulted in having to revise some scenes to add or remove information so there was fair bit of re-writing. I know I have to fix names for the third draft.
Naming was important with so many characters so that the name itself would help readers remember them. For some of the internationals I checked out soccer or rugby teams for fun names. I changed the spelling of one character from Cyrtys to Curtis to spare my readers’ eyes. Some I dipped into my past – Moxham comes from my growing up in Sydney. Moxham Castle was local landmark.
New scenes presented themselves as I worked through the 2nd half of the book. I wasn’t fully clear on who the culprit was until Nova Convergence became an actual place – even then I had to simplify so it didn’t feel like a Poirot reveal. Who the saboteur wasn’t fully clear to me either. Once I got to the opening of the circus museum I started to create more & more new material to fill in holes I’d left in the first draft.
All of the ‘how to’ staging of the interviews is based solely on what I’ve seen on reality TV & not from any research into how it is actually done. The same is true for Dan’s legal entanglements with his sister Linda & the separation of their two business. I night consult a lawyer for draft 3 but no one has read it has written to tell me how off-base I might be. The same is true for the damage to Dan’s vision.
The first draft had one climax scene – a knock down fight in the circus museum ride park during a thunderstorm in which Janis is revealed to be the murderer & also, with Troy’s help, the saboteur. But as I started the edit I realized I wanted that snake attack scene in the Convergence. Peter’s death was in the cards when was he first introduced. For time I was going to repurpose that circus face-off to reveal John as the saboteur but I couldn’t find a reason to get Dan back there after the Cold east shoot was done. I added fuel to John’s resentment with the invented Gordon Sinclair award (which I loved naming). It also gave readers a lull before ‘solving’ the saboteur plot with that fist fight in Dan’s house.
As I made cuts, as the plot developed & slightly changed directions I realize I started some threads that really got dropped – i.e. Linda’s marriage to Ushio’s brother was to be developed more but got lost. Dan’s encounters with Larry Clarke & the Moose Trail; Stan Ferguson of the Whitney Pier museum were greatly edited down. Two characters introduced to show there was a gay world on the east coast but then discarded.
I loved creating the weekly graphic for each section. Many of the painting were found on the Craven Rd fence. I also kept my eye open for art discarded & a few were actually part of some porch decor. When doing the edits the first thing I work don was the graphic. There was no attempted to co-ordinate the picture with the contents of the section.
There’ll be at least one more post about Picture Perfect as I’ve been asked about the sex scenes, the fight scenes & what might be coming next for Dan James.
Met up with Lizzie Violet, an actual f2f visit, with someone outside of my bubble for the time since the initial pandemic lockdown. I haven’t spent time with Lizzie since the unexpected demise of her Cabaret Noir a few years ago. We’ve had a few coffee dates with a group of writers but this was a one-on-one without distractions. The day proved to be hot, for me, to sit on a shady patio, so we enjoyed the a/c cool of my dining-room for a couple of hours. (http://lizzieviolet.com)
She writing a novel set during the 30’s set in Toronto & one of the characters is from the east coast. I was a natural resource seeing as my novel, Coal Dusters, is set near that time – there was little change in Cape Breton due to the depression after its own disastrous labour struggles with the coal/steel industries. They were already a hard-scrabble people making the most of what resources they had. But I digress, slightly.
I do get to talk ‘writing’ with one of my Loyalist crew every month or so but was great to do so with with an almost new face 🙂 I also got to share some of the books I picked up in my Cape Breton research & some of the things I discovered for other sources – things like the black miners imported from the Caribbean with promises of company houses etc only to arrive totally unprepared in the middle of a blizzard with no real place to live. There’s a book that needs to be written.
I also shared how I read novels written in the 20s/30s to get sense of the language used, I also read some boys adventures written at that time too. In Dusters I wanted my characters talk like 20’s people not like the over-articulate people of today. In rewatching the The Tudors recently I was dismayed at the over use of the word fuck – I know it existed at the time – but as a word of mocking not vulgarity.
Hopefully there’ll be opportunity to reconnect f2f with more of my writing/poetry community before the the lockdown rolls back to protect us from people who feel their personal rights supersede their responsibility to others.
The rough drafts of Picture Perfect were written as a part of NaNoWriMo over a three year span – 2015-16-17. So far I’ve edited & posted 2015 & 2016. I’m about to start in of the 2017 drafts & have been reading though the nearly 75,000 words I wrote to bring the seemingly endless story to a big finish.
I’m making sure I have the sequence correct, that I haven’t missed any of the major scenes & to get an idea of what will be cut – trust me lots will get cut. At least one whole distracting subplot with get chopped. I also found that one big confrontation isn’t there! Oh my, but that can fall into place when I get to where I know it needs to be.
So I’m taking a brief pause to sort though this last set of scenes, notes & loose ends. Be assured a couple of those loose ends will not be tied up – but you will know what happened to the missing children – unless I get a better getter idea by the time I get to that revelation.
My Tumblr is at 326 followers – the latest being a cryptocurrency trader (we have so much in common 🙂 ). Twitter is at 226 followers.
Picture Perfect: 69 sections, about 100,000 words posted so far with approx 85,000 to be edited & then posted.
The rollercoaster of the Ontario lockdown measures continued its ups & downs almost in keeping with the weather’s ups & downs. Hot one day, frost the next night. As usual Toronto jumped into summer with a week of hot dry weather which has been great for my garden which exploded within a week.
Apparently travel restrictions (for those who feel such restrictions apply to them) will result in travel money going into gardens & home improvements. Waking up at your office because you are working at home has made many tired of seeing the same furniture 24 hours a day. I’ve seen a bounty of desks, sofas, dining room tables dragged to the curb.
Rewatched our dvd of Fellini’s Amacord which I enjoy more & more with each watching. It captures a sense of nostalgia that transcends time & place. The cinematography is stunning – the floating puffballs, the snow, the amazing moment when the peacock lands during the snow to open its tail. The music is delightful, the performances are on point.
In one of the extras someone says that the movie may not be a historically correct memory but it is a true one. The past is always a selective reconstruction. The Crown, as excellent as it is, doesn’t hesitate for a good story. I was surprised to find out that, in fact, Princess Margaret never met LBJ on her USA jaunt. I love the show but don’t mistake it for factual.
Inputs from hard copies of old poetry & short stories nearly finished. Found a paper folder full of old scripts to input next. At times it feels endless but also reflects that I wrote constantly for many, many years. I did have many of these backed up on disks but none of those disks are readable any more 🙂 I did try a few years back, before tossing them all, & found that even if I could up load the word processing programs couldn’t be read to even translated, as it were.
I’ve been posting the stories on Thursdays along with talk about my music collection. Some of the poetry will be blogged over the summer on Wednesdays with my comments & memories of writing them. All are from between 1972-77. Wallowing in the past? Not me.
The 227 Rules for Monks is an exhaustive list that is often variations on the same idea – things like – not to touch touch your nose as you sit down, followed by, not to touch your chin as you sit down. As a result of what they lead to for me are variations on a theme as well, some some of these pieces are so like that – I wonder as I edit – ‘didn’t I edit this one two months ago’ & check back to find it – no I didn’t. Like peeling of layers with each version to find out what hides underneath.
On one level it deals with sexual civility, on another is it about the cunning nature of co-dependency – the way people get stuck in relationships, situations that aren’t working simple so they don’t hurt someone’s feelings. The Canadian border remained a covid sieve because out government was unwilling to offend other countries by staying – stay out. Looks here that got us. But that’s a rant for another post.
The short of list excuses are ones I’ve actually used to decline meeting up with someone – not just sex dates but often I just want to feed my addiction to isolation 🙂 Thanks to covid I have been telling some guys that I’m not opening my social bubble period. One was rather insistent about the possibility of sex with masks but I said no. Masks are okay for walking around, shopping but don’t handle gasping, deep breathing very well.
He mocked me for being paranoid & unrealistic about the level of threat. Wrong tactics for sure. I said ‘I’ve seen the #s go up & I’m not going down.’ I was afraid the next thing he’d be telling me condoms are part of a homophobic conspiracy. Did he take it personally? Maybe. Did I care – no.
The smaller the font the faster your eyes will tire & the faster you’ll fall asleep, even if you don’t want to fall asleep. This is one of my Kindle lessons after dozing off & reading the same passage three times before I realized I was dozing off & reading the same passage again (did you just nod off reading this 🙂 )
I’ve found that over the years my attention span for certain things has changed. An hour of TV, at one time, is more than enough passive participation for me – I can manage that hour a few times scattered through the day. Sit down for longer than that to watch something & I’m up after first half-hour for a snack 🙂 Seeing theatric productions can be torture – trapped in the dark & I can’t even check my cell phone! Yikes.
Even household tasks are broken down into ‘bites.’ I could have cleared out my basement in three days of work – a few hours in the morning, another couple after a lunch break. But I opted to do it over a month or so, of a little over an hour sessions, a couple of mornings a week. Make that 90 minutes to include getting the vacuum out, etc. I did it piecemeal & got it done. I can’t imagine going to a day job, wether in an office or working at home, for six or seven hours at a stretch.
When working on editing, or writing new material I find a focused hour, twice a day is all I can manage for the physical part, the mind never takes a break. Movies get watched in 50 minute bites. The only time I see a film from start to finish is with my Saturday movie guy – recently we’ve been watching the Tudors – two episodes at a time.
The one thing I do for the longest stretch of uninterrupted time is sleep 🙂
So I’m editing this old short story, from the mid 80’s, so I can air it here on the blog & I get distracted by this show of force in the US capital. Do I want to see what they do or do I want to correctly punctuate a sentence? As they climb over barricades & breaking windows I’m breaking down paragraphs. Are they protestors or terrorists. A rampage of white entitlement that eventually fizzles out. No one even shit on the podium. Death by stress & no change in the results, the forgone conclusions.
In my story there is a change in names, a clarification of motivations but the same result. The story results as comedic as the clumsy crowd of echos lurching up & down the Capital building stairs, bumping into each other as they attempt to get the perfect backgrounds for selfies of their righteous bravery. Everyone seems disappointed at the lack of blood on the floor, that there isn’t any burning buildings for truly dramatic context to tweet.
Already that narrative is being rewritten so that every side is at fault as they insist they are upholding the fine principles of democracy, capitalism & freedom of selfie speech. My characters don’t have that much freedom, even as I change their size & shape they tell me what they should do in the situation I created for them. I allow them to be frail, vacillating & only threats to themselves. As much as they are under my control I end up surrendering them to spellcheck & word count – or should I say word re-count. Even when the story is finished it is not certifiable 🙂 but part 1 was posted here with my music blog on Thursday. https://topoet.ca/2021/01/06/jonesing-for-joplin/
Over the month my TOpoet.ca blog following grew to 410! The December WP map show my hits have come from around the world. That the USA tops the list is a sign of election fatigue :-). Bangladesh (একটি উষ্ণ স্বাগত) & Italy (Un caldo benvenuto) are now in the top 10! My Tumblr is at 294. Twitter is at 229 followers.
Picture Perfect: 43 sections, about 66,000 words posted so far with 120,000 approx remaining to be edited then posted. I got a little tripped up in sequence & had to double back, as it were, to get the flow back in order. My rough drafts aren’t all done in chronological sequence so when I started this draft I put the individual drafts in order but messed up a bit. Such is life.
TV viewing: Brave New World & War of the Worlds both came to an end. Brave certainly had the look with, for the men, smart costume design – I could believe those futurist business suits & overcoats; but the women suffered from standard illogical, uncomfortable, super-tight dreck. The plot was a bit of a mess & it’s too bad they based it so loosely on its source material. Final episode was clearly open for a season two (which isn’t going to happen.)
At least the Brave wasn’t saddled with the trite backstory family-turmoil that War of the Worlds drowned in. Again very loosely based on the source material but I am enjoying the diversity of the cast, the diversity of locations. Apparently it has been renewed for a second season which I’ll probably keep an eye out for, despite the disappointing reveal in the last minutes.
Watched an amazing movie: Madeinusa – Spanish, set in Peru. A stranger is stranded in a small mountain village in the midst of one of their religious festivals. The festival reflects the Latino mash up of their ancient beliefs & Catholicism & is stunning. The ritual cutting of the neckties took my breath away. Exceptional & worth searching out.
November was relatively uneventful. Lockdown reduced my outside social distancing even more. The only ripple was an unexpected flare of psoriases – of which I have no previous experience. One morning a trip to emerg to get a rash looked at- they told me what it wasn’t but did know what it was. Referral to dermatology clinic that I went to the next day. The Dr. there took one look & knew what it was. Whew, I guess. It appears as spots not flakes. Anyone want to rub lotion on my back?
The line of dialogue in this piece is verbatim. I was a coffee shop waiting for a friend to arrive. A dad dad said this to his child. No anger but forceful enough to the boy to stop for a few minutes. When Dad went to get their order the gnawing started again. The set up is real & I started writing this piece while waiting.
It quickly become a list poem as wonder what I wonder about paper, poison & the like.The book belongs to the cafe as they frequently have families drop by so I also wondered about how sanitary it was but I’m not in charge & am very cautious about infringing on people’s privacy. Watching brought back a memory of myself at about the same age wondering why a picture of a piece of cake didn’t taste like a piece of cake. My mother thought that was hilarious.
Then I wander off into speculation – turning the moment into a meditation on childhood’s imprinted memory. Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past starts with a smell from his childhood that triggers the endless book. I have a few smells like that, though I don’t have specific moments conjured by them – the smell of baby powder is one, the smell of Evening In Paris is another.
The piece becomes a bit more philosophical about aging – books aren’t for eating though ironically we are encouraged to feed our minds with information🙂 The hunger for learning may never leave us but, hopefully, one realizes that the search for information can turn into an avoidance of action. There comes a time when one has to leave the expansive yet closed world of books & take part in the world.
The piece pretty much wrote itself once I got started. It didn’t need much editing either. I have performed it a few times & it reads well. I love the innocence of it – no angst to grind, no politic or sexuality – just a sweet moment.
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet