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Friday, June 10, 2011

Thoughts on Plot Directions, Retirement, and The Ice Cream Truck

Projects are tough to keep up on. In the initial start, I'll have plenty of momentum and easily find time to continue work on what I'm doing; when suddenly I'll hit a wall.

My 2009 WriMo is one of my most complex plots to write in only 30 days. Besides being a romantic comedy, it includes themes of acceptance/tolerance, self-discovery, and more, all wrapped around a homosexual relationship at the heart of the story. I'd written basically to the end, but hadn't quite typed up the ending due to my inability to decide on how it should conclude. So rather than do anything more to it, I printed the entire story out and marked it up with my red pen. While incomplete, it's been read through and edited.

Those edits haven't made it into the word document yet - or at least not past the second page - but that will all come in due time. The piece is 127 pages and over 100,000 words. There's a lot of text to weed through. Some sections need to be rewritten or slightly adjusted, while others could be removed. But now that I've finished all the editing, I've put the piece to rest for a time to still wrap my mind around the fact it's nearly done - sort of. And then something occurred to me about the plot and more importantly, the setting. It didn't work.

Well, most of it did. But one particular section - which is too many chapters to count - is an entirely new setting. And it was a location I was using that was made by a published author that two movies were based off of. I'm being vague, but the location is Genovia, created by Meg Cabot. There's no way I could use that location without her permission. So I had to make a change. A change that would most certainly cause me a lot of headache. However it's something I have to do since it's tough to know how her characters would react, let alone even asking for her blessing to use her characters and country.

So all the chapters that previous included Genovia, must be changed - and so do all the characters. This more or less requires an entire rewrite of those sections. And that scares me more than anything. To make such a bold change and see where that takes me is daunting. A story that I've poured blood, sweat, tears, and brain matter into - along with a few years work - is going to take it's toll on me. I've got to re-envision the characters, the setting and make adjustments where it's needed.

It's this kind of plot direction that I think the story needed, and the motivation I require to actually be productive again. I've received the gift of life back into my future published novel and have the drive to actually get it finished and prepared for the even more daunting task of submission. Yes, I'll probably laugh, cry, be angry and in general tear my hair out over this decision. But I know it will and is for the better.

It's a writer's life.


Two of my beloved teachers are retiring this year. First, is my first and second grade teacher, Mrs. Oishi. She's the one that got me into The Boxcar Children, and encouraged my voracious love for reading. Not to mention, the teacher that gave me the option to skip a grade and feel more challenged in my classes (although my mom didn't accept). But she really was a big forerunner in my life that wanted to make sure students were challenged and enjoyed everything in the carefree days of elementary school. I'm glad to hear she's retiring and am super happy for her. I haven't seen her in years, so I'm going to go visit her tomorrow and wish her well. And perhaps plan to grab dinner with her sometime over the summer.

But my other teacher retiring is my Japanese sensei, Mr. Hesselgrave. He's one of the many reasons I want to so desperately be a teacher. And most particularly, for Japanese at my old school. Although teaching jobs are scarce, and certainly don't pay what they deserve, I want to be able to be as inspiring to future students as plenty of my teachers were for me. It'll be a tough road, but it's where I feel the need to be.

I wish them both a happy retirement now that they've both had fantastic teaching careers.


The ice cream truck stopped coming to our neighborhood for an entire summer one year. It wasn't just because no one wanted our route, or that there was a shortage. In fact, the reason is entirely ridiculous and I was a third to blame.

At the start of the summer, probably a few days after school ended, some of the neighborhood kids and I were playing baseball in the street. Hearing the happy tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down" echo through the neighborhood sent us all scrambling for cash to get a RocketPop, or perhaps some other "expensive" novelty ice cream. However as we all reached the curb so he'd stop, the guy continued on as if we weren't there waving money and waiting. Within moments he was around the corner and onto the next street. Being the devastated gaggle, we decided it was time to get even and make sure he'd stop next time.

So the next day we dug a hole, and made some mud. Some hours later, we hid in the bushes the instant we heard the faint tinkling of his truck. As he drove past, BAM, his truck was nailed with a wall of mudballs. A few managed to hit him. Boy did that get him to stop. Within moments of getting struck, he slammed on his breaks and looked for the assailants. Two of my friends sprinted down the path and back to the driveway where I stood. He chased them down in his truck. The instant we were in the garage, we hit the button to close the door and watched as he pulled into the driveway just as the last foot of the garage door slid shut.

He didn't come back the entire summer, much to our chagrin. But I'm sure he learned his lesson. Or warned other drivers, since we got a new ice cream man the following year.

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