Thursday, December 26, 2013

Proprietry, Acculturation, comic books, prayer, writing, denominationalism

So there I was working on "My life as an onion" (my current WIP) and suddenly three new plot points appeared. Actually, they weren't new, but they had been there all along, hidden in plain sight....ramifications of the theme and charaterizations of the plot. Suddenly, after all these years, the idea of propriety pops up...that is: how does one train a poor Jamaican girl to become the wife of a Korean chaebol prince?

Generally, I don't care much for propriety. Propriety is needed sometimes of course. One can't talk to the boss (or one's husband's boss) in any kinda way. One certainly cannot talk to God in any kind of way. Although we Christians can start a prayer by saying, "Oh, great Creator" or "Judge of the earth" or "Oh great king" the fact remains that the rules we were given is that we must begin our address to  Him as OUR FATHER. It shows our sense of community with all humans, and it shows our understanding of God's love for us. This is the highest honor. In addition, although this rule is fairly flexible and one can't always use it (especially if one is in a pinch or being mugged by some thug) we are SUPPOSED to enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. So, yeah, propriety.

There is also the whole acculturation to the kingdom thing. Different cultures have different rules, different kinds of foods, different kinds of dialects, jargon, and accents. Christians eat different spiritual food than non-Christians. We follow the laws of the kingdom (The Beatitudes.) We have denominations based on human cultures and human priorities/preoccupations. Roman Catholicism has the whole roman empire thing happening at one extreme while Quakers --especially modern Quakers in some urban areas-- have gone almost New-Agey. That's why in all my fantasy stories people of the same general religion always have different ways of dealing with their religion. In Wind Follower, everyone approached their religion out of their own hearts (for good or bad, the theological idea of "scruples" apply) and the three different longhouses showed three different ways of dealing with the main Doreni religion. Plus there were cultural influences that affected the stories....and cross-religious pollination. Which is pretty much what happens in the real world. Islam has gotten even more affected by western Christianity. Nowadays, I've even hears my moslem friend say stuff like "God is our Father" and "God loves us" which would never have been said ages ago and which is still pretty much frowned on by Middle Eastern Moslems.

Acculturation happens outside of art as well...or at least it happens in how the art encounters the world. Back in the day when hubby worked at DC, he worked with Mark Verheiden on a comic book called The Phantom. Mark has gone on to other things -- executive producer of the updated Battlestar Gallactica, producer of Falling Skies, movies such as Timecop, etc. But I doubt he would ever write a Phantom movie. And why not? you ask. Because while comic book culture can accept a white guy running around the African jungle saving the black natives (and terrifying then in his purply-black leotard) Hollywood is not so racially-blind as to dare do something that ridiculous. So in this thing, comic book folks have a different culture. Comic book folks are by no means racist, but you know.... some cultures accept certain things.

Oh where was I? (Kinda got off on a tangent there)

Suddenly I get to this plot point which had been there all along in my Cinderella story. My focus all these years has been on how to change/save the hero and bring him into the (best of) the (truest part of the) Christian culture...and suddenly SUDDENLY rising to balance the plot, and countering my original theme: heroine also has to change -- she has to learn how to cook Korean meals which is all fine and good but she also has to learn how to be a rich wife or at the very least (if hero doesn't marry her) she has to learn how to be the girlfriend of a rich chaebol (spoiled) prince. Interesting turn of events, no? Let's see how this turns out.

Happy creativity, all!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Self versus the Story

Aish! Am understanding more about the freedom that comes (to me) from writing epic fantasy. In epic fantasy, I can avoid specifics about my life which are rooted in circumstances, contemporary life, etc. Not so contemporary fiction.

So here I am, writing My Life as an Onion, which is a kind of wish-fulfillment novel. That means it's a bit of a romance with some of my issues but which has a good HEA conflict. Unfortunately, I've been messing up the story with too much of my grudges, grievances, hurts, etc.

Being a writer is a good thing, especially if you're a repressed Christian who never defended yourself although you had a really good comeback to a nasty comment because we didn't want to be "full of self" and we wanted to be nobly silently-forgiving. Incidentally, I've begun to realize how not speaking up for ourselves just leaves us emotionally-wounded and bitter. Whereas speaking our heart in the moment leaves us feeling safer. Anyway, while I've never been really good at defending myself the instance I'm being insulted, I kinda got way good at on-the-spot defending the Bible and the oppressed.

But the thing is: here is a good story and I keep messing up the plot by inserting my petty grievances. The plot (which is about a story just telling itself and finding itself while the writer just kinda listens) is battling my memories and my unsaid-but-dying-to-be-aired grievances. Aargh!

So, what's going on? Is this a lack of faith in self-justification going on here? Won't God justify me one day? Why do I need to do it?

In The Constant Tower, I let the story tell itself. I had no agenda. I basically just narrated whatever floated up to my fingers. I wrote, nypassing my brain. I didn't plot or outline. That's how I tend to write most of my stories. The result of all that was that Constant Tower had all my issues without having any agenda. The story has heavy issues of marriage, feminism, parental cruelty, racism, eugenics, religion, imperialism, entitlement, disability...but there are no parallels of events n my life. Is this because I didn't have any contemporary hook to hang my grievances on?

Moving back to Onion....aaaaaaaaaaaargh! What I have --sadly-- done is list all the above issues WITH/ASIDE all the real-life incidents that caused them. Not good all that clutter and regurgitation. Gotta let it go...gotta let all bitterness and the need to "have my say" go. Aaargh! so stressful.

Gotta find the story, gotta find the story, gotta keep battling self throughout as it keeps rearing its head. Even when i think I've finally removed every inch of self-justification the next thing I've written a new scene filled with self and memories. This is a problem. Cause I'm thinking of writing contemporary novels from now on...instead of epic fantasies but it's beginning to look as if my fantasies are purer stories and fall from the sky more clearly than my contemporary stories. Quite the problem to ponder now.... will see.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Goal for 2014

As most of you all know, I'm a Korean drama addict. (I watch Japanese dramas sometimes and rarely Taiwanese and Chinese dramas.) But a comment from Julia on dramabeans

Julia the Berkshire Beanie 
I tried to find English subbed versions of Asi, but was disappointed.
Ever since I read about the London writer who read a book from every country in the world, I’ve been wanting to expand my own viewing to include more country’s dramas. Turkey is one I haven’t seen anything from.
Ethan Zuckerman did a TED talk about how we have the internet now, but that doesn’t mean we challenge ourselves to seek out exposure to new cultures and ideas. We tend to stay in our safety zones. KDramas opened my eyes so much to a world I didn’t know existed, and I just wonder what else is out there that I have never stumbled upon.
So yeah to all of us who have learned more about other parts of the world by watching dramas. Plus learned by meeting other posters here at Dramabeans. And of course thanks to javabeans, headsno2, gummimochi, and girlfriday for giving us this special place to chat with folks around the world.

has stirred my global spirit!

So I'm going to try to watch more dramas from other countries. Over-acting be damned, I shall venture forth.

The suggestions I'm considering so far are from a poster called Turkish Rose; and these are Turkish dramas:

Fatma gulun sucu ne (what is fatma’s sin) --  about a poor girl who was raped by four rich guys and how society and justice treated her after the incident.

ASI – (the most beautiful love story I’ve ever seen)

Ezel – the best retelling of the story “the count of Monte cresto” ever filmed, won so many awards, the acting and storyline were superb.

Adini Feriha koydum – the story of a poor girl who lied about her status in society in order to fit in, but her lies get the better of her when the wealthiest guy falls in love with her, and seeks revenge once he finds out the truth.

Calikusu (the falling bird) currently airing right now, based on a book about the diary of a Turkish orphan girl.

ASI is subbed on youtube so I may dive in.

Friday, December 06, 2013

The communally-agreed-upon ending

I have just endured yet another drama where the writer seemed to think he/she was wiser/hipper than the viewer and the viewer simply had to take what the writer wanted to give. Some of these k-drama endings lately seem almost to be thumbing their noses at the audience…and at the “old-fashioned” idea of a communally-agreed-upon ending. I find these endings very disrepectful and arrogant.

Okay, I understand a writer possibly planting hints all along as to what the ending is. And I understand the open-ending where there is a hint of Happy-Ever-After even if the story isn't finished. And I understand an up-in-the air static kinda ending.

What I do not like are endings where we the audience must choose the ending they would like. It feels like either the writer is lacking in moral courage and refuses to affirm her own choice for the ending because she doesn't want to alienate one part of her audience. Or that th writer herself didn't know how the story should end. 

I understand that something strange often happens when one writes a love triangle. I can attest to it as a writer. You see the virtue of both lovers and you, the writer, become somehow conflicted. This is often what makes the rivalry so believable, because while one is writing a chapter with the OTP, you totally feel that they are perfect for each other. Then when writing the chapters where the second lead and the heroine interact, you totally feel that THEY are perfect for each other. The reader/audience picks up on that and are as conflicted as you are. This is what I think happened to the writer of this particular drama I'm ranting about. She stuck to her guns by making her heroine "love" the fated hero. But at the same time she undermined the heroine’s love for the hero, sabotaging the written OTP. In addition, while there were moments when she should have begun turning the second lead’s heart toward the second lead female (after the second lead guy finally saw that perhaps he would never be loved), the writer did those moments half-heartedly..and she never allowed herself to give up on the second lead’s love for the heroine (no matter what the heroine did) because she/the writer did not want to cut the second lead loose and deprive the heroine of his love. This is something that happens with writers all the time. 

As a writer, I know this situation: the writer really likes both guys for her main character. But after a while, you have to man up; and if you still want to be piggy and to let the heroine keep the love of the two rivals, you kill off the girl’s rival so the second lead character can’t rebound to her. There are ways to do these things but this writer’s choice….is the least respectable way.

But what bothers me about this kind of open-ended pick-the-scenario-you-want endings is -- while it allows all kind of internet bantering about what the real ending was-- it deprives the viewer of a communally-agreed upon ending. And it shows cowardice.

We buy a book or watch a story because for a little moment in time we want to hear someone else’s philosophy of life (dressed up in story form.) When a writer is confused about her plot or is lacking the moral courage to finish up with her theme, it is like listening to a philosophy or religious or spiritual lecture by a writer without hearing the writer's conclusion or resolution/resolve. Hell, if I disagreed with the ending, that would be better than enduring a writer who is unwilling to speak her conclusion about the subject she wrote upon...a subject which, I have to say, took away 16 hour of my life that I will never get back. What is storytelling except honestly telling your conclusion on some subject?

Thursday, December 05, 2013

On Endurance and "praying without ceasing"

Every once in a while I find my deepest self again. It's a kind of stalwart mlancholy that is quite distinct from the depression I've been enduring because of my illness and my son's illness. The melancholy is mixed with wanderlust, a desire for anarchy and the breakdown of the world systems, and a hatred for the suffering that is part of life.

So I'm writing a YA novel called "My Life as an Onion" I've been writing it for ages because I want it to say what I've always wanted to say in a a direct non-fantastical way: that life is a hard thing.

But Onion has always walked on a kind of sharp spiritual edge. The tone -- and the feelings of recollection and loss-- in the first-person narration urges me to be sad. Not only sad but nihilistic. For lack of an Anglo-American word, it contains "han." The Asian --primarily Korean-- concept of separation/loss

I'm listening to Korean OSTs right now. I know the meanings of the lyrics but the tunes have that sense of Han. There is something wonderful about listening to a sad song in another language -- because one doesn't know the words, one can pour all one's griefs and unspoken  deepest fears, sorrows, and loss into the song.

Check out this one: Isn't it haunting? Loss is written all over the tune. And this one: IF you listening without knowing the words, wow....grief, loss, sorrow.

But I digress.

This post is about: Praying without ceasing.
St Paul tells us to do this and in the past some extreme folks thought it meant never stop praying for a single moment. Others thought it meant to make it a habit to cultivate habitual daily prayer in a general sense. But I'm thinking it might mean never cease praying for what you want. Never give up on God.

Maybe it's just spiritual integrity, like people who must protest even though they feel nothing will come out of it. But maybe it's like Jesus' command: "Ask, keep on asking; seek, keep on seeking; knock, keep on knocking.

But why pray? At age 54 --yep, today is my birthday-- I feel I should come to the end of end--uring. I feel I should say "But the world says, but the statistics are against you, but what you're asking for is ridiculously accept that your son will never be healed, accept that although God is good and kind and Christ as conquered sickness, accept that although God is quite willing and able and ready to heal just ain't gonna happen. Although you have prayed, and fasted, and done good deeds, and affirmed, and given to the poor, and suffered, and loved your neighbors and written Bible studies, you will be like so many other countless Christians whose prayers were never answered and who died loving their Lord neverthelesss. And really, Carole, isn't that enough? 

Blog Archive

Popular Posts