[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She served as guest editor for issue 43.4 of Star*Line, an issue focused entirely on Black voices in the speculative arts. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PATHIES
Hello All, Melanie here.
I…there’s so many things I could say about the following emails. I’m still not sure where to begin so I’ll start by telling you how I’m doing.
Had a pretty good writing week this week! Not a lot of pages written, but I feel myself breaking into the final third of this work-in-progress. Finish line on the horizon. If you’re a writer reading this, what’s your approach to a daily page count?
Also: How many pages a day could you type before your hands fall off?
So it appears that she seems to understand that she is talking directly to you. But apparently, I am Gladys now in her mind and I’m not quite sure how to broach the subject again.
Regarding the credit card she mentions, I’m not sure whether to feel sorry for the credit card company who sent it because I have a tiny feeling they may regret this decision.
Her inspirational quote is….um, dangerous.
I’ll let her get to it, then.
Subject: The Book is Wrong
Dear Gladys and Everyone Else,
This has been a terrible week. Work was nice, I sold a lot of tractors, but my real work as an author was horrible. I’ve been holding myself together by looking at inspirational quotes about being a writer.
Something is terribly wrong.
As I told you last week, Puhjyna has no place in this book. Somehow in all of this I have lost the thread to whatever makes this story special. Fenchin seems like such a lifeless character. I started to google advice on what to do when a character behaves like this but everything I found suggested that I “dig deep into character motivations.” I am not Fenchin’s psychologist, Gladys!!! Why should I know what her deepest motivations are? This is supposed to be a fantasy story!!!
Fantasy characters need PROPHECIES NOT MOTIVES!!!! THEY NEED MAGIC SYSTEMS!!!
Why does everyone know so little about how to write fantasy??
Earlier this week I spent about twenty hours doing more research on Puhjyna’s special abilities even though she doesn’t come into this story until book five. At first I was going to research UFOs again and learn about potential forms of life in neighboring solar systems, but then I thought maybe I should start with researching Puhjyna’s special gift. I also got a new credit card in the mail with a $20,000 credit limit!
The first thing I did was look up all the -pathies on Wikipedia. Telepathy. Sociopathy. Empathy. Psychopathy. I now know everything there is to know about the -pathies and I even took an online course on becoming a clairvoyant!! It was only $3,000 and I got a real, certified certificate! I’m now a bonafide psychic medium just like my character, Puhjyna! This is going to be so great!! Book five is going to be so easy!
I’m probably going to have to put out some ads offering my services on Craigslist to get this course paid off. Of course that will take away from some of my writing time but I’ve eliminated all my other hobbies so that’s no trouble.
Meanwhile, I’m trapped on page sixty in Book One. Sixty pages is no joke, Gladys. In just 940 pages I will be done with book one and I’m just 8,940 pages from finishing the saga. I’m giving myself a strict deadline of two months to write this saga and that means I only have to write 149 pages a day. Two months should be the maximum amount of time it takes to write a saga. There was this thing the other day on YouTube and it said that Salman Rushdie (whoever THAT is) took four years to write a book. Maybe that’s why no one’s heard of him.
I feel a lot better getting my timeline sorted out. I’m not going to start the page count schedule though until tomorrow. This should be fine. I’ll just have to adjust my daily page count to 151 and one half pages a day. Totally doable.
In spite of all these very important advances, the next few days are going to be grim. I have to write all this stuff before I can write about the cool stuff. I want to be writing about Fenchin riding on a motorcycle with the wind in her hair summoning up the magic within her to wake the hummindaal. I want to be writing about Musradi working on her motorcycle and not even remotely aware that the child of the prophecy is right in front of him.
Unfortunately, I can’t be writing these moments because I have to write all this BACKSTORY. Otherwise, how will readers ever know about that afternoon when Fenchin was in kindergarten and she did the thing with the fruit-by-the-foot that no other child can do and it was the first clue that she’s the child of the prophecy. Or about how painful it was when her kindergarten teacher chose Madison Bass as “most likely to grow up to be a writer” when all along it was really ME???
My one relief is that I really know my magic system. It’s based entirely on wishes and a special kind of broccoli but I don’t want to give everything away.
Be honest with me. Do you think I should cut all this backstory??? I think I feel you saying yes. But f I cut the backstory, then what am I going to put in the first three books???? You’re not really being any help to me, Gladys.
I shouldn’t say that. You’re the only thing that’s keeping me going. Knowing that you are going to read and respond to my pages.
In fact, I think I’m going to call you right now and read you my latest chapters and then you can tell me what you like about them and I can ask you to explain what you like about them in far more detail than I ever spent writing it. My new clairvoyant skills tell me that you’ll be ready to hear my story if I call you RIGHT NOW! It’s a high-feedback-expectations night, Gladys! These are troubled times!!
Subject: PAY YOUR PHONE BILL
How am I supposed to get hold of you and read you my chapters if you don’t pay your phone bill??? I keep telling you to come and work with me selling tractors and you never listen. Why you want to work at the Local College is beyond me.
Anyway, in the meanwhile, I googled more inspirational quotes and they made me want to jump off a bridge. Writing is a horribly violent craft with some very mentally disturbed masochists making up a large portion of its population. There was all this stuff about killing your darlings and that to write all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed, or that extremely famous one that you see in all the stores about a submitting yourself to regular vivisection. I couldn’t find the ones I need to read right now so I made up a few of my own. I’m willing to be the change I want to see in the world.
I took a few hours and put quotes into some pretty fonts and I’ve attached one here for you to share with anyone who needs it. I’ll send you more in the future so that you can send these back to me from time to time when you get your phone turned back on.
Anyway, I have to go next door and prostitute my psychic abilities to do a palm reading for Ms. B____ who lives in the crooked little cape cod three houses down. Do you remember her? She’s the one who has the four up-cycled water fountains made out of all the wine bottles she blows through in a month. This woman is the most narcissistic person I have EVER met!!! She sidelined me in Walmart and spent two hours talking about how she’s thinking about getting unicorn fur and how her youngest is going to University of Ohio to study pet programming.
There’s someone in my backyard!
I can see them from here. THERE IS SOMEONE JUST STANDING THERE IN MY BACKYARD. I can tell because I left my downstairs bathroom light on and it’s got their whole profile lit up. (The upstairs electric still isn’t working and I’ve been blackballed by the electricians in town.) They’re wearing a bowler hat. (The person in the backyard, not the electricians.)
Hang on, Gladys, brb.
Okay, I’m back. I don’t have time to chase people down so I just opened my kitchen window and lobbed my right croc at them. It knocked their bowler hat off and they swore, groped around the rocks back there and ran off with my shoe.
I bet you it was my evil neighbor A____’s mumble rap nephew. I’m going over there tomorrow to give them both a piece of my mind and to get my right croc back!!!
Pages later. It’s going to be backstory so you’re going to need to be a grown up and get some taste! I don’t want to hear that nothing is happening!!! Pay your bill!!!
Fantasy characters need magic systems, not motives–I totally agree! It’s a mystery why all those pro markets rejected my fantasy story! What do editors know, anyway?
In the year of 7239….
@Jeffrey Jones, LOL.
Imagining all those editors out there who look at a text and say “You know what this book needs? More prologue.”
Getting an unsolicited credit card in the mail with a $20,000 limit–not good.
Spending $3K of this on “an online course in how tobe a clairvoyant”–worse!
It’s amazing how you can sense that without having taken the course!
I, for one, will be going to Martin Wooster for all my clairvoyant needs. That is some clear extra sensory perception!
LOL! On the other paw, I love that quote about the backstory. 😀
Haha, Kendall, too funny! Come to think of it, when you do the math, it’s probably true!
(Note: Technically this is a comment to a prior of these posts.)
So last night’s dream(s) included a briefish cameo from Neil Gaiman, who (for no clear reason) was visiting a hotel room (mine and somebody else’s). I was going to tell him something, but he was smoking (a cigarette) and I wasn’t sure whether I could/should be reminding him it was a non-smoking room.
Note, I don’t know Gaiman. Yes, I know who he is, heard him read Coraline at Boskone years back, enjoyed Sandman as the comics were coming out (and since), have one autograph, etc.
(Previously dream cameos over the past few years have included Hampus, in the Helsinki Hugo audience area (also I saw him there IRL, at the time), and, separately, Jon Stewart.)
Wow, Daniel! That’s uncanny and also funny (particularly the bit about whether to remind Neil Gaiman that he’s in a non-smoking room.)
I confess, I’ve had a Gaiman dream, too. But I was meeting him at a diner and we were there with our families and friends and figuring out how to squeeze 16 people into a big wooden booth. There was also something about fresh donuts (made at the diner.) No writing advice, however. But it could happen.
I think I might have also dreamt of Jon Stewart years ago. Our dream people must know each other lol.