January 18th, 2012

tea

Hate at First Sight

I'm feeling very righteous. I just forced myself to walk to the library to return a book. I dithered for a while and even tried to tell myself I could just drop it off at the drive-through on my way to choir tonight, but then I reminded myself that it wasn't about the errand, it was about the exercise, and I'm more productive on days when I get some exercise, especially exercise in the sunshine. My productivity yesterday came after a walk to the post office, bank and Indian market.

I did finally get over the distraction and got some substantial work done yesterday. I'm tantalizingly close to the end, but I suspect I still have a lot of writing to do. When I was at this point in the initial draft, I thought we'd just blown up the Death Star, and now all we had to do was return to base, have the happy reunion and then get our medals. It turned out to be more like Return of the King, with all the loose ends that had to be tied up. But with the rewrites, it's more like we've just blown up the truck with the Terminator in it and think we've won, but then we see that the metal skeleton is still coming after us, so now I still need to write the showdown in the factory. Except instead of it being like the horror movie staple of the villain not being dead yet, it's more like the villain you defeated turns out not to be your only (or biggest) problem, only I can't think of a good pop culture analogy for that. I may not finish today, since it's choir night and I have to run a couple of errands before choir, but tomorrow is a possibility, and then there may be hiking on Friday.

I'm still doing my market research reading on the paranormal mysteries, and I discovered (or articulated) another book pet peeve: hate at first sight for no good reason. I can see hate at first sight when there is a reason: he's Darth Vader, attacked your ship and is taking you prisoner or even he's the cop who suspects you/your best friend/sister/brother/mother/father/employer of murder and doesn't seem interested in looking beyond that to the real killer. But I can't get into a book in which the heroine just hates someone from the start for no reason other than the author needed to throw in some conflict. That's something you normally see in romances: the gorgeous guy comes to town and smiles at the heroine, and that pisses her off to an insane degree, though that's usually a sign that she'll be in love with him by the end of the book (then again, so is hate with a cause. In general, the guy the heroine hates most or who hates the heroine the most at the beginning will be the guy she ends up with). I was surprised to see it in a mystery, and even long before anyone found a body. The heroine is basically being a bitch for no good reason (and that's not the true opposite of doormat), and though we do eventually get a reason why she's touchy with people in general, it's far enough into the book that I would have stopped reading a lot earlier if I weren't reading to study the plot structure and use of paranormal elements.

Speaking of finding the body, I grew up reading Agatha Christie and the like, where the story pretty much starts with the discovery of the body (or it at least happens within the first chapter), but I'm surprised at how far into the book the murder seems to happen in a lot of the current books, especially since modern attention spans are shorter and you're generally encouraged to start the action as soon as possible. In this book, we don't get to a dead body until halfway through the book. I suppose some of this has to do with the fact that I've been reading mostly first books in series, so we have to establish our heroine and her situation before plunging her into a murder investigation. We didn't much care about Miss Marple's personal life, but the personal stories are almost as important as the crimes in today's series. Still, I think someone should probably be dead within the first 50 pages.

I think my January agoraphobia is kicking in because there's a conference in New York in a couple of months that I usually go to and find very valuable, and I've been dragging my feet about registering. It is very expensive, and this is shaping up to be a financially uncertain year, as one of my ongoing writing contracts has ended and my new client hasn't started tossing work at me. Not to mention the complete lack of action on the publishing front. But then that lack of action means I probably need to go. The networking and business info could be very valuable. I just can't bring myself to commit to traveling there, with all the hassle that comes with that these days, staying in a hotel and sharing a room (because the conference hotel is way too expensive to go solo -- I'd have to get a room elsewhere and commute to have a room to myself). And airfares are really high right now. I wonder what the tax rules are for frequent flier miles -- if you use them for business travel, can you deduct the value of the trip or just the fees you actually spend?

Now, off to fight the Terminator in the factory, or some more relevant and accurate cultural analogy.