Archive for July, 2014

FANTASY AND THE FUTURE
July 26, 2014

Bob Woodruff said, “If you want to change the future, first you must imagine it.”

Not all writers of fiction write about the future, but all fiction writers imagine a world that isn’t true. It’s a story created in their minds.  Characters who do not really exist.  Situations that did not happen. Conversations never put to voice. Struggles that are fantasies.

All readers of classic literature will think of George Orwell’s 1984. Orwell was a prolific writer, and liberal  socialist,  who wrote about a future where the rulers controlled everything. Actions and thoughts  were monitored and manipulated.  Passion, truth, and individualism were a danger to the  members of this  state. His vision of the world has come to an almost eerie pass today.

The American journalist and prolific writer, Chris Hedges, writes in Death of the Liberal Class (2010) “….magical thinking, the idea that human and personal progress is somehow inevitable, leads to political passivity….It has turned whole nations, such as the United States, into self-consuming machines of death.”

To bring us current on Kauai’s machine of death, all we need do is turn to the daily newspaper, The Garden Island. Almost every day we read about a living creature on the island who must be eliminated. Feral cats-according to some-responsible for the extinction of wild bird life . Crowing roosters and all wandering free range chickens-practically our island bird, they’re so beautiful-must be killed. Parakeets? Out with them. Coqui frogs? Noise polluters more annoying than helicopters, jets, drones, boom boxes, motorcycles or grumbling, rumbling over-size trucks carrying who- knows what, roaring up and down the highways day and night.  Ubiquitous traffic jams.  Horns honk, brakes squeal, humans and sirens scream.

Our super active military might,  RimPac and a ‘Naval Battle Gun Rodeo’ , with a 28 death quota allowed on mammals of the sea, wage visible war fare off shore.  This morning, Saturday, July 26, 2014, a whale beached itself and died in Hanalei. Coral reefs are dying. Ground water, fresh air, the very earth we walk and grow food on, are fouled by unlimited toxic herbicides and pesticides  sprayed everywhere without disclosure of quantity or brand. We know these toxins kill bees.

Truth, our planet is presently engaged in the sixth extinction and there are many who cheer and some who profit.

So how does a writer of fiction, with a passionate concern for life and living things, tell a story about Kauai that brings all this  madness into perspective?

Pare it down. In Children of the Extinction, I had to, as a friend said, bump off a lot of guys. Our number one problem: too many people? Solved.  Kauai cannot support the existing population and land speculators and tax collectors  want to bring in more. That had  to stop. Our economic system is a disaster. Out. Money is worthless. Power? Lights, water, communication, computers,  sewage and modern appliances out. Traffic problems solved. Can’t pump gas.

To me, as a writer of fiction, it was better  to do the above problems in than living things.

 

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FICTION
July 18, 2014

There’s a profound saying, “The best liars are: actors and actresses, fiction writers, politicians.

Actors and actresses?  What could be a more radiant  lie than pretending to be someone else  on stage or screen? I mean, you are you, who you are, and being somebody you’re not is a lie performed, hopefully,  well enough  your deceit  makes a captive audience-who knows who you are- believe you’re somebody else.

I’m an actress. I love to act. I’m the sort of  actress who suffers opening night nerves every night. My knees knock.I shiver and shake. I’m miserable. Then  the curtain goes up, or I make an entrance, and- whoop-de-do- I’m somebody else. Bettejo’s back stage, knees knocking, quaking, miserable. The most difficult role I ever played was Fonzia Dorsey- in The Gin Game- a  self-righteous over- the- hill diabetic in a seedy  old folk’s home who I really disliked. There was a humorous quality here but a nastiness slopped through.

Fiction? I love writing fiction. I get lost in the story. I love or hate my characters, but every word I put on paper, page after page, is a lie. This is true of any piece of fiction written by any writer. The scary part of this  is when the book is published and you wait for the reader’s response. You hope he or she loves it as much as you.

Politicians? Skip it.

The interesting part about fiction and acting, however-the hidden dimension-is that these lies are creative endeavors. One is using the ‘gift’-or curse- to lie in a positive manner.  No harm is intended. A story  is to be told. A play  to be performed. The theater goer has come to the theater to be fooled-transported, lost for a while in an other world-as does the reader to a book.

A fictitious piece of story telling  is fantasy and the writer hopes the reader joins her on the journey she’s concocted. Some stories are so compelling the reader-and the writer- may want to read it over and over. My husband read  Franny and Zooey once every year. A reader wrote of Salinger that he didn’t think he’d like  him because he was such an incredibly believable liar. He missed the point, of course. Salinger told his lies on paper.

As a writer I’d  rather make people laugh. Laughter is good. I think The THE SCAM is a cute, funny, piece about life in the 60’s on Kauai. CHILDREN of the EXTINCTION takes a hundred and 180 degree turn. Kauai, in the future, is not funny. But the  characters are very human and laughter is a very human quality. Even in some of the scariest scenes, they find laughter. They also find every emotion humans  can experience. Evil emotions as well. CHILDREN is a most controversial book. I come down hard on a subject one is not supposed to come down on. There is a Dark Side. That’s part of the story-telling experience. Will the Dark Side win?

If you read me on Amazon, scan through SCAM  first.

 

ADDICTION
July 14, 2014

Is writing an addiction? You bet’cha.

If you’re a writer and you don’t write everyday, you’re a bum.

What’s so compelling about putting words on paper or screen? For me, I’m Irish, if I didn’t get words out of my head and onto  something substantial, my head would burst. I’m full of words. My mother said I was born with my tongue tied in the middle and wagging at both ends.

I kid and tell everybody I’m the strong silent type. Some of my dearest friends have adopted the time out two finger gesture. It  makes me laugh and sometimes  shuts me  up. Not always. Also like to joke around, “It’s a good thing there’s paper, ink, screens, and letters, otherwise the  world would go deaf.”

What’s my favorite genre of writing?  Letters to the editors, columns, and fiction. Letters to the editors, columns,  essays, and term papers are  similar. Fiction is different. Don’t write so many essays anymore.  Loved writing term papers. I could always raise my grade average if an end-of-the-term  paper was part of the deal. One of my favorite stories: Dr. Pencharz.  She wore a red wig and she didn’t like me. I was supposed to be the ‘goat’ and she participated in the harassment. Freshman year in college. Sixteen. Scrawny. Psych 101 was filled to the brim with big kids. Serious business. This was the gateway to their life’s work. I think of the horror they must have caused poor patient if they reached their professional goal.

The first nasty tease  I remember vividly. I was sent on an errand. When I came back to the classroom there were two  parallel  lines drawn on the board. One above the other. Equal length. One had arrows pointed out. One had arrows pointed in. The entire class was asked which line was longer. Everyone  said the line with the arrows pointed out was longer. Ridiculous. I was the only one who said they were equal. Wow!  I was yelled at, screamed at, shouted at.  Called stupid-you name it-while Pencharz sat there with a smirk. I never caved and I think that made her mad. I didn’t get good grades.

At the end of the year we were allowed to write a term paper which would become 1/3 of our grade average. We numbered our papers because Pencharz knew she could not grade you fairly if she didn’t like you. My paper didn’t come back. I went to the desk.

“Did you do one?” She had a voice like gravel, tacks, and broken glass shaken in a rusty pot.

I nodded.

She asked for my number. I told her.

She  drew forth  from a spanken clean manila folder a paper. It was, I’ll bet, the only A+ paper she ever gave anyone. She crumpled and threw it at me, “Who did it for you,” she graveled.

So much for Psych 101.

Next week?  Fiction. CHILDREN of the EXTINCTION. . My new work. Don’t forget  my book signing bash at Birdie’s Cafe, August 16, 3-6PM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE ZONE
July 5, 2014

In the zone. Athletes understand the term. Runners run in the zone. They know when in the  zone they are running at their best. It’s not  running. it’s being running.

Writers understand the term, too.  Shirley McClain calls it channeling. As a writer, I think all my books have been written in the Zone. Certainly THE SCAM, CHILDREN OF THE EXTINCTION and the sequel, CLAIR CHILD OF THE EXTINCTION A Love Story were.

One of my favorite story tellers, Dean Koontz,  said THE WATCHERS-a story, I couldn’t put it down-was written in the Zone. Tolkien, in the Hobbit,  speaks of a tall Big Person who Bilbo  sees entering the gates. Tolkien had never seen him before, but he  turns out to be an important person in the trilogy.

That’s how it works. The creative mind, in the Zone, takes over. In The SCAM. Karen, the narrator, watches someone run from her barn, shoes in hand, and says, “That’s the last we saw of Gypsy Jake.” He turned out to be a most important person in the story. I, as the writer of this  little book, had no idea who he was.

In CHILDREN OF THE EXTINCTION, I got the children, and the women looking out for them, in such a terrible mess I went to bed  thinking, ‘How am I going to get them out of this?’The next day,  one of the little kids trapped  in this horror  told me how. I didn’t know. He did.

Every writer, I think, has his own style of writing. Hemingway wrote standing up. Read everything he’d written before before he began to write again. Once he said to his wife, about his work, FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS,   “Today they’re going to blow up the bridge.”

For me, I know  my characters, my location, I know the story-how it will start and how it will end, and send them on a journey. They travel-hypothetically-from San Francisco to New York. On the way they’ll run out of gas, take a detour, meet good guys and bad guys, get lost,  get a flat tire and, somehow, reach their destination.

When I’m in the Zone, I sit at the computer and take dictation. I love to write first person narrative, let a character in the book tell the story. CHILDREN of the EXTINCTION is written in a woman’s voice.  She does not always speak grammatically. People don’t talk with complete sentences,  capital letters, periods. I never knew one  who talked with semi-colons. Kurt Vonnegut said, “Never use a semi-colon.”

People speak over each other. Finish sentences.  Speak in fragments. My computer has a fit. Some Editors do, too.

Writers read. Voraciously. Learn. Create their own style. Tell their own stores their own way.

I think you’ll love CHILDREN OF THE EXTINCTION. Find it on Amazon Books  CHILDREN OF THE EXTINCTION Bettejo Dux. And soon at Talk Story book store in Hanapepe. Come to my Big Bettejo Birthday Book Signing Bash at Birdies August 16, 3-6PM. See’ya there.