PTO

How many plotlines is too many plotlines?

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

Here I go. Here’s a whole blog post dedicated to crying about my novel instead of actually writing a novel. I’ve probably whined about this on this blog before but to catch anyone up that is interested, I am writing a novel that is inspired by true events and it is taking me a LONG time to get it out of my head and onto paper. And I’m frustrated. I’m 55,456 words into this thing and I am not near done and I’m all over the place with it and it sucks. And this is where I am.

There are two roadblocks I’m having a hard time ignoring. Because they’re imaginary, I know this. But I can still see them and I’m having a crisis about all of it. The first one is because the basis for the story, the whole point of the story, is based on a really painful, uncomfortable memory, like a real thing with real people that I knew and it’s taken me some time to get over my anger enough to want to explore this event. Even though, I’m making up 70% of everything else. Probably more than that but the characters are originally, somewhat based on real life people that did real life unfriending me on Facebook kind of stuff and I’m real bitter about it, you know? They are mean. So I really want to finish this book because I don’t want to live with some of these people in my brain anymore, I hate them.

So why write a book about them if you hate them, Amy? I can feel you asking me. Well, dear readers, because it’s funny. Which brings me to roadblock #2. I am sitting here trying to foolishly write satire when I am the most unfunny person I know. No one wants to hear me rattle along for 55,456 words. It’s pretentious. And there’s more words that need to come out so it’s even worse than where we currently sit. And reading this back it looks like I’m digging for validation. Well, in fairness, I’m always digging for validation, but that’s not what is happening here. This is a legitimate tantrum I am having with myself and I need to get it out of me so I can just move on and finish this book.

I had thoughts about abandoning this project, but the characters and the storyline just keeps doing stuff when I’m in the shower or in the middle of the night and it’s like that scary, wet girl in The Ring and she won’t leave me alone until I share her with others.

How do I get over my nonsense? Does anyone have any tips? Can I just “blah blah blah” the middle parts with the holes in them? Because that’s what’s there now and I could just be done with the whole thing, close my laptop and have a peaceful life. Maybe I have too many plotlines. What will get me out of this funk?? I know what I need to do. I need to be patient with this beast. I need to continue filling in hole by hole and not be overwhelmed by the big picture. Because I know the plot. I’ve already written the dramatic conflict/resolution scenes, I already have the ending pretty much wrapped up, it’s all the little stuff in the middle and it will end when it ends, I just need to keep filling in the holes and stop worrying about tone and timing and the beat of each individual sentence.

Oh my god, I know what the problem is. I need an audience. I need to be telling a story to somebody. Because writing for me? This is not the story I want to be hearing over and over and over and over. Not because I don’t believe in the story itself, but more because I lived it. Not all of it, but the bad parts. which brings us back to problem #1.

BUT, I think to solve both of my ridiculous made-up problems, I need a beta reader. One who likes me. That’s important. And one who will be willing to beta read chapter by chapter. Like work in progress, fanfiction. Without the smut. Ooh! Should I add smut?! Also, this person must be willing to overlook my typos and stuff.

This beta reader idea solves the second roadblock as well because I’m not thinking about being funny when I’m writing a blog post or a Facebook status update or whatever that I know someone will read. I just write. The idea of writing a book is horrifying because I’m too worried about being perfect. And that’s just not how I write.

Although, how does one even go about getting beta readers? How do I get someone to devote their whole life to following me around and laughing at my bad jokes, while they comb my hair and tell me I’m pretty?

This whole blog post is a mess. Alright, that’s a sign I need to get back to filling holes. Seriously though, if anyone has any answers to any of my annoying questions above, I would love to hear them.

I am also accepting compliments.

Day 23: Next Door

6. You Have Been Given The Opportunity To Create The Half-Hour TV Show Of Your Own Design. What Is It Called And What’s The Premise?

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This is such an exciting question because I KNOW ALREADY!! And it’s kind of helped jumpstart the novel I’m actively not working on.

A couple of years ago, I starting walking around the neighborhood with one of my friends from the PTA because we were trying to get in shape because wine was making us gain weight. Our walks were hilarious. We pretty much laughed the entire time but we also cried. And we plotted and schemed and worried someone was going to write about us being “suspicious” on NextDoor and called an uber when we walked too far and didn’t want to walk back because it was too hot and we were sweaty and hungry. Not all in one day, obviously.

There were a rash of home invasion robberies happening in the neighborhood at the time, it was on TMZ! and so while brainstorming ways to get attendance up at our monthly community meetings, the board president (at the time) decided to invite a member of the LAPD Encino division to come talk to us and answer questions we had about things we could do to protect ourselves. Dogs and cameras an motion lights were the main things I remember. Until my favorite part of the night. One of the moms started complaining that they were opening up a halfway house on her block and she demanded it be closed down. Somehow that got everyone riled up into forming a neighborhood watch and the meetings would be held in front of the halfway house until they got so nervous, they’d move it or something else histrionic. It sounded exactly as ridiculous and overdramatic at the time.

A neighborhood watch. Imagine a bunch of middle aged, upper-middle class, white women chasing perceived hooligans off their lawns in rhinestone’d flip flops. It’s too much. So for our next walk, in tears of laughter, my friend and I decided to start the first shift of Neighborhood Watch.

The thing that these walks became, it wasn’t about losing wine weight anymore, it was about our friendship, and staking our place in the neighborhood. We walked through everything from a marriage breaking up to the PTA eating itself alive, to my eventual move away.

I used to have wine nights with another friend of mine, Carol. And one night I told Carol about the walks and it hit me that they would make an AMAZING tv show. Every episode would be us on a walk. Every character would live in the neighborhood and we would run into them during our walks and that would be the show. I would call it Next Door or something else less likely to get me sued. She told me to write a book about it.

So my original novel that was just about funny things about being on the PTA has evolved into this thing that has evolved into an opus and it’s so big and so overwhelming at this point, that I need to take a break from it and also just finish it at the same time. I’m just not sure I can do it justice, so wish me luck on finishing that beast. But I will. And hopefully it will make one person laugh.

Field of Dreams: A Metaphor

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This post is going to be super spoiler alert-y so if you haven’t seen this classic film yet, I suggest you do that first. I mean, the film has been out for 29 years, and if you haven’t seen it by now, Kevin Costner knows, he’s like Santa and Kevin Costner is not happy with you. Alright, you’ve been warned about both spoilers ahead and Kevin Costner’s disappointment, on we go with this journey.

This is basically a movie about ghosts and baseball and indulging in personal obsessions that no one else really cares about, but then kidnapping someone and making them care about said obsessions that probably somehow involve ghosts, and those are basically my favorite things in the world. Why wouldn’t this be one of my top 5 best movies ever?

It’s essentially an analogy of my current life, the field being the internet, I’m Ray Kinsella and I’m just sitting on the bleachers/couch watching ghosts play baseball and yelling about it to whoever will listen to me on the internet instead of contributing anything to my family. That’s an exaggeration actually, give me a break, I just sold a coin purse on etsy.

Here’s my question, how do I get my husband to agree to any of this? To indulge my figurative hopping in the car, driving 1000s of miles to kidnap people, throwing ghosts in the backseat to bring back to this field I mowed into my backyard so I can watch baseball games all day instead of harvest corn so they don’t take away my farm? There’s no way he would agree to that unless he’s hoping to get a two week vacation away from me. I’m going to work on my pitch, adding in the detail that the ghost I brought back into our home will save our child from choking on a hot-dog!

I’m not sure how that part of the movie actually worked though, is it like when Patrick Swayze pushed the penny up the door in Ghost? Is that how he pushed the hotdog out? And then once he saved the kid, where did Doc go? He couldn’t go back to ghostland once he stepped off the field. Oh god, does that mean he’s a zombie now? Roaming the streets of Iowa? What happened to Doc Moonlight Graham, Ray?? You didn’t ease his pain, you turned him into a zombie. This movie makes me cry at least 7 times per viewing anyway, but now I’m going to be crying about an old man zombie doctor that just wanted to play ghost ball with some pals, but now he’s stuck out in a field somewhere with that thing from Jeepers Creepers.

And if that weren’t enough dramatics, then you’ve got Darth Vader giving us the most satisfying monologue in history.

Ray. People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around”, you’ll say, “It’s only $20 per person”. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.

– Terrence Mann, Field of Dreams, 1989

And again, another spoiler alert, Terrence Mann gives this tear inducing speech that makes me cry even thinking about it, tells Ray he lied to him about something (I don’t remember what it is though because I’m always too busy crying at this part), and then goes and dies on everyone. And laughs when he does. Seriously. Here’s Shoeless Joe dragging James Earl Jones to his death in the cornfield, like some kind of dementor, and he laughs about it. Listen, if you think I’m going into a cornfield ever again, you’re nuts. Seriously. Don’t give into temptation. No good is going to come from going into a cornfield. You’re either running into Mel Gibson’s alien friend, some weird blond kids, or Jason. No matter which door you choose, it’s certain death. Especially if Henry Hill’s the one inviting you in and he’s smiling. It’s a scam.

You know what the biggest scam of this whole movie is though? The fakest part ever? No way they got THAT many people to show up to a PTA meeting.

And one lady wore her church pearls! Maybe I should class myself up a bit. I roll into our meetings in my sweatpants, feet up on a table as I daydream about staring into a field of make-believe and ghosts.

Neighborhood Watch

Well, craps. Last night I fell asleep again at 9pm. I’ve become so uncool. I have a reputation to uphold. Although, falling asleep so early means that I am also up so early and I can’t say I hate that part. I do enjoy all the quiet and calm before everyone wakes up in the morning.

So, let me tell you about my newest obsession. The other night there was a PTO meeting at school. (PTO is like the PTA but like, the underground version. Like a badly drawn version of Tony the Tiger but his name is Cody and he’s in board shorts which is actually an improvement because, why doesn’t Tony wear pants??) Anyway, at the PTO board meeting, an officer from the LAPD came to talk to us about neighborhood safety which in turn, made everyone at the board meeting passionately consider forming a neighborhood watch to catch the criminals in the act and let them and all their thief friends know that we are not having this here in the 91436, thank you very much, sirs!

This is my favorite thing that has happened in recent memory. Frantic, vigilante moms taking back the streets of Encino.

My nurse friend and I try to walk the neighborhood for a couple of miles at least once a week. Something ridiculous happens everytime we go out, but add “catching crooks” to the list and I cannot wait to document all of it. The NextDoor posts are about to level up.

This topic is all I can think about and I’ve been laughing about for 3 days. This is getting its own category on my blog. Stay tuned. I am not done with this nonsense.

I need to go get ready ’cause we’re walking today. My first, unofficial Neighborhood Watch patrol. I’ll report back if anything goes down. Today could be a two post kind of a day.