Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Leaky Cauldron

By Keith Fisher

As I mentioned before, I have avoided reading Harry Potter. I’ve seen portions, but I’ve never seen the movies. No particular reason, I just haven’t been much of a fantasy fan. Recently, I acquired the whole series except The Deathly Hallows. Since I was between novels anyway, I decided to read HP for a change of pace.

In the story, there’s a place called The Leaky Cauldron. The image that name presents is the reason this blog has the title it does. Think of it—a vessel that cannot hold any liquid. Put a fire under it and the fluid will extinguish the flames.

I was just finishing the second book in the series when I heard the news. Apparently, the author announced that Dumbledore is gay. (See the article.)

When an author writes a story, there are many facts created about characters that never make it into a novel. The reasons are varied but basically, too much exposition can bog a story down. The reader gets lost in a sea of non-relevant facts and they lose the story.

In the case of HP, the author created a character that teenagers love, the image of that character is set in our minds, and the book series is immensely successful. So why announce this now? Did Rowling let it slip accidentally? Was it an effort to boost her popularity? Nothing more than a publicity stunt? Could it be she’s succumbing to the clouded judgement of the moviemakers that want to include something more in the next movie?

Whatever the reasons for it, HP will never be the same. Setting aside the influence it could have on teenage readers, I can’t read it without thinking about the implications. It might have been different if the author had included that information in the book originally, but now I look at the character differently—I’ve been tainted.

I hope the character will survive. I want the kindly, caring, old man, to live on. As one of the internet news articles said: Put Dumbledore back in the closet.

To all aspiring authors may I suggest, if it wasn’t important enough to include in the book, then, leave it in your heads—especially if the information is as controversial as the information above. Don’t put out the fire under your cauldron by poking holes in it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Oh, Darn! I Give Up

By Keith Fisher

Once again I didn’t get the challenge answered and G. Parker tagged me for another. The trouble is, I have been snowed under. Every time I try to carve out a moment to write I am called away for another of life’s moments. This week I have been trying to get organized to submit part of my Dutch oven cookbook. I’ve been cleaning up after the yard sale, and trying to get my night job in line.

While cleaning up, I discovered something that may mystify you as it did me. We took a truck to Deseret Industries and were told they wouldn’t take certain items. I have the back for an office chair. It was brand new when the chair broke so I saved it, hoping I would rebuild the chair.

Brand-new and they wouldn’t take it.
"Do you have the bottom part?" he asked.
"No," I said.
"Then what good is it?"
"It can be used by someone who is trying to fix chairs."
"We can throw it in the dumpster for you."
"Unbelievable," I said.
I drove away wondering where I could find a home for it.
Do you want it?

I also went to the book fair at school this week. Pretty good racket—the teachers bring you in to talk about your kids, and your kids drag you into the book fair. The problem is that it’s not all books. The kids want to buy the toys too.

I purchased an eighth-grade level grammar book. Maybe it will help my writing. I’ll let you know. Good luck in your writing, and let me know if you need a new back for your office chair.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life is Like a Yard Sale

By Keith Fisher

She climbed out of her car and stepped up to the first table, not knowing what treasures she would find there, or how much they would change her life.

My wife and I have been hoping to have a yard sale all summer. With the press of day to day activities, and booked weekends, we never quite got the chance. When she, who must be obeyed, came home with a couch and love seat from her mother’s house, she decided it was time. I returned from my camping trip and heard the edict: "We are having a yard sale this weekend!"

She scrambled, and I survived on four-hours of sleep per day while getting ready for the big event. We hoped it would clear our house of clutter and perhaps, bring financial rewards. I also put my writing projects on hold. Now my head feels like my house, stuffed to the rafters with ideas for new projects, waiting for the chance to be displayed in the yard sale of an unpublished book.

During my forced vacation from writing, I discovered that even though I’ve missed it, I felt relieved from the daily word counts, and the work of polishing submittals.
When our yard sale began, my writer’s heart discovered a bag full of metaphors and similes. I watched a young mother sorting through my daughter’s old clothes, and asking what the prices were. I looked at her selections and realized we had also purchased most of those items from yard sales, and our prices were pretty much the same. Life had completed one of those endless circles, giving purpose to our existence on earth.

Many of the standard character types attended the event. There was the successful businessman who drove up in a pickup that cost more than my first house. He was appalled that we wouldn’t drop the price on the antique Christmas tree ornaments.

The old man, who wanted the brand new, never used, hole-saw set but offered seventy percent of the already rock bottom price. He dropped the item and stormed off when we wouldn’t go that low. One woman surprised me when she gave us more than the quoted price. "I like your prices," she said. Also there were two young men who said, "Stop the car dude," They jumped out to purchase two wigs and provided a comedy show for my daughter and her friends.

The big lesson I learned is how much we, as a society have changed since I was a young man fresh out of high school. In those days, people rented until they saved enough for a down payment on a home, they waited to purchase furniture until they could afford it, and they used yard sales or discount stores to help make ends meet. Today, many kids grow up thinking they are somehow entitled to everything. They wouldn’t be caught dead at a yard sale, and a used anything should be thrown away.

Today, used refrigerators have no more purpose than to take up space in landfills or to store apples against the winter. At least the latter is a worthwhile purpose. Of all the things I gleaned from the yard sale, perhaps the most important, were the feelings of joy in remembering the precious moments of my family’s life. Like when someone purchased a toy that Santa brought for my daughter’s second Christmas. The tune it played drove me crazy then. Now the tune brings happiness in remembering, and the toy went to a good home with another baby who loves it.

Last week I promised I would answer the challenge of Tristi Pinkston’s tag, but I wanted to give a writer’s tip. I was plotting a book in my head the other day and remembered the way the Titanic movie was written. It’s a story told from the point of view of the old woman. However, for continuity, there were other points of view that needed to be told.

I wonder how it would read if the script was a book and we didn’t know the story. We would read about the old woman remembering then suddenly, switch to the poker game and Jack’s point of view. Without the visual explanation, the reader might be left to wonder who the character is. Perhaps the old lady was once a poor man trying to get to America.

I wrote a story that begins with one character remembering in the prologue then switches to third person omniscient and introduces other characters in the normal way. I was afraid the continuity would suffer. It has been a struggle to transition point of view, but even though the whole story has been told in one character’s Point of view, I think I did it in an acceptable way. I’ll let you know how it turns out, or perhaps you can tell me when it’s published.

Good luck with your writing. See you next week.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Writing life’s Experiences

By Keith Fisher

I’ve been camping in the rain and snow this week, listening to conference on the radio, and being with my family. In other words taking the day off, (If you believe that, I have some waterfront property for you to buy.) Anyway, I decided that since Tristi Pinkston tagged me for another Meme, I would take advantage of it and fill in my responses.

However, over the course of the weekend I didn’t get the challenge completed so I will curtail it until next week. Let’s just say the weekend hasn’t been going well.

I was to be camp cook for my family’s Elk hunt, but I ran into adversity and I wasn’t able to relax the way I wanted to. Cooking in snowstorms has never been a problem for me, but dealing with a petty demagogue who has a Napoleon complex is.

I realize I have left what happened to your imaginations. Suffice it to say that, Power, even perceived power, can corrupt the nicest campground host.

I also realized that it must be hard for some writers, to write certain scenes. Having no experience with some situations, we are left with our imaginations and the depictions of the media.

But on the other hand, we are sometimes better off to interview others, and read about experiences in order to get our descriptions correct. Perhaps it is better to leave Hemingway’s invitation to glory unheeded. Get out there an experience life but be careful opening pretty boxes, you never know what might be inside.

Good luck with your writing and see you next week.