Below is the launchpad for my latest project. I’m still chewing on how one writes a fictional work that looks like a non-fictional work without leaving a reader betrayed. I’m tempted, mightily, to do it with slight, fantastical elements throughout the story. We’ll see. I also will be doing the very unwise trick of having a character with a mental illness (I figure, while I’m doing unwise things, I might as well get them all out of my writer’s system).
Regina, “Get off my grass,” Edair was once a scandalous young woman and had spent the better part of her adulthood cultivating an image as a hobbyist level misanthrope. Her friends, however (a group that she cultivated as carefully over the years), knew that most of that character was bluster and that, in fact, like many people of their cohort, Regina was prone to care deeply for the people she came to know. I’d known her through legend, primarily, because she was a friend of a relative that I knew to be a cousin of some sort, but my disinterest with genealogy has kept me from properly identifying the relation. At any rate, having come across a unique opportunity to profile a person of my choosing (an opportunity known commonly as “hopeless unemployment,”) it was with great glee that I set about finding the world’s experts in the area of Regina Edair, one-time acclaimed distance swimmer, jazz aficionado and benefactor, expat, and collector of tales.
Regina, a Life © 2012 Kandis Burns
When you are in law school, or perhaps any grad school, you are advised to google yourself. I gather that this is because, in the age of the interwebs, the online world in general is like a diary of dirty secrets for all of us.
I am [un]lucky in that my ordinary sounding name is spelled in a rather unique way and most of the google hits will be mine own. For a while there was another person with my name living out in New York and teaching dance. I thought that was lovely.
Then something in the Kandiverse changed and all the other Kandises ended up living in the south and the southwest getting arrested for stuff. This was exactly what I didn’t want to see! How could they *all* end up criminals? So, anyway, future employers are seeing my middle name a lot more often these days.
Today I checked in on myself again via google and found that the mugshots still abound. However, I appear to be top Kandis and my many, many, many ‘blogs have nearly pushed the criminal element to the second page. For once, I suppose, I can be thankful for that odd character trait that makes me abandon my writing projects so frequently.
There is one thing that can make it pretty awkward being a gay law student at Chapman University School of Law, and his name is John Eastman.
When I applied to law schools a couple years back, Chapman had a lot of points going for it— it was probably not going to cost me anything, it was rising in ranking, and it was local. It had one really HUGE point against it— the Dean. Even back then Eastman was hitting the local news talking about how abominable relationships like my partnership are. And you know what? That was bad. It was bad, but it was something that basically only people who are really involved with marriage equality or people who were in the legal atmosphere were aware of. And even then, it was more local in character. Still, people did occasionally wonder how I could stomach it and all I could say was that at least I was taking the school’s education without giving them any of my gay dollars.
Later, when Eastman decided to run for attorney general, I was thrilled. See, even though California had lost a lot of my faith with the passage of Prop. 8, I knew that Eastman was still too fringe for even new (less attractive) California. I was hopeful that he was going to leave Chapman altogether for a failed bid. My hopes were disappointed, but at least he did step down as dean and it was a failed bid. After that, some time passed and I didn’t really have to think about the former dean.
Apparently, if he couldn’t stop the gays as A.G., he was going to find another way.
Aaaand it just got embarrassing again. This time he’s gone national and if I lose another shot at eventually becoming a married woman, it will probably be somehow related to him.
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. You see, since this news has spread, there has been a wonderful showing of outrage among many of my classmates— including bunches that are not affiliated with the GSA group (“Outlaw”) at my school. Plus there’s the fact that this has got to be a little awkward for the school itself: Chapman has recently taken to priding itself on its diversity outreach and this situation cannot be helpful. Am I happy about a ding in my school’s reputation? Of course not, but it does give me some hope that, perhaps, there might be an appropriate reaction like increased support for gay applicants for future classes. Still, it’s the shared outrage that I find the most pleasing. Nobody likes to be superhumanly angry alone.
Five years have passed and I have come to realize that it is time for me to send my first novel, Thesaurus Rex, to live on a farm for a while. The thing isn’t getting done for now and I’ve lost my steam. It is exhausting to write about people who cannot get it together and just be happily in love with one another. Perhaps it’s a novel that is easier for an angsty early-twenties type person to write. I am, however, considering allowing one of my next two projects to cannibalize T.R. and take over its super powers.
As mentioned above, there are two of these wide-eyed, naive stories just waiting for me to give them bodies:
One- In the Small Moments. Another unhappy love story! This is the one that might actually let me deliver the beginnings for the T.R. cast. It’s not really a prequel, but it deals in the same themes. I discovered that it is incredibly difficult to get a reader to sympathize with bad behavior when they haven’t already sort of fallen in love with my darlings so this one is, perhaps, a little more accessible. Fingers crossed for funny too, but I think that as I edge closer to thirty, I get less funny (tic-tock then)
Two- Sig. Wherein I finally get to write a fantasy story! It involves time-space, mythology, dragons, sentient lightning, and other nerdly things. It does not involve monkeys, though I’m sure if ever made into a movie it probably will…
The above title references a poem that I pretended to understand during undergrad. Poetry classes for me were always like attempting to date a some sort of jerk who thinks he or she is always right. Poetry, a really personal form of communication, when applied to a classroom seems inevitably to produce the result that everyone has to agree with what the professor thinks a poem means. In this case it was something about babies, etc.— I dunno, I don’t really absorb things that give me no joy.
Anyway, the truth is that April is probably not the cruelest month— there’s only a 1/12 chance of that which isn’t the worst odds, but still not great. For the same reason the summer season is not likely to contain the cruelest month, but it can seem that way. Summer is that time when I get to read what I want, sleep a full night almost whenever I want, and all that good stuff. But we’re in July now which is exactly when it starts to become clear that summer is almost over.
Soon I will have to buy books and consider glancing at them. Soon, also, I will have to come up with a schedule that is supposed to keep me sane until January. Even sooner, though, I have to move. The Mrs. and I are finally relocating to our townhouse. It’s not done being renovated or anything, and we don’t yet have a kitchen sink installed (it’s in a box in the garage), so it’s sort of like suburban camping, but move we must because once school starts, I transition from someone who can help with this sort of stuff into just another heavy thing that Leah will have to wheel into a truck on moving day.
July is the annoying-est month.
I like to write. Obviously— why else would it be one of my main distractions when I ought to be outlining the what’ave’yous of Constitutional Law. I have spent the last two years coming to grips with the fact that, despite my love of writing, my bread and butter will be something legalesque. Bread and butter is good— it’s supposed to sustain you, after all. Still, though, too much bread and butter will leave you kinda bloated and maybe looking a little puffy around the cheeks.
Along those food lines, I suppose writing is my fancy sushi shooter— I’d do it all day long if I could afford it.
But isn’t writing free? That’s a forgivable question with a tricky answer. On a strictly pecuniary scale, it is pretty much free. However, there is a significant opportunity cost to writing because, like anything that takes time, it takes bits and pieces of you and your life before you even know what’s happened.
I thought I found a loophole with the last novel I tried to write. You see, I have this problem where I think that I’m pretty clever. Surprise. Anyway, I figured I could cut down on this opportunity cost by involving some of the closest people in my life: after each chapter, I sent out a draft. It was a great success for the first one hundred pages! Then a strange thing happened: everybody had become interested in the fates of my darlings and I found myself wanting to please them all (like I said, they were my closest people and I do like to make that lot happy). One wanted love scenes which, I hate to admit, I simply cannot do without turning various shades of awkward. One wanted a reunion. All wanted the novel to finally be wrapped up (which would make it the first of my many creatures to be completed). And wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t make all of those happen so I ended up making none of it happen.
I sometimes think that I ought to start that novel all over again, but that would be so inorganic. When I began it the first time, I had just started dating this wonderful girl who had the most enchanting little cat (and being myself, I was completely in love with both of them by the second date) and, most importantly, we were living an hour apart and only saw each other a few days a week. Nowadays, that wonderful girl is my partner, that enchanting little cat is the leader of a pack of wild beasties, and my responsibilities in this grown- up life are significantly increased. And, honestly, I find myself judging the recklessness of some of my favorite characters a little differently than I used to.
All the same, I am lucky to say that this summer I am only partially employed and will be able to get back to my writing. The question is which novel gets written? The lesbian turn on a Shakespearean comedy, or the too-literary-for-its-own-good fantasy novel? Decisions, decisions. But a break from bread and butter is just what this body needs.
There are some people who write ‘blogs because they seek to educate mini-masses concerning topics that they feel are important. There are others who ‘blog because they have a particular skill that lends itself to such promotion (food critic, music critic, etc., basically anybody who thinks it is their grace-given talent to tell people what they are not doing perfectly). As for me, I ‘blog because I’m what used to be known as, “a talker.”
In fact, if left unsupervised for any more than an hour, I’m almost guaranteed to talk to strangers. This is not socially acceptable nowadays. Nor should I spend any more time talking to my pets because people may start to think that I’m expecting the cats to answer and that is just something that I cannot be troubled with when the bar starts looking into my fitness to practice.
So I ‘blog because, like many people, I’m looking to relate. And I think that, in day to day life, people become too concerned with the propriety of talking with certain individuals. You mustn’t talk to your superiors at work this way, you mustn’t tell family members that thing, and you certainly mustn’t say those words so loudly!
My need to talk, to relate, and to befriend (I cannot help that I was born to be intensely likable— it’s my gift and my curse! Well, that and a killer dead-pan delivery…) has earned me a few tsks in my years, so I find that it’s better that I keep a ‘blog— it means that if you get stuck in an elevator with me one day, I might not have quite so much to say.
It is a magical time. I don’t speak of one in the morning which, admittedly, is capable of magic (since it is also capable of being terrifying, and I mean to speak of a time that is always enjoyable). No, I speak of those precious two to four days before the final exam panic moves in.
During this brief time I do basically three things: sleep, drink, and bake. The first is to prepare myself, the second is to relax myself, and the third is to remind myself that as long as you can create something in the world, a law exam isn’t the end all to who you are.
Why baking for the third item in that list? Mostly because I enjoy it, however, there is probably good reason to stick with it. While it has been said, by smarter people than myself (as, supposedly, such people exist in the land of “They,”), that artists and writers are more closely related to crazy people than are non-creative individuals, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever equated making a cinnamon roll with stepping deeper into the lunatic realm. And, basically, if I had my druthers I would go insane before doing a semester’s worth of reading, not in the days leading up to exams.
1) Always apologize for thoughtless speech or conduct when it does harm.
2) Never apologize for your cooking.
3) Never serve your cooking if it is so thoughtless as to do harm.
On Adele’s new album, there are times when it sounds like she was raised by a pack of Mary J. Bliges. I cannot think of a higher compliment.
In other, totally unrelated news— I saw the rapture van on the road today. (Rapture van is an old Toyota van that I see some early mornings. It is covered with quotations from what I suppose is probably the Book of Mormon). According to rapture van, the rapture will be May 21, 2011. That is 2 days before Lady Gaga’s next album drops, so if you have plans to both be raptured and buy Born this Way, you’re going to have to work something out… (However, please note, rapture van’s registration was paid up through 2012 so I’m thinking the confidence level here is limited).