Thursday, June 14, 2012
Talk Thursday: Giving Up, Giving In
Oh, did I mention it was my birthday two days ago? It was. I'm 43. I had this big birthday blog post planned, full of all the cool stuff that's happened since I was born (The collapse of the Berlin Wall! Men walking on the Moon! The Statue of Liberty! No, wait a minute--I'm not THAT old.) But my firm softball team had practice, and by the time I got home I really didn't feel like doing much more than going to bed. Yes, I said "firm softball team." I forget how I got talked into this. Our first game is next Thursday. I actually did hit the ball a few times, so maybe there's hope.
Here's where I get weird on you guys and start talking about a third-rate horror film called "The Mist." Well, actually it's a pretty decent horror film, for all that it was made on a low budget, and it's based on a Stephen King story. (Major spoilers ahead. You have been warned.) If you're still there, what basically happens is that a creepy fog takes over a town and traps a bunch of people in a supermarket. There are creatures out there in the fog. Creatures with tentacles and long insecty appendages and big wings. In short, giant bugs. We only gradually get to see them, and I'm pretty sure we don't get to see one full-on until about halfway through the movie. Conditions in the supermarket deteriorate, people start going crazy, one woman starts a psuedo-religious cult and the few that are still sane decide it's time to make a run for it. They get as far as a car and escape onto a deserted road where they can't see more than ten feet ahead. Are there giant bugs everywhere? There are. Does it seem like all the humans have been killed? It does. Has civilization been wiped out? It looks quite possible. The people in the car start to bicker, then get into a heated argument, then finally decide if they don't find safety before they run out of gas, they'll commit collective suicide with the one gun they have between them.
Well, this being a Stephen King story, the ending's not that simple. (In fact the ending changed slightly from the story to the movie, but I'm not going to tell you how.) The car comes to a halt, night starts to fall, and the intrepid travelers discover they don't have enough bullets for everyone. So the brave hero guy offers to kill everybody, including his young son, and take his chances on the road. He shoots his fellow passengers in the head, saving his son for last, and then gets out of the car, fully expecting to be eaten by a giant bug. Instead, a cordon of Army troops marches out of the fog and "rescues" him. And after all the stuff with the mist and the giant bugs and the psuedo-religious cult and How People React In Very Tense Situations, it turns out that what the movie was actually about was giving up. When do you do it? Why do you do it? And how do you live with yourself, if God forbid, you give up ten minutes too soon?
Obviously I'm getting to something here. I should stop messing around and just address the frick'n point, already. I'm talking about Mindbender, kids. I sent query letters No. 106 and 107 this morning. Is this a big deal? No, not really. Having apparently worked through most of my query letter anxiety, I think I can keep writing query letters until the cows come home, or until the giant bugs attack, anyway. But let's consider: I wrote the book in, I think, 2001. (When did I have my breakdown? I think it was late 2001. Didn't everybody have a breakdown in 2001? It was not a good year.) So, okay, it might have been 2000. And then I had the breakdown and did nothing for three years, and in 2004 I started writing the new draft, and then we moved to Dallas, and a bunch of other stuff happened, and I wrote another draft, and then I met Kellum and Sally, and I started writing Spellbinder and Soulmender and then I went to that thing in New Orleans and--okay, I think we're caught up. If Mindbender were a human being it'd be demanding a Nintendo DX and a new ten-speed. It would be almost five feet tall. It would be angsting about starting middle school next year.
You're getting the idea, right? I'm wondering if I might be Wasting My Time. Or somebody's time, anyway. I'm wondering if the Time For Getting Mindbender Published has come and gone. Or if it never came in the first place. Look, I string words together pretty well. I don't doubt I can write a publishable novel. I just wonder if I've done it, this time.
Or if I should go back to the proverbial drawing board and, you know, give up.
At least I hope they're crickets and not, you know, giant bugs. Like in a Stephen King story.