Thursday, April 18, 2013

Creepy Dream

Last night’s dream was one that I hadn’t ever had before, and I wonder now what it could mean. Even as parts of it are starting to unravel, I can still feel its effects on my subconscious. I am going to write it down as best as I can before it evaporates from my mind for forever. I tell people that I have these full-length picture dreams, and I swear they think I’m making it up. So, I’ve decided to write them down. One thing I find comical, I rarely, if ever, curse in my awake-world. While I can’t proclaim that actual words formed in my head during the dream, it is/was more like an instantaneous knowledge of what a word/sentence meant or felt like while I was living the dream, and in this dream, I had a sailor’s mouth. Yikes.
~ ~ ~ ~
I’ve never seen or been to this place before: a war ravaged city landscape with overcast skies, which added to the foreboding atmosphere. I was with a group of people that I knew well. They were my fellow soldiers (however, in my awake world—hindsight—I can’t even recall their faces). We all hunched down behind some sort of barricade. Someone shouted that we were out of ammunition. I refused to believe him. I looked down at the weapon in my hand that I was obviously familiar with (although how that was possible I can’t rationally explain).
It was at this point the crushing realization of imminent doom came down on our entire group. I raised my head to scan the distance and saw the approaching enemy. German soldiers, (wait…what? Germans??). Yes, enemy soldiers dressed in WWI garb were closing in on our location, and we had nothing with which to defend ourselves.
I slumped against the low wall and squeezed my eyes shut. This can’t be happening, I thought. I’m going to die. The certainty of this fact was tangible. Panic gripped my heart, and I squeezed the weapon with my trembling hands. No, no, my mind screamed. Terror ripped through my body. There has to be a way out. There must be a way. I refused to accept the inevitable.
I took a sharp breath to fill my lungs and held it. What if this really is it? Shit! There are no what ifs. This really is going to happen. I exhaled with a choking sob. Think! Think! No answers came to me. I faced the truth that I was going to die.
What is it about the end that scares me so much? A brief flash of torture surfaced from the depths of my worst fears. I don’t want to suffer!
Somehow, just by acknowledging my fear, I experienced a sense of relief. The pain can’t last for forever. At some point, it has to pass. I welcomed the calming emotion my self-reasoning was bringing about. Yes, the thought is scary, but it’ll pass. You’re tough; you can endure it long enough for it to pass. A strange sense of well-being flowed through me. I no longer felt the gripping hold of terror and panic.
Our enemy was right in front of us, yet our allies were quite a ways behind us. There was no way we were going to make it to safety. Someone from our group shouted orders that we must retreat. The group scattered. In my peripheral vision, I saw my fellow soldiers cut down with gunfire. A sense of urgency filled me, yet my body responded as though I was under water. I spun to look over my shoulder. An enemy soldier pointed his weapon at me. I saw fire spark from the tip of the barrel. There were no sounds now, only silence. A sharp pain stabbed through my side and the world tumbled before me.
Damn, I thought, this is what I had most feared. It’s happened. I’m shot. Warmth spread beneath me. I knew it was my own blood. The pain dissolved into nothing. I was glad for that. See, you did it. It wasn’t so bad after all. Peace settled over and around me.
I lay there for a while wondering what death will be like and waited for it to come. Sounds came back. Chaos surrounded me once again, but death still hadn’t come. The bullet must’ve missed any vital organs, I thought. Then I pondered the process of bleeding to death. I’ll just fall into a blissful sleep. I was okay with dying that way. At least it isn’t something horrible, like drowning or burning. Still I wasn’t dying, though.
I moved my arms and legs and found them to be fully functional. You idiot, get up before they realize you’re not dead and shoot you again! Maybe there was still enough life left in me to get back to my people. If I hurry, maybe they could get me to a medic and I won’t have to die. Crap! Get up! Get out of here!
I lifted myself out of the sticky ooze that had turned monochrome like the surrounding landscape, and crouched as I ran to a car in the distance. When I reached it, I opened the passenger door and climbed inside, but when I looked out the window, another enemy soldier pointed his weapon and fired rounds into the car. I felt the bullets penetrating the side of my body. Shit, crap! Great…this is just great. I’m not going to make it for sure now. I waited for the pain of the bullets to seize me—they definitely hurt—but not anything close to how much the first one had hurt. Is that it? I was a bit surprised. I'm in shock. That’s why it’s not hurting as bad. Yeah, that made sense.
A man jumped into the driver’s seat and started the car. I looked over at him and saw his mouth spread into a huge grin. He was an enemy soldier! I opened the car door and ran. I heard a shot ring out and felt a sting in my buttocks. Really?  I'd had enough.
I ran past a boat covered with a tarp. I looked around. No one was paying attention to me, and so I jumped/crawled under the tarp and waited. The sounds of chaos died down, and then I heard voices, familiar voices. I lifted the tarp and called out for someone to come get me. When they came to me, I tried telling them that I had been shot but no one heard me.
Almost instantaneously, I was in a building. In my dream-world it was “home,” or something akin to that (although, I can’t recall what it even looked like right now). I was quite frustrated that no one seemed to care about my wounds, or that I probably had bullet fragments that needed to be taken out of me—surgically most likely—although, the wounds weren’t bleeding anymore, but they did appear quite ugly (I have no idea now how I knew that).
I tried to get the attention of some of the people in the room (or even a little sympathy), but no one really cared. I lifted my shirt and showed the wounds to someone and his eyes widened.
“See,” I shouted. “I told you!”
“Oh, we need to do something about those,” he said.
Finally!!! Someone is listening to me, I thought.
Then he said, “I didn’t realize it was that bad— ”
~ ~ ~ ~
Max—my grumpy dog—woke me right then. It was morning and time for him to go out.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Pitfalls of a Novice Writer

   I was SO incredibly naive when I first ventured into the realm of creative writing. I am very glad I didn't know then what I know now. I am sure I would've never stuck it out. I have literally done everything wrong that's possible for novice writers. I'm probably banned from New York. I just know that when agents and publishers look at my query and see the name "CHRISBACHER" they heave a big sigh followed by an eye roll, then hit the delete key, or throw the papers into the garbage.

Here is a list of my NO-NOs:
1.  A quarter of the way through my first draft (on my first ever attempt at writing a manuscript), I sent out query letters to just about everyone in NY, practically announcing, "Hey, I've arrived on the scene... You better snatch me up before you lose out."
2.  I suck at grammar (did I mention that before?). I still do, but I've worked very hard over the last six or seven years to correct this character flaw (I say this because for me it isn't like math or computers, grammar rules WON'T stick in my noggin).
3.    Up to that point--six months into writing my first manuscript--I didn't even know about critique partners.
4.    Didn't know anything about not using cliches.
5.    Had no clue about POV.
6.    I practically "told" everything with very little "show."
7.    Excessive use of weak words:  it, began, started, suddenly...
8.    My tenses were all over the board.
9.    Never heard of character arc or plot & pacing.
10.  An egregious number of formatting issues, which later took hours to clean up.
11.  Wrote a five page flashback in the first chapter.

   I still cringe at the recollection of those early days. Lessons learned the hard way. When I'm with a group of people, just hanging out or maybe at a conference, and I hear someone talk about how they're going to write a book and plan to become published, my ears perk up. I listen in silent agony when I hear them prattle on, discussing their visions of how it will all play out. Once or twice I made the mistake of interjecting, by offering some of my insight. Each time I was shut down (much the way I once reacted when done to me). Nowadays, I bite my tongue and silently pray on their behalf that they're spared the pain of my errors by showing more wisdom and forethought than I showed those first years.

   For the last four-and-a-half years, I've participated with critique groups. I started out with a large group that I attended for many years. I won't go into great detail in this blog post about that experience (I will dedicate an entire session on this topic at another time); however, what was born out of that experience were several friendships without whom I would've thrown in the towel long, long ago. A group of talented authors who graciously took me under their wings and nurtured me along to the point of where I am now. Vastly different individuals, each one possesses a unique ability quite separate from the others, yet when put together works like magic.

   I will end this session with one final point. The epiphany that finally sunk into my thick noggin, but only after picking myself up from the floor when the shattering realization that I had a better chance at winning the Powerball than I did at getting my query past the New York slush piles. To see the rejections my friends received--whose works are truly amazing and surefire best sellers--was mind boggling. I mean, I can understand why mine was overlooked, but for theirs to be shot down time after time was inconceivable to me. What hope did I have? For so long I persevered under the dilution that if I just stuck with it; if I sent out enough queries... C'mon, if "Fifty Shades of Grey," can be a best seller...(no offense to "Fifty Shades" fans, but it really is the worst written book ever). The world is a crazy place.

   This segues nicely into my next session titled: INDIE PUBLISHING a Bold New Adventure.

Take care, my friends.
K. Chrisbacher

Friday, March 29, 2013

My dog is a never ending stream of entertainment

Here goes...

Well, I have to start somewhere. Here is as good a place as any. I've been reluctant to start blogging because, well, I don't really know why. It is a bit scary. I feel so naked. I mean, writing a novel is so much different in that I can hide behind my characters. Sure they're all some version of me, but there's a comfortable layer between me and the world called fiction. Don't get me wrong, writing fiction is HARD, and I've made every mistake in the book (I'll have to expound on that subject someday), none-the-less it's safe.

I have all these fears, like, what if I can't keep up the commitment? What if I make typos and grammar errors? Blah-blah...

But then I started thinking about the endless possibilities of what I can do and my heart beats faster. I want to write a diary from one of my main character's point of view, of her times in high school. I want to write about the funny things my children did growing up. I want to write about my adventures, hopes, dreams.

Well, here's to starting!

K. Chrisbacher