Bitses

Where is time going? Why are the days flying past so quickly? It seems impossible and ridiculous that two and a half weeks should have passed since the last time I posted. And it’s not like I have anything to say–I just felt the need to say whatever. So I’m just going to write a bunch of bits.

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Last night my sister and I watched the 2nd and 3rd episodes of Caprica. So far, so good. As far as I can tell, a lot of stuff is being set into motion, and I’m starting to be very curious to see how it all plays out. And not even interested to see how it plays out in a way that leads to the world of Battlestar Galactica–just interested to see how it plays out on its own terms. That being said, there is something connecting both series that I’m curious about. In BSG, Joseph Adama, Bill’s father, is known as a great jurist. (Or at least that’s my recollection.) In Caprica, he’s Joe Adama and he’s a corrupt mob lawyer. I want to know how one man becomes the other. I hope I’ll see it.

Whatever happens, the ads for this week’s episode make me want to see it now. My sister and I talked about watching two episodes every other week; I’m not sure I can wait that long.

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After finishing Deborah Crombie’s Necessary As Blood a couple of weeks ago, I was absolutely compelled to start the series at the beginning again. I flew through the first seven books–A Share in Death; All Shall Be Well; Leave the Grave Green; Mourn Not Your Dead; Dreaming of the Bones; Kissed a Sad Goodbye; and A Finer End–but now I’m slowing down. I think it’s partly because I remember the more recent books more clearly than the older ones; I’m having a “Oh, yeah, this one…” reaction.

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I’ve also been writing: scribbling the first draft of the mess-in-progress, and averaging over 500 words a day, which is a smoking pace for me; and writing posts for The Moody Muses.

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I’m unlikely to watch the Super Bowl tonight–it’s not how I want to spend that time–but I hope the New Orleans Saints win. They’re underdogs and that city has been through enough. It’s not even that I don’t want the Colts to lose. It’s really all about the Saints.

Deborah Crombie’s Necessary As Blood

I finished Deborah Crombie’s Necessary As Blood on the bus today–it was a fabulous read, that kept me up too late for a couple of nights–and as I was finishing it, I realized one of the things I like about the series, in addition to the ones I’d discovered originally: I like the relationships between the characters. Not just Gemma and Duncan, and their children, but the ones they have with their coworkers and friends, and the relationships those people have with each other. I also read the books to see how those relationships develop, to see what happens next.

Realizing that tonight made me realize that I love the same thing in my two guilty-pleasure TV shows, NCIS and Bones, and it’s one of the many things I loved about Battlestar Galactica. I’m not sure this has any meaning for my writing, but I suspect it does. I know that I’m interested in the connections my characters have with each other. There’s a line in U2’s great song, One: “We get to carry each other.” I think that’s true; I think we carry each other through our friendships. Maybe that’s something I need to hold in mind as I keep scribbling away.

April 10, 2009: Wasted

Today was a work holiday because the NYSE was closed (as it is every Good Friday). You would think this would be a perfect opportunity to get buckets of work done.

Um, no.

Strangely, sometimes when I have a wide-open day, I get nothing done. Today, I spent some quality time with the beloved, which is never a waste of time, but then I spent several hours watching NCIS, my guilty pleasure. The worst part is that most of them were Kate episodes, and Kate just gets on my nerves.

Truthfully, I think my day off happened to hit at a time when the well is nearly empty. I did write the second half of a very short scene, but that was all, just 200 or so words, not much more than a page. It was everything I had in my head, too. I’ve been so productive that this is aggravating, but I can’t be impatient with myself; this is how it works for me, floods and droughts, floods and droughts.

So was the day wasted? I don’t think so. I spent time with someone I love, always a good thing, and I was wise enough, for once, not to force myself to try writing from a dry well, and when I didn’t produce enough, I didn’t berate myself for it. I’m frustrated with my process, but accepting of it, and that’s a nice place to be.

March 21, 2009: Hope Redeemed

This probably won’t be the last Battlestar Galactica-related post I’ll ever write, but it is the last one I’ll write in response to a new episode. My sister and I broke down and watched the series finale last night, instead of waiting for tonight, the traditional Saturday night.

My initial, exhausted response that it was perfect. Heart-bruising, but perfect. I’ve calmed down and slept and talked a bit, and now my reaction is a bit more tempered. I don’t think it was perfect. But I don’t think it could have been better. My fears were groundless; my wildest, unspoken, unacknowledged hopes were transcended. Most, but not all, of the questions were answered, and it seems right and fitting to me that this should be so. This was a show grounded — if that’s possible — in ambiguity and uncertainty, so how could it end with all the questions answered? Not all the mostly good (because no one was entirely good) were rewarded, but enough were; not all the bad (because no one was wholly bad) were punished, but enough were.

I think I’m going to be processing this story for a long time. For once in my life, the storytelling part of my brain glommed onto a story while it was being told and set out to learn from it. I’ve said before that I can feel BSG impacting my choices and possibilities; it seems to me as I continue to work on Dragonfly that this is only accelerating. I find myself thinking of ways to pull the rug out from under my characters, instead of trying to protect them from pain and travail.

That’s a huge change for me, and one that I think will make my job easier. Like Ronald Moore, David Eick and the rest of the people connected with BSG, I will strive not to do anything cheaply or for mere gimmickry, but to allow my characters to find out what they’re made of, and to fulfill their potential. By protecting my characters, I’ve deprived them of the opportunity to grow, but that stops now. Because of BSG.

March 15, 2009: What I Feel

I’m going to be a bit BSG-obsessed for the next week. I can’t help it. One of the reasons I love the show is that there’s so much to it, and as it winds down, there’s a lot to consider. James Poniewozik, Time magazine’s TV critic, sums up my feelings about the end of the show in his column on this past Friday’s episode:

Speaking of which: tomorrow I’ll be seeing a screening of the last two hours of the finale, which is exciting but also leaves a pit in my stomach because after that I will never see a new episode of BSG again.

I really don’t have much else to say tonight.

March 14, 2009: More Hopeful

Okay, I no longer believe everyone dies at the end of BSG. I think it has the potential to be really great, especially if you watch “Daybreak” as a single episode. It felt like things were being set up in last night’s episode.

But, still, the sadness comes. I’m going to miss these people. I’ll be able to watch episodes again and again, at will, but still, it won’t be the same.

March 12, 2009: Gifts of the Girls

Last night, when I settled in to work, I fully intended to fix a bit of description I’m not happy with. It’s not particularly meaningful to the POV character, Prince Kerlis, which makes it, well, boring. I’m getting a lot accomplished by focusing on small, discrete problems like that, especially now that I’ve freed myself from the need to write in a linear way, so it seemed natural to approach a bit of revision this way.

However, the Girls in the Basement had other ideas. Instead of thinking how the bit of description should go, a scene from later in the book popped into my mind and began to unroll in my imagination. That rarely happens to me, so I thought it wise to write what the Girls had given me. (It never pays to defy the Girls.) So far I’ve got 750 words, not including the set-up information I’ll need later, which is a pretty good total for less than 24 hours.

More

March 8, 2009: Storytelling

Now that Battlestar Galactica is down to its last three hours, I’m really starting to wonder how it’s going to end…and I’m starting to be certain it’s going to end badly. I don’t know how the writers — Ron Moore in particular, since he wrote the final, two-hour episode — can get the story from where it is now to a hopeful place. My fear is that everyone is going to die, and that they’re going to die for nothing. As it stands now, no one has anything good in his or her life — even the characters closest to happiness know exactly how fragile and provisional it is. It’s a haunted happiness.

If it ends gloomily, with everyone, everyone, dead, I will infuriated. I think I’d be able to bear it if all the characters I love — Bill and Saul and Laura, Lee and Kara, Helo and Athena — die so that the rest of humanity lives, and lives in a better place than slowly starving on ships in a shabby, deteriorating fleet. Their deaths will have meaning. But if everyone dies for nothing — if the ultimate point of the series is “Life sucks and then you die”, well, I will be angry for all the time and emotion I wasted on the series.

I’m already familiar with the idea that life is a pointless struggle that ends in death, more familiar with it than I want to be. I don’t want it reiterated or reinforced by the storytellers I turn to and trust. I don’t want them to tell me stories that reinforce a notion I think is pernicious. I think taking a story into black-darkness is as easy and false as taking it into soppy, sentimental uplift. I think the hard part is finding honest hope, even in the darkness, and until very recently, I’ve trusted that the writers and producers of BSG are smart enough to know that, and to write stories that achieve that.

The accelerating losses of the last few episodes are eroding my faith. I want to believe that this is the darkness before the dawn. Maybe it is; the last two episodes are “Daybreak Part 1 & 2”. If that’s what it is, and Moore et al bring this long saga to happy conclusion, then this will have been one of the most amazing storytelling experiences I’ve ever had, one that I will mine for my own writing.

But if they don’t…

February 28, 2009: Scared

I realized last weekend that I’m afraid of the end of Battlestar Galactica. I’m resisting watching the last episodes because they bring that ending all that closer.

I’m afraid for two reasons. The first is that I’m afraid the ending will (to be blunt) suck. It’s really hard to pull a great ending off — I’ve never managed to do it — and the rest of the series has set the bar very high. The worst part is that a muffed ending will taint the rest of the series, and will make it harder to re-watch.

The other reason is the mirror image of the first. I’m afraid the ending will be powerful and perfect, leaving me with the longing to spend more time in BSG’s storyverse. I always cry at the end of Lord of the Rings — for years I thought I was sad that Frodo was leaving Middle-Earth, and then I realized I was crying because I was leaving. That’s what I think will happen when Battlestar finally ends: I’ll cry because I’m leaving.

Sure, I’ll be able to go back to that world — all it will take is popping one of the DVDs into the DVD player. But that won’t be the same as visiting my old friends and seeing what’s new with them.

Of the two possibilities, I prefer the latter — too many people have worked too long and too hard for this to fall apart at the end. My heart will break either way; I’d prefer it break over beauty than disappointment.

January 17, 2008: Wow

Wow.

That’s all I’ve got.

Just wow.

I’m talking about the first of the last ten episodes of Battlestar Galactica (BSG), which my sister and I watched tonight. I don’t want to give anything away (which assumes I could be coherent about it in the first place), but those 45 minutes took the story to a whole new level. A whole new, even bleaker level.

And the revelation of the final Cylon was brilliant because of its context. It means something beyond the revelation itself. It changes what we know about the storyverse; it makes everything we think we know a big, honkin’ question mark.

I love that, because it does it in a way that plays fair with the audience and stays true to everything that preceded it. It’s a twist that leaves me speechless, but it’s not cheaply done. Years ago, when I came to the end of my first reading of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, I was stunned because the ending was both suprising and inevitable. I didn’t see it coming, but once it arrived, I knew the story couldn’t have ended any other way.

This particular revelation isn’t exactly the same, because it’s 1/10 of the ending episodes, not the end of the series. However, I hope and pray (and have some faith) that the producers and writers of BSG can end the series the same way Styron concluded Sophie’s Choice: with an ending that’s surprising and yet so fitting and perfect it seems, in hindsight, to have been inevitable.

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