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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Flotsam & Jetsam

I'm going to take a page out of Alex's book (blog?) and just talk about random stuff.

Blank page-itis- Just started a new project last week.  In some ways, there's nothing more simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying than that blank page is there?  All of the possibilities are there—the story just waiting to be told.  But... it's also a blank page meaning you eventually have to start.  And then once you do, the possibilities immediately narrow—the characters, the story, they start taking shape and in some cases, taking over.  The minute you put that first word down, that's it—you're cooked, one way or another.  But is it going to be perfectly sautéed or burned to a crisp?

Trends and timelessness- I read earlier this week where the Broadway musical Rent was going to be closing in June after a twelve-year run.  I've never seen the show on stage although I'm familiar with the music and the general premise (modern reinterpretation of La Bohéme) and I've seen the movie, which oddly, didn't do a lot for me, mostly because it felt dated and not in a good way.  I think it was a case of we're not quite far enough removed from the era in which it's supposed to take place to feel nostalgic about it, so it simply comes off a bit stale.  Which made me think about publishing and YA.  Other than the heyday of chick lit, I can't think of another genre that can be so much a product of the time in which it's written.  I know I've picked up some YA titles and they toss around brand names and slang and reference music and movies that were very of the moment when the book was written, but given the glacial speed at which publishing moves, by the time the book actually makes it to a shelf, might already be dated.  I know for some types of books it doesn't really matter, but that's a personal pet peeve of mine.  I want, in so much as it's possible, for my stories to have a timeless feel to them.  So I try to either use slang that's stood the test of time or make up my own—I might reference a current musician, but I try to balance it out with musicians who've been around forever.  It's not completely foolproof, even for the best of books.  I mean, you read Judy Blume's Forever and there's no denying it was written in the 1970s—however, it still maintains a timelessness.  What about you guys?  Any particular tricks you use?

Title stasis- I'm in the same boat as Jenn, sort of.  I need a new title for my '09 release.  We haven't gotten to the list-making stage, but I'm fairly sure it's not that far off.  It's a modern reinterpretation of the Carmen story and its original working title was A Thin Line, truncating the phrase, "a thin line between love and hate."  Problem is, it doesn't really evoke the Carmen feel very much.  Right now, my favorite title possibility is Roses in My Hands which plays into the performance aspect of the story and also evokes an important plot point.  To me, too, it also gives the visual imagery of a fiery gypsy with a rose tucked behind her ear.  But maybe not so much with the Carmen thing, however.  We'll see.

Okay, I'm sure I could blather on forever—haven't even talked about how jazzed I am that Mad Men took the Golden Globe for Best Series, Drama and Best Actor, Drama (Jon Hamm), but I've got people coming to replace carpet in my house.  Carpet that they should have put down right the first time, but didn't.  Feel my joy.  No, really, feel it.


Selah March said...

Personally, I'm looking forward to the list-making part of choosing that title. I like titles. I like lists. What's not to love?

Roses in my Hands is loverly. I'd like to get my hands on a libretto of Carmen and see if we can't find a good title in the lyrics, too.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Hey, you! I, too, try to avoid slang that will be quickly dated. As for the Golden Globes, I was thrilled Jeremy Piven won for his Ari Gold character on "Entourage.' I heart "Entourage" and have a serious thing for its creator, Mark Wahlberg.

stephhale said...

Blank pages are the enemy! :)

Jenny said...

Oh, C, I LOVE Mad Men! The martini lunches, the constant smoking, the women in dresses who worry about what to make for dinner, it's a study of a time in culture I just can't imagine. As someone who works in advertising, can't say I've ever sat down to a client lunch and ordered a martini.

Did it occur to you that Car Men could be a series about a 1960's era auto dealer?

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Selah, my darling, you are my anchor of sanity in the world of title decision-making. Yes, that should scare you. I really like Roses in My Hands too—I really hope Lovely Editor will see that it does, indeed, fit.

Lauren, Jeremy is one of my longtime Sooper Seekrit Boyfriends. I adore him and that rapid-fire wit like nothing else. So you can have Mark, I'll have Jeremy and we'll be good. :-)

Steph, they are definitely the enemy! But it's exciting too, isn't it? Or is that just me?

Jenny, MadMen makes me so very happy. It's one of the most delicious things I've ever experienced. Every episode is like getting a new, rich dessert with different textures and layers and explosions of flavor. (Can you tell I'm hungry?)

Car Men would definitely be interesting! If we think the sexism is bad in MadMen, could you imagine what it would be like in a car dealership of that era?

Kelly Parra said...

Wow, I hope you get to have ROSES IN MY HANDS--it's memorable and very cool! Good luck, Barb!

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Oh, I hope so, Kelly-- the more I think about that title, the more I want it. So think good thoughts in my editor's direction! *g*

alex mcaulay said...

yeah, Mad Men is really good! i was psyched to see it win too.