Commitment Issues

I have commitment issues. Big time.

As someone who has made plenty of bad relationship decisions before finding their “gem,” I find it hard to make a commitment to anyone, especially if it’s long-term.

I’m talking about antagonists, though the rules of relationships still apply. You’ve seen this with couples before, possibly friends of yours. She likes him. She wants more. She wants to make it permanent. And why not? She’s great! Smart! Savvy! She has a job! Together, they could have a very happy life — or, at least, a great long-term relationship.

Unfortunately, he’s not so sure. He thinks he’s in his prime and should keep his options open just in case a lingerie-model-sports-fanatic-sex-addict-gymnast who never wants to talk about her feelings comes along.

Sorry, pal. She doesn’t exist.

Okay, if she does exist, she’s not going for him. She’s going for an old, wrinkly, rich dude who can do great things for her career.

In an alternate universe, he spends his evenings hiding in the bushes outside your bedroom window with a pair of binoculars.

To be honest, I hold out for antagonists just like the delusional friend. With a bit of decent, honest work, I can come up with someone who could make me decently happy. We’d have a nice, long-term relationship. But would they be the antagonist of my dreams? Probably not.

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Work It, Own It

I started my local writers’ group a few months ago through my church. Though it’s a church-sponsored event, it is open to anyone and no one is required to write religious material. It is a writers’ group, not an evangelist group. People can bring whatever they want. We have a good time, most of the time. Even my pastor attends.

At our last meeting, we had a great turnout. Plus, everyone had made remarkable improvement since the last gathering. The stories were fantastic. The critique discussions were even better. The new tea selection I brought was awesome. But when it became our romance writer’s turn to read, things took a strange turn.

I could tell she was excited by the way she started reading it so I was excited to hear it. And it really was wonderful! Her scenes were “bumped out” with description and dialogue and the pacing was great and filled with intrigue. As the novel is written in the first person, we reached a section in the middle where the protagonist (female) is thinking about this guy she sleeps with on occasion. The arrangement is not a romance thing. The protagonist is happy with her career-centric life and is fine with being the occasional one-night fling. In fact, the protag is the one who leaves the hot, hunky beefcake in the morning! (I liked that little twist.)

Sense. This picture makes none.

As the protagonist is thinking about her hunky piece of man-meat, she recounts their last few steamy encounters in vivid detail. And as the author is reading this, I can’t help but notice she’s tripping over her own words, sounding less enthusiastic about the story and her protagonist’s explicit thoughts. Her voice is also a little quieter. In the back of my mind I take note that since there is no romance in this story (the protagonist is not interested in love) it’s not the romance genre. It’s technically erotica.

So we’re listening to a portion about this guy’s amazing body and the size of his member and the “motion of the ocean” and suddenly, wouldn’t you know, the author comes to a complete halt in the middle of a sentence.

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First Person Tense. It’s Tense.

Every time I kill someone, their soul lands on the far side of the Styx. The ferryman that navigates the river knows the faces of my victims well since I kill them regularly.

This is the opening of my debut novel, THE FOURTH CHANNEL.

Debut. n. Fancy word for “I rewrote this enough times to qualify for a half dozen new novels”.

Right away, you can see that I went with first person perspective. I did this for a very technical and artistic reason that will blow your mind: This guy said all new writers should avoid first person and I took it as a challenge.

In my defense, his reasoning is that first person perspective demands a strong, unique voice and I was convinced I could do it. I wanted to grow as a writer and thought it would be smart to go the hardest route, upstream without a paddle, dragging the remnants of sad first drafts behind me.

So I did. It took me a few rewrites, but I accomplished it! Ha! Showed you, James N. Frey! Proudly, I handed my brilliantly crafted novel off to someone for editing — an anal-retentive, OCD programmer with a strict, by-the-book grip on grammar who upholds the Oxford comma with an unholy passion: My spouse. And then I waited for his gushing over my story to begin.

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No Right or Wrong: Finding Your Own Way

Over the internet’s relatively short life, I’ve learned a few truths about it:

1. It’s awesome for video and tabletop gaming with friends all over the world

2. It’s optimal for solo, clandestine, adult adventures in the dark (or so I hear)

3. It’s the ideal place to share awesome advice and insight from the heart, only to be told that you’re a clueless moron who should give up their aspirations and dreams and remove themselves from the gene pool, stat.

The internets. Serious business.

No one really has time for me to yammer on and on and on about number one. No one wants to hear me awkwardly try to explain what little I know about number two (you know I’m incapable of writing romance and erotica — especially if I’m prohibited from adding explosions and ninjas). So let’s go with door number three.

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