I’m back, finally. Lots of stuff goin’ on in SageLand, but with any luck, I’ll be able to stay in the saddle for awhile. Just think of me as your lovable bloggeroo. Yippyio!
While I’m quite aware of seemingly endless discussions about art imitating life, and vice versa, my writing has always drawn enough from the realm of the fantastic to keep it safely away from art/life arguments. Until now.
I’m very close to letting my emotions drive my next fiction project. I want to use the villain in my life today as the villain in my next novel. That would give me endless opportunities to visit dreadful things on an ever-so-deserving miscreant. The problem is that writing a novel takes time, and I want to eviscerate this scoundrel now. Today. I don’t want to wait.
The target of my ire is Bank of America. Call me stupid, but I fell for one of their fecal fajitas. I listened to their lies, followed their advice, even paid off a mortgage loan years ahead of time. They paid me back by destroying my credit.
Think I’m over-reacting? Check out what some other folks have said who found themselves in the same overcrowded boat: Nuthin’ but 1-star reviews at ComsumerAffairs.com, and here’s what Pat Garofalo had to say about ’em at US News & World Reports. Just calling them “crooks” hardly does them justice. On that scale, Hitler was simply “mean spirited.”
If I’d wanted to get mugged, I’d have taken a stroll through an urban park with my wallet exposed, my holster empty, and my gun hand tied behind my back. I never expected the mugging to come from a bank, especially one named after my country. Now that’s a sad, sad irony.
So, what does all this have to do with writing? Well, since I don’t buy ink by the barrel, the best I can do is hope to expose this monstrous corporate parasite, or at least steer future unsuspecting victims in a different direction. Having dealt with one corrupt financial institution doesn’t mean all the rest suck, too. Far from it. So I’ll have to use care to ensure I blast only the wicked, and not cause any collateral damage.
I’ll have my emotions chained to memories of my experience with Bank of America when I spin my next tale, and it’s HIGHLY likely to have a bank or a banker as a bad guy. Maybe not the bad guy, but certainly one of them. I’ll probably use a name for this institution that isn’t exactly Bank of America, because that might leave me open to some sort of libel suit, and I don’t have time for that even though I’m reasonably sure that if the press got wind of it — and why wouldn’t they? — Bank of America would come out looking (and smelling) like last week’s Hagfish Helper.
Emotions ought to play a powerful role in fiction. The potential for readers to latch on to a writer’s feelings grow proportionately with the depth of those emotions. In this case, it’s self-righteous anger; next time around it could be something else — the frustration of dealing with bureaucrats, fear of natural and/or unnatural disasters, or perhaps the overwhelming sense of futility one encounters watching a political debate (or possibly wandering into the ladies section of the local department store).
Here’s the thing, if you have to suffer through something emotionally jarring, you have very few options for turning it to your advantage. As a writer, you have many more such opportunities. Cash in on that emotion! Turn it toward a fictive character, institution or situation, and make it work for you.
And for God’s sake, remember to use strong verbs!
More soon, I promise.