Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"If I Only Had the Nerve..."

I'm thinking of nerve right now, since I've wasted a perfectly good couple of hours playing and replaying the past and scripting a future encounter with a particularly repugnant bully of a father I had to sit a meeting with yesterday... realizing that yes, this was the same man who tried to make me look like a fool in front of a group of other parents when I'd volunteered to come in and teach them how to use a particularly useful Internet tool, unpaid, and yes, I would certainly need to face him again - next week, in fact, in conferences.  If it wasn't that his son, a sweet and genuine sixth grader with some attention issues, was such a love and one of the students I am particularly fond of, I'd like nothing more than to take a chunk out of his pompous, loudmouthed, bullying hide.  I've been running through possible cold retorts or stern rebukes I could use if he acts up during conferences - clever, pithy statements all, some taking the moral high road and others telling him that if he can't keep a civil tongue in his head, I've nothing more to say to him.

But who am I kidding?  I know myself.  I've got one heck of an imagination - and one heck of a lack of guts.  Simply put, I am a coward to make the Cowardly Lion proud.

Like my leonine cohort, I wish I had the nerve, too.  The lion, at least, really WAS a lion... he just needed the self-confidence.  Here behind my computer, I'm bold as a lioness... but get me face to face, and I'm a bit more like that mouse in the song.  Times when I've tried to "lion up" come back to haunt me... like the time I could have pitched a script idea to a Star Trek: The Next Generation writer at WishCon.  I'd approached him after a writing workshop he ran, asking how one got pitch sessions if one was a fledgeling writer, assuming that one followed the canon and his workshop tips.  He gave me a kind, succinct answer - then said, in so many words, "So, what have you got?"  At which point any nerve I'd had promptly abandoned me, I began tripping over my words, suddenly decided that the fully-developed idea I had for a script was absolutely the stupidest thing anyone could ever come up with, and stammered something about it just being in the idea phase and that I hoped I'd have a chance to attend another workshop maybe when it was more developed.  Then I fled... there's no other word for it.  There are other times, sure... but that's the Big One that my inner writer won't let go of, nagging at me again and again - what if that was My Chance?  You only get one, if you believe in that sort of thing.

But it's not just fate.  Not just a failure to grab that bit of happenstance and hang on with all ten fingers.  I just don't have the nerve, I'm afraid, to do what needs to be done to get my writing to that next level.  And what may that be?  Shmoozing.  Facetime.  Networking.

Networking is quite the buzzword, particularly in the writing industry... I hate to say it, but oftentimes, it's not talent but sheer dumb luck that gets you published.  That's how it worked with my first book... I was in the right place at the right time and was able to sufficiently match the series author's writing style to make a good fit.  Since then... haven't been in the right place and am not sure what the right time is.  People suggest e-mailing authors of similar books and asking who their agent is, or which editor they worked with... articles chant out the litany of how vital it is to get to conferences where you can get facetime with publishers and agents.  Of the options, I'd rather do the workshops - if I could only afford it; I still haven't worked up the nerve to do the e-mailing.  It might work - after all, if I had any possibility of being able to help another writer into the biz, I would (but I don't, so my help is, right now, worthless) - but... well, I haven't managed to "lion up" yet.

But I am working on my roar, anticipating the day when I will.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Dream Make-Me-Smile Apps...

- a "Smiling Dogs" app from The Bark magazine. Nothing like happy dogs to perk you up when you're down! I'd settle for an "Upside Down Dogs" app in a pinch!

- an "I Can Haz Cheezburger?" app. Yes, there are plenty of apps that feed you silly, captioned animal pics. I want to build my own.

- an audio scrapbook app. Am I the only besotted mommy who saves her son's voicemail?

- a "My Favorite Comics" app for the daily strips; my faves are scattered across syndications, and I'd love to get them all in one place. Mutts by Patrick McDonnell needs an app, period! And what I wouldn't give for Peanuts or Calvin & Hobbes!

- On that thread, a favorite catalogue of mine is SIGNALS (the public tv catalog); I could definitely do with an app there. Or for WIRELESS, the NPR catalogue.

- GeekMoms, where is YOUR app? C'mon, ladies, we're techie enough... I want to save my favorite content for reading when I'm not in a hot spot.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mr. Right vs. Mr. Good Enough vs. the Wounded Ninja

First off, let me say two things: this post details 'shippy material from GI Joe Ongoing #10, so be warned if you haven't read it yet. It also is not a suggestion that any woman "settle" for a relationship she isn't passionate about; to do so is a disservice to the poor guy said woman is stringing along.

My good netfriend, Andy, gave me the heads-up that today's issue of our favorite comic had some very cute Mainframe/ Scarlett interaction. Now, Andy knows that I'm a confirmed Snake Eyes/Scarlett 'shipper, but he also knows that I am MIGHTILY displeased with Chuck Dixon's character development so far, let alone with the Swiss cheese holes in the S/SE 'ship. Given my choice, I'd still pair the ninja and the redhead, if it could be written a bit better; pairing her with Duke, the alternately smug or snarky pretty boy, just leaves me cold.

Yes, Duke carries a torch for Scarlett. If he wasn't so in-her-face with it, his pining would be sweet. I almost felt bad for him, in the last issue of the Snake Eyes standalone title, back in December.  But... he can't seem to maintain likeability.  In the very next issue, he and Hawk are going all "old boys network" on Scarlett, with the general essentially handing the keys of the unit over to Duke - regardless of the fact that Scarlett outranks Duke in this continuity.  I just cannot like the guy as he's written... I almost wish he'd hook up with Helix, and get out of the picture.  Those two deserve each other.

But then there's Snake Eyes, who, in this continuity, is about as warm as a corpse in Antarctica.  Scarlett clearly has feelings for him, and he seems to occasionally reciprocate - but then makes tracks out on another mission, or pulls back into his ninja shell.  It makes Scarlett seem somewhat clingy and pathetic as she pines for HIM, which just isn't right - Scarlett is too strong a woman to be throwing herself at an unattainable man.

And so to Mainframe, the fobbit. (FOB is military-speak for Forward Operating Base - the last bastion of relative safety before you hit the combat zone). Admittedly, I have a soft spot for all the fobbit Joes - the ones with handles that indicate close affiliation with technology as opposed to weaponry or prowess in combat or warlike dispositions - probably because I'd be one if I was military. Mains is the king of fobbits, wizard of the technological, clever and personably and wonderfully geeky. Give him a computer or a tech problem to solve and he's easily the cyber equivalent to Snake Eyes.  Give him facetime with his fellow Joes and he's generally comic relief.  He, too, yearns for Scarlett - despite pretty much everyone warning him off, figuring he's got about as much of a chance with her as Helix does at becoming a grief counselor.  Poor Mainframe.

But in this issue, we get a subtle hint that he might not have such a bad chance after all.  Is Scarlett getting tired of hanging around, waiting for Snake Eyes to sprout some sort of reciprocated emotion?  Is she finally going to deck Duke for being such an idiot?  Who knows - but she gives Mainframe the tiniest bit of hope.

And you know, I don't mind.  I get the feeling that Mainframe would treat Scarlett better than either of the fellows she's currently entangled with. Granted, why Mains has fallen so hard for Scarlett is as full of holes as any of Dixon's non-combat characterization thus far; one assumes he can see the beauty of her mind and heart, the woman behind the soldier, but that's really just speculation. Geeks are men, too - so maybe it's just a body thing, and you can't blame a guy for trying.  Anyhoo, I'm okay with this, as far as my 'shippy side goes.  I'd rather Scarlett be with Snake Eyes, sure.  But Scarlett and Mainframe?  Hmmm.  I can get behind this.  Even like it.

It makes me think that maybe, just maybe, someone may be trying to send a subtle message to the readers.  (Okay, yes, I am definitely reading into this - but bear with me, will you?)  Most of the Joe readership is male... and, I'd hazard, most bear far more of a physical and temperamental resemblance to Mainframe than they do to either Snake Eyes or Duke.  In short... lots of them are tech guys, and a good chunk are geeks.  (Note - I do not consider "geek" a pejorative term.  I am, myself, proud of my geekiness.  Geeks are smart, funny, and a heck of a lot of fun to be around because they've always got something to talk about.  So there.)  A choice of Mainframe for Scarlett might be a nod to that contingent - hey, boys, guess what?  WE'RE gonna get the girl this time!  And not just any girl... not the one who's just beautiful on the INSIDE.  We're getting the hottie!  Woo hoo!

As for the wedge of female readers... well, maybe there's something in there for us, too.  Lots of us 'ship Scarlett and Snake Eyes because, at heart, we're romantics.  We like to think that for every strong woman there's a strong man, a knight in shining armor, a ninja in black, someone to have our backs and keep the demons at bay.  We like the hero motif, and most of us have dreamed of one day finding that one true Mr. Right, our very own storybook or comic book hero.  We don't need protectors or defenders most of the time... but what woman doesn't want to know that if we did need such a thing, our own fella would be right there between us and the Big Bad?  That we're worth fighting for?  Some of us were lucky enough to have the big brother who - for all his brotherly idiocy - would cheerfully pound into dust that ex boyfriend who made us cry.... but it's not the same.

Still, Mr. Right can only REALLY work out in stories.  Real life doesn't do perfect.  I've known far too many women who have looked and searched for that romantic ideal - for the stars and rockets, for the Cosmo sex, for the flowers and sensitivity, only to end up alone and frustrated and wondering what on earth is wrong with them.  Or, almost as bad, they find the guy they thought was Mr. Right - only to have reality come crashing down: no, men DON'T just know what to say when we have a bad day.  They DON'T understand that pointing out why your project bombed and how to do better next time is not the same thing as a comforting hug.  They watch a lot of football, or play a lot of video games, or don't talk about their feelings, or don't help out around the house.  God forbid, they are MEN, not storybook characters.

Some women, convinced that the fairy tales we've been fed since we were little are actually true, just keep looking.  They'll ditch the guy who turns out to be Mr. Good Enough, human but not Prince Charming, and keep on looking for that romantic ideal.  Or they pass by all the Mr. Good Enoughs to begin with.  Those nice guys from work, from the gym, from the MMO convention, because... well, he's a little short.  Or he has a receding hairline.  Or he's a bit pudgy.  And he has a really, really weird sense of humor.  He's not a very good dresser.  He's too mild and obliging.  He's not a prince... he's not charming.  He's available... but we don't want him, do we, ladies?  Nope.  He's "just a friend."  He's TOO available.

It wouldn't be Mr. Right, after all, if we didn't need to triumph over all odds to be with him, or heal his inner demons to allow him to become the man we knew he was inside.  Right?

Maybe that's why I'm finding part of myself rooting for Mainframe.  I was one of those women, looking for Mr. Right.  I had crushes on guys absurdly ill-suited to my own personality.  I thought opposites attracted.  I wanted the Bad Boy with a Heart of Gold.  The Knight in Shining Armor.  The storybook ideal.  Heck, I'm a WRITER... how wonderful would it be to find my own Happily Ever After?

Not unsurprisingly, things did not go well.  That they did not go catastrophically wrong - even fatally wrong - is a miracle in itself.  Seriously.  My favorite ex boyfriend is still the enlisted Navy manic depressive punk rock fanatic who got discharged from the Navy and shaved his eyebrows to match his head two weeks before my senior prom.  He showed up on the big night in borrowed Navy whites.  Daily uniform, not even dress whites.  And the truck he was in?  "Borrowed."  At least, that's what he told me.  The owner told my father a different story.  For all that, he was my Punker Prince Charming, and he treated me like the storybook princess I yearned to be.

My other exes are all roughly as strange, albeit a bit more normal looking... and some are considerably scarier, and I prefer not to think about them - only of how lucky I was to get AWAY from them without too much emotional scarring.  This went on well into my thirties.  At least I have a trunkload of characters and story starters to show for it... thought I cried for all of them when we broke up, and still can't hear certain songs without feeling like my heart will break to pieces.

And along the line, I bypassed a heck of a lot of wonderful guys - none of them Mr. Right, but all of them Mr. Good Enough - who probably would have treated me far better than any of the exes, but who I rejected for idiotically superficial reasons. 

Not cute enough. 

No "spark." 

Not a good kisser.

Too dull.

Ick - has a BEARD. 

Truthfully, I was something of an idiot, and passed up a lot of happiness because it didn't seem to be the sort of happiness I'd read in a comic book or see on a movie screen. 

The universe is, however, occasionally kind to stupid girls.  I didn't pass on the last Mr. Good Enough.  I refused to listen to the nagging princess hiding in back of my head... no, he's not a snappy dresser.  He's got a weird sense of humor.  He's socially awkward.  And he's only just my height - not one inch taller. 

But... he's kind.  He's responsible - with money and with promises.  He's gentle, and patient, and sometimes, his weird sense of humor makes me laugh.  We don't have everything in common... heck, we've got hardly ANYTHING in common on the surface.  Our joke is that he's a vegetarian-neoBuddhist-Libertarian whose hobbies are watching the news and following politics, and I'm a carnivorous-Catholic-social moderate who wants to put the Congress in a time-out while I curl up with a good book... but we've been married fifteen years now, and it looks like a forever thing.

He's not perfect.  He'll never be Snake Eyes or Prince Charming.  But... last time I checked, I bore NO resemblance to Scarlett, and the only princess I resemble is Princess Fiona from Shrek.  The green version.  If he's my Mr. Good Enough, I'm his Ms. Good Enough.  And he may not be an infallible hero... but y'know, he does remind me a bit of Mainframe.  Good old geeky Mainframe.  The reliable, huggable Joe who has no baggage to speak of, except perhaps a penchant for conspiracy theories.  The one who deserves a good woman.

You go, Mains.

And ladies... don't be so quick to pass up those "nice guys" who are "just good friends."  In the long run... friendship is what keeps things together.