The greatest decade of the twentieth century is this week’s topic. 1900 to 1999. Let’s see. The 90’s had okay clothes. Music, though Grunge is not my thing. It did have some good Techno, though, and you can sort of date me musically to the 90’s based on how much Nine Inch Nails and Frontline Assembly shows up in my playlist. Got to see my first total solar eclipse in the 90’s, too. On a ship. In the Caribbean. The three plus minutes of totality were worth having gone into debt for. I got married in the 90’s. Graduated from college, too.
If you look at the radio station I favor and look at the music I buy these days, you’ll find that I’m a throwback to New Wave and to the dance music (not disco – oh GODS – not disco, that crap’s way too slow) of the 80’s. I spent a lot of time in under 21 dance clubs (no alcohol, no real meat market, fewer fights, stabbings, shootings). The fashionable – which I was not and have never been – had insanely big hair and clothes that were more accessory than clothing. Teenage anthem movies were big. (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Flashdance, Footloose . . .) It was a huge political decade. We saw the end of the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall came down. In the Pacific Northwest, Mount St. Helens came down as ash all over the state.
The 70’s? Great decade despite the clothes, the music and the hair. Thank the gods I was a child and therefore not subject to the fashions of the day. I still have shame over some of the bell bottom jeans I wore as a kid. Man, some of those things doubled as split skirts. What I liked about the 70’s was that Nixon ended the Vietnam war – before getting his butt impeached. This mattered. Dad was in the Air Force and got stationed to Vietnam. Ended up not going because THE day he was to report to his transport, he came down with mono. Flight surgeon grounded him. Thus, I still have a father. We ended up stationed in Iceland during the 70’s. My sister and I got to see things few other people ever get to see: Blue whales migrating past the rocks we were standing on. A volcano erupting (from a distance). Geysers – up close. The slash through Iceland that is the mid-Atlantic Rift pulling the two sections of the island apart. It was an amazing experience. The rest of the decade, after we returned to the US, was full of things like Girl Scout camps, strep throat and ear infections. Sometimes, all three things at once.
Ah, but the 60’s. THIS is the one I think takes the title of Greatest Decade. Yeah, yeah. Stupid clothes. Stupid hair. But hope and optimism? Available in spades. Along with enough people all questioning the status quo at the same time that great changes in social policy followed. Granted, I’m a little annoyed that a bunch of the people who participated in all of that activism seem bound and determined to undo it all now – but that’s another post for another time. I’d rather focus on the power of the masses to effect great change in a country when the people are galvanized by any number of causes. Civil rights were won – not that racism died – but a meaningful start to recognizing humans as humans regardless of skin color at least got underway. Above all things, I think the 60’s were the greatest decade because of the power of a single event to spur a generation of kids just barely old enough to remember sitting in front of their tiny black and white TV sets while dressed in footy pajamas, watching the first men step onto the moon. Had you been there and asked any of us who watched that with our own eyes what we wanted to be when we grew up, we’d have all given you the same answer: Astronaut. A bunch of us buckled down in science and math because we understood that’s what NASA wanted – our teachers made sure we knew. I harbored the astronaut fantasy right up to the point that the Air Force Academy recruiter told me that asthma disqualified me 100%. None of the militaries would have me. Since I get air sick just thinking about flying, it was probably for the best that no one wanted to entrust me with multimillion dollar equipment.
But the images from when I was 5, feeling the weight of what I was watching, it never quite went away. It’s no mistake that my first published book was about a woman who’s the captain of her own space ship.
What I need to write can be pretty much summed up by the above picture. I need music on and the world turned off. What I need to edit, though, is music off and world off. Editing and writing go hand-in-hand but are definitely not the same thing. When I’m writing, music helps set tone, mood, and rhythm. A fast-paced song can lead to a fast, upbeat scene. A slow, sad song can help me reach the emotional levels of despair that I need to plumb in order to get the write words to express a character’s pain.
When I’m editing, such things are usually a distraction. I recognize that the reader won’t be consuming my book with the soundtrack I wrote it to playing in the background, so I edit in silence. This keeps my mind free of distraction and helps me to see if I really did hit all of the emotional points as soundly as I needed to hit them.
The most important aspect of writing or editing, though, is world off. I can’t get much accomplished when I’m distracted. I need to know that I’ve got a solid hour of near-solid time that I can really get my head in the right space. When I’m writing or editing, my child might come in and ask me something and I have to work really hard to make any sense of what she’s saying. I have a feeling that as a pre-teen she’ll figure out how to work this to her advantage. So a quiet place, alone, with nothing to pull my mind away is what I need to edit.
Everyone is different, though. I have a friend who writes in silence and listens to classical while she edits. I have another friend who does her best work in busy cafes. The thing is, if you write, find out what you need and seek it relentlessly.
Keira Andrews and Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Ascending Hearts, available through Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and others! And also remember to look at Earthly Desires, the first book in the Tempting Tales series, available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.
Living aboard a sailboat is more fun than I had ever imagined. However. It is a fact of life that space is limited. Let me reiterate: L I M I T E D. Also? The chores are endless. Thus, faced with unending temptation to procrastinate by pulling up floorboards to scrub bilges or polish the exterior stainless fittings, and with four cats who seem to think I exist solely to fill every empty moment of their lives, I like to get the hell out of Dodge in order to concentrate on getting word count each day.
Two miles from the marina is Miro Tea. It’s nestled in the historic part of Old Ballard. (Old being relative – this IS the west coast.) This is where stone and brick buildings built in the very late 1800s are still standing – and have all been redone to bring them up to earthquake code. Lots of ancient wood floors, funky stone or brick walls and exposed steel I beams reinforcing the structure. This is the artsy district in an otherwise blue collar part of town. This is the long way of saying, that to write, I require tea. Lots of hot, good quality tea.
And music. I pipe the playlist of my choice directly into my brain via a pair of stereo ear buds. Looking for moody, nay — *creepy* music by which to compose your latest Great American Novel? Check out Nox Arcana. Just one example. There are SO many more. Ping me. I’ll hook you up. I collect creepy and then etch it into my gray matter whilst composing. Only one book has no playlist and that one is because the heroine is deaf. For some reason, it seems to matter that I work in silence on her story.
All this said – that I want to be in a part of town I like, surrounded by other people sipping tea and working on *their* thing du jour, nursing a pot of whichever elixir I’ve chosen for the day – I’ll write anywhere, anytime. A few minutes of boredom are all that are required. My brain starts spinning and characters start talking.
The biggest challenge if I write on the boat, is keeping the felines from ‘helping’. My editor has sent back manuscripts with a slew of nonsense highlighted and a note in the margins saying, “Tell the cat to get his own contract.”
On to today’s topic: Favorite Fairytales. This means it’s confession time. I’m a complete and total “Little Mermaid” junky. It’s true. (sigh) I stalked kids at the theater so people wouldn’t realize I was there to see it by myself. I bought an extra DVD when it was available so that I’d have an emergency copy in case of “mishap.” And, uh, Iknowallthewordstothesongs. There are several things about the Little Mermaid that make it a favorite story of mine, despite the fact I didn’t know the story until later in life.
First, I can totally relate to Ariel’s overwhelming desire to live somewhere else. I have a perpetual, incurable case of wanderlust, so I’m forever eyeing the next stop of life’s journey and yearning for it. “I want to be where the people are” is a battle cry for me. I want to surround myself with the “new,” and tend to become obsessed with “thingamabobs” and “whatsits” of faraway, seemingly impossible places (*cough*Ireland*cough*). I can, and have, become so focused on what’s coming that I forget to celebrate what is. Fortunately, I’ve had good friends around me to keep me grounded.
This brings me to my second talking point. Ariel has friends who have her back. Always. And even though they’re a lobster, a fish and a trippy seagull, they have her best interests at heart. They hold the hard lines with her when they need to, even though they don’t always win. And they are always there to commiserate and celebrate. The one thing I would have changed would have been the fact that all her friends are male. I would have loved to see her given a female friend and for that friendship to be valued by the prince. Seems women are forever denied strong female friendships in fairytales while the “evil” sisters or step-mothers or witches are elevated and thrust forward so we’re sure to know who the bad “guy” is.
My final talking point is, not surprisingly, the prince. Prince Eric falls in love with Ariel without the benefit of words and, for someone who talks a LOT (me), this is impressive. The two find a way to overcome their differences and he loves her in spite of a perceived “disability.” This is HUGE. Even though she’s this undeniable beauty, she’s not perfect, and that made the whole story so much more appealing to me. He loves her, not the evil Ursula in disguise (again, a beautiful woman disguise — and why do all the evil women have dark hair???) who’s ironically sporting Ariel’s amazing voice. That Eric loved her when he could have had a woman who wasn’t mute made me mad-crazy in love with him.
What are your thoughts on the Little Mermaid? Do you have a different take on it that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you. One final thought: if you’ve never read the original fairytale? DON’T. Just…spare yourself. I read it as research for this blog and I’m clinging to my lyrics and HEA harder than ever. Sea foam? Three hundred years for a soul? Prince Charms-a-Little? EEK! Disney, I’m all about your version.