Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oh Yeah, Racing is BACK

If I've been MIA for the past two weeks, it's because the lure of Daytona and Speedweeks was the siren call that lured me out of my office and into the Florida cold and drizzle. Well, to be honest, there were some sunny days, but I was grateful for a heavy jacket and raincoat, especially during the 500. I was almost too cold to stay to the end, but I made it! No matter what you think of Chad Knaus and his "modification" to the 48, Johnson ran a smart race. It didn't hurt to have Casey Mears on his bumper, either. For me, though, the really heart-stopping races came in the IROC (Mark! Out too soon!!) and the Busch races. The last lap, three wide and at full throttle, scared me silly. Elliot Sadler's win in the 150 was sweet as well. Despite the circus atmosphere, the racing was pure, flat-out, unmitigated war. Kudos to the survivors. Now, it's back to work. I've crawled back into my story and it's working its way out of my head onto the hard drive. Now and then, though, I get flashes of Michael Waltrip spinning through the grass with the other crash-ees at the finish line, and have to work hard to get back into the imaginary world of my WIP.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Fear and the Writer

No, I'm not talking about the so-called writer's block enigma. The scary blank page. The unfinished book that has no end in sight. Those are too easy. I'm talking about fear of the government. Yours and mine. Just this week, I needed to research a plot point for the current work-in-progress, and my first instinct was to hit the Internet, the library, and then friends of the law enforcement type with experience in arresting this particular form of illegal activity. When I mentioned the plot device to my husband, he visibly paled. "Don't run that through Google," he sighed. "What if the FBI shows up at our door and takes all our computers?" His fear stopped me cold, then I began to analyze it. He was right. Information on the Internet isn't free- our government is watching, I'm sure. Even we writers who need to learn stuff for a book. Small defense, that one. As a lawyer, I recognized the implications once I set aside my writer cap. So, I took the next step that made sense - I emailed a friend with law enforcement expertise, and put in the heading of my email the topic I needed to discuss. His phone call came almost immediately. "Don't put anything like that in an email, okay?" he ordered. "The government has a program that'll find it and who knows what comes next?" Yikes. I'd done it this time. Fortunately, he shared his special knowledge with me over the phone. Although we laughed that the conversation was probably being monitored, I wondered later if it was a joke. I won't know unless and until the men with badges take me 'downtown.' In the meanwhile, I'll keep writing, using my friend's good information to make the plot device plausible, and hope I've swooped under the government's increasingly pervasive radar. Sounds like the Sixties again, doesn't it, with Herbert Hoover's unrestrained invasion into the privacy of thousands of unsuspecting Americans? Oh well, I cut my teeth on controversy - you can't practice law and avoid it. But if you don't hear from me in a while, send up the distress flags.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Art as Activism

We saw SYRIANA last night, and I went to bed thinking about it and woke up doing the same. Go see this movie! It's not only good entertainment, it's a pretty potent statement about oil, the U.S., terrorism, and the price one pays to do good or what passes for good. I'd like to compile a list of entertainment vehicles (film, books, TV) that use their forums to get out a message that needs broadcasting, while at the same time giving people a ride into the dark side they're willing to pay for. Photographs deliver a potent message, one that's immediate in the instant they're snapped. Films require more of an amusement value. People aren't as willing to sit through them as they would be to slog through a book everyone is reading, even if it's as dense as granite. Television offers such a vast array of shows, it's even harder to get people to sit still and watch something that isn't light or fluffy. THE GIRL IN THE CAFE' is a prime example of stellar television that kept me hanging onto its every word, its every plot turn. I also learned a heck of a lot about the G8, world hunger, and the death toll in Africa.

I wish my fiction drove people into action to right wrongs and do what's right. Think of CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY. What a novel! All I can do, so far in my career, is shine a light in the dark corners of the individual human experience as my characters live it, and hope the revelation spreads luminosity and healing once the last page is turned. If the stories are entertaining as well, I'll be halfway there.