Heady Cheese

I was waiting on my Swiss cheese at the deli counter, when I heard muttering.  I glanced over at the customer next to me, who was scanning the meats.  His face suddenly lit up and he scooted closer to me, knocked his elbow against mine and pointed at the display case.  “I’m getting me some of that!  Hot head cheese.  Woo!”

I looked at the head cheese and then eyeballed him sideways as I scrunched my nose.  “Um, ew,” I said.  I know, it was rude, but head cheese?  Do you know what that is?  It’s bits and pieces of a cow or pig’s head and possibly brain, all processed into a hard meat jelly.  Yes, meat jelly.

 

I kid you not, this is what it looks like. (source)

 

“Oh, no babe, it’s good,” he chuckled.  “Have you ever had it?”

“Well, actually no.  I haven’t.”

“You gotta try it then!  You’re missing out.”

“Okay, good point,” I said, nodding my head.  “I don’t really know what it tastes like.  But just the thought, ugh.”

“Well you’re gonna try it today.  Come on, I’ll have the lady give you a piece.”

I stared at him for a second, shrugged and said, “Okay, sure, why not.”

For future reference?  If you say something like ‘why not’, that generally means there’s probably a reason why not and you might want to give it some more thought.  But sadly, I didn’t.

When the deli server handed me my Swiss, he gave her his order and asked her to get me a piece.  She smiled at me and quirked her brow, but I didn’t say anything.  I was preparing to eat brains.

She quickly returned with a gigantic slice of head cheese.  I grabbed it from her and peeked over at my new friend who smirked and said, “Go on!  Try it!”

I jiggled the slice a little, wincing, before I took a deep breath, ripped off a piece and slowly put it in my mouth.  Now, I don’t want to give anyone nightmares, but I’m telling you, there were chunks.  I chewed globs of brain matter, maybe some tongue or snout, all mixed in with gelatinous pieces of I-don’t-know-what.

But I’m proud to say, I swallowed and did not gag.  This was a major accomplishment, under the circumstances.

“And?” the guy asked.  “What do you think?”

“Well, um, it was interesting?”

“Okay, you gotta try some more.  Eat the rest of that slice,” he encouraged.

“I think I’m good, really,” I said with a grin.

“You need to try it with Saltines,” he said.  “They cut the spice a little.”

“I’m actually fine with the spiciness.  It’s more the pieces of brain that are a little hard to take.  So I’m all set, but thanks.”

He burst out laughing, reached over, snatched what was left out of my hand and shoved it in his mouth.  I stared at him, mouth hanging open a little, wondering if he really just did that.  But, yep, he did.  He ate head cheese out of a stranger’s bare hand.  This guy clearly lived on the edge.

I laughed and shook my head, then thanked him again and walked away, wondering how long it would take to get that taste off my tongue. As it turns out, it takes a really darn long time.

 

 

**if you eat and enjoy head cheese regularly, please don’t be offended by this post.  I grew up loving Spam and liver sausage, so I clearly have no room to talk.

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A Solemn Occasion (Not Really)

 

We are gathered here today to say goodbye.  To say farewell to someone who had a big role in my life lately.   Sadly, I need to announce the sudden demise of my novel’s main male character.  He was a good guy, really, he was, but unfortunately…I just didn’t like him!

I know, that seems weird, because, hello, I’m the one who created him.  But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t warm up to the man.  He was based on a very brief interaction I had with this random guy and from that small, short moment, a whole character with a set personality was created.  And, well, that personality was just plain annoying.  He was uptight and very straight-laced, and just not someone I’m gonna fall in love with, okay?  You probably wouldn’t fall in love with him, either.  Unless you like uptight and very straight-laced.  In that case, good news!  He’s available now.

As I wrote, I kept thinking that I’d be able to mold him a bit, but he just stayed his same stuffy self.  I will completely admit that this may have just been my inexperience as a novelist and that I need to improve my character-creating skills.  But whatever the explanation, he just wouldn’t cooperate and I couldn’t see him differently than I first imagined him.

So he’s dead now.  Let that be a lesson to all future uncooperative characters.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to work a different male lead into my really cute opening scene, since that scene is where I first imagined him, but I realize it may have to go.  I hope not, but it could end up being one of those “kill your darlings” situations here.  Which would be a bummer, cause I love that scene!  Someone else is just going to have to work.

Speaking of someone else, I’m also currently taking auditions for a new main character.  Or I might steal a male lead from another novel that I have in mind.  My poor female lead, who knows who she’s gonna end up with now?  But I bet she’s darn glad that she’s not with that Mr. Stuffy McStraight-Laced anymore.  Or that I haven’t killed her off.  Because I could if I wanted.  I could.

Hmmm.  I think the power may be going to my head.  I’ll try to stop killing people, but I can’t make any promises.

Is There A Wrong Way To Write A Novel?

So as someone who is crashing around, writing her first novel, I have been pondering something quite a bit lately.  Is there a right way to write a novel?  Or a wrong way?  Sure, I get that everyone has to do what works for them, so maybe the better way to phrase the question would be is there a best way to write a novel?

My approach thus far has been kind of willy nilly, cattywampus, to be honest.  I have basically been writing the scenes in a jumble…one from the end of the book, another from the beginning and then one from the middle.  It’s because I’ve been writing what I know.  Yes, I realize that phrase is normally meant to say we should write about things/places/situations/topics that we know, but in my case, the scenes I’ve written were the parts of my book that I knew.  It just seemed to make sense to get them down and go from there.

But now as I’m nearing the end of the scenes I know, I worry that I’ve made a big muck of things and if I shouldn’t have approached things differently.   So I did the most logical thing when faced with a major life dilemma…I Googled it.

The news wasn’t good at first.  According to the posts, I clearly have made a wonky mess.  I don’t have a plan, a concept, or an outline. I don’t have character analyses or location descriptions.  I didn’t start from the beginning and write through to the end, as advised.

Stress

Here is one link (out of a trillion!) that pretty much describes the opposite of what I’m doing:

http://www.wikihow.com/Begin-Writing-a-Book

And here is a link for a novel-writing method that actually has a name, the Snowflake Method.  Definitely a method that is a complete stranger to me.

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/

Both of these links are all about the preparation and starting small.  They are methodical and naturally progress from ideas to a completed work.  And they make perfect sense!

But they are not at all what I’ve done.  Other than writing scene cards so I wouldn’t forget my ideas, I did not plan or prep and the more I read online, the more I was really starting to feel insecure.

Then, hallelujah, I found this article.  Christina Dodd basically says to just write it.  However you need to, whatever works, just write it. There are many different approaches, but do whatever gets your book finished. I can get behind that advice.

And then I found this link, which is an interview of Meredith Sue Willis.  I don’t really know her stuff at all, but it doesn’t matter, because apparently there is a name for the way I’ve been writing so far.  Here is an excerpt:

“One approach I like, which I think I invented, but you never know, is called the Archipelago Method. You write the high points, not an outline, but actual scenes, and those become the little islands (that are really mountaintops) of the archipelago out there in the ocean of the potential novel. After you’ve written five or six of these scenes, you may well have fifty or sixty pages, and then you can keep writing scenes, or you might start at the beginning to see leads to one, to the next, and so on.”

Okay, aside from her ~ahem ~ ego, I was so excited when I read this, because that’s what I’ve been doing!  I feel better.  Of course, I won’t really be able to say my method is successful until I have a finished novel, but it does appear that someone else has been successful with this method and that is good enough for me right now.  Unless her books suck major booty, but let’s pretend they’re fabulous, huh?

Anyone else have a funky novel, short story or blog-writing method?  Or do you do it the traditional way and it really works for you?  I’m very curious!

On Writing a Blog on Writing

I’ve cancelled my self-hosting subscription to my other blog, writesydaisy.com.  I’ve realized, in the midst of working on a novel, that I can’t (or don’t want to) maintain two blogs and two personas online (and also, the hundreds of spam comments every day on that site got a wee bit old).  So if you knew me as Kianwi…here I am, as romance novel writer-in-process, Kinley Dane.  The name is about as real as Kianwi, even though both have elements of my true name.  Kinely Dane also pays homage to my dad who was a writer-without-a-novel, although I’m not sure he would have been thrilled with being connected to my romancy schmancy stuff.  But oh well, I’m the boss here, am I not?!

 

A_novel_by_-_550w

So for now I’ll be blogging about writing this durn novel.  My goal is to finish the novel by the end of the year and time she is a slippin’ and a slidin’ away.  I’m hoping this keeps me on track, because I’m at the stage where I’m getting mired down and I don’t want to lost momentum.  I’ve got lots of scenes and now I need to connect those scenes.  Not as easy as I would have thought.

Now let’s see how entertaining I can make writing about writing.  And for you old readers of simply she goes or writesy daisy, I’m sure other parts of my life will sneak in too, seeing as I seem to relish telling every embarrassing thing ever and there’s been a-plenty lately.

Just remember, my name is Kinley Dane now…although if you call me Kianwi, I won’t kick you off my blog.  I’ll probably smile fondly with nostalgia, actually.
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