Thursday, March 4, 2010

Conundrums

Every have one of those mornings when you are trying to think up a blog topic, but life's pesky problems keep interfering and you got NOTHIN'? But THEN, when you finally get NAKED, it comes to you—life's pesky problem has a WRITING lesson! Your PROBLEM is your SOLUTION! So now you know where I'm coming from.

I requested a problem-free life, sponsored by a sugar daddy who danced like I like and is happiest when I'm happy, and so indulged me by just letting me write all day (except of course when I ring that little bell, then I'm attended by Cabana Boys). I keep waiting, but it hasn't happened yet.

Instead, I got a real life:

The Problem

I have a teenage daughter. And that is enough of a problem all on its own, but she will turn 15 in April, which means she is now old enough for driver's ed (14 and 9 months in Michigan, then you are done for the 'permit' at 15—this graduated license thing... all well and good except for the 57,000 hours driving time that is required to be supervised by parents). So LAST MONTH after much begging and negotiating (yada yada responsibility, yada yada grades) I signed her up for driver's ed.

I signed her up for the 4-6 class because she has synchronized swim practice from 5:30-8 (the other driver's ed is 6-8), so we figured the coach would just have to be content that she was a little late for the last couple weeks... What we did NOT know was that when she switched to WATER POLO (again, sadly not taught by the US water polo team)–with no break from synchro, in fact actually there is OVERLAP in practices—water polo has already STARTED, that THOSE practices would be from 3-5:30...

There was no way to win. Either class interfered with ONE of the sports. Were she to wait until NEXT month and do a late one, then it would interfere with GAMES. Same with the month after. June school gets out and she has thousands of plans... There isn't a good time.

Not that it does any good to worry; I don't even know if I CAN change her time—it's paid for, and she may just be stuck.


What's the Writing Lesson?

Books where the hero is damned if he does, damned if he doesn't—where the options are CLEAR and the outcomes are either bad or worse... where he is forced into some sacrificial situation or something is the BEST kind of dilemma... My writing lessons often come back to JK Rowling—this time it is the emphasis on CHOICES. The reader should see the hero has choices, see that NONE of them is easy, and see that the hero is only doing what he feels he HAS to do.

It is compelling story telling when the reader is put in the position of making the choice along with hero, and we have been led so clearly, put in the same situation, that WE ALSO make the same choice. I by far prefer that to watching a character make a stupid decision for some reason we don't quite grasp (though I can live with the latter if the consequences lead to a life lesson... I love character life lessons so that I can live vicariously, rather than having to learn those things the hard way).

10 comments:

Sugar said...

I love the choices idea..However..what choices can a young girl make to help her grow into an amazing adult like me? That is my big question!! lol.. Good luck with the driving thingy..I will be there myself soon..although waaaay too soon for my liking!

Helen Ginger said...

Forcing your protag to make a life choice is a good idea. It really ups the tension and suspense.

I say, let her walk. She can learn to drive when she's 25 and out of college. (I can say that because my kids are older. Tee-hee.)

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I hadn't thought about it that way, but it is really RIVETING reading when a character has to choose between 2 hard decisions. Like a "Sophie's Choice" kind of a thing. Sends a chill down my spine just thinking about it....great idea!

Elizabeth

Jan Morrison said...

I'm sorry - I can't get past the fact that they let fourteen year olds drive where you are. GAWD - I'd never get any sleep. I guess I'd be like so you know kinda GLAD she's too busy to get the hours in at driving. Keep her in the pool with the near naked people not on the road with the metal encased people!
I love the impasse problem in writing. In therapy not so much though we aren't to push. It is like transition in labour. Just let the person sweat it out! Can't do that in a book though - have to have them move sometime. Though it took Josh and Donna 8 years of being just right for each other to finally get it! Man oh man! Come on already. I'm too old for that.

Jan Morrison said...

oh gosh I realized that was weird - I meant Josh and Donna in WestWing - must have assumed that everyone was watching it with me for the last month instead of the olympics etc...

TreeX said...

No driving lessons 'till you're 18, and only under the supervision of a licensed instructor, in a specifically adapted and clearly marked vehicle (extra pedals) is the only way to learn how to drive and not cause too many deaths along the way... That's my story and I'm sticking to it :P (Yes, I only got my licence at the fifth attempt, but that's because of my anxiety trouble; I passed without any problems at the special exam with extra time (60 instead of 30 minutes) and less pressure they give you after 4 attempts -- and NOBODY passes their first time :P )

Watery Tart said...

Sorry for my LONG absence today--my work computer got a virus so I had to work on stuff I could do on hard copy while IT fixed it..

Sugar--decisions... so tough! My daughter makes POOR academic decisions, but actually pretty good social ones... I am hoping driving is more in the social realm.

Helen *snort* Ack! 25?! I don't want to drive her all over that long! Once she can drive she can take my son places!

Elizabeth--Isn't it exciting reading though?! Totally had not registered to me though, until I kept getting interrupted by my trouble this morning...

Jan--it gets worse. In Idaho, where I learned to drive, they give a full fledged driver's license at 14, so beginning into the graduated driver's license at 15, after driver's ed, doesn't make me so nervous...

*snickers at TV family members*

Joris, we have all those education and lesson things (maybe at 16 you can just test).

I've always thought the early age had to do with so much rural space, but I would think that would be MORE the case in Canada. Much of the US just has no public transportation...

B. Miller said...

I love it when life experience can be immediately applied to balky characters. Thanks, Universe, for fixing that up for us...

Also, I love the fact that you were having issues figuring out what to blog about, and pushed on through the block... I gave you the "Prolific Blogger Award" on my blog today! You should surf on over and check it out. :)

Watery Tart said...

B. Thank you! Pernicious is probably one on my strengths... never yield to universal forces if I can help it (still having trouble with gravity though)

And an award! THANK YOU! I will pop over and check it out!

TreeX said...

I find gravity helps taking the pants down...