Monday, March 12, 2007

Life Becomes Like a Story

Life sometimes has all the twists and turns of a story. Not a nice story in this case, but definitely sensational.

Previously, I wrote about 4 teens who killed one girl's mom and I asked, "Why didn't the kids know better?" Well, to add layers of complexity to the story, the news reported today that the girl was being abused by her alcoholic mother. The way they talk about it, it sounds like typical teenage behavior (crying in the bathroom, planning social revenge, etc) that got really carried away. The girl needed to be rescued, her boyfriend wanted to save her. They messed up. Not that it excuses anyone--just adds complexity to the story. FURTHER (and this is the part that got the novelist in my waked up), the friends of the actual murderer report that sometimes he liked to be called Darius instead of Bryan, and that Darius dressed more preppy than Bryan, and was bad at video games that Bryan excelled at, and HATED to be called Bryan, and Darius was violent and unpredictable, while Bryan was sweet and thoughtful and lovable.

So now we've crossed the threshold from "star crossed idiot lovers" and even from "possibly a misguided attempt at self-defense in the face of abuse" into the realm of "legal ramifications of multiple personality disorder", which I think is now called "Dissociative Disorder" or something like that even thought they used to be separate disorders. So now, as a writer, I am intensely interested in how this all plays out. This is a common ploy in novels, and a moral ambiguity pop psychologists and psych students talk about (how do you punish one person and not the other when they inhabit the same body? and besides, is MPD real or not anyway?). I'm interested to see the realities of it in a real case in a real court. I imagine they will try to deny that it exists or say that the kid is making it up to try to get out of things, since he (Bryan) seems aware of what he did as "Darius". On the other hand, it wasn't he who claimed MPD--it was his friends in high school who mentioned it in interviews with reporters, presumably not prompted for sensationalistic reasons, but you never know.

In other storylike news, Tim emailed me last night asking if I had ever heard of Nelson Literary Agency. I have. Kristin Nelson was the first agent I was really interested in working with, and I queried her in the first round of queries when I thought my novel was perfect but it wasn't. She was the only one of those first 8 queries who asked to see sample pages, and then she rejected it. (I had made 3 blunders: the novel was 100,000 words too long, I misidentified the genre, and the first 30 pages--which since have been rewritten into about 7--were really poorly written). Anyway, it turns out that one of the guys that Tim is working with fairly heavily now, singing with him in TWO groups, is the husband of the assistant to Kristin Nelson. The two husbands were talking about what their wives did as they drove home from a moosebutter show (Frozen Dead Guy Days!), and my novel came up, and the conclusion was that I should send it to Nelson Lit. If only I hadn't already!

Anyway, I immediately realized that sometime in the near future, I will have to interact with this couple socially. Tim saw it as a great opportunity--a chance to meet someone in my field and learn more. He, of course, is right. I saw it as potential torture--I have to face someone who read my book and thought it was crap (which is was at that point, but I had no idea). Not only that, I have spent two years making myself look valid in the eyes of women who DON'T value being a stay-at-home mom by saying that I write novels for fun. Even without publishing them, this gives me validity in people's eyes. I'm not "doing nothing." I can't use that excuse when I meet this couple. They might see it as stalking, which new authors ALWAYS seem to do to people who work at agencies (you'd be surprised how many new authors carry sample pages of their work everywhere and force it on anyone in the industry, even passing the pages under bathroom stalls. Embarrassing).

I said, "Maybe it just won't come up and we can just be friends as real people and ignore this." Tim said, "Mark (the husband) will bring it up. If he doesn't, I will." He laughed because I am so timid and lacking confidence, despite the act I put on. Normally I love meeting new couples and making friends....but this time I'm already embarrassed in advance. And we haven't even set up a time to get together socially yet! Maybe if I hurry and finish my NEXT book, I can move on before I meet them.

So this, too, is like a story. More of a sit-com than a twisted murder mystery though.

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