For the past several days I couldn't beat this thought out of my head: how to get around the copyright issue I ran into with Corners? What to do? What to do? WHAT TO DO? Now, I could've lashed my brain to the inside of my skull with barbed wire and lynched it and turned it into some gibbous amoeba and roped it with steel hawsers and hacked it apart and...well, what I'm describing here is what typically happens inside any writer's head. The endless internal monologue, or dialogue, or whatever. This can drive one nuts. Actually, I suspect that's why most writers are nuts. It's enough for us to swivel a pair of blank fusty eyes at anyone who happens to be passing by our writing cave for that poor person to scream bloody murder and, jinking wildly, run full pelt to somewhere safe. Because, you know. Ever looked a mad writer in the eyes? Yeah, it's not pretty. Very scary, I must say. And every time something in our lives happens, we are tempted to stew in it without telling anyone. Well, the whole purpose of this blog post to show you what happens when you DO share, contrary to your innate resistance.
As soon as I have found out that 9 out of 25 books mentioned in Corners are not in public domain, I blabbed about it everywhere online. And slowly a solution emerged from various conversations. I can still use those books, provided I make them into a parody. If you know me well, you might imagine that this was just the ticket. I've been dying to write something a la Discworld for quite some time, and this started looking like the perfect opportunity. My sickly furrowed brain so far has come up with the following ideas (mind you, I got infected with the idea of parody even for public domain works, as it sounds like glorious fun):
- Forget the Red Death and oozing sores on people's skin. How about this, darling Poe. How about Blue Death, and if you catch it, your blood turns blue and you start sprouting it from your ears until all it's gone and you shrink into a small blue worm? Or something.
- Bluebeard? Well, I have an idea. It will be Pinkbeard, and he will lock his wives and force them to sniff daisies for days (you know, daisies don't smell all that good), and so the new wife will free them from this punishment.
- The Little Prince? Nah. I like The Big Prince, he comes from the biggest planet there is, and everything is big there. And round. And oversize.
- The Snow Queen? She should be The Hugging Queen, she will hug to death anyone who contradicts her.
- The Wood between the worlds in The Magician's Nephew? How about hell between hells, and those pools of water being pools of fire?
- Solaris, the intelligent planet? How about a pet planet? This huge pet wagging its tail, hanging in space, wanting to be scratched behind its ears and licking every starship into oblivion by accident, you know, out of sheer pet happiness?
- Winnie-the-Pooh? Stray talking circus bear.
- Mary Poppins? Molly Panties, an annoying nanny in flying trousers.
- Pippi Longstocking? Patty Shortsocks. Or whatever.
This is just what dropped in my head this morning. Mind you, my brilliant editor hasn't gotten back to me with her thoughts yet, it being Christmas and all, and I have another couple weeks to research this until I actually start writing the next draft. But something else happened, something miraculous.
When I was finishing the second draft, I had this fear of the book losing steam. Something was missing, and I couldn't quite figure out what it was. I know now. I was at a crossroads. I needed to decide what kind of a book this would be, and with the parody spin on it, I suddenly felt a jolt of energy. I can't wait to start the next draft. I have even solved a problem of introduction to The Book of Forgotten Pages (this is the book the children initially fall into) by way of having it talk to them. Hey, it's a parody, so I can be as absurd and as funny as I want to, right? Here goes. When they turn the first corner and drop inside, they (of course) can't figure out where they landed, therefore, the following dialogue will transpire between Bells and The Book:
"Where are we?" Said Bells.
"In a book." Said a voice from above.
Bells looked up, but there was nothing there except the sky. "Who are you?"
"I'm not telling you."
Bells stared, bewildered. "Why?"
"Because I'm pissed off."
I was thinking about a prologue or an info dump to explain things, but I don't have to do any of it. I can simply be ridiculously funny.
AND THAT IS WHY IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO CROWDSOURCE YOUR BOOK.
I'm using the term crowdsource loosely here, suggesting to use the crowd if you get stuck. Throw it out there, don't be afraid. Ideas get only better when we talk about them. It takes a village to write a book, contrary to the myth. Yes, the writer sits alone at home, but there is a whole team of people who bring the book to light, make it readable. If I didn't do it, I might've gone the dark path of shutting down completely and scrapping the book. Well, not really, not me. I'm not a quitter. But who knows, maybe this would've been such a case? I was dumb not to research this copyright thing before starting, but at the same time we all make mistakes. That's how we learn. I'm sure I will remember about this for the rest of my life and not repeat the same mistake again.
So, instead of getting all devastated and sad-eyed and deplorable and stuff, throw your problem into the crowd, like you're fishing. Stir the waters, shout, ask for help. You'd be amazed at the outpour from the writing community. We writers know what it's like writing books, we know the pain, and we want to help fellow writers. We want to support each other. If we know one of us is struggling with something, our impulse is to offer advice. Unless that someone is an impertinent asshole. In which case, learn your lesson.
BE FUCKING NICE TO PEOPLE, AND PEOPLE WILL BE NICE TO YOU.
Crowdsource. Crowdsource. Crowdsource. Use your community, no matter how small or large it is. If it's only your family or a couple friends, ask them for help. Explain what is going on, you'd be surprised at solutions people offer you. Many brains are better than one.
And that is all I wanted to say. Because, you know, the other thing I have to say...
MERRY CHRISTMAS, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
You make my day! Thank you for reading this far. You get a cheeping cricket as a reward. I will ship it to you first thing in the morning.