Author Archives: Pavowski

About Pavowski

I am a teacher, runner, father, and husband. I am an author-in-progress. I know just enough about a lot of things to get me into a lot of trouble.

No Mo’ Snow


After three unexpected snow days last week, we’re back to the grind for a full work week this week. As has been pointed out by many of my teaching colleagues here in the environs outside Atlanta, the last full week of school we had was in November.

The lack of routine was definitely evident getting the kids out the door this morning. Sprout #1 spent the last thirty-six hours insisting that school still might get canceled today, and Sprout #2 threw a fit that lasted from a few minutes after she was awake until the moment I pulled into the daycare parking lot, at which point she changed her tune entirely and became a pitiful, clingy mess. And when I took my leave the tantrum started up again.

And friends and family wonder why my wife and I are such sticklers about getting these two little monsters to bed on time every night, even on weekends and vacations. It’s for the same reason that I spent the entire evening last night, from two on until I fell asleep, in a scowling, muttering, slamming-the-kitchen-cabinets and passive-aggressively-dragging-my-feet sulk. Routines matter! When kids — well, ANYBODY — know what to expect, they’re almost infinitely more likely to go along with it. And even if they don’t go along with it, they’re likely to protest less. And even if the plan changes, well just being prepared for the original plan leaves them somehow better equipped to deal with the adjustments.

Needless to say, when, following a three-day weekend, you go back to school for a single day and then get three surprise days off, followed by another weekend, your routine might as well have never existed in the first place.

I hope Mother Nature keeps this in mind the next time she brews up snow for the South. We are seriously not equipped for it.

Still, I got seven hundred words written today. So there’s that.

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Thunderstruck


When you hear something that matters, you know it. It’s a shock to the system, 1.21 gigawatts right down the ol’ fluxcapacitor. You feel supercharged, empowered, motivated.

I’m working my way through Save the Cat!, (something in me rebels against punctuating a comma right after an exclamation, but Save the Cat! is the title, so there you are), a tiny tome — giddy guidebook, prognosticating pamphlet — on screenplay writing.

Which is to say, on story writing. Snyder focuses on film, but film is just one storytelling medium among multitudes, and I’ve yet to see anything in the book that wouldn’t fly for novels, plays, games, perhaps roleplay with that special someone. It’s all gold, and I’m only 40 pages in.

The book is less bespectacled-professor-reading-from-a-musty-tome and more Morpheus-pulling-back-the-veil-of-reality. “Here’s a story,” the book says. “Look at it, see it, yes, it’s about these things, sure. But look closer. Strip away the trappings and look at what it is behind the mask.” Rather in the vein of Campbell’s monomyth, or Booker’s Seven Basic Plots, Save the Cat! is about archetyping, codifying, categorizing. Once you know the categories and the tropes that your story plays to, you can then maneuver more expertly within them; becoming the Han Solo to your own personal Kessel run.

Anyway. I’m finding it useful to take it just a few pages per day, so that I can marinate on the chapter I’ve just read without getting inundated trying to process too much at once (which is my fancy way of saying it’s my toilet reader of the moment). And today’s pages were all about making sure that your protagonist is the right kind of protagonist for your story.

Ka-BLAM. Thunderbolts and lightning (very very frightening [and yeah, that lyric has always bothered me, THUNDER DOESN’T COME IN BOLTS]). Just like that, I see why my trunked novel failed — my protagonist was all wrong. Or rather, all wrong for that story. The realization was like opening up a corpse for the autopsy and finding the spleen where the heart should be, the lungs crammed in behind the bladder, the leg-bone connected to the neck-bone.

Right pieces, wrong arrangement.

And while the current project isn’t exactly a stunning specimen of anatomical narrative perfection, it seems like most of the current appendages are at least in reasonable places for the phylum. Whether that’s by accident or because I grew a little between novel #2 and #3 is for fate to decide, but needless to say, this story doesn’t feel broken the way the last one did.

All of which is to say that I heartily endorse this book, as I’ve mentioned at least once before.

Save the Cat, read this book.

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday. I misread the prompt, but by the time I went back, I didn’t feel like starting over, so rather than getting a word that starts with “oc”, you get a word that contains “oc”. Deal with it!


S***-men


Just wanna take a moment to point out how sick I am of “I wish he wouldn’t do/say that, BUT …”

News lately is lousy with this phrase. I guess it’s probably always been lousy with this phrase, but more so since You-Know-Who has sat the highest seat in the land. Every day he does something that needs apologizing for. And since he will never apologize for himself (you have to feel bad about a thing to apologize for it), every day his apologists swarm forth to deliver said apologies in his stead. Kind of.

Let’s be real, though. We all went to grade school. We all know that when you apologize with a “but” on the end, it’s not really an apology, you’re claiming justification. You’re admitting wrongdoing, but not really. “I wish he wouldn’t say s***holes, BUT (insert racist and/or patronizing remark here).” “I wish he wouldn’t say ‘grab ’em by the p****, BUT (insert sexist and/or derogatory remarks about an entire gender here).”

Sidenote: I’m fascinated and endlessly amused by the dances networks do to avoid repeating the foul language You-Know-Who uses. Listening to an interview when both parties keep saying, literally, s-holes, is so ludicrous it’s almost to be laughed at. “blank”holes is pretty good, too. Or you could go the CNN route, throw caution to the wind, and just use the actual language in question in front of millions of viewers round-the-clock. Seriously — what’s the right play? Censor the language of the highest office in the land or report on it honestly and be judged vulgar?

Then they proceed to evangelize about why, deep down, he’s really right to say what he’s saying, even if he isn’t saying it in “the nicest way”.

And, I mean, I get it. Everybody misspeaks. Thank goodness, after all, I don’t have people parsing my language every day. But, for goodness’s sake. There’s not a job in this country that you can keep when you’re so uncouth, so consistently uninformed, so routinely unaware of social graces.

Except, apparently, president. Apparently the president can say whatever he wants, and still be defended to the death by suit- and skirt-wearing sycophants.

And these are only the things we hear about!

Seems like the argument today is that he didn’t say “s***hole countries,” he said “s***house countries.” Because that’s so much better.

The problem isn’t even the language (though the language is its own problem). The problem is the thinking — or the lack of thinking — behind the language. Write off an entire country, an entire group of people, as a hole in the ground fit only for excrement? Sure, that seems reasonable.

Is he the Pied Piper? Is he a voodoo priest? How does he manage to convince so many otherwise intelligent people to make the stupidest arguments on his behalf? Why do so many otherwise respectable individuals keep destroying their credibility coming to his defense?

I don’t know if I will ever understand this.


Progress, Quantified


So here’s what’s going on with my current project:

It’s a Superhero story (I’m currently reading Save the Cat, which, if you haven’t read it as a writer, I can only encourage you to pick it up right away, even if you’re not writing screenplays) about a guy in a family of supers who has no powers himself. So he’s a little jaded. When he finally develops an ability of his own, he quickly finds himself at the top of the food chain and sets about a plan to wipe out supers forever.

It’s an idea I love that I kicked around in the ol’ brain for a good couple years before I wrote the first words, and once I did start writing it, it really took on a life of its own, as they say. Lots of twists and turns grew organically out of the thing, which is just one of the measures I use to tell me when an idea is worth pursuing.

And now, as I find myself neck-deep in rewrites and edits, the story is growing out of control like a Mogwai tossed in the deep end of the pool. Every day or two, I have an idea for something I want to add to the story, some twist to throw in the road. Every time I re-read something, the characters seem to be speaking to me: that doesn’t make sense, I should be doing THIS instead.

Gremmy

Playing whack-a-mole with ideas like this is frustrating: obviously not everything that springs to mind can make it to the page. Every widget you add over here throws things out of balance over there, and if you’re not careful, the story will go to pieces trying to accomodate everything. But it’s also encouraging, because it makes every writing session exciting. Every page is Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.

So every day is taxing work — pruning here, shaping here, splicing here, all without end — but it’s also fulfilling and of late, it’s actually been enjoyable. Like I wrote yesterday, the words are coming easier and faster of late. Given the loggerheads I was at with my other project, I’m taking all this as just another sign I’m on the right path, moving in the right direction.

Maybe I’ll even set a deadline, soon.

(I haven’t given myself a deadline in over a year.)

*flies into panic*

*jumps out the window*

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday. Today’s prompt was “the 6th, 7th, and 8th word of the page of the nearest publication. That happened to be “at the top”, from my current read, Otherworld, by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller.


Progress


2018 has been productive, so far.

Words are moving — maybe not flying, but moving — on the novel project. 500 word days are coming easy. Average is more like 6-800 when I get rolling. Runs are good, too. The nagging Achilles issue I had for the last few months of 2017 is waning, so the run is an actual release and something I can enjoy again. Which helps tremendously!

And the wife and I are down a few pounds; amazing what we can accomplish when we hold each other accountable. (Actually, she holds me accountable much more than I her, but let’s not quibble!)

The road to summer is long, but at least for now, the path is lighted.

And now for a three-day weekend to derail all that post-holiday progress, whee!


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