Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
If I ever tried, I know I’d end up just like the time Rob tried it on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. For those of you who haven’t memorized the classics, Rob goes to the mountain cabin of a friend and ends up doing everything but writing. That would be me.
On the other hand, I have thought about this one motel I drive past in Texline. Texline is the last town in Texas before you hit New Mexico in the far northwest corner of the TX panhandle. It used to be a farming town, but now it’s one of those towns that you pass through and wonder why it’s still there. Just a wide spot on the flat plains. But it does have a motel. I have no idea if it’s a nice motel. I do know it doesn’t have a pool. If I’m lucky, it won’t have wi-fi.
I don’t know if I’ll actually do it, but I keep thinking about heading over there for a few days and getting a room. No distractions. If I get hungry, I can walk to the convenience store down the street. And then come back and just write, write, WRITE! That sounds like a phenomenal idea!
Kinda doubt that it’ll happen. For one thing, even if it’s an inexpensive room by modern standards (and even if it’s open, it looked a little overgrown the last time I went by), it would still cost some money, I’m sure. Money that’s not easy to come by at this time, in this economy. And second? Even if it’s just a room with a bed and a bath like the Mayberry Hotel–and even if the TV didn’t work–I’d probably still find ways to be distracted. What I need to do is just concentrate, buckle down, do some writing, let nothing distract … hey, look! a Volkswagen!
Thursday, August 4, 2011
“Cowboys and Aliens” is a fun movie, if not one that’ll change your life in any noticeable way. The title pretty much tells you what the movie will be about. Still, it’s been so long since we saw a cowboy movie–let alone cowboys who had thoughts that originated above the waist–that I was glad to see men (and woman) a-horseback again.
The movie starts with James Bond waking up in the desert, shoeless, yet accessorized by a really snazzy bracelet. Before he can even stand up, he’s accosted by Newly from “Gunsmoke” who, with his not-too-well-coifed or overly bright sons, tries to take him in assuming the bracelet to be an indication of a prison break. Bond can’t remember who he is, but he remembers how to fight and, soon, is riding into town in clothing furnished by Newly & Sons.
In the town he discovers that one of the Carradines is the remarkably upstanding sheriff, the preacher is a sincere but somewhat foul-mouthed person I probably should remember and the bar is run by Guy from “Galaxy Quest”. If that weren’t enough trouble, Mutt2 is terrorizing the town because his father, Indiana Jones, is rich and hard and takes in Apaches. The girl from “Tron: Legacy” is there, too, though it takes a long time to figure out why.
After the old west town is attacked by aliens–who lasso their victims and jerk them into the sky–Bond, Indy and the girl lead a posse of townies, outlaws and Indians into the New Mexico dessert to find them all. If this sounds confusing, it’s not, really. But one thing is was, was unpredictable. In spite of the fact that I was thinking the title gave everything away, for the whole movie I never knew what was coming next. When I thought I knew, I was wrong. It turns out that the director who brought us “Elf” really knows how to tell a story.
I only have two quibbles with this movie. 1] there’s too much foul language and it rarely ever serves the plot or the characters well. B] For all the writers of this movie (there are 5 listed and rumor has it many more could have been credited) I kept thinking how much better it could have been if Louis L’Amour had been around to write it.
P.S. If you want to read a really good western, check out my novel “Overstreet“!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
I’ve got almost 70k words written on the newest Garison Fitch book! No, I am not shooting for a particular total. I write until the story is told.
Unfortunately, the story took a twist I wasn’t expecting and I was having a hard time writing myself out of it. And then I went to the funeral. I don’t like funerals. I realize they are a necessary part of life, but I still don’t like them. So, as I sat there and listened to the speaker go on and on about the life of a person he never met, my mind started to wonder … or wander. Either word works.
When I am writing a story, the action of the story goes on in my mind in real time. If I break off writing to go to the store or work or whatever, in the back of my brain is the thought, “Garison’s still at the library, isn’t he? What is he learning there?” Or, “Bat’s on a stakeout. How does Jody feel about that?” So I sat there in the funeral asking myself, “Where is Marianne? Did she survive the attack?” (for those fans of hers, the answer is “probably”) “If she survived, where did she go? How did she get there? How can I get her back? What is Edward doing during all of this?”
I’m not going to tell you my solution here, but during the funeral I realized where Marianne was and what she was doing. (See, she’s still alive. Whew!) The problem is still getting her back to everyone else in the story. I think I found the beginnings of the path during the funeral. Now I just have to make sure that path meets up with the rest of the story somewhere.
Friday, July 1, 2011
King Louis L’Amour
by Samuel Ben White
When a Louis L’Amour character walks down a street, you get the sense that—if you were suddenly placed on that street yourself—you’d know where to go because he’s already laid it out so well for you. That trail through the mountains? You could find it from his directions.
L’Amour wrote about how, in preparation for his books, he would pour over old maps and journals. I’m sure this helped, but what comes through on every page is that he actually walked the paths he talked about or rode a horse over the hills he describes. With every sentence, the reader thinks, “This guy has been here. I may not get to walk those paths myself, but I feel like I have, because The Guide walked me over them with his words.”
So, how did I get on the path of this incredible guide with the (for a writer known primarily for westerns) unexpected name of Louis L’Amour? My father is and always has been a voracious reader. It must be in my genes, for I am the same way. In the late elementary years, I began to notice that one of the authors he was reading frequently was Louis L’Amour. I noticed this because my older sister had begun to put together her own collection of Louis L’Amour paperbacks.
One of our phones was in her room, so I would sit there, talking to friends (or, more accurately, listening to them talk about their “girlfriends” [something I didn’t have at the time]) and looking at that rack of paperback books with intriguing names like “Over on the Dry Side” and “Guns of the Timberlands”. Hearing her talk with my father, I came to know names like “Tell Sackett” and “Milo Talon” and felt like I knew them pretty well before I even picked up a book. (And I would one day name both of my sons after Sacketts, but could never talk my wife into letting “Sackett” be the middle name.)
I had missed out on the “golden age of westerns” on TV. By the time I came along, only “Gunsmoke” was left, but I remember watching it faithfully every week—and in reruns when the station out of
Seventh grade. That was the year I finally read a Louis L’Amour book myself. I think the first one was “Catlow”. I guess I liked it because I read the other fifty-plus Louis L’Amour books my sister had before I was out of junior high, as well as “The Lord of the Rings”, “Centennial” and every “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” book I could find. And I couldn’t figure out why I still couldn’t connect with the girls.
Part of that was because I wanted a woman like the women in L’Amour’s world. They were pretty, of course, but they were also strong and independent and they could ride and shoot as well as any man—all while maintaining their composure and virtue. I wanted the rest of the L’Amour life: long desert vistas, hard work done by strong backs, and battles that weren’t for glory but for right. As I read about sixteen year old boys leading trail drives or fighting to protect the family land I lamented that there were no such opportunities in my twentieth century west
Not that I would have taken them if they had appeared. I know now that I was too timid. The glorious charges on horseback were for people who weren’t afraid of horses (not to mention bullets!) and the fair maidens were won—they rarely ever threw themselves at the quiet guy in the back of the room scribbling furiously on stories of his own.
It’s been said by more than one observer that the western, or “cowboy story”, is uniquely American and that each generation of Americans re-writes it not to explain or explore the Old West but to try and make a comment about the current culture with a familiar venue. I find this comforting because I would hate to think that the west was really as it is written now: full of debauchery and mayhem and amoral horndogs.
I want the west of Louis L’Amour. A day when men protected women and the women walked side-by-side with their men. A day when a man didn’t just turn in a good day’s work for the boss, he worked from “can see to can’t see” to make the boss’s spread a better place and with an idea of building a spread of his own. A day when people thought the chivalry of Sir Walter Raleigh was how a gentleman ought to conduct himself and where even a man’s enemies were accorded respect. A day when people held the printed word in high esteem and thought bettering oneself through reading was a virtuous thing.
I can have that time any time I want, because the books are right there on my shelf, close at hand. I think it’s time to take one down.
[Coming soon: my epic novel of the old west: “Overstreet”. Available on Kindle and Nook. Read more about it at www.garisonfitch.com!]
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
And don't forget to read my latest novel: the Return of the Nice Guy. Bat Garrett has been hired by a woman to find out why her husband was murdered. His investigation takes him through an amateur archeological society in Dallas and onto the mesas of the ancient puebloans in SW Colorado! Just 99 cents!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
My forthcoming novel "Overstreet" may seem to be my most obvious paean to L'Amour just because it's a western, but--honestly--I didn't sit there and write chapter after chapter asking myself "What would Louis write?" The connection I see between my novel and L'Amour is that, at the end of so many of his books, I'm thinking, "What next? I want to know what happened next!!"
One of the main threads of this story is that John Overstreet has killed the son of a prominent west Texas rancher in self-defense. But what happens next when that is (mostly) resolved? I take the opportunity to follow a life into the adventures that follow the one where the book usually stops. I believe I finish with a story that becomes more compelling (and fulfilling) as it reaches its denouement.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
It's the story of a young man who flees a vengeful family in west Texas and comes to work for a horse ranch in Como, Colorado. Over the years, he sees the west change and tries to change himself. To read more about it and my other novels, go to www.garisonfitch.com