“It’s hard to write this without killing someone or blowing something up.” Me while working on my current work in progress during my writers group tonight.
The group just left and I spent a few minutes “woe is me-ing” because I hated my words and loved theirs.
And then I sat in my chair and focused on breathing and reclaiming my comfort in my process. Okay, that’s a lie. I haven’t reclaimed the comfort. That’s why I’m here on the blog talking to myself. 😊
Simple truth: writing is messy. And sometimes I get lucky and I’m blessed by the writing gods and a scene just falls out of me fully developed with snappy dialogue and conflict and character development.
But MOST of the time the first words are flat placeholders for what will come next in revisions.
But they’re there on the page. Words. Words that weren’t there before. Words that give life to the story I will eventually tell.
I’m working on this. On embracing me. On being okay with who I am, in how I am, in why I am. No, not in being okay with it. I’m learning to love me.
It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about the words I write or the food I eat or the words I say or the clothes I wear or the weight I lose or, well, anything.
I’m me. And I’m doing just fine. ❤️
What I’m loving: one of the new characters who popped up in my story completely unexpected but perfect for it right now, DoTERRA On Guard mouthwash, HGTV, my writing group, Within Temptation’s new album
What I’m writing: So Much For Happily Ever After
I started my new Intrigue proposal tonight. I just decided to go with what I felt like working on, and since I have no contracts, I have that luxury. I can’t wait for that to change. 🙂
I’m over the half way point on my WF and I have the next one plotted. This Intrigue kept popping around in my brain, so I figured get it on paper while it’s there.
And now it’s 1 a.m. and I feel guilty for not working on the 1/2 done women’s fiction—which is crazy!
The Intrigue was fun. It’s suspenseful and sexy and the hero is yummy. It was nice to take a break from all that angst in Prodigal and focus on Missing. My conspiracy theory brain needed an outlet.
I’m just glad I have the time to write.
I’ll be teaching Thursday and Friday, so I’ll only get to work at night, which I seem to do anyway. I just needed a schedule. Hopefully I can keep this up once school starts. Writing the synopsis first helps a ton! Hard to believe I wrote those words. A few months ago, I thought writing a synopsis first completely shut me down. Now I use it as a road map, but that’s all. And sometimes maps are wrong, but that’s okay because if the map is there, you can just take another route to get where you’re going.
Early in my childhood I learned the safety of books. Libraries were places to discover hidden treasure. After I’d finished reading everything I wanted in the children’s section I walked the aisles of the adult area, searching for the perfect story. The librarian steered me toward Grace Livingston Hill and Victoria Holt. I read all she had of both of them and then found others. Books on royalty. Bloody true crime stories. Historical romances with just enough sex to intrigue me but not enough to traumatize my young mind. 🙂
I loved books. I still do. Today I like bookstores better than libraries, but I don’t go on reading scavenger hunts as often either. I rarely take chances the way I did in the past. A part of me wants to, but another thinks there are too many books in my TBR pile to risk time on a bad book.
I’m not sure if that mentality affects what I write or not.
When I first started writing, I chose to target Harlequin Silhouette for a number of reasons. I thought it would be easier to break in…hahahahaha! I thought the shorter word counts would be easier to write. I loved Margot Early and Debbie Macomber and Judy Christenberry and Nora and Judith Arnold and a ton of other H/S writers. Honestly (and so totally wrong!!!!) I thought writing for H/S would be easier because of the “formula.”
I started off writing what I figured was an American and sent it off into that other world of New York publishing and started on another book. When I got a request for full I figured I was months away from being a published author.
I spent hours working but no real thought on any of my stories. I just wrote them. I didn’t really respect the craft. I didn’t think much about it at all.
That changed with time as did my target markets.
This summer I’m experimenting with my writing. I’m still having fun. I’m tossing the idea of formula out the window. I’m trying to find combinations of words that make me happy and still tell my characters’ stories. I’m working on weaving my voice with their voices. I have no idea of market. Some would say that’s unprofessional. I figure it doesn’t much matter.
I’m reading an interesting book right now. When I started reading it I wasn’t sure I liked it. The story captivated me, but the story’s written from the protagonist’s point of view and it’s not easy to read at first. I stuck with it though because the story was so rich, the language and descriptions so full. I’m 2/3’s through now and I’m glad I kept reading. The book is The Shipping News. It’s a Pulitzer winner from a few years back. I don’t know why I picked it up. I guess the whole News angle interested me. I’m not sure what I’m learning as a writer as I read this story. It’s completely different from anything I’ll ever write. But I like it a lot. Somehow I identify with the characters. The author has made the human connection, the emotional tie. It’s set in Newfoundland. I’ve never really thought much about Newfoundland, but I find myself drawn to this barren area and these people. I hope I don’t need a box of Kleenex by the end of the story. But if I do, I trust this author. I trust that she won’t have me crying for no reason other than author manipulation. I HATE reading stories and getting to the end and some horrible tragedy taking place for no other reason than the author wants to make readers cry. I won’t read Nicholas Sparks anymore because of the end of Message in a Bottle. Author manipulation. Sad ending are fine if the story calls for it, if the characters demand them, if the lesson learned requires that end.
Maybe that’s a lesson I’m supposed to learn as I read this story. My new WIP has a lot of opportunity for author manipulated tears.
Don’t get me wrong. Manipulation is part of the author’s job. But there’s a difference in telling a story, crafting something rich and beautiful and enduring, and throwing in a sad ending just to make people cry. It’s the difference between The Notebook (I bawled and loved every minute of that book) and Message (I threw the book across the room and swore I’d never read another Sparks).
Another choice. What to read, how to write, who to send to. Those choices all play a part in molding me, the writer and me, the reader. But the biggest choice I have to make as the writer is to sit down and write and forget all the rest of this. I think now’s as good a time as any.
Weight loss update: I’m still down 51 pounds. I didn’t lose any last week, but I didn’t gain either. I hope this week breaks the never ending plateau. If I can get through the hours of 2-6 without snacking, I’ll be doing good!
I restarted my WIP tonight. I’m almost afraid to put that in writing because the last time I did I slammed into a wall of my own creation.
I’m participating in a BIAW challenge. Hopefully it’ll help.
I had to start, delete, restart and delete for thirty minutes before I could go on, but once I found the rhythm I was looking for, I couldn’t seem to stop. It was glorious.
This book is different from anything else I’ve written because it does have an internal beat. It’s a family drama and I’m trying to make sure the two main characters have definite voice. I think this journal has helped with that tremendously!
I’m also working to ensure there’s story questions to both main characters’ stories and that those questions intertwine with the theme. So far it’s working. One part of me keeps saying to forget all that technical stuff, but another part of me is loving the challenge. It’s very different for me. Usually I sit at the keyboard and wait for the magic to hit or plug through until I’ve got my time in. This time, I have a synopsis, so I know the relationship turning points as well as several key plot elements. As I write I go back and tweak the technicals. It’s almost like I’m putting one of those giant two thousand piece puzzles together. Surprisingly, it’s fun.
I’ve never been a fan of the whole write the synopsis first club. For this book, it’s working! I wrote the synopsis a couple weeks ago and scenes have been percolating. I think I like this!
Recently I’ve seen several changes in submission guidelines for different houses. One is that editors are encouraging Query and Synopsis first, sometimes with a partial. I don’t think I could just query without part of the book written. But once I have three chapters, I’m going to start the submission process with this book. I think. By the time I get through chapter three, I could change my mind. 🙂
The cursor on the blank page of my Word document has started taunting me.
I’m not joking.
It blinks and waits and blinks and waits and blinks some more.
And the words don’t come.
I’ve never really been in this strange place with my writing. I have a synopsis and I’m ready to write the story but my mind won’t stop spinning in a million different directions, none of which have doodly-crap to do with my WIP—if I happen to be sitting at my computer.
It’s not a fun place to be.
But it’s not agonizing either.
Because even while my cursor taunts, inside my brain full scenes are playing out. It’s strange how real they seem. They come to me at the oddest times. On the way to work. In the shower. While I’m cooking supper.
I see these people and I feel like I know them and there’s a strange sense of anticipation that I’ve never really had before.
Seems like I should be able to write better than ever with all that, but it’s almost like my brain is saying no way, huh-uh. We’re going to wait until you can curl up in a chair with the laptop and iPod and go at it for hours on end. Five minutes here or there just isn’t going to cut it.
I sure hope that’s the case.
The book I’m working on is something completely new for me. It’s an older book, a bigger book, deeper maybe.
It’s a challenge. And I thrive in challenging situations.
But sitting here looking at an empty word document is a challenging situation I’m not too sure of.
So I’m feeling a little bi-polar writer right now. Excited, afraid, confused, certain. It’s strange.
Great blog today by Karen Kelley: http://www.authorkarenkelley.com.
If you need inspiration, go check it out.
I’ve been immersed in research for the last week, so when I picked up a new romance this morning I was more excited than usual about reading. I took the book with me to work out and dug in. The opening scene was awesome. I loved the heroine, loved the writing. Couldn’t wait to see what happened next. Couldn’t wait to meet the hero worthy of this dynamic woman.
The elliptical hit 15 and I turned the page and met the man.
Three pages later I put the book down.
I know character arcs are essential in genre fiction. I’m all about reformed bad boys. I love the alpha male.
BUT when the hero’s story opens with us learning he’s a player times a thousand, loves sex, thinks he’s good at it, uses women like they’re nothing and then sends the one he spent last night with home with a best friend so he can bed her too, uh, that’s crossing the character arc line. I guess lots of people don’t mind a beginning like that. I did. I really liked the heroine. I wanted her to find happily ever after. But this hero wasn’t going to be worthy. If he hadn’t sent the woman he’s spent the night with home with his friend, I would’ve been fine.
It made me realize that I need to work hard at making sure my heroes are heroic in some way even when they’re being total jerks. Hope I can do it.
I plan on finding out tonight. I’ve been struggling with my writing the last two months. Thank God I found my journals and discovered that I’ve written two and a half books a year the last two years and in both of those years, I didn’t write in January and February because of my schedule at work. It’s deadline hell, so that made sense. Pretty relieving.
But I knew the deadline stress at work wasn’t what was stopping me with my new WIP.
My new work was stopped because the current situation is directly related to the past. A past I didn’t have figured out. I knew how the book was going to end, but I didn’t know why because that past event that sets the whole story in motion was still too vague. Last night I worked on that past event with my CPs. I’m ready to write today. I’m thinking about doing two possible things I’ve never done before. Writing the ending to see if my vision works and writing a prologue that might never see the light of day but will paint that beginning event vividly in my mind.
Writing the end is kind of scary because I sually write like crazy in the middle just to get to the last third of the book. I love writing the end usually.
The prologue is no problem. When I’m done with it I might even decide to make it a part of the book. I’ll have to decide if the reader needs to know that stuff to understand the book.
I know one thing. I’m excited, and it’s about time!
How one minute you can be so totally bumfuddled (I might have made up that word!) over something and the next it just oozes out of you.
My new chapter starts in a new location and the setting is everywhere. Not just the way it looks but everything. I guess all my studying setting today made its way into my subconscious. YAY!
I know what the next TP is. Now I get to get there.
I think this book is going to take place in two days.
I hadn’t planned on that, but everything has to happen fast or my poor heroine’s going to end up dead. 🙂
I know. I’m a sick, sick person for smiling,
Better go sleep so my brain works tomorrow.