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Hearing Voices Again

26 Sep

Writers often talk about epiphanies that hit them so strongly, they feel like they’re externally driven, like their characters have come to life and are bossing them around. I used to read that stuff, roll my eyes, and think, “Yeah, right. Self-indulgent, whimsical [expletive].”

And then it happened to me!

And it was awesome!!!!!!!!

So now I’m kind of a junkie for that self-indulgent, whimsical [expletive]. (And it’s your turn to use those terms about me.)

I have a character in my novel who’s big on bossing me around. This character is determined to have a miserable life. I try to write happy endings for [character], give [character] a good life. But no. [Character] won’t have any of that. Of course, the terrible things [character] inspires are actually quite delicious to write about, so maybe I’m giving [character] a better life by giving [character] a miserable storyline.

[Character] started off as a secondary bit player,  and now [character’s] one of the stars. I guess [character] knows what [character’s] doing.

(Forgive the brackets. I’m trying to avoid spoilers for those who’ve read bits of my early drafts.)

Anyway, that happened today. I set out to write about something entirely different, then I saw [character’s] picture in my story folder, a song came on iTunes, and whammo bammo slammo. A new tragic storyline.  Many weeps later, I’m dying to write these tragic scenes, but I’m nowhere near ready, and they’ll involve some research. (Gee, thanks, [character].)

School week’s starting up again. Let’s see if I get anything written at all.

Since the Dawn of the Beginning of History and Mankind…

22 Sep

Not much to say tonight. I’ve just been gazing at the harvest moon and pondering the phenomenon of the five-paragraph position paper. Seems my college years were full of those things. And, invariably, I began the first paragraph with some sweeping variation of, “Since the dawn of mankind,” or, “For hundreds of years…”

In the centuries since the Russo-Martian War, elephants have been afflicted with asteroids thrown by wrathful gods. This has been of great sorrow to the species. Many have died. Many have learned to play catch. Yet none of this would have happened if trade embargoes had been lifted between the Italian Alps and Ithilien.

First, we must examine Hannibal and the rise of the city-state…

Second, Faramir’s policies on conies and the Easterlings seriously bifurcated the paradigm…

Lastly, Nellie…

And so, in conclusion, neener.

I was big on passive voice and wordiness. I think I’m doing better on the former, if not the latter. But, man, I hated those nasty papers. I’m surprised I write at all after the horrors I suffered grinding those things out by the dozen.

No writing yet today. I hope to scrawl a few paragraphs in the short while remaining before sleep.

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of losing my father. The last words I remember him saying were as he backed his car out of my driveway after a day’s visit. He rolled down the window, smiled, and said, “Look at the moon!” He died not long after reaching home. The whole Super Harvest Moon thing that’s going on today through Friday has me thinking about that. It’s appropriate. And tomorrow night, I’ll look at the moon just for him.

It Takes Coffee to Make Coffee

20 Sep

This morning, I found myself approaching the coffee grinder with a pot full of yesterday’s coffee. What I intended to do there, I couldn’t tell you.

Wait... That's not right...

Sometimes I can imagine I’m being piloted by tiny aliens or that remote in The Upside Down Show. But are they piloting me toward the coffee grinder? Or are they leaping in to save said device? Perhaps my grinder comes complete with a mind control defense chip. A force field against idiots.

Too bad I’m not a writer, or I might be able to come up with some kind of story there…

But, really, I think the answer lies in the title of this post. Those who need coffee the most are those who are least able to make it.

(P.S. Sliding in under the wire, our heroine scribbles a solid 700 words of storificatin’ in the last hour before bed. Hoping that helps me sleep.)

That Sinking Feeling

17 Sep

Gotta love it when you’re reading an agent’s blog and, among the list of things they don’t want to see again, they mention an element that’s a big part of your story. (And, no, not vampires or werewolves!)


My mind went straight into defensive mode: But…but…but mine is special. That was over quickly in favor of Anne-Shirley-scale “depths of despair.”

I do think mine is, if not special, used differently, used in a way to debunk assumptions over this particular trait. I’m going to continue as is, but I will keep a note around so, at revision time, I can re-evaluate with a clearer head.

In other news, it’s Friday. That means Nathan Bransford is going to choose someone for Critique Friday. I submitted my first 250 words a few months ago, but I haven’t won the weekly lottery yet. I’m always disappointed, but it’s probably for the best because I imagine him looking at my stuff and saying that it makes no sense, it’s just words words words, and most expressed in Yoda speech. He, of course, would be far more diplomatic.  That’s just how I see my first page now. I’ve read it too many times.

I haven’t been able to write for a few days now. I hope I can gather some energy and inspiration for the weekend.

The One About… Huh?

14 Sep

Is this punishment for my crimes?

When I was a kid, my mom said I always got “sick” the day after staying up too late. I’ve been awake far too late for the past few nights, and it’s resulting in a strange form of… Oh, what’s the word? What was I even saying?

You know that feeling after you’ve had a dream? In the dream, you’ve had the greatest idea. It’s going to change the world. Then you wake up, and — poof — it’s gone. All that’s left is the lingering dismay of having lost something important. It’s so close, you can almost reach it…but, no. That’s how it’s been today with my writing. And it’s not just that a brilliant idea is gone by the time I get to my computer; I’ll be in the middle of typing a sentence and forget how it ends. Completing it based on context? No. Nuh uh. GONE.

I’ll get some sleep tonight and see if it improves my memory, but I’m not liking this sneak preview of how I’ll be when I’m a little old lady. Will it help or impede my goal of becoming a bats#*t crazy old broad wearing mumus, turbans made of tablecloths, and feather boas as I feed my eight hundred cats their dinner of oatmeal-liverwurst cookies? Heavens to hefalumps! I might forget to add the liverwurst.

In Which I Wax Poetic on the Glory of Shrinkwrap

13 Sep

Twas seventeen years ago tonight that I first learned to use shrinkwrap and found a portal to another world.

It all began in a make-believe village as evening drew its indigo curtain over sunset, and fairy lights sparkled to life in the trees. Inside the bookshop, the aroma of coffee swirled and mingled with the scent of paperbacks and harbor salt. Miles Davis played softly over the murmur of patrons, and I learned to wield the heat gun that molded plastic to page.

More importantly, I had my first conversation with the man who taught me the fine art of tailoring cellophane — the man who would one day become my husband. And that’s probably why a night that should have been mundane has become a fairy tale in my memory, complete with something approaching a Danny Elfman score*.

It marked the transition between the evil enchantment of my abusive first marriage and a new life over the rainbow, beyond the wardrobe, and, as the falling dusk illustrated, beyond the proverbial sunset.

(After seventeen years, I think I can be pretty sure this wasn’t all just a plastic-fume-inspired hallucination.)


*And lots of corniness and melodrama.

Supermassive Blog Hole

12 Sep

Remember this morning when we thought we’d put off writing for a few minutes to transfer our blog entries to this new site?

Very simple, very easy, right?


That’s okay because the end result is so gratifyingly invisible.

(And, yes, that’s a photo of an eclipse, not a black hole or a blog hole, but I’m too tired to care.)

Fonder All the Time!

11 Sep

I was awake until two AM, reading the end of my NaNoWriMo novel. Again. Couldn’t put it down.

I’m not saying it’s great art. It may have a plot only a mother could love. But there’s really something to be said for sitting down and writing a book from start to finish. You get a sense of when you need to reel in the suspense and when you need to give it some slack. Plus, since it wasn’t “real,” I did all kinds of ridiculous, horrible things to my characters without fear, including making a former good guy into an antagonist.

And it keeps me up until late at night when I read it, wanting just one more page, just one more.

Sometimes I think the NaNo novel should become my primary novel. But then I realize a lot of its charm lies in already knowing what “really” happened, in seeing how differently things could have turned out. There’s the thrill of already knowing a character and thinking we know how they’ll react in new situations. We already know a character when they’re first introduced to the story, so there’s that shock of recognition paired with curiosity over what will happen now that the protagonist is coming at them from a different angle, in a different situation.


  1. Channel some of that headlong, uninhibited energy into my main WIP.
  2. Try to forget how much I like last year’s NaNo novel when I dive into the fray this November. Keep it just for fun and don’t try to make it real.
  3. No editing as I go along. I thought my story and prose were garbage as I wrote last year. (So maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder.)
  4. Stop blathering about NaNoWriMo (until it arrives — then you’re out of luck).
  5. Don’t stay up until the wee hours anymore unless I’m writing! New stuff! Not old!

Not fonder…not fonder at all

10 Sep


It’s one of those days where I leave the house and return to find the story I loved wholeheartedly has transformed into embarrassing amateurish [expletive]. Not just today’s prose, I mean the entire novel — concept, characters, and all.

I don’t know how it does that, but I wish it would cut it out.

On Pocketwatches & Prose

10 Sep

Writing makes me sleepy. Very sleepy. Reading my recent efforts is even worse. A strange form of self-hypnosis.

Hopefully I won’t wake up clucking like a chicken.

Not that I have a lot of that sleepiness going on. Seems like most days I spend forever listening to era-appropriate music, looking at photos, gettin’ all emotional and stuff, and revving myself up to write. Then, just as I’m getting ready to dive in there, it’s time to go get the kids. Or it’s so close that I can’t let go because I know there isn’t time for a full immersion. I need to get over that, for sure.

Today I did a little writing (as in three paragraphs, not enough), and now I’m desperate for a nap. But, oops, lookie there. Time to get the kids.

Naked on Finals Day with Your Teeth Falling out*

9 Sep

Last night, I dreamed I stood across a counter from my writing instructor. He looked like Dumbledore but acted like Snape, reading other students’ work aloud in derisive tones.

He told me, oh no, he hadn’t mocked mine. Mine was beautifully written. Wonderful. One should, however, not give up so easily. These things were not to be taken lightly. Then, darting his eyes around the room, he lowered his voice and shoved a contract in my face, urging me to sign it. Quickly.

The text was illegible. I was worried.

It was all just nonsense to me until I told my husband about it. He explained it to me without missing a beat.

It always embarrasses me when others can see the meaning behind my words better than I can. What will my novel say about me when it’s finished?


*And you’re too weak to stand so you crawl on your belly, and you realize you not only haven’t studied, but you haven’t been to class in months.