Writing My Life

Now and Then

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After reading this, you’ll think I’m bi-polar.

If you’re down and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slip away
Cause your baby is so far away.
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love
Love the one you’re with
Love the one you’re with

~ Stephen Stills, 1970

I am clueless as to what the first two lines of the chorus means, but “a rose in a fisted glove” and “an eagle [flying] with a dove” are pretty cool images. If I understood the symbolism, I could probably tie them into this post, but since I don’t, I’m going with “… if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one your with.”

Naturally, I’m NOT writing about a former boyfriend or a clandestine lover – I’m a happily married blogger – but I am thinking how this applies to my writing doldrums of the past few weeks: To abandon a potentially great idea because it is NOT really I’m not REALLY into it. When I ventured to write up a character bio, as I committed to do, and found I couldn’t even complete that, I decided it was time to admit momentary defeat and hang with the NEW idea “on the block.” But what exactly was that?

I know all this sounds too familiar, BUT I promise this ends on a more positive note. For awhile now, I’ve toyed with an idea that I liked but couldn’t solidify, and then …  (Is the anticipation significantly building?) …

I watched NEW MOON!!!

For the first time.

Do NOT – I repeat – do NOT panic. I have NO intention of whipping out yet another vampire novel, but watching 2 freaking MISERABLE characters MOPE over each other added substance to my nebulous idea. And I decided I LOVED it. (The IDEA, not New Moon.)

Because this story is lighter than Not That Way, the working title of the “other” novel-in-the-making, I’ve been able to “throw up words.” Something I wanted and needed to do but couldn’t because the subject of Not That Way was SO heavy, and the character-arc SO wide that INTENSE thinking prohibited puking on paper.

This is a truly lame comparison, but I felt like I was TRYING to love deep and dark Edward, but I’m NOT obsessed and depressed Bella! I was forcing a relationship that wasn’t there. NOT to say it will always be that way, but for right now, I’ve ditched the … . Well, you know what I’m sayin’.

The point is that for a first-time novelist, I need (I was tempted to write “Jacob” but controlled that urge) something different. I’m not sure of all the reasons why, but this new thing feels right.


“… about to take that trip again …”

I know what it’s like to write a hard book. Just remember–every book gets to a really hard part … .  Anne Dee and I are both in hard parts of our novels. So–keep in mind that every novel can get really, really crummy.

~ Carol Lynch Williams

I KNOW that I listed several reasons to abandon the novel I started, and some of those reasons were dang good, but then I commented on CLW’s “Danger! Danger!” post. The next thing I know she’s giving me good advice about writing “hard” books, and one line zaps me like a freakin’ cattle prod:

“This is the reason so many people have so many starts and so few finished books. Just a heads up … .”

So, for better or worse, I’m continuing on with this HARD write because IT’S MORE IMPORTANT THAT I FINISH IT THAN IF IT’S GOOD!

Does that make sense? I’m thinking it does, because if I don’t finish THIS one, I’m afraid I won’t finish any at all.

I’ve also decided to follow a plan – NOT an outline, but a P.L.A.N. to help work through the “hard”. Here are just a few steps:

  1. Write a synopsis of my WIP – a better one than the one I created at WIFYR. (You see, I misunderstood that assignment and wrote a “blurb” that a prospective author might write for an agent. DuH!)
  2. I already carry around a notebook where I record lots of random things, but now I’m going to dedicate a section to ideas I may discover while living my life that might just work in my “once and future novel.”
  3. Write biographies for my main characters and include the all-important “character arch.”
  4. Learn to write to a timetable – to write SOMETHING everyday – whether it is H.A.R.D. or not.
  5. Whistle, sing, or hum while I work; and this is one of the songs that I’ll whistle, sing, or hum:

Here I go again, I hear those trumpets blow again.

All aglow again , takin’ a chance on [you].

Here I slide again, about to take that ride again.

[Bleary-eyed] again, takin’ a chance on [you].


Now what am I going to write?

Now for the bad news. While there are those who will tell you they simply start writing and keep going wherever the story takes them (Stephen King and James Clavell are just two), for us lesser mortals we need a bit more help.

~ Steve Manning

After having such a great day writing last Saturday, I was haunted about whether or not this is the novel I should be writing at this time. While trying to put a finger on the reasons I felt this way, I created a list of reasons this might be the case. I thought others may benefit from my experience, and soooooooo I created the following:

The Top 10 5 Signs You Shouldn’t Be Writing This Book

  1. You are not in the mood to write this happy/sad/inspiring/depressing novel. In my case, I have been writing a tragic story, but I’m wondering if I can really do this. Tragedies in my life are minimal – some wouldn’t even consider the dramas as tragic. I am basically a “good-mood” girl. Rarely am I grumpy, sad, or pessimistic. In fact, many think I am pretty funny, and so if you should write what you know, shouldn’t I really be writing something in the realm of good natured, optimistic happiness? But who wants to read that?
  2. You can’t find the forest for the trees. (Sorry about the cliche’.) Your mind is filled with dozens of details, but they don’t add up to the picture you imagine – or in this case, the story you want to create. You love the details, but you get lost in them, and the next thing you’re asking is, “Now, what is the point?”
  3. The more you write, the more you don’t like the story, the characters, the setting, etc. While I love my character, she’s not moving in the direction I envision. Maybe that’s because I haven’t created character bios or developed the character’s arch. But I don’t know what a character’s arch is! I asked another novice writer to define that term for me via a blog comment, but she didn’t respond. So I’ll Google it, and figure it out, but I’m afraid after I go to all that trouble, I’ll still feel uncomfortable with this story.
  4. You find yourself thinking about another possible character/plot line/idea. While some writers are strong enough to put aside these invasions, others (like me) consider them as possible hints that you’re engaged to the wrong guy, or in this case, engaged in the wrong project. So rather than 2-time your significant other, you’re thinking of giving the “let’s just be friends” speech in hopes that later on you’ll pick up the relationship again. In the meantime, you can “play the field” by experimenting with other relationships/genres. (Okay, I think I’ve beaten this metaphor into the ground. Moving on.)
  5. You’d rather be blogging/napping/cleaning/shopping/fill in the blank __________________. While every writer gets distracted at times – at least that’s what I’ve been told – it is another thing to LOOK for distractions. This was a biggie. Even though ideas for this book swam around my brain before falling to sleep and throughout the day, I didn’t feel excited to sit down at the computer and weave them into the latest chapter. Instead, I decided I really better organize that closet or search for that missing tube of make-up. By the time I finished all the items on this “must-do” list, I had either forgotten about the inspired ideas I’d been mulling over OR convinced myself that they weren’t all that great in the first place.

I talked with Ann Cannon once after reading that she decided she needed to change the viewpoint of a book she was writing. I asked if she had done that, and she said no. I can’t remember why, but I do know she decided to abandon it – at least for the moment. I know that many writers abandon partial AND whole manuscripts, and so I don’t really feel too bad about dumping the 3 chapters I’ve written. But I sort of feel like the girl who breaks up with her boyfriend without having another possibility in sight, and she’s one of those chickies who HAS to have a guy in her life.

Oh well, I guess I’ll play around until something surprises me. In the meantime, I have 2 partial novels waiting in the wings until I make up my mind.
I would love to hear how others of you know you’re going down the wrong path or following the wrong plot line or spending too much time with a dead-end character. Please tell me your story! 😀