Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Reality comes crashing down along with the high of a publishing contract when deadlines arrive fast and furious, life intervenes, holidays show up sooner than they should, and the dang story doesn't want to be written.
Normally when I write a story, I fashion it. I picture the setting, get a feel for where the story is going, and then let the characters out of the starting gate. Add a bit here, tweak this, move that, write the words.
Until the most recent one—the first story written to deadline, under contract.
I liken the writing of this story to a sculptor who tries to bring the piece out of a block of marble. It's in there and up to him/her to bring it forth, as opposed to a builder who crafts the piece.
This story would not let me write it. This story wanted to emerge. I knew the middle, and fashioned the ending, but that beginning... I think I have two dozen different starts-no exaggeration.
Where to start, how much the reader needs, what is the story... questions I never had to deal with before. In other stories, the beginning was always there. The black moment was there. The character arcs were there.
This time, I had the middle of the story. No sagging middle for this baby—which is great, as sagging middles can be problematic. But the beginning, where you meet the characters, like them, find something about them to root for...I had nothing.
Well, I had something—it just wasn't the right something. It was everything I needed to know and none of what the reader needed.
So, like a sculptor, I pared it down, layer by layer, rounding the curves, smoothing the edges, and, slowly (slower than I liked), the piece emerge, the story unfolded.
And became the piece of art I knew was in there.
In Over Her Head, Wild Blue Under, & Catch of a Lifetime
Published by Sourcebooks
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Sunday, February 1, 2009
- The not so fun part of snow days was my mom and her list of chores. I now know this was self-defense on her part. It was a way keep six rambunctious kids occupied. Needless to say, we didn’t often whine, “I’m bored and I’ve got nothing to do.” Lord, big mistake and *The List* came out.
Snow days at my house are a bit different. First, I don’t have six kids, thank God, to keep occupied. Back then we stayed outside or found adventures of “lets pretend that…” in our bedroom or the third story attic.
I have one child. Uno only goes so far. Snowboarding outside takes up a few hours, if I’m lucky. Snowball fights still happen but it’s the kid and me. He has TV, movies, 360 Xbox, paper and art supplies, and shelf full of books. I have a computer and projects to get done. Articles to write, books to finish, books to edit. Did I mention editing?
This is a normal workweek for me. I’m trying to keep to my schedule. Four days of no school and a husband who can’t get to work either. It’s vacation time for them. I’m in a groove and I have not one but two housebound males wandering around bored. I am not bored. I have plenty to do. I get up from the computer for a short fifteen-minute break and stretch out my tight muscles, go to the bathroom and get a cup a coffee. My mind is on what I’m writing, working out the kinks mentally, and walk back into my office and there’s my husband checking out Fox Sports. We do have a working TV.
“Oh, I thought you were done?”
I’m dumbfounded. You can tell, dropped jaw, wide eyes, standing frozen in the doorway.
“Sweetheart, what part of five open tabs on the computer screen makes you think I’m done?”
I always try for the sweet, reasonable approach first.
So I decide to take out the dog, clear my head in the cold outside air and rid myself of frustration. It’s beautiful outside. The type of day that brings back echoes of laughing kids, snowball fights and snow forts. I feel a pull on the leash and bring my mind back to today just in time to see my poor Great Dane trying to do her business and ever so slowly slide down the incline. This is her second winter and she’s still learning her way on this white stuff. The look on her face is priceless and I can’t help but laugh. It feels good. I’m feeling better, which is a good thing.
I walk back into the house; breathe a sigh of relief when I see my husband watching TV. I walk into my office. And there is my fourteen-year-old son.
At my computer.
“Oh, I thought you were done?”
Oh, yeah, it’s gonna be a long week. Sigh.