Writing Craft

Once More, With Feeling

Yes, you guys, I had another depression cycle hitting me right at the beginning of September, and it’s taken almost until now to fully dig my way out of it. I can say with conviction that it was no fun at all and I would as soon not do it again, please and thank you. My medication has gone through some adjustments, which will hopefully help accomplish that goal.

Of course, that means I did no writing for about two months. Now I’m finally back at it, and here’s what I’ve been up to:

 

Playing For The Other Team is in edits and has a tentative release date of mid-January 2016. I’m quite looking forward to having this one out, as I had a lot of fun writing it. Features devious little sisters, a bit of art and a bit of baseball, explicit t-shirts, and a lot of arguments about graduation gown colors.

The Gift of Gravity is the tentative title of a work in progress, something a bit more on the serious side, featuring a buttoned-up redhead and a mohawked, tattooed reptile aficionado who slowly find their way to each other as they search for a runaway transgender teen.

Then there is an as-of-yet untitled project that I just got started on. So far, there’s sarcasm, and amnesia, and spooky things happening in mirrors!

 

In other news, my toddler is toddling… and climbing everything, and tearing down any and all barriers, and foiling every freaking attempt we make at keeping him safe and away from life-threatening situations. That kid has no survival instinct. He’s probably broken and now it’s too late for a refund.

Not This Again

New writing endeavor, new protagonist. I thought that after Lysander, who makes an art form out of being contrary, I could handle anything, but nooo. Protag and I are already at odds.

 

Me: “‘Kay, good plot and all, but this is a romance, so we should probably start working on your love interest.”

Protag: “Oh, he‘s cute!”

Me: “…that’s the antagonist.”

Protag: “Gimme!”

Me: “No! You’re shy and he’s an asshole!”

Protag: “Is there a gentle, vulnerable soul hiding beneath his rough facade?”

Me: “No. That’s not how this book works.”

Protag: “Gimme anyway!”

 

*headdesk*

Character Attitude

Most authors I know occasionally have the same problem I do – sassy characters who just won’t take direction. Usually, they make for the most interesting protagonists because their ‘tude is memorable and entertaining. Lysander was definitely one such protagonist. When I was emailing a friend the other day and tried to describe what writing him was like, it went something like this…

“Okay, let’s start on this scene where you talk to Finn-”

WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF MONSTROSITY IS HE WEARING?

“Um, who cares? You’re supposed to be talking about-”

OH GOD IT’S TIE DYE. KILL ME NOW.

“No, stop being so dramatic. First you need to-”

I REFUSE TO LOOK AT TIE DYE UNLESS I’M REALLY REALLY HIGH. ALSO, HAVE YOU MET ME?

“…fine, I guess we’ll deal with the tie-dye crisis first then.”

WITH FIRE!

“You are not setting your cousin on fire.”

BUT HE’S WEARING TIE DYE!

On Writing

…or rather, on finishing. Because I feel like sharing the sage advice I’ve acquired and been putting to use.

Get it? GET IT?

I’ll wait.

…anyway.

I’ve made up stories since¬† I can remember. By myself, with friends, plain or illustrated, spoken, written, or often nothing but a play in my head. And I always knew I could write. Despite the occasional self-doubts, which are entirely normal, it’s probably the one constant thing that I could always fall back on, that confidence. Like some people feel destined to be musicians, or painters, I always knew I was a writer.

While I was never perfect – and I have a Mount-Everest-sized pile of weird-ass, half-finished stories that argue for the prosecution – I kept at it. And I’m still at it.

I’ve learned over the years, both through my own experiences and from drinking in the advice of accomplished authors I admire, that there are two basic truths that apply to the vast majority of fiction writers:

1. Ideas are a dime a dozen.

2. Finishing is the hard part.

This is pretty much why, even though you hear lots of people saying they have a great idea for a book, those books hardly ever get written. Putting stuff on the page is the hard part. Trudging through tens of thousands (or sometimes hundreds of thousands) of words is the hard part. And it took me a long time to figure out how to do it. I still have trouble with it. But I know now that I can do it, because I have done it, and that helps a ton. But the most important thing?

Just finish it.

No matter how ugly. No matter how stupid you think it is. No matter that this new idea you just had sounds twenty times better than the crap you’re trying to get done.

I put post-its in my writing space that say stuff like “Just. Write!” and “Don’t even think about stopping”. I instruct my husband to remind me not to overthink or waffle around.

Just finish it.

It’s hard. It’s incredibly difficult for a large percentage of writers, but they all figured out a way to get past it, which is how they got published. It’s a mental tour de force for me, and when I write endings I feel sick, desperate, overwhelmed, ready to scream and tear my hair out in frustration. But when it’s finally done, it’s like I just finished a marathon. I feel drunk on the accomplishment for days, if not weeks. And then, when I come back down to earth and have my head on straight, I edit. That’s usually when I realize things like Hey, that wasn’t so crap after all and This part works much better than I thought.

While editing isn’t a walk in the park either, I do it with the knowledge that the hardest part is over with. I finished. Doesn’t matter what. Doesn’t matter how. Just that I did.