Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sick Kids = Brain Fog (and thank you, Nathan Bransford!)

Sunday night I was reading Nathan Bransford's blog, as I frequently do.  I ventured into some of his FAQ entries and read this post on plot.  Oh my golly.  It saved my book.  For real.

Listen, I hadn't read those basic entries because my book is "finished".  I am now cutting words, cleaning up dialogue, making my fight scenes more exciting, etc.  But I was struggling because I felt like something still wasn't working.  I knew the pieces weren't quite fitting the way they should be, but I couldn't figure out WHY.  And as I read Nathan's post, I had an epiphany.  I think a lightbulb *really* appeared over my head.  I know exactly how to stitch the climax to the struggle throughout the book.  And it was there all along; I just needed to make the connection more clear.

So last night I was super excited to get started!  I'd been making notes on scraps of paper all day.  Hubby went off to bed, I grabbed my laptop, and... stared at the screen blankly until I ended up looking at kitchen carts on the Ikea website instead.  See, we've had sick kids (and sick hubby) all weekend.  They are clingy and whiny and needy and not sleeping.  And I just couldn't write anything worth saving.

Is the universe out to get me?  I doubt it.  I assume the universe has more important things to do.  The moral of the story is that I have to accept that my life is not usually in my control.  And that's okay.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

.... or get off the pot

You can fill in the blank, right?

I started my book on March 9, 2008.  That's the date on the top of my very first braintstorming page.  I hadn't read an actual BOOK for FUN in a very long time.  (Because of course college text books and Newsweek and Curious George don't count, right?)  In February, I went to Las Vegas with my husband on a business trip.  While he was off touring the transit center, I read Twilight in the hotel room, and I remembered why I loved reading so much when I was younger and had more time to myself.  I also remembered that dream of someday writing a book, that I'd figured would have to wait until my kids were older.

Discussing Twilight is another post subject.  But after I finished the book, I was curious about the author and visited Stephenie Meyer's blog.  Well, wowza!  It only took her three months to write the book and three more to get a book deal!  And with three little boys about the same ages as mine.  Dang it, I'm a good writer; surely I could do the same!  I was gonna send off my manuscript by July!

Here we are nearly two years later.  No book deal.  No query letters.  Wasn't I supposed to be rich by now?

Life happens.  It's been a very busy two years.  We rented our house and moved to a new one.  My kids got older; my oldest is in school now.  Steve blew out his ACL and had surgery; recovery was much longer and more involved than expected.  We've had stitches, strep throat, the flu, assorted other illnesses, and my youngest was diagnosed with asthma.  Good things, bad things, but all of them time-consuming.  And brain-power-consuming.

Everything has taken longer than expected.  And that's not bad.  Family comes first.  But lately I've been having some interesting conversations with people in my life.

Steve:  So when are you sending off your book?
Me:  Gosh, quit nagging me!  I've been busy, okay?
Steve:  I was just asking.  Gosh!

Mom:  I think your book is good enough.  You should send it off.
Me:  Good enough?!  No way!  There's still so much I need to fix!  I can't send it off til it's perfect!
Mom:  (Long silence on other end of the phone.)  It's fine.
Me:  Whatever!  It's so not fine!  For example,  (And I proceed to list everything still wrong.)

Friend Ami:  So how's that book coming?

Friend Lisa:  So how's that book coming?

Friend Mary:  So how's that book coming?

Sister Becky:  So how's that book coming?

Maybe it's time to quit fretting over every comma, finish editing the damn thing, and get my query letter written.  Maybe it's time to start seeing if this is actually going to go anywhere.  Maybe it's time to quit being so scared of disappointment that I just keep procrastinating the Day of Reckoning.

Maybe it's time to get off the pot.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Fight scenes

The kids were grumpy tonight and didn't want to go to bed.  Hubby was floating around asking questions and stealing the laptop and otherwise randomly distracting me.  And yet I managed to sit down and work through a fight scene that's been nagging at me for weeks.  That's a pretty fantastic feeling.  I can probably squeeze a bit more productivity out of the evening, especially since everyone else (well, aside from the whiny, elderly cat) is snoring away.

So here's my question for tonight.  Why are fight scenes so hard to write?  Apparently I'm not much of a fighter, and thus my characters make a lot of threats, but don't end up hitting each other very often.  My friend Mary, after reading my first draft, said "Steph, I've had boys fight over me before.  And there's usually not a lot of talking."  She has an excellent point.  And if there's anything I see a lot of in this house, it's boys hitting each other.  Granted, they're preschoolers and are usually fighting over a Tonka truck or the last piece of cheese, but still.  All that naked aggression.  They're completely uninhibited about whacking each other in the face.

Being the mom, I generally jump in and say "Now, now, stop hitting your brother.  Let's share.  Go to time out."  Etc.  But now I'm wondering.  Maybe I need to step back and observe.  Perhaps they could choreograph my next fight scene for me.  Hey, it's not lazy parenting; it's RESEARCH, people!

Don't worry.  I'm sure my kids will thank me someday.

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