Since then, they’ve become even more willful. Despite the fact my outline contained exactly no references to a lad named Jacob, one of my story’s protagonist’s has an entire Gchat conversation with him on page 11:
Abigail: yo, u there?
Jacob: I’m here. If I weren’t, my status would show it. UNLIKE YOU.
Abigail: whatevs. i got bigger things to think about. UNLIKE YOU.
Jacob: My soul! You’ve crushed it!
Abigail: anyway i have a favor
Abigail: u free tom.?
Jacob: Tom? Who’s Tom?
Abigail: haha. u suck. but i need a fave, k?
Jacob: Your wish is my command, if it’s both reasonable and practical.
Abigail: can u take me to eugene tom.? and a friend?
Jacob: Take you to Eugene, then to a friend’s? Sure.
Abigail: omg. stfu noob. can u take me n a friend to eugene tom.? pretty pls?
Jacob: You make wanting to do you favors so enticing.
Abigail: are u freE? can u do it?
Jacob: sigh I’m free. As for whether I’ll do it . . .
Abigail: yes pls!?!?
Jacob: How serious are you?
Jacob: Serious enough that you’d have dinner with me Sunday evening?
Abigail: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew u did not just say that
Jacob: That answer makes me think I’m not especially interested in driving your sorry ass to Eugene tomorrow.
Abigail: siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh ok yes i’ll have dinner w u sunday
Jacob: What time shall I pick you up tomorrow, then?
Abigail: 9. gotta clear w mom tho
Abigail: will let u know if not 9 k?
Jacob: You’d better not. I’m counting on Sunday.
Abigail: l8r loser!
Jacob: Good night. Also, it’s a good thing you don’t talk like this in person.
Abigail: i shud. then u wouldn’t want to date me!
Jacob Miller did not receive your message.
I can protest all I want. I can throw a fit in the style of my son, who screams and thrashes when he’s denied power cord nomming privileges. Yet it’s pretty clear that Abigail is just going to keep on talking to Jacob throughout the novel, no matter what I say.
It’s looking more and more like writing is advanced training for having a teenager.
If you’re anything like me, you love reading a good internal monologue in the middle of an action sequence.
Wait. I don’t love that. At all. As far as I can recall, I didn’t love it six years ago, either. So why the heck did I write so much of it back then?
Ginny slammed the stake through his heart and cried, “See ya, sucka!” She then wondered sadly if it was right of her to celebrate the end of a life. But if he’d already died a long time ago, was this death really death? Or was she just freeing him, rather than killing him? He was a monster, after all, or she wouldn’t have been forced to toastify him in the first place. It was his fault she’d had to do it, for the good of humankind, even if he had a mother, and sisters and brothers and children before he’d been vampified. She considered these weighty matters mournfully for several pages.
Meanwhile, Mr. Toast’s companion got a pedicure and read some Jane Eyre while waiting for her to make peace with her inner monsters, which were at least as ghastly as said companion. When he wasn’t getting a pedicure.
That’s not an actual excerpt, mind you. It’s my 45-second approximation of such a scene. I’ve killed dozens of such scenes on sight the last few weeks.
I’m 80% of the way through my first edit of The Monster’s Daughter’s sequel. Each page I edit feels like a victory, since I frankly want to toss my computer out the window and wash my hands of the ordeal every 20 seconds. A little piece of me dies inside when I think that I have another sequel yet to first-edit. Since that sequel, the third of the Glass Ball trilogy, was written in the same month as its forebears, I feel like I can reasonably assume it shares their flaws.
@#)$@)#$*)!@#. (That’s me dying some more inside.)
The good news is that editing the trilogy is really benefitting my WIP. Every several sentences, I ask myself, “Will editing the last few sentences make me want to jump off a roof?” So far, I haven’t answered “yes” even once, but it’s good to keep checking. This diligence now is an investment in a happier, saner future me.
If my WIP’s Tuesday teasers are a little awkward, I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m trying something new and better. The work—and my writing!—will be spiffier for it in the end, but it’s bound to be a little rough at the start.
Speaking of “Tuesday teasers,” I’ll be blogging about writing Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other weekdays will be for personal reflections. You’ll get a blessed break from me on weekends, which I’ll spend tearing out my hair whilst editing.
As I do, I’ll most likely be muttering, “The next edit will be easier. The next edit will be easier. The next edit will be easier.”
I’d cross my fingers, but that probably wouldn’t help my editing.
After two more rounds of copy editing, one of which was (pleasingly!) a little more content than copy, TMD’s first edition will soon be replaced by a more sparkly second edition. FYI, that’s not Edward-style “sparkly.” You’ll find none of that in any edition of any book involving Ginny!
The second edition will be printed on cream paper. Digitally, it’s already formatted for Smashwords and was uploaded this morning. It was roughly 1,458,892,058th in queue for uploading at 6 a.m. I imagine a few digits have been knocked off of that since! I’ll update my TMD page to include that link after it’s available. A few weeks after that, it’ll be available on the iStore and elsewhere.
On a totally unrelated note, I feel really good this morning. Up until I paid off my car last Monday, I’ve been prone to vegan fails. (Mmmm, cheese.) Those vegan fails left my mouth satisfied but my conscience very much dissatisfied.
When I paid off my car, I decided that was a perfect opportunity to live in better accord with my convictions. That payoff, after all, was made possible by my mom’s final gift to me. Her life was rough. Her choices made me able to take a much smoother path. Given all the choices I have, I feel like it’s important to honor my mom by making–not just contemplating–the right choices for me. This means eating vegan unless there’s an absolutely compelling reason (such as imminent death) for my doing otherwise.
It feels really freakin’ good. My body feels good. My heart feels good. This was the right choice, absolutely, and I’m glad I now have the conviction to see it through.
I’m not preaching veganism here, although it’s true I do feel healthier when I’m eating vegan. I’m just saying it feels really good to live in accord with my beliefs. Who’d have thought instant gratification could be so fleeting by comparison to this more lasting gratification? Since I tend to be slow on the uptake, I’m guessing you beat me to the punch on this one, probably by a decade or two.
Was there a moment or an encounter that helped you to understand that instant gratification is as fleeting as it is instantaneous? If so, I’d love to hear about it! If you’re still struggling, I’d love to hear about that, too, either in comment or via email.
I wasn’t goth outwardly in my teenage years, but I was all goth at heart. The stories I published in my old e-zine, Cranberry Winters, reflect this. So, too, do the story ideas I collected in a Converse shoe box.
A dream about a month ago prompted me to “dive in,” so to speak, to one of my sunny shoebox story sketches. From the first draft of that YA Urban Fantasy:
Elelu froze. Someone was coming!
He sprang into action as the female voice called out again, “What the hell are you doing, Frank? Next date night, I’m picking the date! Hide-and-seek ain’t no more romantic now than it was thirty years ago!”
He ran back up the hill he had just rolled down. The sand made running slow, but it was easier when he peaked and was moving downhill again.
The female’s cries grew softer as Elelu neared the water. He splashed through the shallows, hoping he would escape discovery. When the water was deep enough, he launched himself forward and called forth his fins.
He raced toward home. As he slid into his sleep-hole, well ready for a long rest, he noticed an arm stretched out of his mother’s sleep-hole.
He was afraid, but not so afraid he wouldn’t meet his fear. He pushed upward and swam toward his mother’s sleep-hole.
“Ana-enu!” he cried when he saw her. She has gone!
His mother was rigid. Her eyes, now turned black in death, gazed simultaneously everywhere and nowhere. She would never see him again, nor he her heart. He wrapped his hands around her outstretched one. His heart was full of mourning, but this was a time everyone knew would eventually come.
“Ana-enu!” he cried again. How could it be that no one was responding? Even in the middle of sleep, it was customary for his people to rise and bury their lost together. He held his mother’s hand tighter and looked up. Like with the sandy hills above a few long minutes ago, the only ripples of movement around him were non-sentient.
He waited. All remained still. He reached out with his mind, attempting to rouse anyone to help him begin his mother’s burial. Neither his ears nor his mind heard a single voice.
He released his mother’s hand, then swam toward his youngest sisters’ sleep-hole. Eana, as always, was wrapped around her just-younger sister, Aena. Both were still. Their eyes, like his mother’s, were shrouded in black. Their small bodies were rigid.
He swam toward his older brother’s sleep-hole. He, too, had gone. On and on he swam. In each and every sleep-hole he visited, he found another person whose companionship he would never share.
I’m excited to learn the story as I write it. I’ve outlined the story, of course, but knowing the CliffsNotes version and knowing the actual story are two very different things! Similarly, I’ve spent enough time in the story’s primary home–Florence, Oregon–to have it mapped CliffsNotes-style in my brain, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough.
Think I can talk Ba.D. into a family “research” trip to Florence, Oregon? His summer hiatus is coming up, so now’s probably the time to start the cajolin’ train!
When I wrote The Monster’s daughter (and its sequels) many moons ago in Japan, my entire “outline” was as follows:
Girl has vampire dad.
Plot? Nope. Character sketches? Nope. Character names? You guessed it: Nope.
In contrast, I had a plan for the YA urban fantasy novel I’m writing now. I wrote it down, tweaked it, thought on it, tweaked it some more and started writing.
The first thousand or so words totally cooperated with my outline. Everything was I envisioned it. After that, however, things started breaking down. My characters almost immediately began clawing and gnawing their way out of the boxes I’d neatly fit them into, so that by 5,000 words, I found myself frustrated by their orneriness. Newsflash, characters: I’m writing the story. Not you!
One of the things especially frustrating to me was how quickly the perspective I’d envisioned fell away. The way things were shaping up at 5,000 words left me feeling like I was being unfair to one of the key players in the story. So I asked my buddy Mack, am I being unfair? And, furthermore, how the heck do I fix this?
She replied with a complex, brilliant assessment, which included two core points:
(1) Roughly, “Keep writing, silly, because you’ll never get this sorted out if you sit around agonizing over it!”
(2) Exactly, “I think it’s because you said merpeople that I’m thinking in these particular terms, but the best example I can think of is the film of HELLBOY, which I’m sure you’ve seen. The story’s about Hellboy, we see the world through the lens of his experience, and it doesn’t diminish the fish-dude any (okay, it’s maybe diminishing that I don’t remember his name) that he doesn’t get equal screen time. Because if he did, it would be boring. It would be like, ‘And Hellboy could’ve DIED, srsly! And then that fish-guy sat around and read a book. And then Hellboy jumped off a building and had emo lovelorn angst! And the fish-guy said something funny. For an equal amount of time.’”
Mack, Mack, Mack, where would I ever be without you?
In addition to answering the specific question in a way that made me laugh and move on, her response enabled me to see the question wasn’t just about perspective. It’s about control. It’s about me deciding I want things to go one way and forcing them to go that way, even if–with very good reason–they don’t want to.
Getting around this mental hurdle took likening it to my work life. In the IT world, a project manager addresses a specific problem by identifying its components and finding, then implementing, a solution that corrects that problem. Even with copious planning at the front end, that project manager is going to find new facts along the way that will change how she has to implement her solution to a problem. (Often this will come from one of the project’s resources going, “Wait, what? No, what we needed is x.03, not x.031! It’s right here in this email . . . oh, um, I meant to include in the email, anyway!” Pretty please see here for a giggle-inspiring, totally accurate visual about project management.) She still has a mostly viable sketch of her solution’s implementation. The solution itself remains mostly unchanged though the path to reach it now includes a few hurdles and at least one pit of rattlesnakes that must be safely passed over to reach the project’s successful conclusion.
It’s unrealistic to assume that any project–whether IT, writing-related or personal–won’t change at all while it’s underway. Life is full of moving parts. If the project manager is doing things right, she’ll see what’s changing and respond to them sooner than later rather than trying to sledgehammer her initial solution into fitting new facts. If a project manager’s stuck in an old paradigm, she’ll throw her hands up in the air, ditch the project and go start a new one, after having a bunch of beers.
Writing, it turns out, is like project management, which is like life. If you start out with a plan you’re willing to constantly revisit and tweak based on new facts, you might find a different end result than you first anticipated . . . but you’ll get where you’re going, eventually. And maybe, just maybe, like in the movie Threesome, the detours and asides you took to get there will be the best parts of all.
The bookmarks! They have arrived! To celebrate, I shall try to tempt you with them:
I’m gonna go ahead and call this a preemptive temptation fail.
Still, I’m excited! Who doesn’t want enough bookmarks to last ‘em till the year 4082?
When I moved back to L.A. three years ago, I made three compilation CDs to keep me awake through the 16-hour drive. In a rush of originality, I labeled these discs Driving Disc #1, Driving Disc #2, and Driving Disc #3.
Since then, I’ve bought a lot more music, which has led me to make four more driving discs. (OK, I’ve made five, but one was produced in the throes of pregnancy-related hormone fits, and was so utterly unlistenable I tossed the disc and tried vanquishing it from memory. Shh.) I won’t tell you how they’re labeled, but I’m sure you’ll put that puzzle together all by yourself.
This morning, I made it to the end of the fifth disc. The first strains of Jordin Sparks’s “Tattoo” filled my car and–I hate to admit this–I got goosebumps.
Also from the hate-to-admit it files? I probably listened to that song a couple hundred times while I was editing The Monster’s Daughter.
Listening to the song this morning, I was overwhelmed by elation. Since I last listened to it, I moved from halfheartedly editing to actually releasing the book. Sure, there’s still a little work being done behind the scenes, but mostly? I did it. That satisfaction, one I couldn’t feel when I listened to “Tattoo” ceaselessly before, is one I’ll surely wear on my heart like a tattoo for years to come.
Heh. I know, I know. Cheesy, right? But no matter how cheesy it may be, the heart of The Monster’s Daughter is captured in these lyrics:
Don’t look back, got a new direction
Loved you once, needed protection
You’re still a part of everything I do
You’re on my heart just like a tattoo
Just like a tattoo, I’ll always have you
A Season in Korea and One Time, One Thing are both free on Smashwords through March 12, 2011. Many other titles–fiction and non-fiction alike–are also free or heavily discounted during this period. Smashwords has loads of different options for reading, even without an e-reader, so I’d recommend giving it a look no matter what your reading tastes are!
Speaking of reading, my friend Sarah needs to stop recommending such riveting YA books. The urge to devour them all, pronto, is making it hard for me to engage in non-reading activities. Like typing, which I’ve done quite enough of for this morning. I have more Will Grayson, Will Grayson to read!
I turned 14 a few days before I started working on the handwritten story that’d later become The Monster’s Daughter. I just pulled out all 120 pages of that handwritten early draft. I’ve only read the first page, but it makes me giggle.
Here’s a touching excerpt:
“So, have you decided yet? Will you go out with me?”
“Rob, I knew a long time ago that I did not want to go out with you. And I told you so, too.”
He gave me a look that said, “I know you’re just too embarrassed to go out with me. You might feel too inferior.” Egomaniacal. And that’s only one of the many reasons I won’t go out with him.
“Anyway, Rob, even if I did want to go out with you–and I don’t–my dad wouldn’t let me.” Bullshit my dad wouldn’t let me. I could skip school for a week, go have a vacation with forty guys and pay for it all with money I took from him and he wouldn’t care. “Bye, Rob,” I said as I pushed myself away from the table. If I didn’t pick up my tray, one of the table monitors would get it eventually.
Oh, 14-year-old Deb, you were adorable! I could just tickle you, if I didn’t think you’d punch me in the face for trying.
Do I have the courage to read on? I’d love to remember the story my 14-year-old self meant to tell, but doing so means foregoing my Jellicoe Road reading time! That’s even apart from the fact reading all those pages requires actually, well, reading all those pages and thus seeing into my 14-year-old brain. Do I dare? Do I dare, especially remembering the very unfortunate meeting between Rob and Ari’s dad?
I’d appreciate it if one of y’all could bust out a fortitude buff!