Notes from a Drama Queen

Random thoughts and hard work

Friday, March 24, 2006

The morning started out with me thinking I couldn't write today, I needed to stop and figure out the bones of this book, and if I went further I'd just screw myself. This often happens to me between pages 60 and 100 of a book -- I've introduced everyone, set the scene, had some inciting incident and something exciting happen, and now I need to figure where I'm going.

So I pulled out my notebook and looked over the pages and pages and pages of notes I took before I went to the hotel and when I was at the hotel, while I kept trying to get a handle on the book, and most of the stuff is useless. Me floundering, looking for meaning.

OK, I told myself. I could do this. I just had to stop and get a clearer idea of where this is going. I just can't have my characters run from pillar to post without an underlying structure. It's a pain in the ass to go back and fix that kind of stuff later -- surely I could avoid all the work later on.

I began with new notes, reflecting the new beginning and the 80 pages I had so far, thinking that I needed to come up with a structure. Put it down, frustrated, thought about where I was in the MIP and realized I WANTED to write (caps because that's a miracle), even if I had no idea where I was going. So instead of having any kind of road map, I just started writing, and came up with seven pages in an hour when I thought I couldn't work today.

I know this is ridiculous, since April 1st is the 32nd anniversary of my first book being published, but I sure wish I knew what I was doing. That I had the answers.
But I guess finding the answers is the act of writing, at least for me. No matter how I try to corral and control it, it has a life of its own.

And this book isn't going to be boxed or arranged or figured out -- it's just going to come at me, and I need to make peace with the process, because it's absolutely brilliant (or at least the first 80 pages are. Actually the first 87 pages are).

But it sure would be nice if I could ever figure this writing business out.

Rocking and rolling!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

OK, fifteen pages today. Life's been getting in the way somewhat, but I'm now on page 50 and cautiously optimistic. Hell, no, I'm not. Right now I think this is the most brilliant book I've ever written. I'm totally in love with it, but that's no guarantee. I was (and still am) totally in love with INTO THE FIRE and that was a bit too much for a lot of people. And I'm afraid I'm going overboard with this one too. But you know, holding back, chickening out is a terrible thing for a writer to do.
My favorite movie about creativity is TIN CUP, the golf movie. Where Kevin Costner does the most stupid, arrogant, totally magnificent thing, instead of playing it smart and safe. That's the kind of writer I want to be. I don't want to write safe books -- I want to throw everything into it, clean it up if need be (sometimes even I think I go too far) and just let it be, in all its glorious messiness.
This might be one of those gift books. Considering it took me about six times to get the opening right, I deserve to have it take off from this point on.
Damn, I'm good!

Life Improves

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I've got the beginning. And if life would just stop getting in the way I could soar though this book. Two chapters down, two damned good chapters down, and it just feels right, thank God. I just have to hope trauma stops getting in the way.

Part of my problem was reading Tara Janzen's terrific CRAZY series. They're wonderful -- incredibly fast-paced, sexy, funny, fabulous. And without realizing it I kept trying to write ICE BLUE the same way, and it's really a very different world my characters are living in. Morality is much more ambiguous, good guys are bad guys and vice versa, and any humor is pretty black. So I have to resist temptation and not read CRAZY KISSES until I'm finished with this book. Who'd a thunk I'd be so suggestible?

Ah, but my exotic, beautiful hero is just about to kill the heroine when she says something to stop him cold, and it's just going to get better from there. Yum.

Page 35, but lots more on the way, since it's due in the beginning of May.

In the meantime, now that I've done my duty, maybe I'll curl up and watch Howl's Moving Castle for the fourth time.

Stalled Out

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

OK, it's Monday night and I'm still in the motel drinking Tab and eating baguettes and peanut butter. I finished the draft of the novella yesterday, and everything was going just fine. 49 pages and rewrites in about 36 hours, so I deserved some time off, right?
Wrong. I started wrestling with ICE BLUE, and I tell you, the sucker is stronger than I am. And meaner. It just doesn't like the way I'm writing it (or maybe it's the girls in the basement, or my wicked fairy godmother or something). I've written about forty pages and they're just WRONG. Funny, fast-paced, sexy and romantic, but they're not the book I need to be writing.
So instead I watched the Oscars and figured I could start Monday morning.
Monday morning dawned, and I decided I probably had to start anew. That those 40 pages couldn't be reworked into something right. But first I sent them off to my friend Lynda Ward, so she could tell me I was brilliant and mistaken (or brilliant and absolutely right) and then I proceeded to start the book anew.
Twelve pages later, twelve fast-paced, sexy, funny pages later, and it's still wrong. Oh, it'll make a charming romantic suspense, on the run novel. But it's totally missing what makes an ICE book work.
And then Lynda e-mailed, after nobly dropping everything to read the 40-some pages, and told me my instincts were right. Great book, but not the right book.
So now I've got to start again, and I guess I'll just have to keep on starting until I get it right.
The first line in the first opening was "It was hell being a cat burgler."
The first line in the second opening was "In her admittedly short twenty-seven years Summer Hawthorne had had some hideous days, but this one was promising to win some sort of prize for awfulness. "
I think tomorrow morning I'm going to start with "He didn't want to kill her."
Now that sounds like an ICE book.
Pray for me, brothers and sisters.

Motel Marathon Mania -- Part three

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Well, it didn't look as if I accomplished that much today, but since I started yesterday at page 63 and I'm at page 88 today that's close to my 30 page goal. I got up around nine, wrote for an hour, took a two hour nap (hey, life's tough in the big city), then wrote some more, e-mailing Jenny and Eileen every few minutes as the three of us worked on our parts of our collaborative novel. Since I didn't even leave the hotel room I started feeling a wee bit burned out, but after page 88 I switched to long hand -- purple ink (my heroine's color) in a red clairfontaine notebook, and the words just flow. If you've never tried a clairfontaine you've got to -- they're a treat for the senses and our poor abused muses.
About nine handwritten pages, and I really wanted to get to the big climax (in more ways than one) but I guess I shouldn't push too hard. I'll finish the draft by noon tomorrow, take a break and leave the hotel (except that there's 18 inches of snow on my car and I really don't feel like dealing with it). Maybe I'll take myself out to a fancy lunch, or go buy a bottle of champagne or something.
But for now I'm tired of focussing, tired of sitting, tired of drinking soda and eating salads, missing my husband, missing my sewing machine ....
Screech!!! That was the sound of me grinding to an abrupt halt. While I'm here in isolation there is no husband, no sewing machine, nothing but immersing myself in the work.
And some people think writing is an easy way to make a living. Ha!

Motel Marathon Mania -- Part Two

Friday, March 03, 2006

So I read through the first 63 pages of the novella (I was further along than I thought) and made all sorts of changes and notes. And then decided I needed a wee little nap. (I tend to nap a lot during these marathons). Three hours later I dragged myself out of bed, ate half the Chicken Caesar salad from Costco, drank a Tab, a CFDC (Caffeine Free Diet Coke), a bottle of water, and watched CSI (turning away at the gross parts). And then to work. Not terrifically speedy but pretty good – eleven pages plus moving stuff around in under two hours. Then a break for fruit and I think I’ll go swimming while I figure out what’s going to happen next.
A woman’s work is never done.

Motel Marathon Mania -- Part One

So I packed up my stuff and drove 65 miles to the big city to settle into one of those suite motels (it's a very small suite) and I'm going to write write write for 5 days. The goal is finish the Fortune sisters novella (rough draft) which should be about 50 pages, then get 100 pages into the new book (ICE BLUE). Which is 30 pages a day -- doable when I'm finishing a book, but I've never tried this starting a book. It'll be interesting.
So I've got Tab, caffeine free Diet Coke, water, salads from Costco, my mp3 player, Feng Shui candles, two dozen peach roses, THE HERO'S JOURNEY (by Christopher Vogler), Yoga for Pain and Aches dvd, my favorite pens, highlighters, two bellefontaine notebooks, a teapot, two Japanese cups, Tazo Zen green tea, peach and raspberry tea courtesy of the divine Cookie Lady, bathing suits (the pool is open 24/7) and since the temperature outside (with the wind-chill) is minus 11, I think I'll just hunker down and write my little fingers off.
As soon as my soap opera is over, of course.

Motel Time

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

OK, this baby is not gelling. (God, don't you hate those Dr. Scholl ads?). I did seven pages, struggling all the way. I think I need to run away from all distractions, find a nice hotel with a pool and a hot tub and write the first 100 pages. It's just not coming together, and I don't have time to waste.
But I have a really lovely villain, which is a major accomplishment. It's just coming to me in bits and pieces and making me nuts.
I'm going to find a hotel, finish the novella I'm doing with La Crusie and Miss Eileen, and then dive into the new Ice book.
Or maybe I'll just go shopping.
No, Krissie! Down, girl!