Shying at the Jump?

Wouldn’t you know the one time I leave my phone at home, it’s the time I bust out the super cool printed legal pad? That’s why, instead of a picture of my workplace, you get a picture of what my workplace sees. Apparently, I now have a signature taking-pictures-with-the-computer pose. Could be worse.

So here it is, Wednesday, time for Wednesday’s post, which was meant to be a) a late version of the Top Ten Tuesday post, and b) a video blog, but life happened, and so you get this. I almost chickened out of today’s post for a handful of reasons. It’s stinking hot out, which makes me crabby (I will spare you an encore of crabby me picture, because you get air conditioned me, which is much less likely to cause harm to self or others.) Yay for comfy coffee house in the nice, cool, brick-walled basement of a historic building. I’m tucked away at a new-to-me table in the back, close enough to my favorite seat to still count as being in the general area, with the added benefit of not being directly in the glare of the sun. Comfort, check, can see screen, check, tasty and seasonally appropriate beverage, check. Also important is presence of people who do not share my address, but are not trying to talk to me while I am writing.

Normally, this time of day on a Wednesday, I’d be having a regular chat with Critique Partner Vicki, but, apparently, she has a life or something, so I am on my own. Were I home, I would be singing the Song of the Lonely Extrovert. Real Life Romance Hero is pretty sure that whatever the words are, it would be backed by Kenny G. He’s probably right. Thanks to the internet, though, there really isn’t such a thing as alone, and since there are now over 400 of you who occasionally pop in here (had to count the zeroes there) it does give me the impetus to get something up here, even if all I do is babble. Since babble generally ends up going somewhere at some point, I am okay with that. I wasn’t always.

They don’t call it a writing process for nothing. Critique Partner Vicki and I started having these talks to help pull ourselves and each other out of the slough of despond and get real about why writing got so hard that we were avoiding the very thing we love to do the most, and figure out what we can do about fixing that. One thing I’ve noticed is that things can be going fine, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, I become amazingly skilled at avoiding working on a certain project. The usual modus operandi in the past was to continue avoiding, scamper off to something new and leave a trail of broken stories in my wake. That’s kind of not conducive to a writing career, oddly enough. That means I need to face what I’ve been avoiding. Face that sucker head on, see what it wants from me, and figure out if we can come to some sort of agreement.

This week, it was Her Last First Kiss. Oh, I was good at this. Work on other projects, do housework (a sure sign of avoidance, but it’s needed and I like doing housework; it counts as organization, and things are nice and clean and in order and…yeah, yeah, back to the book. I get it.) pay assiduous attention to social media and the like. We’ve all been there. If you haven’t, wait. We’ll save you a seat. I’d ripped out the first scene, made notes on how to fix it, which means the whole first section, aka everything I have written, had to be ripped out and redone. I did not want to do that. Needed, but didn’t want to.

Okay. Fine. Since I now accept that I do have to write in layers, it’s less scary to look at a page and know that something is missing. That’s fine. Time to make the literary baklava. What else does this scene need? In this particular scene, my heroine is super-focused on this hurricane of a man (not that she’d know what a hurricane was, but that’s okay, this version of stuff goes down exactly the way it comes in my head, modern idioms, comparisons the characters wouldn’t know, etc. I can fix all that later.) tear through her nice, orderly world without even noticing she’s there at first. She hates that. Still, there’s that even more disturbing fact that she does not mind the view, not one bit. Which is bad for this chick, oh so very bad.

Mmhm. Methinks she’d prefer I not know that, not only does she notice this person she’s never met before can barge into her sanctum and start spreading wet papers all over everything, even moving her stuff -and nobody moves her stuff- but that he’s pretty darned nice to look at, even soaking wet and tracking water and mud on her floors? Okay, we’re going there. This is going to involve more than skating on the surface. This is going to involve putting on the metaphorical scuba gear and diving down deep. What, specifically, does she notice about him? The fluidity of movement? the fit of his clothes? That it’s really none of her business what color his hair is when it’s dry, but she still wants to know? That’s good for a start. I can feel her sweats and fidgets now, which is a sign I’m headed in the right direction.

Every writer is going to have their own ways to deal with these things, but as with horses (and my entire experience with same is limited to always picking the black horse on carousels, a few toys and a seriously strong crush on Black Beauty dating back to preschool) sometimes, we shy at the jumps. When that happens, we have two options. Go back to the barn and figure jumping isn’t for us, or take another look and devise another approach. Get some more momentum. Come back and try it again. For me, that’s babbling, either to another writer, or on paper. Earlier today, I went through my legal pad stash, to see which one felt the most like this project. Sure, I have notebooks, three of them, and still use those, but a legal pad feels more open to the free form rambling that lets me get to the place I need to be to get the details. Maybe it’s visual. :shrug: Anyway, that’s where I am now. Climbing inside my heroine’s skin, and seeing what she sees, rather than sitting back and telling her what to do. Like she’d listen. Characters are funny that way.

It works for reading, too. In my morning pages, I started listing things I’d been avoiding. Apart from books for review, I’ve been avoiding historical romance in general, and avoiding the Bertrice Small reread I’ve wanted to do since February. One guess what I’m doing with my TBR and keeper shelves later tonight. Get back in there, Missy. There’s no crying in Romance. (Well, except in mine. There is crying in my books. Also a lot of my favorites. I am an angstbunny from way back, and as long as there is that guaranteed Romance HEA, may as well have some fun along the way.)

Allrighty, Liebchens, back to Century Eighteen I go. Talk to you soon.

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