Yesterday, I ran out of white index cards. Yesterday, I saw two mallards swimming in the lake. when I walked home through the park after my weekly meeting with N. I’m not saying that ducks and index cards are related in any specific way, but that’s what came first to mind when I opened the window to write today’s blog.
Today, I danced in the Laundromat, listening to my Broadway selection playlist while I waited for the dryer cycle to complete. Today, I had a brief chat with the Laundromat’s other patron, because I always peek to see what book someone is reading, when caught doing so out in the wild. This time? Shanna, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. I gave Other Reader a thumbs up and told her that was a great book she had there.
Other Reader responded that she loved everything she’d read by Ms. Woodiwiss, but this wasn’t the whole book. Someone had thrown it out somewhere, and a chunk was missing out of the end. Readers who love particular books know how big the book is, and this did not look anywhere near thick enough to be all of Shanna. I loved the determination in Other Reader’s voice when she informed me her next step would be the library, to pick up or request a whole copy of the book. I heartily approve of such actions.
Oddly enough, or maybe not, the book I was reading at the time, Angel in a Red Dress, by Judith Ivory (aka Starlit Surrender, by Judy Cuevas) is also falling apart. It was like that when I got it from the library, chunks of pages unglued from the spine (it’s a paperback) and part of me wants to ask the librarian if I can just have it if it’s going to be destroyed for said falling-apart-edness. Sign of a well loved book, to be sure, and I know, I could go buy my own copy, and probably will, but we’ve bonded, the two of us (but I’ll still do the right thing and return it; I’m not a savage, well, not in that respect.)
I got to page 338 of this particular edition, and I gasped out loud when certain information was revealed. This was one of those “I-did-n0t-see-that-coming” and “of course, how did I not know that all along” moments at the same time. This is a book that makes me gasp and choke and sniffle and want to bash heads and want to hug the pages back together and a number of other reactions non-readers would never understand, but readers and writers do understand. This. This is why I do what I do. This is why I write historical romance. This is what I’m aiming for when I open notebook and/or computer file, every day.
This is why I sat down yesterday, after passing the ducks on my way home after meeting with N, popped Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (okay, I had to watch the movie then, because it was my only chance before the library wanted the DVD back) into my old laptop and got out my stash of index cards, a black Sharpie, and wrote a short description of each scene I know is in Her Last First Kiss on each card. I ran out of cards before I ran out of scenes, which surprised me, but this does mean I get to buy more index cards. They look solid there, in their pile. Hefty, even. Substantial. Like a real book, because they are, encapsulated, the foundation of a real book.
It’s been a while since I had that feeling. The miscarried manuscripts never got to that stage, never put down that root. Maybe because I didn’t know that particular root needed to be there, but, once I started, there it was. One scene spilling into the next, into the next, into the next. Color coding the scenes, when I copied each one onto a sheet of graph paper, with felt-tipped pens, showed me where I have multiple chunks of Heroine scenes. What’s Hero doing through all of that? X, obviously. I’ll figure out the particulars of that later. I’ll know what I need to know, when I need to know it.
What I do know, right now, is that the focus, for me, doesn’t have to fit any prescribed shape, method, or form. Only what works for me. Life is going to happen (the alternative doesn’t make for a lot of writing, really, so good thing there) but as long as I move from Once Upon a Time to They Lived Happily Ever After, it’s all good. Ducky, even.