Sticking with your own style is incredibly important. It’s exactly what you should do. You should never allow someone to talk you out of your natural style or water down your writer’s voice.
— Nat Russo
Right now, I am in my comfy chair, duck blankey in my lap, cup of tea at the ready, disposable fountain pen now empty. Maybe I’ve been using it more than I thought I was, or maybe I hadn’t checked how full it was when I bought it, but there I was, this morning, in the Laundromat, furiously scribbling notes for a scene for Her Last First Kiss in my pocket sized Hero notebook, with a ballpoint pen. One scene I knew had to happen pushed itself to the front of my brain this morning, and “something has to happen here” turned into a heated exchange between two characters, which may end up getting physical, (I did not see that coming, but Hero’s berserk button gets pushed, and yeah, he might) and propels him into Heroine’s path at a critical moment.
This is what I’ve been going after with all those miscarried stories, all the methods that didn’t work, for the times when the story takes on a life of its own, talks to me, pushes through the whispers of Hypercritical Gremlins and tells me “this is how I go. This is what I look like. Here is what you do next.”
Part of that is moving my binder materials into the right binder. They’re in a white binder right now, which may possibly bother Housemate more than it bothers me, and plain white anything usually does bother me, so that’s saying something. While I do hold with the old Japanese proverb that a poor workman blames his tools, there’s something about having the right visual setup that clicks with my brain.
Scrapbook paper is for covering the section dividers in my story binder. Pastel sticky notes match the paper that is color-coded for each section. Index cards are for listing scenes and shuffling them around. Sticky index cards? I’m not sure what I’m doing with those yet, but they are super cool and I will find a use for them at some point.
I love the visual component of writing. If I know what the story looks like, not only the faces of hero and heroine, their clothing and such, but the story itself, there’s a thrill that goes with that. While I’m putting together this new binder, Hero and Heroine are over my shoulder, giving advice (Hero is an artist and Heroine likes to manage things, so they have a lot to say) and the story itself simmers on the back burner of my brain. I love that.
Later, I’ll add pictures as needed, maybe song lyrics, maybe lines of poetry or favorite quotes. I’m not sure yet. The physical act of setting up the binder, moving from the plain white temporary binder (Housemate has informed me she is taking said plain white binder away from me once I do transfer everything, so I can’t use it again.) to its permanent binder that has never belonged to anything else. This new binder, plain cardboard, is a blank canvas -the clean sweep I thought I would find in the white binder- ready to be personalized -more layers- and it feels right.
Last week, N asked me if I would write a second book about Hero and Heroine. That’s a tricky question. First, I write romance, so a direct sequel with Hero and Heroine would need to provide some new obstacle for the love relationship, by that time, the marriage. For the second, I’m so in love with this story right now that I don’t want to think about any others. That’s a good place to be. Then there’s also the question of what the market will bear. I don’t see a lot of direct sequels with the same couples, though there are some serial stories. This doesn’t feel like one of those. I naturally think in standalones anyway, and always have. Do I have ideas? Yes, but this book now. The date is on my calendar, June first as my target for my bullet point draft. Let me get there first and then we will see.
Right now, when I spend time with this story, my heart leaps. The papers and stickies and all the rest are part of the puzzle. I love touching them, moving them around, throwing everything down in haphazard fashion and then making order out of chaos. I like structure, and I like intuition. This way, I get both. Onward.