Once More Into the Breach

Today is an odd day, and not only because it’s Wednesday’s post on Thursday. I woke around seven, which is late for me, felt completely drained, so went back to bed for a few minutes. When I woke again, it was nine forty-five. Well, then, sure sign that this was time for some well-filling. In this case, tea, because A) we have gas again, thanks to Landlady’s talented Handyman and the fine folks at National Grid, and B) it was cool enough to actually savor a cup of Lapsang Souchong and its lovely, lovely caffeine along with my morning pages. I am now one week away from filling this book, which is, for those keeping count, number three, and the first one where I’ve gone to seven days a week. I’ll be keeping that practice for the new book. As with any other exercise, the more I do it, the ehhh, don’t want to say easier, exactly, because when is it, really, but it does become more natural. As my mom often said, the more I do, the more I’ll want to do. Thanks, Mom. You were right.

It’s blog entry time now, because this is the time I have for a blog entry, and keeping the discipline is part of the whole “be better at writing” thing. After I do this, I get to go play with Hero and Heroine. One thing that working on two books at one time has taught me is that Hero and Heroine get jealous of my time. They know when I’m seeing other characters, and they are not entirely pleased with it. Guy and Girl, on the other hand, seem to be fine with the arrangement, though that may have something to do with the fact that they have two writers to bother, rather than only one. I’m all Hero and Heroine have, so it’s only natural that they’re going to want more of me, in more ways than one.

There’s a difference in the feel of a Hero and  Heroine day versus a Girl and Guy day. Writing solo versus in collaboration is one part of it; very different energy when one is co-creating, and the ability to have somebody else take a certain scene certainly isn’t there when one is writing on one’s own. Writing in different time periods is part of it. I am a historical romance writer at heart, and, while Guy and Girl’s story is what I term historical romance adjacent, with Hero and Heroine, it’s full on immersion. The tones of the books are different, and yet there are similarities. They’re both romances, so there’s that, and, in both books, there is a central character who has a parent in need of special care. That’s not something I planned on putting in two different books, but then again, both of these stories found me. I didn’t go looking for them.

That’s something I’ve found, in the time between falling off the metaphorical horse and now. The best stories are going to find me. That’s how it works for this particular writer. I can look around, read a lot, watch a lot of movies and/or TV, listen to a lot of music, wander through parks and museums, play computer games (when I actually have a computer that will run them) and, at some point, it all jumbles together and sorts itself out. When asked if I’m a pantser or plotter, I now say puzzler, because that fits me best.

Back when the writing life went off the rails, I thought that my love of organization and planning was an indicator of how I should get back on track, and, to some degree, that’s true, but trying to adhere too closely to that meant completely shutting off the intuitive part of my process, which turned into obsessions over should and forms and word counts and must, must, must, must, must, etc. Which turned into miscarried manuscripts and frustration and a whole lot of banging my head against a brick wall. Which was not good for anybody, me, the wall, or my imaginary friends, some of which packed up their stuff and left, or at least went on very long vacations.

That’s the magic seven hundred right there, so I technically could stop here, but I like to get at least some sense of completion to a post, so let’s try for that. The best stories find me. That’s how I work. I turn into a magpie and throw a bunch of things onto the table, then stand back and see what sort of order they want to sort themselves into. It has to be them, not me. I can look through lists of period appropriate names, but it’s the characters who tell me what their names are, what they look like, when they lived. Hero, for example; I wanted him to be blond and play the violin. He’s a ginger, and he draws. If I’d been intent on forcing him into my perception of him, we’d still be wrangling about his hair color, and I would have a headache from trying to remember my extremely brief stint in a class on the Suzuki method. I never got past the Kleenex box (standing in for the violin) stage. Since Hero and I can connect on a love of pen and ink, that is probably a good call on his part. Speaking of which, he’s tapping his foot, so off I go.

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