Mapping the Wilderness

Technically, I am dressed. Technically, I am wearing makeup. Technically, I have a new daily pages notebook, but I think this one is actually for some other purpose. My brain works like that, so I am not surprised.

Last night, I finished reading Follow the Heart, by Anita Mills, a historical romance set in England, New York, and Canada, during the French and Indian War. Technically, I have my third book hangover in the last few weeks. This is not entirely a bad thing, but it does leave me with the “crap, what do I read now?” part of the book hangover, that makes finding a new book, which I may very well love as much or even more than the book that haunts my storybrain, all that much harder. This is where making a reading list can come in handy, and, knowing me, I really should have one of those. At present, I do not.

This surprises me. I do extremely well with lists, and, since I do have a goal of reading more historical romance, especially eighteenth century historical romance, and specifically the kind of historical romance that does give me a book hangover, from characterization, author voice, etc, having a list would be a huge help, but I don’t have one right now. Part of me still wants to go on instinct/intuition on this one, or maybe I haven’t found the right organizational system yet. I don’t know if I can say that’s anything like falling in love with a gorgeous notebook, deciding it will be the perfect thing to succeed my current morning pages book, getting it home at last, and then my brain won’t quit going back to the two other notebooks I also looked at on that same trip.

The other notebooks had alternating designs on their page spreads, whether two or four variations, and this one (pictured above) has the same pages throughout. Gorgeous, but I’m exactly two weeks away from finishing the notebook I’ve been decorating myself, as it came with plain lined pages. I’ve found I do like the process of customizing the pages, but, if I put decorative tape on the same part of every page, then that adds bulk to that part of the page only, and the middles of the pages sort of cave in. That feels weird when I handle the book, and I don’t need that in my morning pages. Good experiment, glad I did it, but it doesn’t provide the same experience I want in this practice.

What I want in a morning pages book, is a book I can open, see the images already there, and pour out whatever has bubbled to the surface of my brain between waking and caffeine. Such books are out there, even though they may be buried in a sea of books with plain lined pages, and, thankfully, the hunt is part of the fun. It’s sort of like that when I have a focus for my reading, as I do now. That focus for reading is very similar to the focus for writing. Where there is focus, there is organization, and where there is organization, there is, oddly enough, liberty. When I know where the boundaries lie, I can go nuts within those boundaries.

This is one of the reasons I’m excited to greet a new week of writing historical romance. All I have to do is set my story before living memory (anybody here born before 1784? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? No? Nobody? Going once, going twice…okay, cool. Before living memory, I’ve got.) and ensure that it has an optimistic and emotionally satisfying ending (aka Happily Ever After, or HEA, which, :consults outline and double checks against first draft: Yep, got that, too.) and I am good. I can do anything. An-y-thing.

Pretty exciting, that, and it definitely applies to Her Last First Kiss. This is one of those books that found me, while I was wandering about the metaphorical woods at night, oven mitts on my hands and buckets on my feet, in search of something that could be quickly written and marketable. Yeah, that’s not how things turned out. I wanted Hero to be somebody else entirely, but, thankfully, he didn’t listen to me, and now I have Hero. Heroine, too, looked at my plans for her, snort-laughed, and marched off in her own direction. The two of them found their own way to meet, and, by this time, I have learned that when the characters start mapping their own way through the wilderness, the most logical thing for me to do is to follow them.

Which leads me to today. The scene I’ll be writing was not in the original outline, and it was not in the original draft, but it roared to the surface during last week’s critique session, and has been poking me all through the weekend, when my brain was required for other things. Silly brain. don’t you know by now that the characters are going to make themselves known when and where they will? Today, instead of mucking my way through my imaginary friends sitting around a table and talking, I get to feel Hero’s throat go dry when Heroine shows up at the worst possible place, at the worst possible time, feel the mad flutter of her pulse, because this isn’t any easier for her than it is for him. At this point, it’s nononononononono, they do not want to be around each other, because if they felt the things they might be feeling, this is going to cause big trouble, not only for them, but for a mutual friend caught in the middle, who has no idea they are in the middle, and…:happy sigh: Yeah, I live for this stuff.

Reading the sort of historical romance that I like to write is helpful, even if not always easy, but story in, story out, is usually a good way to go. At some point, after I have my pages for the day written (or on a break in the middle) I’ll pet the spines of my TBR shelf and the still-boxed books from my friend’s visit, and something will come to the fore. If I show up, the books will, too. That’s my story. Pun intended.

 

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4 thoughts on “Mapping the Wilderness

  1. Where’s Bueller. LoL. I know you told me, and please forgive my old brain, but does HLFK begin in England? Just thinking of that because the series Poldark is mostly in England and is right after the American Revolution which is close to your timeframe.

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