You must do the thing you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Rain started to fall as soon as I opened the document to start writing this blog entry. I will take that as a sign. It’s been oppressively humid here in New York’s Capitol Region, which is not that great for the creative brain, especially when that brain is going on roughly two hours of sleep. Nevertheless, it is Monday, which usually means a marathon writing session on Her Last First Kiss. Right now, I am dripping in sweat, and having wild fantasies about throwing the workday to the nonexistent wind and collapsing in front of the box fan with a tall glass of ice water and making some headway in rereading Shanna. I am also rethinking my decision to have hot tea with my breakfast, but my new pink skull and crossbones mug was too perfect not to take out on its maiden voyage this morning. I will always love my dearly departed Union Jack mug, but I think it would want me to find love again, and not mourn it forever, drinking out of mugs that are only okay, but don’t stir my heart. There’s a better look at the new baby on my Instagram, here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVhS7arBVCj/
Absolutely no way I could leave that baby to languish in the cupboard without at least one cup of tea under its belt. I have no regrets. even if I do have an ice pack at the base of my spine. I was not built for summer. I’m fair skinned and light eyed, sun and heat sensitive. This would be perfectly suited for the British Isles, from which my biological ancestors most likely hailed, but somebody did something, and they got a trip across the Atlantic Ocean, voluntarily or otherwise. A couple of centuries later, here I am, but my imaginary friends, by and large, generally lean toward those British Isles, though Ruby, the heroine (aka Heroine) of Her Last First Kiss, is half Russian. Not that she’s ever actually been to Russia, but that’s where one of her parents was born, and where they went back to, after life took a turn they didn’t like.
I didn’t plan for Ruby to be half Russian, but that showed up all on its own, and, as these things are wont to do, did so in the very first line. Well, okay, then. Those kinds of things tell me that the story is real and alive, and has a mind of its own, which generally tells me we are going to work well together. Same thing when Ruby turned up her nose at the harpsichord I tried to give her in the initial draft, and informed me she liked pistols instead. Same thing with Hero refusing to accept my wishes that he be blond and play the violin. He was a ginger, thankyouverymuch (still is, and now I can’t imagine him any other way) and didn’t even want to look at the violin, but took a very keen interest in my pen collection. I let him (metaphorically) play with them, and he took to those pens like a duck to water. To write letters, yes, but mostly to draw with, because he would very happily spend his entire life drawing with pen and ink, but his painting skills were not up to the same standard, which led to his, ah, secondary career. That all spilled out of him while he doodled on scrap paper. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I let him ramble.
I also took notes. A lot of notes. This is the reason I have a lot of notebooks. Also because “notebook” may be my favorite genre, because I can put literally anything in them, but that’s another story for another day. Why was it that Hero never felt more himself than when he had pen and in in hand, but felt so lost with paint and brush that he lost all faith in himself? Of course that meant that, to get to his Happily Ever After, to be the man Ruby needs, the man worthy of her, he has to face that fear and actually paint a portrait. Actually, two, because painting two portraits is the only thing that terrifies him more than painting one. Sure, he can probably paint the one, because it’ s a debt of honor, but then to do it again? There’s the real test.
Since Ruby and her Hero live in the eighteenth century, they’d have no idea who Eleanor Roosevelt is, but, by the end of the book, they get the drift of her message. Ruby and her Hero, and their entire story, came to me, almost all of a piece, when I was busy bashing my head against a brick wall, trying to come up with another sort of story entirely. Actually, a few of them, all of which now languish in folders in my old laptop, the one with the external keyboard and fuzzy internet connection. These characters, and this story, they found me. This wasn’t the sort of book I was looking to write, but it’s the right one for the writer I am right now, and there isn’t so much a question of “how do I handle X?” but “well, X works like this in this book.”
All of that makes these marathon days, when they come, not something to dread, but to treat as maybe a marathon of a favorite TV show; get comfy, stay hydrated, keep snacks on hand, and settle in for the long haul. That, I can most definitely do.