Today is my marathon day. On a Wednesday. That basically never happens, but here it is, smushed together with #1linewed on Twitter, for which I have precisely one instance of the word of the week, “loyal,” from which to pull a quote. I made up for the lack of multiple quotes by whingeing. If this were not my marathon day, I would be sorely tempted to dig through files on my old laptop and ancient USB drives to see if I could find any of the notes for the Redcoat romance I noodled with some years ago, because “loyal” (and “loyalist”) would be all over that thing. Today is my marathon day, however, and that means I am going to mainline caffeine and cram a whole week’s worth of work into one day. One of these weeks, I will not have the need for marathon days, but this is not that week. I am okay with that.
First thing on these marathon days is to get everything that is not related to creating a second draft of these pages out of the way. There. Done. Off my back, unable to whisper in my ear about how I really should answer that email or do that household chore, because they are already done. Once this blog entry is posted and publicized, I get to diver headfirst back into century eighteen, and play with my imaginary friends. Planner and cookie are sure signs that this is going to be Serious Business, and, while the chances that I am going to find my bed in the wee small hours are high, I’m also excited. This is only partially due to the fact that mainlining of caffeine has already begun.
Most of it is because Ruby and her Hero really do feel like friends (though I would like to think I am nicer to my real life friends than the fictional ones) and I actually do like spending time with them. Time away from them makes me edgy. The whole tracking system I’m trying out right now is, at present, a huge belly flop, but I’m going to stay the course and see how it goes for a full three weeks. That’s what experimenting is for, after all. For today, it’s get this entry up, do some longhand freewriting, reread the first draft of this next chapter, and then jump in and make it better. As my mom used to say, the more I do, the more I’ll want to do.
This holds true even when life doesn’t want to keep to a schedule. This week, we had a weekend, with lots to do, Housemate out of town, a Monday that wasn’t really a Monday, but not really a holiday, either, and an actual holiday. Toss in there a holiday for another country, which is a special day for certain friends, and has a connection to Her Last First Kiss, and it’s no wonder I spent a good deal of that time getting the day of the week wrong. For a marathon day to happen on a Wednesday, when there’s already a blog entry and #1linewednesday, and plans for the evening, makes part of me want to ask Skye to shove over from her hunker spot under the bed (Skye did not like last night’s fireworks, especially since our neighbors were astonishingly well stocked for the holiday. To their credit, they did have a lovely display, but could have stopped a few hours before they actually did call it a night…which was actually early morning.)
Pressure to crank out a bunch of pages in one day is kind of scary, but the scariest part is the anticipation. Once I get in there, I’ll fall into my characters’ heads, and the minutes and hours of 2017 fall away, replaced by the world of 1784, which is “now” for Ruby and her Hero. They don’t know they’re in a historical. They think they’re in a contemporary. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes, etc, of 1784 are different from what we have in the modern day, but it’s their modern day. This is their world, and their reality. This is their day-to-day, and they couldn’t care less about what some random person hundreds of years in the future is doing in that tiny green room all day.
Well, Hero would, because I have new art pens, and he would want them. His affinity for my pens is what got us into this mess in the first place, so I may take said pens out for a spin on one of my breaks. The breaks, I have found, are essential. Get some of the work done, get up, move around, get some water, do something to refill the well, and then back to it.
The farther I get into this second draft, the better I know Ruby and her Hero, and the better I know their story. I want to get it right, for them. It’s not always pretty. It’s the stripping away of images they try to present, the defenses they’ve erected around themselves, and letting the other in, to see the real them. That’s scary, because showing their true selves has garnered only rejection in the past, or put them in situations where there are no good choices. Even so, there’s that pull that tells them things might be different this time, that there is someone who actually does understand, that they aren’t the only person who’s ever felt the way they feel. It’s not the story I set out to tell when I went looking for a new story to tell, but it’s the one that found me, and, when I have a marathon day, I’m not running it alone. The characters and the story run with me, all of us, even when a Wednesday is actually Monday. I’m calling that good company.