Meat Loaf, Muscle Memory, and Writing Romance (Also Sims)

Most importantly, the Meat Loaf of which I speak is the singer, not the food. I did get to meet Meat for about five seconds, at an autograph signing. I blurted out that he broke my creative block. He immediately lit up like a Golden Retriever at hearing “who’s a good boy?” and asked which song, and how, and what genre did I write, which was when his handler gently apologized to both of us and said he had to move the line along. That stuck with me, though, and cemented my love of the Loaf. Which brings me to last night.

I was not listening to Meat Loaf last night. I was listening to a Sims 4 Let’s Play video, which is probably my current favorite viewing material. Even so, I had no intention of writing-writing (cue amused chuckles) as I listened, and managed custom content, and fiddled with my Sims journal, shown here in the charge of my co-worker:

That thing is packed full of altered index cards, because a) they are sturdier, and b) with my vision, dot grid only works if it’s about an inch from my face, and crooked writing is a big no. Every card is a Sim, their aspirations, goals, traits, spouses, children, and ultimately, when they move to the “graveyard” section, causes of death. No overthinking on this stuff, because it’s a game. So, there I am, thinking that I’m going to have to cut down and punch more cards, because we’re moving into the next generation, and then I’m grabbing one of those discarded dot grid pages, to make notes for the cards I’m going to want to make for the Sims 2 and 5 versions of what I’m doing.

Still no Meat Loaf. There was, though, at some point, a frantic pat through the dark (ah, the joys of motel writing when Real Life Romance Hero is asleep) for my writing-writing notebook. After that, a lot of ink came out of the pen in my hand, as notes on a long-overdue scene from Drama King filled the formerly empty pages. Pages. Plural. When I am done with this post, I will transcribe and send the scene off to my long-suffering contemporary writing partner, Melva.

Still not listening to Meat Loaf while I wrote that, but as soon as I set down notebook and pen to try and get some sleep (my brain throws slumberless parties on a regular basis) the first notes of this song trickled into my subconscious:

this song is relevant to my interstes

One thing that has stuck with me was a tidbit from an interview, where Meat talked about his songwriter, Jim Steinman. He said that what audiences need to remember is that everything Jim writes is part of a universe in his head, that is basically an epic vampire opera. I believe some of it was produced as an opera, in Germany. Possibly in German, which does not sound out of the realm of possibility.

What does this all have to do with muscle memory or romance writing? Actually, a lot. In the midst of custom content and screenshots and Let’s Plays and other things that are still creative but not focused on producing pages, my brain gets to free-float and do its story stuff wihout me getting in its way. Ad the facilitator of a long-ago writer’s group often said, once we put pen or pencil to paper, we were not allowed to stop it moving. The process would beget the product.

With things like this, my brain goes “storystorystorystorystory” and “atttttmosssspheeeeeeereeeee” until I am darned near besotted with it. When that happens, oh look, how did all that writing get on the page? I better get more paper. Not just for one book, because while I was furiously scratching out dialogue for Drama King, Bern and Ruby, from Her Last First Kiss were at the edge of my vision, tapping their feet, and next to them, Cornelis and Lydia from Plunder. All of them with lists grievances….uh, adjustments I need to make so that they look the say they do on the page as they do in my head. Not only physically, but you get the drift.

One of my Sims notes is to set aside time (after writing) to learn Reshade (lighting editor…ish?) and fine tuning presets I didn’t even know could be fine-tuned but make all the difference from bright and cartoony (which is fun, too, when I have the taste for it) to…my people. It is like that with reading and writing, too, as recent conversations with bookish friends have confirmed. Keep at it, when it’s possible. Put the pen on the paper. Keep it there. Sooner or later the muscle memory will kick in, and therein likes the tale. Literally.

Anna

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