1967

Hi there. I haven’t forgotten about ye olde blogge, it’s just that I’m writing. A lot!

To prove it, here’s some of what’s been going on in the land of revision, where I converse early and often with the story’s main character, Nick Moore. In fact, something eerie and magical happened the other day while I was writing an outline and I was excited to tell him all about it …

“Something kind of cool happened last night,” I type, hoping Nick isn’t too far away to hear me.

Image courtesy of Cema Graphics @ stock.xchngHe stumbles out of the bathroom, sleepy-eyed and unshaven. “It’s early,” he says.

“These are morning words– they’re supposed to be early. And besides, it’s Saturday. This isn’t as early as I usually get up.”

He cracks his knuckles and yawns. “Yeah, I suppose, but still …”

“I’m going to look up knuckle cracking. If it’s bad for you, you’re going to have to stop,” I type.

He grins. “Make me.”

I’m beginning to have misgivings about making him more bad@ss. So far, though, I think I can manage him. “I was going to tell you the cool thing that happened last night.”

“I’m listening.” Nick leans against the door frame, stretching his arms in front of him with his fingers entwined. “But you’re taking an awfully long time to get to the point.”

“I know, but this is morning words, and the point, I think, is to get a lot of words in a short period of time. Besides this will make me laugh when I read it over later.”

“Well, I think you’ve got that down pat then.” He raises his upper lip in a smirk. “But you had a point?” He’s done stretching and is fiddling with the tie on his sweatpants. Libra is right. He never stands still.

“Yeah. I was working on my Editor Outline last night.”

Nick holds up his hand, palm towards me. “Wait. Isn’t that part of Lesson Eleven of How to Think Sideways? And aren’t you on Lesson Twenty-One of How to Revise Your Novel?”

“Yeah, but remember our story is full of holes …”

He grins again and chuckles. “Did you ever think I might be messing up your story just so I can stick around? To keep you from moving on to other stories?”

“Yeah, I’ve worried about losing you. But the thing is, as a writer, I can conjure you up long after the story is over. It’s like my own personal fan fiction. I will finish this course though, even if I keep getting sidetracked.”

“Speaking of sidetracked …” He glances out the window and I notice the hyacinths have blossomed in the yard. Image courtesy of Claudia Meyer @ stock.xchng“Pretty,” he observes.

“And I’m in here with you. Working on an Editor Outline because I think it’s fun. Crazy, I know. ”

“So, how’s that going?”

“Splendidly, actually,” I write as my adverb alert spikes into the red. “I’m starting to see exactly where the holes in my story are. Do you want me to tell you about them?”

“Not particularly, but I have a feeling I don’t have a choice in the matter.”

“No, you don’t, but I’m going to tell you about the cool thing first. I was tired last night—“

“You don’t say?” He rolls his eyes and finds a spot on the bed, then pulls his feet up and leans against the wall with his head resting against his hands.

“Could you stop interrupting me?”

“Sure, but could you get to the point?”

“I will. I was tired so I stopped where you and Libby are in the apartment and you’re about to take her to the Hacienda.”

Nick raises his eyebrows. “Why’d you stop there? That was the good part, I finally get to kiss her.” His eyes turn dreamy.

“I told you. I was tired.”

“Okay, I suppose.”

“But anyway, as I was closing Scrivener I glanced at the word count, and noticed that I had exactly 1,967 words.”Screenshot 1967 words

“So?” Nick eyebrows rise again.

“Well, let me read you the first sentences of my outline. They’re about you and Milo:

They called it the Summer of Love. 

In 1967, Nick Moore packed up his guitar and joined his buddy Milo Young on a trek to the west coast …

“Okay, that is cool,” he agrees.

“Sometimes, Nick, it feels as if a ghost is watching over my shoulder. A good ghost, but still something bigger than I am, something that speaks through my fingers and guides me to what needs to be written.”

He cracks his knuckles again. Suddenly I know why. “It’s because you don’t smoke anymore, isn’t it?”

“What?” It’s when he looks innocent that I love him most. 

“Cracking your knuckles. You always need to be inflicting pain upon yourself, whether you’re ingesting nicotine and tar into your lungs, or cracking the bones in your precious hands.”

He looks stricken and I feel wistful because I love that word and have decided I simply must use it in the next thing I write. “What’s wrong?” I ask.

“Nothing. It’s just that you know me so well, it scares me sometimes.”

Silly man. It’s because I wrote you.

Have you ever had weird coincidences happen in your writing? Do you have a hard time letting go of your characters?

And, is cracking your knuckles really bad for your hands?

Alarm clock courtesy of Cema Graphics, hyacinths courtesy of Claudia Meyer, both @ stock.xchng

IWSG: A Whole Lot of Why

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s time, once again, for the Insecure Writers to unite and encourage each other. If you’d like to join the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, all you have to do is click on this linky and add your name to the list. Alex J. Cavanaugh has hosted this group years now, and I can assure you, there is no nicer group of writers on the web.

In the past month, I’ve had a lot of insecurity about why it is that I’m driven to write. When I see everyone around me rushing to publish, and all I read is about the many ways to bring readers to my words, it sometimes freaks me out a little. Is this really the reason I write? Or is there an even more important reason I keep coming back to my words? As I often do, I discussed the matter with my alter-ego Muse, and found answers that surprised me.Image courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng

I come home to an empty house and the Muse is waiting. He watches me get ready to write as I pour my Pepsi and sort my bills. He’s humming in the back of my head. He has something to tell me.

I open my laptop. Since I haven’t done my morning words today, I decide to write what I please for a while.

The Muse rests his chin on his interlaced hands, doing his best Brandon Lee impression. “Glad you’re back,” he says without a trace of irony in his voice.

Ink Blot 2“I’ll always come back,” I type. But I know he’s had doubts.

“Thought so,” he says, hiding his misgivings. “So tell me, what’s eating you?”

“It’s all the commotion about publishing. Everyone’s publishing, and if they’re not publishing, they’re at least critiquing, exchanging manuscripts, blogging a novel … Sometimes I feel as if it’s all about who can get their words to the most people the fastest.”

He points at the title at the top of my blog to remind me. “I worry sometimes,” he says.

“What? You worry? You’re a Muse. You’re completely made up, a figment of my overactive imagination, less substantial than feathers and moonbeams.”

He looks at the ground, his shoulders sag and his wings droop. “That’s just it,” he mutters. “For the longest time you never even noticed me.”

My fingers stall on the keyboard as I remember. I had a dry spell so long I thought my words were an abandoned planet, without air, without water or sign of life. I wanted to be a writer way back in high school. I took classes and read craft books, but ultimately made the wise choice—

“Which was?” the Muse asks to prompt me to talk to him, instead of ruminating endlessly.

“I live in a safe neighborhood; I have a great job. I can sleep without worrying about where I will end up a few years from now.”Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng

“But something’s missing?”

“You bet something was missing. I felt mute, empty, adrift. But I didn’t know why.”

“Should I remind you of why?” the Muse asks. Though he will defend me to the last, his eyes burn with accusation.

“No, you don’t have to remind me of why. There’s a whole lot of why …” I take my hand off the keyboard to change the playlist. The Muse waits patiently and eases back from my desk once the song begins.

“You’re afraid of something,” he prompts.

 I hesitate, then type, “All this commotion about publishing reminds of what I felt like when I abandoned writing.”

Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng“How did you feel when you left writing?”

“I felt that what I had to say was unimportant, that my words were insignificant when compared to the great writers, and that if I didn’t have anything ‘important’ to say I should just shut up. I was certain that no one would be interested in what a girl who grew up in a quiet town in Wisconsin, who went camping and sailing and loved rock music, had to say.”

“What makes you think you’d feel that way again?” He folds his hands across his chest and the corners of his mouth turn serious as he tries to imitate a shrink.

“Well—” I pause as I try to visualize him and write down his body language. “A lot of writers have advice on building a brand, on how to reach readers, on how best to market a book, on how to escalate a plot, on how to keep adverbs at bay …”

“So?” the Muse asks. “That’s all good stuff, and I’m happy to help you with all that.”

“You have no idea how much I appreciate the offer. But that’s not what bothers me.”

“Then what does bother you?”

“That it stops being about the writing. I worry that I will find myself torn away from writing the next book. I’d rather just write. I need this for me. For you.”

The Muse purses his lips thoughtfully, and I cringe as another adverb pops up on my screen.Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng

“Can’t we do a bit of both?” he asks.

“I can try. But don’t you see? That’s why my blog has a destination name and not my real name? I don’t want this to be about me. It’s about the words.”

The Muse holds up his hand. “This is morning words so you can stop here. How about we take this up again tomorrow?”

“But tomorrow is IWSG day.”

“Then the next day. This isn’t a contest. This is for you.”

I close my laptop gratefully, confident that I’m not going to stop writing just yet.

Image courtesy of 'kuleczka' @ BigStock

How about you, insecure (and secure!) writers? What’s the why behind your words?

Related posts: What My Writing Teacher Should Have Told Me

Ten Days in the Life of a “Non-Writer” by Katherine Checkley

Images courtesy of marija jure @ stock.xchng,  and ‘kuleczka’ @ BigStock