I thought I knew what I was going to do next. It was going to be a clever combination of crime novel and speculative fiction, with a main character sleuth who has been growing in my head for over a year. I called the project “Next” and made folders for it on my computer and in real life. “Next” was about to happen.
Then I got a day at a spa for mother’s day.
It was six hours of relaxing with cucumber slices over my eyes while people massaged my feet and poured me champagne. Yes, it was as wonderful as it sounds.
It was also the longest I’ve gone in a long time without prodding my brain to do what I wanted it to do. (Wait. Aren’t I and my brain the same thing?)
The point is I, or some part of me, went ahead and used this wonderful time to make up a story. A rather good story, really. It didn’t surprise me because making up stories is what I’ve always done when I relax, and there was no doubt I was relaxing. I was kind of surprised at how complex the tale got, however.
By the time I’d driven home, I knew what I had to do. You see, the only time I struggle with writers block is when I (okay, some part of me, let’s call her the adult manager in charge of my head) insists I write whatever Ms. Manager has decided I must.
No matter how hard Ms. Manager insists, it doesn’t happen.
The little kid in my head who makes up the stories simply stops making them up until she is once again allowed to tell her stories, in her way. I’ve learned that if I want to be a writer, I let this little kid do as she damn well pleases. The editor in me (who I suspect is in cahoots with Ms. Manager) can clean up her mess later.
And this little kid really, really wants to tell the story she made up at the spa. So ….
I’ve drawn her a map of the imaginary realm where it will take place. She named the characters during the full body massage, but I fleshed out several important secondary characters for her, provided a rough timeline, and created a few new words to describe concepts she came up with that don’t have a word in English.
My best friend and chief research associate (who also carries the title of “husband”) has agreed to watch a few old movies with me to provide background I know I need.
Three other people I’m close to have been nice enough to listen to a verbal version of my story. I find that telling it aloud helps me clarify it and hang on to it better, sort of the way describing a dream to someone else helps move it into the conscious mind.
Now, I’m ready to start the messy, emotional process of writing a raw draft. It generally involves yelling, crying and laughing aloud on my part, so I tend not to write first drafts in public places. It’s a scary process for me, yet it’s an exhilaration beyond any I know.
Later, all the adults in my brain will take over, and hopefully turn it into a book. We’ll see …
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