March 27, 2010

Virtuous Vice

I’m behind schedule. It’s my own internal schedule that I’m behind. I am not behind on any actual deadlines, thank Gods. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve fallen behind even on a mental deadline I’ve set.

Remember that prologue I was working on? I spent about a week or so working on it only to come to the conclusion that 1) it wasn’t right for the story and 2) it seriously just wasn’t working. The first time I realized it wasn’t working was when I hit a point where I was on the verge of tears. I stepped away from the book, to give myself some breathing room and time to calm down. Perhaps, I was being too critical. Once I calmed down, I went back to work on it. A few days later, I hit that point of utter frustration again. It was then that I realized I wasn’t being overly critical.

Why didn’t the prologue work after I spent two hours mulling over it before even putting pen to paper? I cannot say. I can only say that from my perspective, it didn’t. It didn’t feel right. There are things that play out better in our minds than they do on paper. You have to be able to judge the worth of a scene and some times, in order to do that, you’ve got to pour it out and see how it dances on page. It danced well enough, but I was not happy with it. A prologue should bring something to a story and I felt it took away more than it gave. In my eyes, it lacked that certain je ne sais quoi.

Once I stopped trying to force something that wasn’t working – Guess what? I found a path that worked. Go figure, that.

If I’d accepted the fact that it wasn’t working the first time, then I probably wouldn’t have fallen behind schedule. My determination to try and make it work got the best of me.

As in life, there are times in writing when you come to a crossroad. While my muse stood, pointing to a specific path and offering guidance, I stubbornly turned around and ventured into a dark cave, only to emerge some hours later with a sour look and disheveled hair.

There are times when determination can work in your favor. Yet, there are also times when, in order to succeed, you have to know how to relent.


March 17, 2010

When the Muse Calls.

I slept worth crap the other night. My girlfriend got called in to work and had to work overnight. One would think that having the entire bed to oneself would inspire a dose of good night’s sleep, but it was not so. I slept lightly and kept waking up every couple of hours. I couldn’t tell you how much sleep I actually got, only that it was not much.

I didn’t sleep well last night, either. After getting up at seven-something the following morning, I didn’t fall asleep until after three in the morning. My mind was working and my muse was whispering. It’s been a while since the muse has actually kept me awake. I believe, the last time it happened I was either working on Witch Wolf or Raven Mask. But last night, after so little sleep the night before, being kept awake by my muse was a blessing and a curse. Perhaps, I should be more specific. What do I mean when I say that my muse kept me awake? Well, for one, I couldn’t pull my mind away from Epiphany’s story. I finished the book a week or so ago. I finished my basic edits and now I’ve got rewrites to do. I went to bed knowing that I would wake up this morning and begin work on the rewrites. I’ve only got so much time to get the rewrites done before my editor sends me the edits for Raven Mask.

One of the pieces of, “rewrites,” that I need to do is a prologue. When I crawled in bed to try to go sleep last night, it was like there was a secret button in my pillow that said: Epiphany – On.

My mind swung into Epiphany’s tone of voice. I laid there listening to myself narrate the prologue from beginning to freaking end. The lack of sleep made the images clearer. Yes, when writing I do a lot of visualization. It’s kind of like watching a movie play out in the back of my mind. All of the books I’ve written, I’ve written in the first person narrative. The scenes that kept flashing in the back of my mind last night were more third person. Interesting, that is. Oh yes, I remember the scenes very vividly, even though I was completely and utterly exhausted. I remember the dialogue and the visuals like the events of a very clear dream, that upon waking, cling to one’s mind and skin.

Does that mean that I’ll write the prologue as it played out in my head? No, I know I won’t transcribe it word for word, but having it run through my mind last night gave me a good outline for where to start this morning. I’ll alter the scenes as I see fit once I sit down to work.

I liked the prologue, though. What amuses me is that I laid there for a good two hours. Two hours lying there, listening to my own inner voice narrate and choreograph various scenes in a specific order. At one point, I nearly launched myself out of the bed to write it down. There is very good reason most authors keep a pen and notebook beside the bed. I don’t keep a pen and notebook directly by the bed. If I want it, I’ve got to get up, avoid feline speed bumps, and find it in the dark by memory. I’ve done it before, but last night I was not up to climbing out of the warm bed and freezing my butt off just to write it down. I also knew that if I got up, I’d interrupt the flow and only find myself dragged down by sheer exhaustion.

It wasn’t until the last sentence of the prologue, until Epiphany’s closing statement floated through my mind like a voice whispering in the dark that I finally relaxed and gave myself permission to fall asleep. Yes, it’s a little frustrating when you’re hellaciously tired and desperately craving some sleep, but in the end, it was well worth it. The scenes are still fresh, filed away and tucked away in a corner of my mind, ready to be used. If I’d taken control of my thoughts and stopped the scenes, I’d have really missed out on some interesting stuff.

I got about five hours of sleep. I woke unexpectedly to very soft fur sliding across my hand. I felt Sloan open his mouth, brushing his feline lips across my fingers. I wasn’t petting him in my sleep, but apparently, he saw my hand flung out and decided to use it without my consent. I opened my eyes and all I saw was his shadowy outline. I opened my eyes and thought, “You are seriously not waking me up just to pet you.”

I don’t know how my girlfriend does it. When she sleeps, she sleeps under a blanket of kitties. I’ll knock the cats off of me in my sleep. I can’t stand being pinned in by them. I have to admit, Lonz, one of our boys once woke me in a wonderful fashion one time. My shirt must’ve been wrinkled, because he has this thing about ‘smoothing out wrinkles.’ I woke to him standing on my back giving me back massage. It was a much better to wake up than his other ‘wake-up the human,’ tactics. His other tactics involve head-bunting roughly enough that I have to turn my face into the pillow to avoid a sore nose. Another of his favorites is laying down on one side of me just to flop with a heavy flourish to the other. One morning, I had the pleasure of cracking my eyes open just in time to watch him flop right over the edge of the bed and to the floor below.

Now, if only we could train him to wake me with a back massage every morning and train one of the other cats to bring me coffee - that would be marvelous.