Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Finding Liz

So I'm studying and studying...and studying. Freakin' synopsis. And yet by Sunday, I will have one (at least) that's GOLDEN. I just know it.

Don't argue! I will!

No, that's not a whine you hear! Brat!

So, I'm reading everything under the freakin' sun. Stuff I printed off from AskAnAuthor (or one of my many other email loops...but I think that's the one) and I'm reading Lisa Gardner (pardon while I bow to my personal shrine of her) and her incredibly IN DEPTH overviews of synopses as well as the examples she provides. After two hours, I'm just now ending with the short synopsis. She hasn't gotten to the long one, and already, I'm exhausted.


Then I took the print out of my one and only synop of THOE (The Haunting of Elizabeth - hate the title but changed it, but since it finaled in The Merritt, I feel like I have to keep it ~sigh~). So on these print-outs, Gina the Brutal whacked the crap out of it with an insight I would have never seen. I'm just too close to the story, but worse, I'm too close to Liz.

And in being Liz, I'm focusing on her weaknesses instead of her strengths, and why? Because that's what we do. Liz is me, and goes through so much of the real life stuff I went through with the dead (yay!) ex, that I can't stop sometimes to step back and praise her and her strengths. As women, we tend to downplay our strong suits and emphasize our weaknesses. I did with this Liz, why? Because she's me. And Gina SO nailed it. She said "Liz just seems to float along in the story. She never makes decisions (she does, just not in the synop). Life and chaos are thrust on her and she cowers with fear."

Yes, she does. Why? Because she's the scared part of Brenda that lived through parts of this story. Now Elle, Liz's best friend, is a lot like me, but the other side of me, the stronger side, the sassy side. Liz has been beaten down. Brenda was beaten down. But Brenda has to learn to disassociate herself from Liz and in doing so, make Liz do what Brenda should have done. Confused yet? Good, buy the book.

When Liz is faced with Jake's return, I imagine what I'd do if it was Jon (dead..yay!..ex). If it was his ghost (which Liz thinks) what would I do? If it's him returning, having faked his death (as Jon often told me in GREAT detail how to do, therefore letting me know he not only had the knowledge but detailed experience in it) what would I do? And I become that chick that Jon had beaten down.

I attended the SARA Conference, of course, for The Merritt. And there, as I've mentioned, Sharon Sala was one of the speakers (she rocks, btw). She was talking about her ex, and how she was slowly beaten down. And there I was, with mental AMENS. People have a hard time understanding how "someone like me" was with "someone like Jon", or how he controlled me to the extent he did. I'm too domineering. I'm too outgoing and vocal. And yes, I am. So how was I mentally and emotionally controlled by him? If you've read her or met Sharon Sala, the same thing could be questioned in regard to her as well. She's witty and funny and I just love her. But it happens. Slowly, over time, at first with the veil of love hiding the wicked manipulation of it, and then, after years, it's just outwardly done, but by then, you're so used to it, you don't really even notice.

And as the years past, I got my spine back more and more, and of course, that's also went I slapped myself awake, realizing what he'd made of me, and worse yet, what I'd ALLOWED him to make me. That sucks. But it was the dark moment. That's when it crashed. And that's when I rose out of the ashes and rebuilt who I was, just like Sharon Sala did.

And so when I think of Jake in the book, I see Jon, and when I'm in deep POV of Liz, every bit of those insecurities come flying back from MY experiences and my fears are realized again. And it's coming across too well in the book, and even in the short synopsis. But do I WANT Liz to be who I was under his spell? Well, maybe. I mean, if I was suddenly experiencing Jon's ghost and then the very real possibility of Jon's existance when his death brought such a VAST sense of relief, then yeah, I'd be freaked out like Liz is. But then we have to step back and think, "I'm being given a chance to relive all the mistakes. Do I let him emotionally and mentally screw me over again, or do I make a stand this time, determined to fight back with every ounce of who I am?!"

I'd fight back. And so will Liz.

So yes, the rewrites are going to be wicked, as I've known they would be. But now, reading all that I have tonight and stepping back and looking closely at Liz, I realize what an injustice I'm doing to her. She has the chance to fight back, and damn it, this time she will win without sacrificing the very essence of who she is: Elizabeth Cooper.

NOT Brenda Fontenot.

1 comment:

Amie Stuart said...

I so get the ex thing--you described it and I'm sitting here nodding my head. But I also get how we put so much of ourselves in our characters. Okay time to cook and quit piddling.