Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I Dream of Linda

I had the strangest dream today. I know dreams in general are strange, but this was super strange. Ya know when you dream and you're in your own house, but it doesn't look remotely like your house, so you kind of know it's a dream? (Okay, I admit I'm a lucid dreamer, so others may not know what I'm talking about, but anyway...) This dream had my house as my house. Made it seem super real. My room, my desk, the usual mess of books and papers all over it. Black leather chair.

Linda Howard sitting at my desk.
(Very NOT the norm, in case you're wondering...)

She's one of my absolute favorite writers. I never stopped to ask WHY she was at my house, but she was. I was all kinds of stoked as I had a new hard copy, first edition no less, of my favorite book of hers, KILL AND TELL, and she signed it for me. Her signature was super elaborate, and I asked when she started signing her books like that. She said she always did. Um, no. She's on the top of my list of authors to visit at Nationals, and she's signed my books before, and never like she did then (in the dream). But it's Linda Howard, and who's gonna argue, ya know? And since I met her, my dream had her personality and accent down pat. In my real room. It felt REAL.

So then, in the ways of great authors, she asked what I was working on. And again, I got all excited because I happen to really be writing again, so I showed her, and she liked it! I said I wasn't happy with how this chapter is ending (I'm really not) and asked her what she advised on how to get from this point to this point. Ya know, tap the brain of a brilliant chica. I said, "I've read McKee's STORY and Volger's JOURNEY, but neither really seems to be helping me much."

She replied: "Change your font to Times New Roman 11pt."

I stared. HUH?!?!

I wasn't talking fonts! But ya know, it's Linda Howard, so I said: "Well, I'm using Courier New 12pt. But I was actually wondering about..."

And a kid walked into my room (it's Spring Break, so the four heathens are constantly attacking) and woke me up! ARGH!

And there stood my desk in its glorious mess.
My leather chair.
But no Linda Howard.

(Photo: Nationals in Atlanta, 2006. EE, if you're reading this, I had on my Evil Editor t-shirt!)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Again and again

So every excuse I've ever had about why I'm not writing has been met, down to a new (refurbed but new to me) laptop. I eagerly open up a manuscript I'd started and proceeded to stare.


I forced myself to write. It sucked. I backspaced. I wrote some more. It blew chunks. I backspaced again. And again. Then I made myself stop thinking and simply DO it, knowing I could remove it later if I needed to (which, without a doubt, I would), and got to the end of the scene.

And then I realized that since I wrote that little beginning with just an idea of the story, I knew next to nothing about my character. Well, you can't write without knowing the character, so I started on a character worksheet to try to get into her head. My own head is confusing enough. We can only imagine how hard it is to get into a character's head that comes from my head. Kind of as confusing as that last sentence, but I think you know what I mean.

So tonight I'm whipping out craft books on characterization. This is just like anything else: You have to retrain your mind to do it. Flex those muscles and get them limber enough to work with ease.

And try not to get a brain cramp in the process.