In The Flow

Ok. You want to know how bad it was? I’ll tell you anyways.

I went to my blog to write a quick post… and my site asked me if I wanted to sign up to follow Those Who Wander by email. That’s right, apparently 3.5 months of inactivity is about when you get signed out your own website, on your own laptop. Oops. That would be an all time record of radio silence…. ah well!

The long and short of it is: I have been writing. And rewriting. And rewriting some more. Imagine writing a cover letter for a potential employer….reading it, and discovering it’s not actually the story of your life…scrapping it, writing it again, and repeating. Now imagine your cover letter is 300+ pages long. :-O

Yeah. You get the idea.

The good news? I finally made a breakthrough last week, thanks to revisiting one of my favorite writing posts, Summarizing the Book You Wrote by one of my favorite authors/humans ever, the incomparable Susan Dennard (part of her The Basics of My Revising Process series).

The breakthrough went something like this: 

At 2:17AM on a Wednesday night, a grimy, chocolatepeanutbuttercup-fueled cave-creature writer was sprawled on the ground beneath her desk. Yes, beneath. She clung to the brightly colored mechanical pencil in her fist for dear life, and made her contacts blur before slightly crazed eyes, staring at the blank worksheet on the floor, meant to summarize her giant mess of a thrice rewritten story.

She grudgingly scratched out the opening image of her story’s world. It took an embarrassing amount of time to come up with those two sentences, but they felt right.

She repeated the process for her protagonist’s introduction. Once again, it took longer than she would’ve imagine to come up with the simple summary for the character she’d been writing about for the past two years, and dreaming about for years before then. But once she had those sentences, she knew they were the right ones. They just felt true.

Next came the inciting incident. The sparking moment for the young, story-obsessed bladesmith in the craft-rich world she’d imagined up for him. And that, dear friends, is when our half sleep-deprived writer nearing the end of her wits, had an AHHA moment:

The scene that had to come next. The only thing that felt natural. The protagonist’s pivot point, the excruciatingly tempting offer he has to consider, the moment where everything changes. The whirl of music, inseparably textured into a vivid world that surrounds it all.

The writer closed her eyes, and she finally smiled. She knew exactly what she had to do.

She had to get the heck out from under that desk, climb into bed, sleep a full night, and let that image simmer. She knew it would be waiting for her when she was ready, that the words would flow easily once she’d let the seeds of ideas float about in her mind and take root. And guess what? They did.

She woke that morning to an ease she hadn’t known in writing for weeks, maybe months. She found that inexplicable, irreplaceable feeling of rightness, when you know that you’ve found your story’s heart at last.

Somewhere in there, the writer apparently also developed a penchant for talking in the third person, but that’s besides the point.

Point is… I am writing again. On the right track, clear-focus writing, and it feels so good. I can’t even begin to describe the thrill that feeling is.

Imagine your favorite hobby in the world, whether it’s a sport, your job, a musical inclination, or just a beloved book. Picture how easy it is to lose hours of your life to the flow you enter when you’re in that zone, where the entire rest of the world drops away. That, to me, is being in my drafting cave at it’s finest.

So while I hate to dine and dash, and I’d love to babble on a bit more about my writing process/life and how it’s been over the past few months (let’s be honest, mostly lot’s of cave time/writing with a bit of lovely travel thrown into the mix)….Well, I have to get back to my book. Because, for the first time in a while, the words are flowing, and I am utterly determined to get them down on a page.

I will be traveling in a few weeks, to RT2016 (!!!) so I will hopefully post again from the road/plane/hotel. Until then, be well all! And please excuse me my upcoming social media/social anything/above-the-surface-life hiatus, again. I’ll see you all on the other side of this writing cave.

❤ Madeleine

 

 

On Blocks and Bumps

Life/books: Hello all! Happy Tuesday. My life update will be partially a book update this week, thanks to some wonderful book events happening in Chicago. On Sunday, I went to the fabulous Erica O’Rourke’s book launch party for Resonance, which recently released. It’s the second in a duology about a girl who can walk between worlds – all the parallel worlds that result from what might have happened if you’d gone right instead of left down that road, if you hadn’t spilled coffee and left a few minutes late that morning, missing the traffic accident you’ll never know you avoided, etc.

Erica's event - and a good crowd! Photo stolen from The Bookstall's twitter.
Erica’s event – and a good crowd! Photo stolen from The Bookstall’s twitter.

So I’m now in the middle of Dissonance, the first book, and am really enjoying it. I love that concept of many worlds to reflect our tiny choices and what they might have led to. It reminds me of this scene from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, about all the tiny coincidences that led to a character’s accident (spoiler alert):

It that was awesome Erica at The Bookstall, which is my wonderful, local independent bookstore in Winnetka. She introduced me to some awesome ladies of the RWA, Chicago North chapter (RWA is a great organization that runs online writing courses and connects writer through events, conferences and local groups) and I may even join them for a meeting soon – YAY more writer friends close by!

And as I write this, I am in Naperville awaiting another fabulous event/signing of an author I love (Susan Dennard) at another awesome independent bookstore (Anderson’s is amazing, and if you’re every in Naperville or Downer’s Grove or now La Grange, go check them out!). So… good week for writing events all around. And on a completely un-writing related note, I also got to go to an awesome beer tasting with my dear friend Kelsey (fellow Chicago suburb inhibitor and writer of this awesome new food blog Kelsey’s Kuisine) which was a lot of fun. Sometimes leaving the cave is necessary… which leads to the next part of this post!

Bells Brewery beer tasting with Kelsey!
Bells Brewery beer tasting with Kelsey!

Writing: UGHHHHH. Ohhh how I wish I’d actually looked at my papers again in high school/college after I threw them together at 6AM the day they were due learned to revise sooner. I mean… But really. Okay, here’s a quick, unabashedly melodramatic look into the brain of a writer who has loved drafting her whole life, never revising, now trying to revise:

Okay. Revising. Cool. I got this.

*Shakes shoulders and does dance to Nicki Minaj/Monster a few pushups to get ready.*

Woo, okay, ready to go! Revisions, you got nothing on me. I will tear you to the ground and swallow you whole and –

Okay, let’s get going with this. Alright. Okay. Okay, got this. Nothing scary, just opening the document… Ok, ok, title page, no worries, I got this. Chapter titles, ok, we’re cool. Na, no big deal, nothing to it.

*Reads first line. Eyebrows draw closer together.*

No, it’s fine. I’ll worry about that later. Sure it’s not ideal, but that’s what next round is for, right?

*Reads first page. Eyebrows now a pencil’s width apart.*

Okay, okay I’ll just tweak a few words then move on. No big deal. See, that wasn’t so bad, right? It’s still not perfect, but I’ll just remember the rest of the changes for later. Not for now. Now I am moving on. I am moving –

*Reaches part to be revised. Eyebrows have now melded into one, overlapping entity. Possibly with its own consciousness and will to dominate.*

Oh nononono that’s not good. Okay, it’s fine, it’s fine, I’ll just play some music, and start writing where I need to and then I’ll move on to the next scene, and the next and –

NOOOOO THERE’S SO MUCH I WILL NEVER FINISH AND HOW CAN THIS ALL BE FIXED WHEN THERE’S SO MUCH WRONG IT’S TOOO MUCH!!! MAKE THE CRINGE WORTHY WORDS AND PLOT TURNS GO AWAY PLEASEEE!!!!!!!

No, it’s okay, mind, stay with me! Just stay in front of the screen, just keep writing…

BUT THE WORDS AREN’T COMING AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I’M GOING WITH THIS.

It’s okay! It’s okay, mind, calm down! Everything’s going to be okay. Just stay calm, and calm calm calm, okay and uhhh, if you’ve had enough time to calm down yet, how about some idea on what to write next?

…Anything? Pretty please…

LALALA I’M TRYING TO BE CALM.

Yes, but the story and the new words and –

DID YOU SAY WORDS???

No! No, I didn’t! Come back, it’s okay, please!!!

We’re sorry, Maddy’s mind is not available right now, but if you leave a message after the 

NOOOO!!!!

*Cue defeated exit from cave, sleep, read, stress about mind’s treacherous desertion, trudge back into cave with game face and battle gear on, repeat.*

So that’s a sum of my life at the moment. I’ll let you know when I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Until then please feel free to share your revisions stories or other thoughts with me! I am so down to commiserate, or even to stare in wondrous awe if you are one of those incredible individuals who excels at revisions (TEACH ME YOUR SECRETS). How do you deal with writer’s block and bumps in creativity/your story?

That’s all for now. Small note: I’ll be blogging at least once more this week with my top ten most influential books, thanks to a tag from my wonderful critique partner and friend Janella, so look out Thursday for that! And I’ve also come up with a new name for my blog… so be on the lookout for the change and a bonus blog explaining the title soon! Be well all,

❤ Maddy