Emotional Rescue

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I was sitting, waiting for my train in Penn Station, remembering the last time I sat waiting for a train in Penn Station. Usually when memories like this come at me, I chase them away and I chase well.  Last time, I had just gotten really bad news, the worst kind of news, but it was more than that.  I shared a few days with some of my favorite people in the world and their world was changing. It has never been the same since and never will be. I sat in a corner chair and cried my face off. Yes I was the crazy lady crying in the train station (Note: Grand Central is shown, not Penn.)

That was a little over four years ago. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that I went a little dull after that. I couldn’t quite get at the range of emotions I used to have. If the range was a one (misery) to ten (joy), I lived in the four to six zone. Not miserable, but not joyful either. Colors lost their luster. My musical interests closed in, and I probably listened to the same five bands over and over again, for three years. I essentially stopped reading. I wasn’t noticeably different, but I was different.

I’ve talked a lot about the visceral impact writing had on me when I started in February. At risk of repeating myself, I’ll say that it was actually a little disturbing. I stopped eating and sleeping and I felt buzzed 24 hours a day. I was writing thousands of words a day and I couldn’t stop. I could feel everything. Every word that went through me came from a depth that I can’t even explain. But it made me laugh and cry and afraid and unbelievably exhilarated. Less than a week in, I was strongly encouraged to get blood work. There may have been whispers of a nervous breakdown behind my back.

After about a month, the frenetic energy leveled off, but the rest stayed. The access stayed. Now the light is so bright that I can see the rays.  I can listen to a guitar solo seventeen times over and go back for an eighteenth, because the magic is real. It was20141030_104829 there the whole time, but I couldn’t get at it. Every sense is powerful and alive and I feel… awake.  This must be what heroin feels like.

When I wrote Circling, I chose some of my favorite locations for inspiration – North Carolina beaches, Charleston and Savannah. Before I started Forever Falling I had an urge to get to Asheville, NC. I had never been, but I just knew my characters were there so I went in July. My characters were indeed there. Book Three, untitled for now, will be set in New York City, primarily Brooklyn. I am just now taking the train away from New York. I spent an amazing few days there and yesterday I explored Brooklyn.

I was a little freaked out getting myself from Midtown Manhattan to Brooklyn. I have no idea how the subway system works (or do they say trains here) and I wanted to stay above ground to see the bridges. I can’t figure out busses to save my life.  I ended up taking a cab which cost a third of what I had guessed it would. I saw everything I wanted to see, the hospital (main character is a doc), Gloria’s West Indies Restaurant (thank to Anthony Bourdain for the tip), and walked miles and miles of sidewalk. Getting out of Brooklyn was an adventure of its own. Guess what, cabbies won’t go into Manhattan at the end of the day.  It wasn’t the end to the day I wou20141030_154220ld have chosen, but it was an experience all its own.

At one point I saw a park near the hospital, potentially really good setting material.  In my area back home, I don’t wander into parks much, alone on a weekday.  I decided to do it anyway and tentatively climbed a hill with no idea what awaited me on the other side. (Note: since I’m a writer my options were pretty much Ted Bundy, white slavery or gang rape). What I found was something very different, but you’ll have to wait for Book Three to read about it.IMG_20141030_143536

As I stood on that hilltop I wanted to drop to my knees and kiss the ground. (Note: I did not).  The warm air, the golden leaves, the filtered light, the singing birds, the poetic trees, the laughing hot dog vendors, the curious children, the view below me, the enormous blue skies above, steam billowing in the distance … it was all mine. It’s mine because I can reach it now, or more likely, it can reach me.

Here’s to being grateful for every day of this life.  Not everyone gets it and it is an extraordinary honor. Don’t miss a moment.

 

(Note: Pls forgive typos. Train typing is tough.)

The Creativity and The Business

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I should be writing now, at least editing. I have a block of free time, a coffee, good wifi, perfect surroundings. Truth be told I’ve been drinking a bit and writing a blog seems more fun. Okay that isn’t entirely honest. I’ll dig a bit deeper. I am struggling to focus this week.

Forever Falling, my second novel is getting down to the nitty gritty end of the first draft. I finally got the photos off my new camera and I’m able to fill in setting description from a my summer travel. I took about 500 photos of houses in Asheville and I chose one to be the home of my female lead’s father. There are also scenic shots throughout the city and mountains of Asheville and Park City. So I went back to page one, word one, to fill in details and touch up dialog. The story has a nice shape for a first draft.

Meanwhile I am trying to focus on this mad business of publishing so I can set Circling somewhere, permanently. The choices are endless and they are all right. And they are all wrong. How much time do I want to devote pedaling my words to the world of traditional publishing? To agents? If I didn’t have a publishing background, the answer would be ZERO. It is a lot of work and one thing I know about myself is that I SUCK AT WAITING. I fucking suck at it. Sure, get back to me in 16 weeks. My reflux will eat a hole right through my esophagus and I’ll be a raging alcoholic in 16 weeks. I can only get so many refills on my Xanax.

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Or independent publishing? There are a LOT of ways to do this. The research required makes me what to lay my head down on this table at Starbucks and take a nap. It does not make me want to buckle down and finish Forever Falling.  And what on earth is worse for creativity than business. I’m a Marketing (un)professional.  I totally get the business is creativity philosophy, but it is a little bullshitty. It is what we creative types tell ourselves so we don’t put our heads in the oven Monday – Friday during business hours.

So writers. Feel free to weigh in on your experience with this process? I am wowed by you all. This is a labor of love and those who stick with it have my undying respect. How are you choosing to share your work? How are you birthing this labor of love?

(Please forgive incoherence and typos. It’s Friday night and I found a really good Malbec.)

Setting the Scenes

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Well hello there!  I must confess a first draft does not lend itself well to consistent posting. Here I am with a few minutes on my hands and I think it is time for an update. At my last post (aside from a guest post and share) I was sitting poolside in Park City, Utah, turning a business trip into a fuck load of fun and adventure. Before that fantastic opportunity arose, I had booked a short trip to visit Asheville with a good friend.

I have always wanted to visit that famously quirky, musical, artsy, beautiful city tucked away in the mountains. Starting Book 2, I felt that I needed to find my characters.  For me characters and plot are completely driven by setting. My friend was very supportive of my insane I have to go to Asheville to find my story declaration and found us a wonderful hotel,  a bizarre car, fantastic concert, etc.

20140613_134721With regard to the car. I am full of regret I did not photograph it. This Dodge Avenger was not my typical ride. I was a bit put off by the fact I literally had to spread my legs to drive it. Who’s damn idea was that? The steering wheel only fits between one’s thighs, it raises no higher. Few things can rest between one’s thighs and be so disappointingly un-erotic.

wpid-20140612_211230.jpgAlas – I digress. We ate in amazing, interesting little restaurants. We saw Andrew Bird perform at The Orange Peel and about 27 other musical street performs every day. We walked the waterfall that Katniss  Everdeen walked in the Hunger Games. We drove miles and miles of mountains and walked miles and miles of city. There as quite a bit of bourbon and red wine, too. I took about 1,200 photos. And in all of that, the story began to reveal itself.

I am almost 30,000 words in now. I am a big believer in revising. The first draft is all about meeting these people. You have to meet them and then decide how and where, they will have what kind of sex. And then, I have to decide how I’ll destroy them and finally how (and if) they’ll save each other. On examining my first drafting style it seems I let my characters be very lovely to each other for awhile. I need a lot of words to fall in love with them before I can load them down in conflict. I’m there now. The pain is starting to flow. We are all bleeding on the page.  I think I’m enjoying it a little more than they are though.

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I looked back at my Freeing The Pain post to remember what it was like with Circling. I have to say this is an intense process. My sleep is effected, my day job work focus is for crap. This is truly all consuming. There are very few people on the earth that understand this and it is a little isolating. One of my favorite writer friends has been a bit off the grid. I miss our plot chats. Writers I implore you, appreciate those writer friends who want nothing more than to debate whether you need to mention if your character spits or swallows.

(Too much? – I certainly hope so. XOX)