Feeling a bit gangly this morning.
Uncomfortable in my odd-shaped gills.
Being the new fish in the mainstream romance market is frankly a little daunting.
I’m feeling tiny.
I’m the little, wiggly thing that the big fish point at and ask “What the crap is that?”
While this is most likely only a momentary “Oh, f**k. What am I doing?” moment, it is one I thought it only honest to address. (That pesky “full disclosure” thing I promised way back at the beginning of this daily blog adventure in January keeps coming back to bite me in the butt, it seems.)
Changing genres, changing home waters, is a big, scary move. Even for us somewhat well-established and (dare I say?) respected authors in small, highly-colorful, and wonderfully exotic ponds, the transition to an entirely different ecosystem is difficult, to say the very, very least.
Is it worth it?
I don’t know yet. Ask me after I sell my first mainstream novel.
Is it necessary?
Yes. If financial considerations are a consideration at all, then the answer is “Yep. Absolutely.”
Unfortunately, all the “Yep”s and “Absolutely”s don’t make my gills feel any less inadequate today.
Geez. Full disclosure is not easy on the fins.
A day of personal upheaval in the family precluded a lot of writing yesterday. (Sometimes being “self-employed” and “freelance” isn’t such a bad thing after all. I have yet to lay myself off. Although my mind has locked me out of the building a time or two, but we won’t be discussing that. *smirks*)
Anyhow, I did manage to get another 100 words eked out. I don’t know whether I should be expecting applause for this “monumental” task or a general wince from mankind at my measly effort?
My shimmying method of working through the Colonial dictionary I fear has about run its course. While I will be constantly referencing the collection of era-appropriate words and phrases, I will be using them simply as flavor.
I want the Six Brothers to be easy to read and follow. Using arcane language that needs footnotes every other sentence does not equal a smooth, enjoyable, romantic read.
Or at least that’s the theory I’m running with.
Please keep your fingers crossed that said-theory isn’t a dud.
I find writing tragedy remarkably easy.
What that says about me, my psyche and the bent of my imagination, I choose to ignore. (My psychiatrist has enough on his hands already.)
Yesterday, a day of minimal writing time thanks to an air conditioner in its death throes, I began chipping away at the tragedy-ridden subplot at the heart of the Six Brothers.
Like I said, it was easy.
Rather ghoulish of me, I fear.
If writing was a waltz, the tearjerker and I would be flawless dance partners.
All the little details that wring heartbreaking sorrow from a reader fly off my fingertips with troublesome ease.
I could write one heck of a “Love Story”-esque novel… If I really wanted to… which I don’t.
I abhor reading tearjerkers. My emotions are tattered enough with my every day, screwed up life that I really don’t need to send the old heart-strings through a paper shredder just for jollies.
Oh well. I guess I don’t really have to read what I write.
The blind tragedian, that’s me.
I’m learning the most interesting things.
As I continue on with my “chimney-shimmying” method of writing (chronicled in yesterday’s blog), surprising tidbits of my character’s personalities and physical traits have been coming to light.
Did you know that Yates (second oldest of the Six Brothers) is very tall? I didn’t. Not until my “close eyes and grab” stratagem of attacking the Colonial dictionary spit out “Long Shanks” as a long-legged person…
Which resulted in a whole little teasing dialogue between Yates and his significant other, Titilayo…
Which resulted in me learning that Titilayo is the kind of woman not afraid to take her love interest on in a verbal sparring match, despite their woefully unequal histories…
Which resulted in me falling kind of love with the freed slave, Titilayo, and upping my excitement about working with the remarkably strong woman in the coming months…
Which results in me coming across as a completely loony author with an active imagination bordering on the absurd.
Oh well, as they say, the truth will out.
If you can’t bully your way in the front door and you can’t sweet talk your way into the back, it is perfectly acceptable to shimmy down the chimney.
Please note that this sound advice is only suitable for a writer trying to finagle her way into a new story. In any and all other circumstances, this strategy would most rightfully result in a charge of stalking and/or breaking and entering. This would be bad. Very bad.
Now, with that disclaimer made, I’d like to spend the rest of this post bragging about my chimney-shimmying.
As I’ve noted in the previous couple of blogs, I’ve had trouble getting into the late Colonial dialogue required for my Six Brothers project.
Yesterday, after several hours of extremely slow, plodding-through-the-proverbial-mud writing, I ended up with the first 120 words of my 100K novel done. Consider those numbers for a moment.
This is bad. Very bad.
So, I started shimmying. Madly.
I went to my “Colonial” dictionary (thousands of terms used in the time period by “normal folk”) and started randomly picking out words or phrases. I would then come up with a sentence of dialogue, including the chosen word, for somewhere in the mammoth outline. I would then start sculpting out a scene around these token sentences.
And voila! I had wordage.
And that’s my chimney-shimmy, ladies and gents. Take it or leave it. I offer it only as an option for a locked-out writer.
The visit of the Monarchs yesterday.
Stumbled into a bit of quicksand yesterday.
Flailed around ineffectually for a few hours.
Put myself to bed shortly thereafter feeling a complete failure.
And that was my Friday. How was yours?
Sarcasm aside, my writing efforts yesterday sucked.
I realized, to my abject and total horror, that I can’t write late colonial dialogue to save my life. This could be a small problem to a girl starting on a 100K word Revolutionary War-era romance.
Hence the quicksand-flailing hours.
Years of being Panic’s whore, however, have made me either remarkably thick-skinned or remarkably foolhardy when it comes to these “little” stumbling blocks. (After all, how important is dialogue really? *smirks*)
After a quick but fervent visit with Samuel Richardson’s “Pamela” and Fanny Burney’s “Evelina” (two wonderful 18th century sources for Colonial manner of speaking), I plan to soldier on, right back into said-quicksand with a hardy laugh and a devil-may-care attitude…
So, this could get really ugly.
Or this could get really, really good.
P.S. Monarch butterflies are migrating through north Florida this week. I took this picture yesterday.
“Work in progress.”
In your mind, please place this admonition over all the blogs detailing my work on the Six Brothers project.
For instance, everything I professed in yesterday’s post about voice and style and “needless daisies” should be disregarded as hogwash.
I was wrong.
Oh, it was an honest mistake. I believed everything I was spouting and was fully prepared to embark on the short, dramatic, punchy sentences…
But, then, I dared to have a peek at some of today’s bestselling historical romance authors and found that needless daisies were in fact very much in season.
Not groves and groves of them, but they were indeed spattered about quite liberally.
After squeaking in utter glee, I spent the rest of the work day defining all sorts of wonderfully exacting details for my characters.
It was delightful.
But it also meant I needed to hammer up the “Work in Progress” sign first thing this morning.
That done and with apologies made and hopefully accepted, I leave you to your Friday.
Fully recovered from the other night’s psychiatric escapades (see yesterday’s truly pathetic blog for the truly pathetic details), I am ready to actually put word to paper today on the Six Brothers.
*a spattering of half-hearted applause echoes through the blogging auditorium*
Alright, I’m going to be needing a little more than that, folks. A big, messy belly-flop into the mainstream deserves at least one spirited “Yahoo!”
*a single, fur-faced sneeze from a foot off the carpet is the lone reply*
Fine. At least my four-legged muse is making an effort. I’ll take whatever I can get.
*sighs dramatically around a poorly hidden smile*
What I am concerned about is what kind of voice I’m going to use with a late Colonial/Revolutionary War-era romance?
With 100K words as my goal, I’m terribly tempted to get verbose, flowery even. Describe every detail down to the utterly ridiculous.
I could do it, too.
I could do it good. Real good.
But I won’t.
I’m aiming more for short, dramatic sentences that pack a clean and dramatic punch.
I’ve got a lot of ground to cover in the Six Brothers, so drowning in needless daisies and extraneous rose-hips really isn’t the way to go.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
Of course, the other half of myself quite reasonably muses, “Is there really such a thing as a needless daisy?”
I hesitate to even write this… (*chuckles sadly* Cowardice personified right there, folks. Jeez, I’m a wimp.)
Anyhow, I had a panic attack last night.
A bad one.
My stomach even joined in for three hours of jolly good fun in and out of the bathroom.
It was simply terrible.
And exactly like the ones I used to have twenty years ago…
Exactly like the ones twenty years ago that crippled me and locked me in my room for ungodly stretches of time (years, people.)
I haven’t had one of these in probably nine years, the last time I had to up my medication to control the damned things.
Thankfully, there was a different reason for this setback. A stupid reason. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
I forgot to take my medicine yesterday morning… for the first time in 18 years.
Needless to say that won’t happen again.
But what really has freaked me out is the stark realization that even after all these years of relatively panic-maintained living, I am still so, so close to losing myself to the illness again.
One missed handful of pills and I’m back to that horrible place that scarred me so terribly.
So, yes. I hesitated even to write this.
Admitting to the world that you are still one sick puppy is daunting and a little stomach-turning.
But it’s cowardice well-deserved.
Jamaica Pass, Brooklyn, New York.
August 26, 1776.
That’s where the Six Brothers begins.
That’s where I’m trying to go.
Anybody got a time machine I can borrow?
I wouldn’t need to stop and visit. Just a little flyby so I can snap a few pictures of the lay of the land, and I’d be good.
With all the research I’ve done these last six months on the late colonial period, I’m pretty ok with the customs, dress, talk and overall flavor of the era. (Note the awe-inspiring confidence held in that “pretty ok” word choice.)
However, a bygone landscape when Polaroid snapshots were few and far between is a little trickier to reimagine.
So, I’ve been scouring over old maps and drawings of the area, reading eye witness accounts to events, trying to capture something I can sink my imagination’s teeth into.
Little by little, bit by tee-tiny bit, it is working.
But I’m still thumbing for a ride on a kitted out Delorean.