Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dear Charlie:

You know, it's funny what your mind does to you when you write.

I've been stalled on this particular story for months now. I started three separate projects in the intervening time which are also in various states of nonfinished, but this one's always been back there.

Then, I committed to my beloved sister's MayNoWriMo and stated my goal as finishing it. As it sits, the current word count is about 27.5K, and I'd like to have that up to 30K before May 1 so I'm not committing to more than 50K while shooting for a finished novel of about 80K. Thus, I pulled it out last week and read up to date and started the drudge of picking up where I left off.

Usually, once I get past that initial speedbump phase of chugging drearily along until it sparks again, I write like the wind. Not so, this time, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. The story is there. It's a good story. Maybe a great one.

So why had it turned its back on me just two chapters before the candy bar scene I'm writing the whole damn thing for??

Joely, my beloved and insanely talented sister, always has a soundtrack for each story. She can play those songs and almost instantly be right back in the world she's created. It's amazing, and I'm always fascinated by the music she picks because it's not always what you'd expect.

For this one, I always turn to Stone Sour's "Made of Scars". It has deep meaning for one of the characters, and even the opening guitar chops get me all in the mood to pump out some assassiny violent good fun.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been working. Well, it has, but only hit-or-miss, and that's not good for serious forward progress.

So, because I'm an oddball, I got to flipping through my country music files. Yes, I have country music files. Old country, thank you very much -- George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Rogers, etc. -- with a sprinkling of the good throw-back country from newer artists like Garth Brooks, Chris Cagle, George Strait, and such.

No. There's no Shania Twain. Geez.

Anyway, for some reason, I started writing faster. None of the stuff I was playing had anything to do with the story. It's basically an urban fantasy at its heart, and more about books than boots. In fact, I don't think there's a single Stetson on the page. A couple of magic-slinging gangstas, maybe, but definitely no pearl-handled lead-pushers held by bespurred cattle rustlers in chaps.

And then I realized what I was writing, what I was so stuck on. The scene I just couldn't get out was the heroine remembering something horrible from her childhood that she's hidden from her whole life. It's why she believes in magic, but also why she fears and reviles it so. It's one of those traumatic, life-changing events that completely detoured the course of her entire life, and she's done everything she could to avoid it. So, of course, I made her face it.

Because I'm an author. We do mean stuff like that.

Now, I was raised in the country. We didn't have a car with FM radio until I was in junior high. I grew up with Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. In fact, Dolly's "Coat of Many Colors" makes me puddle up to this day because my mom used to make some of our clothes. We weren't quite as dirt poor as Dolly, but we were poor enough that Mom being able to sew helped out more often than not. And she was damn good at it, too.

It finally hit me just a half hour or so ago that this music is my childhood. Even the newer stuff reminds me of riding horses down old gravel roads, of climbing trees and eating persimmons right off the branch and picking wild strawberries, of summers spent wading in the creek (but never shoeless because of all the snakes) and fishing in the pond and weeding the garden and drinking icy cold water from the well pump.

These aren't horrible memories, mind you. They are, by and large, happy and carefree memories, completely opposite from the ones my heroine has to suffer through. However, I think it's helped to remember being a child myself. And, true enough, not all my childhood memories are so Pollyanna, and I think the shadow of those darker recollections hovering around the bright and sunny ones also helps.

And all because of a bunch of Charlie Daniels Band ballads. And some poor ol' Kawliga. And "He Stopped Lovin Her Today". And an angel flyin too close to the ground. How far is Heaven?

And gimme two pina coladas, because I'm burying my troubles in the sand to better drag my heroine's up to the surface. Mwahah.


At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Pesh said...

I love inspiration. It's quite a rush. Keep going, woman!

And you know where to send the file if you want some feedback. Even if you don't want feedback, you know where to send the file. ^___^

O_o Word Verification: pregunsc


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