Friday, August 13, 2004

Possessed by the Muse

Well, the Muse has moved in full time and taken up residence in my already crowded brain. Muse has decided it is time to finish the current work-in-progress (WIP) which is a paranormal romance. No, it's not a bodice ripper. Sorry, don't write those. In fact, they're hard to find now-a-days. This one is set in contemporary L.A., including Skid Row in downtown L.A. and that's occasioned a lot of research. One of my characters is a homeless fellow with mental issues so I've had to read up on what it's like to trudge the streets of The Nickel as it's called, living out of trash cans. Given there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 44K homeless folks in a 50-block area, this isn't a minor problem. Wow. I had no idea.

I've been spending three hours a day at local coffee houses, wired into my ITunes and banging away on the keyboard. I usually go to Starbucks, but will try a new place today so I don't wear out my welcome at the other shop. I've been doing what NYT Best-Selling author Jennifer Crusie calls "the 'don't look down' draft." I'm dropping prose on computer screen as fast as I can and not thinking about Goals, Motivations, Conflicts, story arcs or any of that other stuff. In other words, just like I used to write until I started reading how to write and somewhat screwed myself up. I'll go back after I get through the first draft and clean up the mess. I believe Hemingway said the first draft is sh*t. He's right. But in the process the characters find their strengths and frailties and you discover plot twists you never considered.

Or not. It just depends. The key point is to write, even if its drivel. And that's what it is right now, including such notations as "find better word here" or "insert physical movement here that indicates heroine is stunned by hero's bright purple tie" or some such nonsense. When I'm writing for content, the words are thick and lush and the action dynamic. Right now I'm just throwing stuff at the page. Then you go back and edit the dickens out of it countless times.

In the end you have a book. That's how it works. Fanny in chair, hands on keyboard or wrapped around writing instrument of choice scribbling on notepad. It just doesn't happen any other way. Some days go really well and you're on an adrenalin high and others are so-so. Given the YoWH (Year of Writing Hell) I went through last year, I'm not complaining. At least the book is happening. Whether it turns out good enough to sell to someone is another matter entirely.

Pardon, must go, the Muse is tugging on my sleeve and whining in my ear. It's lot like a self-absorbed three-year-old on a sugar high. And we all know what those are like.

"90 percent of writing is getting out of your own way." -- Jennifer Crusie


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