I think I finally have a handle on Chapter 2. My original line of thinking was quickly dismissed by a secondary character thinking his presence should be more. I don’t know how much more but he’s certainly caught my attention now. Two weeks of traveling have put me behind in capturing my thoughts on anything but a phone but it’s getting spit shined with the hopes of a post soon.
I missed a couple of blog posts this week. I blame my getting acquainted with Twitter and reading all of the fun tweets. I can see how easy it is to scroll through things and get caught up in the short, simple messages. So, back on track, back to the words and the typing and the creating of word soup or maybe word vomit. I’ve had a lot of different characters come down and sit with me lately, all trying to get an edge in over the other, trying to sell me on why they should hit the page. Some have definitely not made the cut, others are getting fleshed out (this is a strange and creepy expression if you ask me) and others are quiet. It’s those quiet ones I worry about, they grow into the loudest voices after a while. They kick the chair over they’ve patiently been sitting in and then demand the attention in the room. And you know what? All those other voices, primary, secondary, maybe even the tertiary ones, they all shut up and listen.
I thought I’d share a small sample of a character I killed off a couple of years ago when I was fooling around with darker characters. I loved Nigel, I still love him in some small way since he pops back up in my waiting room of characters. I went through a phase and read a fair amount of Regency romance and other historical romance novels and like I do with everything, I wondered if I could write in that genre. A little backstory, Nigel was a Victorian doctor. He lived on the outskirts of London and after aiding a few prominent families be began to make a name for himself. He rarely accepted dinner invitations as he held a dark secret. He lost his wife, he was unable to heal her and now he’s taken on the idea he can craft her spirit a new body, from his patient’s bodies. Even if his patient’s didn’t need to lose a body part, he made it happen. He was unable to shake the spirit of his wife and move forward, the pain too deep.
This is Nigel’s last scene:
There was a heaviness in the air, a finality that weighed down the ruined estate even further in its despair. The secrets that the estate held, they whispered excitedly to each other as a realization shone through the darkness. The image at the bottom of the stairs, what did it mean?
The day had been ordinary, dull. The same stagnant breath that slowly repeated day in and day out, uninterrupted unless the owner decided to haunt the premise. The owner had not been out to visit of late, the house accustomed to having only the ghostly tenant wander through the halls. The air rent with a strange tingled sensation as the owner suddenly appeared by horseback, his body slouched and inebriated, the horse slowing and stopping to bring its swaying rider to a stop in front of the broken, unhinged doors.
The doctor fell to the ground with a resounding smack. The harsh, hard earth did not even register though the alcohol daze that he had drowned himself in that morning. He lifted his head and squinted through the door and down the great hallway. Rusted suits of armor, rotted tapestries and countless other remnants of his former life taunted him to enter, to lose himself like he always did when he returned to wallow. Arm over arm, he crawled his way in to the hall. Slowly pushing himself up to his feet, he walked towards the back hall where he knew his darkest demon would find him.
“Nig!” the tinkling tone broke through the silence. A sounding of a bell, but not quite a perfect ring. “Nig!” she called again. The doctor felt his body convulse as her voice beckoned him more fervently. He stumbled down the hall and towards the mess of bottles, his boots crunching on shards of glass. She appeared from around the side, ethereal and beautiful as always. His breath knocked from his laboring chest. He reached for him and screamed in torment, agony from her chase of him finally beating him. He fell to his knees, collapsing in grief and hurt. He could no longer continue, he had to be free.
The drug moved slowly through his body, he was slightly conscious of the fact his fuzzy mind may be hallucinating due to his delusional thoughts or the poison working itself through his system. He could no longer take a full breath, he closed his eyes and waited. Suddenly a laugh broke from his throat, he covered his ears and screamed again as he could not stop her voice calling him back to her. He grabbed blindly for the shards of the discarded bottles from previous visits, raising a jagged end, he pressed deeply into his wrist, no pain registering. He sliced across both his wrists and felt only relief, the end to a torment. He felt her presence as his heart pumped precious blood out through his open wounds. She stroked the hair from his forehead. “Finally, Nigel, baby. Come back to me. Please.”
With a confidence that he would finally be free, he exhaled and closed his eyes, leaving behind only a trace memory of his existence.
In speaking with my critique partner, or maybe it was more like grilling with questions, lol, I found out they wanted more about one of my secondary characters. Granted, this secondary character is crucial to the story and eventually, no matter how much I want to stuff the character in a box, they would eventually get their own book. I can’t say they’d ever get a happy ever after, it’s just not my style, but they would certainly get a fitting end. I asked my CP if they thought a novella explaining the character’s circumstanced might have helped them understand the character’s positioning in the book. My CP said yes and the secondary character lunged for their turn in the spotlight.
I went back through the book, to ensure I got the character’s details correct, and all of a sudden big new ideas started to form. I heard dialogue first and definitely had curiosity about what my character wanted me to know about them and hear in the scene. I could glimpse in the distance the cinematic feel to the opening. And then my character opened their mouth to confront someone and my whole perspective on the character changed. I’m excited to dive in and see what happens next.
It’s been a long week for being a short holiday week. I feel like a lot of people feel this way, trying to cram what they would normally do over the span of 5 days into 4 days. Since about Wednesday I’ve thought it should be the next day, so I’m thankful it’s finally Friday. I’ve enjoyed taking a few days off from editing and novel writing, but I can feel the itch to start something new. A couple of characters poked their noses into my mushy brain yesterday (thankfully not in the shower! The muses are humoring me!) and gave me a glimpse at something new and completely different from what I just finished. I think for now, I’ll let them stew and get some late night reading accomplished.
I’m currently reading Jane Green’s upcoming novel, Falling, and I love it so far. Emma and Dominic are an unusual pairing and I keep waiting for the bottom to drop out wondering if that’s what Emma is feeling too at the moment. It’s certainly a nice escape after watching the current events from around the world and close to home. Happy weekend, readers.
I’ve often wondered how the creative spark knows when to strike. Is it really the Muses? Do they sit back and watch us poor struggling writers and then go BAM (ala Emeril Lagasse style)? I imagine they then switch to their best Oprah impression and declare everyone a winner of some new idea, whether it’s a fabulous one or not. Whomever is responsible, I’d like to request inspiration wait to hit me until I’m out of the shower. I do receive a lot of late night inspiration, so I’m going to assign those ideas to the Muses and assign my poor mal-functioning, un-caffeinated brain the responsibility of shower ideas.
Perhaps I’ve trained my brain to create in response to the sound of rushing water and like Pavlov’s dog response to a bell, water equals ideas. I, of course, think all of the ideas are genius and curse at myself for not having thought of it sooner. Some arrive fully fleshed out! Characters show up and engage in witty conversation and I know it’s dialogue for some project I’m working on. If my neighbors could hear me they’d certainly think I’m mental. My family doesn’t count; they’ve already heard about many of these conversations and they’re stuck with me.
There’s only a small, tiny problem. There’s no way to write it down fast enough. My brain powerwalks to the next idea like I do when I see cake put out at a function. Not only is my brain excited and devours a new idea, it aptly forgets what it was doing beforehand. I come out of the shower sparkling clean from triple hair washes and frustrated from lost ideas.
I’ve rushed out to write something down before, but soggy paper and especially a soggy phone are not ideal. I also have a cat whom I feel finds perverse joy in tripping or swiping at me to show her love of being adopted. I remember another author once saying she had the same problem, so she took to writing on her mirror and shower walls with lipstick and an eyeliner pencil. Her partner questioned some of the notes left behind when they described fight or murder scenes. I’m pretty certain I’d run into the same thing. Not to mention I hate cleaning and it would take daily elbow grease to clean it all up. There’s a possibility it would look like a crazy person’s stay in a psych ward.
So, dear Muses or sleepy brain or the person supplying the creative spark, now that I’ve harassed you and complained about your visits. Please don’t stop. But, if I could have tiny wish, please just alter your visitation plans. Or drop me some memory exercises so I can retain all the good ideas, not just the well cleaned hair.
I’m done. I’m finished. I can’t quite believe it. After several years of writing, editing, re-writing and toiling over my first novel, it’s completed. I know there will be room for more edits, I feel as though I find one every time I review it. But, I have to put the pen down or rather fingers off the keys and allow others to toil and fret over it while I nervously chew my fingernails and wait for feedback. I figure I’ll take a moment to breathe before embarking on the next story path, so why not fill the time and start an author blog, because yes, that’s what I feel like I am officially now.
I’ve dreamt since I was a little girl of being a writer. No, of being more than just a writer, I’ve dreamt of being an author. Perhaps for many there is no difference between the two, they’re synonymous, but not to me. A writer is someone I’ve always been; the creative spirit has needed a channel to flow forth from within and writing was an escape for that river. I loved writing stories in elementary school and creating new worlds with talking animals. In my angsty pre-teen and teenage years I found how cathartic journaling could be, and I had my first visits from characters who wanted to tell me their secrets. I also fell in love with brooding, tortured, leading male characters, but that’s certainly a post for another time.
Towards the middle of high school, I found poetry. The non-rhyming, passionate and storytelling kind. I was so shocked at the way it broke all rules and was so powerful in a modern way. I became obsessed with conveying character points of view through pages and pages of poetry. Most of it is in the bin, never to be recovered. And then in college, full blown characters would come and sit and distract me in the margins of my college ruled notebooks. They’d whisper a simple phrase or show me a certain look and my imagination stuck to it like glue, clearly not interested in urban planning or constitutional law.
I entered the corporate world, ready to tackle anything and do my best and to succeed like all of my friends in their careers. Only, the characters in my brain kept multiplying and spinning new worlds. They raised a ruckus and it started to get a little crowded. So, I gave my most cherished characters life on paper. And thus began the book. I’d write a snippet here and a passage there, mostly after midnight when I had free writing time. I wrote when the mood stuck and when each character wanted to talk. Their timetable was never convenient, nor were the muses very kind some days and months, gifting me with dry spells and writers block. But the call of the author still urged me on. I read other books and just knew I could do it too; I could join the coveted author ranking. I was able to quit my job and in between focusing on domestic goddess status and wasting time on social media, I wrote a book. And even if this is my only book, which I doubt, I can still say I’m now an author. SH Burgess, Author. I’m not going to lie; it feels pretty damn good.