One of the things I found most interesting about the Stuart-Rich-Crusie fixes for Lucifer was how we all immediately went to our own story corners. That is, Krissie zeroed in on the all-powerful hero and how caring about the heroine would bring him to his knees, Lani went for the balance of power in relationships and in the world, and I said, “You know what this guy needs? Community.” We have known each other and read each other’s books for years, but this one off-the-cuff conversation told me more than anything else about how our individual story-minds work.
I think that’s important for writers, to know that there are things we are always going to gravitate to, things that are essential to the Ur story that underlies every narrative we write. I don’t think that focus limits writers, I think it grounds us in our attempts to answer the question that informs our work, our subconscious writer’s quest(ion). Once we finish that quest, answer that question to our own final satisfaction, we’re done, so I don’t do a lot thinking about mine, but I do think that seeing the direction the question leads me in can be calming:
“Oh, look, I have another cast of thousands in You Again. I have to stop doing that. Who do I think I am, Dickens?”
“No that’s okay, you’re all about community. Keep writing.”
“And there’s a dog again. People are going to think I always write about dogs.”
“Excellent. People love dogs and you love writing about dogs and dogs are characters and become part of the community. Keep writing.”
“Oh, crap. There’s food in here again, lots of it, one of the characters is a chef. Maybe if I cut her . . . . No, she’s essential, Well, just hell.”
“Food is good, people eating together builds community. For the love of god, Crusie, shut up and write the story you have to write. It’s not like you could write a different one if you tried. One more pass at Lucifer and he’d have had a hellhound and the nightclub would have been a restaurant. Keep writing.”
“Oh, a DOG! Lucifer should definitely have a hellhound. Maybe a miniature poodle that he rescues from somebody abusing it on the street (punish that bastard, Lucifer) and brings back to life, and now it has glowing red eyes and a fierce desire for justice and dog cookies . . .”
“You Again, Jenny. Focus.”
“And now that I think about it, the Seven Deadly Sins should be in there. Gluttony could be a bartender who wants to be a chef but fought the urge because he’s Hollywood so all about the abs, but then he starts whipping up bar snacks that are amazing because Lucifer evokes that in him (deepest desires) and that helps bring people to the club. And the story never calls attention to what they are, just lets people figure it out gradually in different episodes . . .”
“Go look at your new collage. You’ll feel better. It has a lot of people and a dog on it.”
“Okay . . .
” . . . Those seven deadly sins could be so cool, though. I looked them up: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. And there are seven virtues, too: prudence, justice, temperance, courage, and faith, hope, charity/love. That’s fourteen characters/chapters/episodes. Of course, they couldn’t be cliches, there’d have to be a twist so that readers didn’t realize what they were, maybe ever, maybe they’d get it the third time they read the book, but . . .”
“Write You Again, Jenny.”
“I could write my version of Paradise Lost. Milton missed some good stuff. OOOOOH, I could put in a dachshund named Milton–“
“JENNY . . .”
Don’t answer the question, just embrace the path to which you are drawn, grasshoppers.
Speaking of the collage, I took the picture I had of the old collage and spent the weekend bringing it up to date digitally, and I’ll keep adding stuff as I work on the book, so I’ll put it at the bottom of posts about the book to keep a record of its progress. And then I have to finish the Acts post which will up over on Writing/Romance much later today. I’ll post a link here when it goes live, and Mollie also put a link to the site up at the top of this page.
And then I have to write You Again, although I think Lucifer’s Hellhound’s name should be Muffin.
The You Again Collage: