The Authors in the Text

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:

You Again 2016



35 thoughts on “The Authors in the Text

  1. OMG, this is so perfect. Somehow I think Lucifer is going to be added to the list of WIP. I look forward to the day I can read Lucifer and Muffin the Hellhound. 🙂

  2. I think I was channeling you last night when someone tried to explain Extant to me (Hallie Berry goes to space for year alone, comes back pregnant) and then kept tossing in extraneous pieces of info (she has a robot child as well) and other useful plot points (something is killing people, and sucking out their…blood? humanity? the individual was unclear on the details) and then I was off. It was a MUCH better story by the time I was done.

  3. There’s nothing wrong with writing about dogs (though if you want to switch up animals occasionally like a random alligator, that works too). Or having a large cast as long as we can keep track and tell them apart.

  4. I really love your digital version. Makes me think I should work out how to do that, and get stuck in. I hardly ever use Photoshop, though, so I’ve got cold feet. It’s such a monster, and I’ve only done photo enhancing with it, not anything like this collage. (I know you use something else, but then that’s more software to buy and learn and keep updating; although I’ll probably have to migrate from full Photoshop, since I can’t afford to rent it as you’re now forced to do.)

    Love your proposed rewrite of ‘Paradise Lost’, too. It definitely lacked a daschhund, as I remember (though a great read anyway, to my surprise when I had to read it at the age of seventeen).

    1. I love Paradise Lost. Not a Milton fan, but he hit that one out of the park.

      I use two different programs although probably one would do.

      I use Acorn as the image editor. I think it’s about $50, very simple to use, and you buy it once, no fee, $29.00. I love it, but I think it’s Mac only. Gets great reviews.

      I also use Curio which is brain-storming/mind-mapping software which allows me to create projects and keep all my images, notes, brainstorming, etc. organized. It’s a lot pricier–$130 or $80 for an academic–but I use it all the time. It’s terrific for organizing any kind of project.

      I generally use Acorn to manipulate images (get rid of backgrounds, change colors, draw on top, etc.) and the layer the images in Curio, although Acorn is a full feature program and I could layer in there, too.

      1. Thanks, Jenny. I’ll look at Acorn. I think it was Curio that didn’t grab me last time. But I really should find a good program for collaging; it’s something I’ve been meaning to play with since I first got Photoshop in 1998.

  5. It is fascinating to watch your writing process and how collages play such an important role. I think that you can never have enough community or dogs (and cats)! If I ever wrote fiction, I think that I would develop a soundtrack because I respond to music, rather than art. BTW, have you listened to the cast recording of Hamilton, which is my current obsession?

    1. No, I’m currently replaying the Galavant songs because they make me happy.

      I always have soundtracks, too, but they come later. I had the Thompson Twins on this one as a joke, I remember, but I don’t know if they fit into the revised timeline now.

  6. Interesting. As I read your post, I suddenly had a revelation. Granted, it’s been a very long time since I’ve actively written anything, but it just dawned on me that every protagonist/heroine I’ve ever come up with has always been alone, emotionally if not practically. Even those with families and community are the caregivers, the must-be-strong-and-responsible-at-all-cost ones, and they never feel as if there’s anybody taking care of them. The fantasy, my Ur-story, as you called it, is that somebody else will step in and at least share part of the burden. I suppose this says more about my personal life than my writing life, but I don’t think I’d ever analyzed things in exactly that fashion. Good discussion.

    1. I think our personal lives inform our fiction, so there’s really no distinction when you’re talking about worldview and underlying ideas. I have an obsessive need to build community–classes, dog packs, blog readerships–so I’m not surprised I have an obsessive need to build them in my work, too.

  7. I was looking at the collage and said, HEY! That’s Alan Rickman!

    yes, that’s what I got from that whole thing… (sorry, but Alan Rickman wipes all other thoughts out of my mind). Plus, cute dogs.

  8. Well, communities rock. You do you. 😉

    There was an anthology of novella/short-ish stories featuring hellhounds a few years ago.

    Meljean Brook has a GREAT hellhound character. I didn’t care enough for the rest of the book(s) to re-read but I sure did love me those hellhounds.

    If you keep focusing on You Again, maybe it’ll get done. Use a pomodoro method or somethin’. Then in the time you have *free* (ahem, har) you can fantasise about Lucifer to your best ending!

  9. Ok anything with the woman from Weeds, Red, etc (senior moment can’t remember her name) as inspiration can only be good. Go You Again.
    Love your thought processes. Also love your cast of characters and the communities you create.
    Muffin the hellhound looks great.

  10. You are gorgeous. Have you heard of Jilly Cooper? She’s always got dogs. Dogs are a sense of humor. It stops you from getting too serious. Makes it fun and dogs can get you out of difficult corners you manage to build yourself. As I sit here reading and admiring you and loving you for your sense of humor, my dog is on my lap.

      1. I have a cat on my lap. He herded me to the chaise lounge (the lap couch) so he could have his lap. Definitely a mood elevator. Plus furry belly to rub!

  11. Puppy in the lap is fine, but my Muffin keeps wanting to lick my face. Plays the holy hell with reading. Still, love. And eventually Muffin gets bored.

    You so correctly analyze the mind-work of authors, I think.

    Keep telling yourself it’s okay, and eventually I’ll be reading You Again, thank you very much.

  12. I like the collage as the book cover. I know it wouldn’t be possible without obtaining lots of copyright permissions and is a smidge misleading given that this wasn’t a movie starring these actors, but still, great imagery.

  13. Oh wow, y’all gave me a Throwback Tuesday. Does anyone remember Talpianna when she was on the Elizabeth Lowell blog and she was a mole on the lap of Elizabeth, being petted and responding with a murfle? Hope not just me?

    She was a cool poster. Not posting this in any maudlin sense. It’s a good memory.

    1. Yes! Someone recently posted a comment as “AG” and I thought, “AG Tigress?” And that made me think of Talpianna. Yes, a good memory.

  14. Every time I visit this site, there’s something amazing, informative, and hilarious waiting for me. I love it.

  15. Wow! I adore that collage. So happy to hear You Again is being worked on.
    I adored the ending of Galavant the other night, “I have a dragon.” It made me laugh out loud and think about if you believe in what you have, what you can achieve, and never waver, then it can all come true. So, new mantra, “I have a dragon.”

  16. So glad you are working on You Again. Can’t wait to hold it in my hands and devour it.
    Love Gallivant’s songs. Also love Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s songs. Next week is a song called Textastrophe, I hear her working on it with her writers when I was filming.
    LOVE the collage.

  17. One of Roger Zelazny’s early books (This Immortal??) had a great dog, very hellhound like, called Bortran. I loved that dog.

  18. “Food is good, people eating together builds community. ”

    I never could figure out where the kitchen everyone ate (but didn’t cook??) in was, in _Faking It_, but it was great all the same.

    1. Faking It didn’t really have a kitchen on the ground floor, it was a business so it had the gallery out front and then the office in the back half with a fridge and a big table (for poker and spreading out paperwork) and probably a microwave and a coffee-maker. And a couch and a juke box. The upstairs was apartments and the bigger ones had galley kitchens.
      But let’s face it, the Goodnight women were not homemakers. All they needed was a place to keep cold drinks and a lot of delivery numbers. They lived in German Village in Columbus and there are a lot of great restaurants down there and a good grocery with a deli and come to think of it, a real deli a couple of streets over. Or there were when I lived there twenty years ago.

  19. Sorry to be commenting so late on this. If you can, at some point, talk about digital collage v. 3-D, I’d be interested to hear what you like about it. After having collaged at CherryCon, I found I really like the tactile aspect of that. And, I tried digital, but if I want to look at it, I have to either print it out, or use my computer. Plus, I lost some work I’d done in a Power Point back during a crash or move from one PC to another (love my Mac). I suppose if I backed stuff up to the Cloud I would be able to keep it now, but that’s just one more thing to set up and deal with. Plus, I have the feeling a new BlueRay version of the Cloud will eventually make this cloud obsolete.
    Anyway, I ramble. But I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts at some point.

    1. I did a Questionable post for you; goes up a week from this Wed. Short version: Scissors and glue version is better; digital is for time when that’s not convenient.


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