Lily 5 Notes

One of the things that’s really hard about discovery drafts is that they’re what Anne Lamott called “shitty first drafts.” The first time I write a scene, it’s lousy. That’s because I don’t know what it’s about until I see it. I can recognize that its repetitive, that there’s no conflict arc, that the characters don’t change, but I can’t fix it until I write it, almost always badly. Nora Roberts said that she can fix a bad page, but she can’t fix a blank page, and that’s where the discovery draft comes in.

Of course with Lily, there’s no pressure because I’m just writing what interests me, not trying to make a whole book. I do love these characters and that diner, but I have no idea what this is about, and I’ll never have to know because it’s just for Argh. So when I left the Seb-fights-with-Lily scene as boring as it was, I did that because there was nothing fun in it, it was just me exploring that relationship and giving Cheryl a cleaver. I love Cheryl with the cleaver. Seb, not so much.

What did interest me was the Fin-ordering-Lily-outside scene. I really liked that for several reasons.

One, it was so Fin. Two, it was real conflict. Three, it was a perfect example of a trope I loathe, the can-he-save-her plot. The SEAL-cop-biker-macho guy swooping in to save the little blonde (in this case, tall redhead). One of the many reasons I loved Buffy was that the little blonde kicked ass and saved the guy. (remember “Go Fish” and Wentworth Miller asking her to walk him home to protect him? God, that was great.). And in this case the SEAL-cop-biker-macho is a Viking, and Lily already has Viking issues. This was just crunchy.

So I wrote the scene outside where Fin and Lily argue, and it was a crummy first draft but still crunchy, there was good conflict and things changed, and I thought, “Wait, wait, this could be good,” because it’s a parallel to the Seb scene. So I went back and looked at them side-by-side and realized that I had a Crazy-For-You thing going here. That is, I deliberately did two parallel scenes in CFY to show that whether or something was abuse depended on whether the recipient wanted it or not. Quinn and Nick were playing at (very mild) S&M, Bill abused Quinn in the parking lot by terrorizing her, but the beats of the scenes were the same. And here were Seb and Fin, with different rationalizations for what they were doing but essentially doing the same thing: trying to take control over Lily’s life.

So that was very crunchy and also wonky. I saw a beat analysis in my future. I love beat analysis.

One of the many things I liked about the doppelgänger scenes here is that this time both Seb and Fin were wrong, so the difference wouldn’t be in Lily’s response–she’d tell them both to take a hike–it would be in their responses. Which meant I had to look at their responses, which meant I had to look at their motives, and under that, at the places they felt weak and went macho to cover up their doubts.

Lily’s caught up in maelstrom because she’s remembering past lives and they’re mixing with her present life, so she has an entirely new normal to deal with. She’s fighting for her life in the sense that she has to define a new reality and find her place in it, and she’s at least partly immobilized by the newness of everything, and that means that different people will come in and try to define her life for her in the vacuum–Ferris, Seb, Fin, Uncle Louis, lots of people. There’s just too much going on in her head and she needs to deal with the newness and take back control. Yes, Argh People, I wrote the coronavirus into my non-book.

Seb’s caught in a windstorm, too, because his way of life is being threatened, and he’s trying to lock down control, over his uncle who’s going off the rails, over Lily who may know too much, over himself as he panics. I need to get that in his scene.

And Fin is completely calm because he knows that no matter what happens, he will handle it. He’s been doing that for over thirty years, it’s how he defines himself. He’s a benevolent master of the universe. Except Lily’s just kicked him in the teeth because, although she’s completely wrong, of course, he knows for a fact that he definitely needs to save her, she sounds right and that’ll be giving him second thoughts, once he gets over his snit. And then he argues with Bjorn and loses more teeth, so now Fin is having an identity crisis.

IT’S SO FLUFFY! I mean crunchy.

I like all three of them dealing with the same trauma: there’s a new reality being forced on them, and they’re all going to react differently. Lily’s going to try to work it out in therapy, Seb’s going to try to drag everything back to the way it was when he was in control, and Fin’s going to scream a lot and then adapt.

Cheryl will keep the cleaver. Since her reality changes weekly, sometimes daily, none of this is traumatizing her. Cheryl was born going with the flow. And with a cleaver, metaphorically speaking. I love writing Cheryl. It’s like writing Clea and Xan, they’re so batshit I can go anywhere. (Note to self: Put cleaver in collage.)

I’m very pleased with all of this. Now all I have to do is write it.

So what do you think? Wants, needs, expectations? Also, Pangur is now a ginger Norwegian Forest cat.

9+

53 thoughts on “Lily 5 Notes

  1. That looks like a Pangur for sure!

    I love the beats and the parallels! Does that mean the Uncle is feeling more like the antagonist? He’s feeling like the modern antagonist who is maybe pulling Seb’s strings, intentionally or not. But he doesn’t seem to tie to past lives in terms of villainy.

    1. So we haven’t seen the outside Fin scene yet? This is sounding very interesting. Your process is very adventurous…

    2. No, I think the uncle is a wild card but not the antagonist.
      He used to date Cheryl. She doesn’t like him.

      1. Somewhere I got the impression that Cheryl was gay. Or just very very open-minded. Is that somewhere or is my subconscious writing things in?

    3. I think that the past lives gives Lily the tools to deal with the uncle/antagonist – I don’t think it has to mean that all her problems follow her through her lives. Otherwise, she’d be killed by the same Viking over and over again.

      But it’s not my story – and I’m really enjoying it!

  2. I love the glowering cat. But for the purposes of running along a clifftop while clasping a cat, I’m going to keep imagining a small calico cat. But then I suppose Pangur, like Lily, wasn’t red in every incarnation.
    I hope those lost teeth are metaphorical, because a hero with gappy teeth does not appeal.

    1. Metaphorical as in “kicked in the teeth,” not loss of enamel. Lily wouldn’t do that.

      I love the idea of Lily running along the cliff with a twenty-two pound cat.

      1. Twenty pounds would explain why she tripped. It’s hard to hold on to twenty struggling pounds and run at the same time.

    2. When I first looked at that picture (of the cat), I saw a smile under the glower. So there is a bit of impishness there – he can totally fend for himself, but he doesn’t mind people looking out for him.

  3. I love the new Pangur, despite having a tortie myself and missing the old Pangur. Aren’t brains weird?

    Maybe the weight of Pangur was the tipping point for going over the cliff?

  4. That is a perfect cat.

    I am also very fond of the parallel scenes. I appreciate that the same beats are/can be interpreted SO MANY different ways depending on the understanding the participants have, and the ideas they are holding about it.

  5. Snark: I’m sorry, but a cat in the Viking era would have been mean as hell, and a lean/skinny beast with huge attitude. She went over the cliff because he was kicking and scratching her as she tried to save him. The reverse of the macho guy saving the girl, she was the girl trying to save the guy, and he hated it.

    1. I don’t think so. This cat was domesticated by a monk in an abbey. It would still be a cat, of course, but well-fed and used to humans.

    2. Norwegian Forest Cats, frequently called “wegies” are know for their calm, friendly, affectionate nature. One theory is that the Normans brought angora cats back from Turkey in the 9th Century and the Norwegian Forest Cat descended from them. Although this may be unlikely because the earliest evidence indicates they were a longhair mutation maybe in the 14th century. I don’t know if any appear in early art, although maybe illumination art that scholars assumed were lions were suppose to be norwegian forest cats.

      1. I have a Norwegian Forest Cat cross – Oscar – he’s only six kilos, not the 8-12 that a purebred one is, but he looks exactly right. They aren’t lap sitters, but he insists on being near me – he’ll sit at my feet or next to me. His favourite trick is to flick at the nearest cupboard door while I’m on the phone so it constantly bangs. He also has no problem with water – water dripping on him doesn’t bother him at all, and he often washes his front paws in his water bowl after using the cat litter. My cats are indoor-only, as I live next to a National Park (Dandenong Ranges), and it’s either heavily encouraged or legislated in most parts of Australia. Probably a good thing, as Oscar has a strong hunting instinct.

        He also has enormous snowshoe feet, wicked claws, and a huge mouth (for a cat). His tail is like a feather duster; the fur, unlike the rest of him, is finely crimped so it sticks out (it’s really easy to accidentally stand on a bit of it), and he trots around with it held high. It’s a very long tail…

        The big visual characteristic that marks them as not Maine Coons is the guard hair – long thick silky fur that grows along their spine all the way down their tails. Oscar’s guard hair is black, while his coat is grey tabby and white. Oh, and I’ve been collecting the white fur from his tummy when I brush him so I can spin it – it’s easily as soft as angora rabbit.

  6. This is so interesting!

    Since Pangur was mirroring Seb (or Seb was mirroring Pangur) in the scene from Monday, does Pangur fit into this in some way?

    Also, with all that fur, hope the weather doesn’t get too hot in the summer…

    1. Hard telling. Discovery draft.

      I had a vague idea of Panger preying on the mouse and Seb preying on Lily, and Lily fighting back, but it was (a) too obvious and (b) didn’t work (I didn’t see the mouse standing up to Pangur) so it went in the rewrite.

        1. I think Seb and Fin see her as the mouse, one to stalk her and control her and one to save her. I don’t think Lily’s ever seen herself that way. She saw herself as a great employee that Seb was lucky to have and then a great girlfriend Seb was lucky to have, and he saw her as an underling he deserved. Fin sees her as somebody who needs protected and saved because that’s the way he connects to people without getting close and because it’s his identity: if he’s not saving people, who is he? Lily sees herself as somebody with a problem who’s getting professional help and who is not asking for anybody else to step in.

          I think the key with both Seb and Fin is that they both see her as extensions of themselves, they define her to fit their needs. She sees them as people standing next to her. All she can do is reject their definitions of her, tell them over and over again that she’s not a projection of their reality, not a supporting player in their stories.

          1. Rather than a rodent, I think they might see her as a cute, fluffy kitten. The reality is A serious degree of Pangur-ity. The way she dealt with her therapist did not strike me as “mousy.”

          2. Oh no. Does Fin have to see her as a mouse? I know we need conflict and character growth, and he has to learn to see her, but I want to like Fin! I guess as long as he’s not thinking of her as weak and helpless because she’s female, I can deal.
            This was not a productive comment, really, was it?

          3. I don’t think he sees her as a mouse any more than he sees Bjorn as a mouse. He’s just a fixer.

          4. That’s ok then. I was concerned re the comment above. Fixer because it’s your nature, I like, fixer because everyone else is seen as incapable is just irritating (said from my lofty 148cm (4’10”) tall, probably have a chip on my shoulder about this, vantage).

          5. This makes me think of that part in Nick Hornby’s “About A Boy” Where Will says a person’s life is like a TV show and he’s the star of The Will Show. And The Will Show wasn’t an ensemble drama. Guests came and went, but he was the regular. Seb and Fin have already memorized all the lines for their show and don’t like Lily ad-libbing and spinning off her own show.

  7. As a side note Jenny, I was reading a post on SBTB where everyone was recommending the romances they read when they need to laugh (something a lot of people need right now) and your books came up multiple times in the comments. I’m so glad we get to have fun playing around with Lilly, but just so you know the stuff you put out into the world years ago is also bringing people joy and helping them right now. (I may or may not have read Bet Me for the millionth time last week instead of my bookclub book. Shhhh)

    1. Oh, thank you. I’m to the point where I just assume nobody remembers me at all–ten years is a long time–so it’s always good to hear that. (I’m not talking about you guys. You’re not fans, you’re Argh people.)

      1. You are kidding about this right? I still recommend your books all the time and they are “comfort reads” to me.

      2. I have most of your books in paperback from ages ago, but I’ve just downloaded the audio book versions of Bet Me, Welcome to Temptation, and Faking It. Bet Me and Faking It are down, WtT is my current listen. You are absolutely not forgotten!!

        I just found this site about a week ago and I’m loving reading about your process, even if Lily won’t be published. 😀

      3. I pick up copies of your books at sales and such so that I have spares to give away. Mailed Welcome to Temptation to NYC last week, hoping to brighten someone’s day and gave my neighbor a copy of Agnes and the Hitman yesterday. He is running out of reading material and favors manly adventure/murder stories, so I am hoping that Shane will speak to him 🙂

        I don’t loan books anymore. It drives me insane waiting for them to come back.

      4. If I am an Argh Person it is because I am a fan. I long ago lost count of the number of times I’ve re-read each book (except Anyone But You. I re-read Sizzle instead.) Last week I re-read Welcome to Temptation, and would have followed on to Faking It had it not been for the blurb and sample of Maybe This Time, which I re-read instead. Well, right now I’m re-reading Faking It – Tilda just kicked the caterer’s head in. MTT was a wonderful diversion but I need my Dempsey fix.

        Are you the only author I re-read obsessively? Ha. Ha. I never met a Bujoldian book I didn’t love, nor a Wrede. Heinlein Juveniles. Poul Anderson. Collaborations between Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Susan E. Phillips and the Chicago Stars. I could go on. (and mention collaborations between Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett and Gorg Huff, like the sequel to Demons of Paris coming out next month. If I could remember it, I’d tell you the title will be Demons of Constantinople. Oh, wait…)

        I am Fan. Hear me name-drop.

      5. My Mom just requested a Cranky Agnes Apron for Mother’s Day (she did not know such a thing actually existed) because she is definitely relating to Agnes in the current environment. She requested that I loan her your entire “oeuvre” for defense against the news barrage.

  8. That’s the cat, looks like a warrior, So when Lily was running away from the Viking, he probably wanted to attack the Viking hence the struggle and both of them going off a cliff

  9. This is the cat we have been waiting for. I love the interaction between Lily and Pangur, and the way he is master of his domain and everybody in it. I love the striped glasses and “I will cut you”. I really love Pangur hissing at Seb, and Cheryl with the cleaver. Other random thoughts follow. Apologies for length.

    The Seb scene also seems like a good jumping off point for the seeing Lily as capable bit, because she’s mostly thinking the things she would like to say and do but not acting on them yet. Instead, Cheryl and Pangur step in to rescue her. If Fin is going to attempt to rescue her against her will later on, this scene will make a nice contrast in more ways than one. The men will echo each other, but they’ll both contrast with Cheryl, who only stepped in when Lily actually needed and then invited help by stepping aside to let Cheryl go crazypants on Seb. That’s gonna be good.

    Does Vanessa also work 4-12? Or has she been there all day? I’m assuming this means that the guys have eaten her recipes for lunch but cooked by somebody else. Love “You’re not losing your mind, the world is just weird”. In my head Vanessa’s theme song is Lizzo’s Good As Hell.

    The expanded scene with Lily and the guys is great. Bjorn appears so uncomplicatedly cheerful it would be easy to write him off as shallow, while Fin is obviously a man of depths. I like that he’ll drink coffee just so she’ll come closer. Although now that I’ve typed that out it sounds creepier than intended. Huh.

    The dynamic between the two brothers in their scene, Bjorn saying “I want that” and Fin saying “No”, really establishes their sibling relationship and foreshadows their upcoming conflict. Also Fin’s saviour and control complexes. Actually, Lily has a lot of thoughts about control in her scenes, too.

    Having talked about secretaries, I now expect Dorothy as the mastermind antagonist, but wouldn’t just from reading this. I want to see Cheryl vs Uncle Louis at some point. That would be hilarious. And I would like to see what Pangur thinks of Fin. He seems like a cat of sound instincts. Okay, stopping now.

      1. My cat Harley (pre-Aubrey) was a long-haired white cat with a lot of black including a raccoon mask. After I ate the chocolate off my Dove bar, he would sit on on arm of my armchair and lean over and try to lick the ice cream off the other side. I usually just gave in and let him have the rest. He would lean in toward the stick doing a slow lick, pause, lick with his eyes sqwinched half shut, quietly purring. He loved ice cream.

  10. I like the cat, but would probably like any cat; my chief occupation these days is watching two new feral kittens out on the patio. Beyond that, I have no opinions, but last night was wishing I had the next installment of this non-book to read. Even at this early draft stage, these are people with whom I want to spend time. This is true of all your books, which is why I am also a re-reader. You are not forgotten at all.

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