The Shoulds Got Me

I figured out why I didn’t write Lily this week. I was treating it like a book. That is, if this is a book, I should be dealing with the museum, I should be writing more Van, I should be exploring Dorothy, I should . . .

The Shoulds got me.

This is my fault (not yours, Katie or anybody else). I know how my discovery mind works, and it’s just to noodle until I have about 60,000 words. I have no idea how many words I have now, but it’s not 60,000 (20,000 maybe?). Sixty thou is about half a first draft–I always overwrite–and at that point, I know whether I have a book or not and need to buckle down.

The difference this time is that I’m letting you all play in my noodles (that metaphor needs work) and it’s been very beneficial, I’m learning a lot and you’re bringing good ideas to the mix, and the ones I can’t use, I ignore. But somehow I let that slop over into Should and, as we all know, that way disaster lies.

This does NOT mean you should stop discussing the drafts. I’ve gotten a lot out of your comments. It does mean I have to reorient my brain from Should to Noodle. (These are all highly technical terms from the most elite of writing circles; I’m quite sure Tennyson felt strongly about Shoulds and I know Byron noodled. With everybody.)

Still, I feel the need to entertain. All I have is the first act of Nita, now rewritten for the last fucking time, at least until somebody in New York gets their hands on it and says, “Needs more dog.” The problem is that most of you have read Nita’s first act four thousand times. And it’s 36,000 words. So I’m thinking no on that.

So it’s Choose Your Own Entertainment time. Tell me what would amuse you, and that’s what I’ll do on Friday. (And thank you very much for playing in the comments on Monday’s post. It reinforces my feeling that the posts are just here so you all have something to hang the conversation on.)

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39 thoughts on “The Shoulds Got Me

  1. Ah. I think I said something about the museum. Huh.

    Okay – fun. I love your collages. I love Pangur. I love food (and recipes). I love the scene with the coast. Will she discuss other deaths? Are they all on rocky coasts? Hmm.

    I’m pretty easy to entertain, and I love everyone in this story. I also like seeing your world building images. I love banter, and kissing. I love the brotherly rapport. And the family. I wonder what Lily’s home looks like. I find the man in the suit mysterious, and it is making my brain go “hmm…” I’m in the mood for a pancakes.

    This is completely fun and fascinating for me. Just have fun. No deadlines.

    1. Anything you said about the museum is FINE. I want the comments.
      It’s what I do with them that affect the writing. It’s on me, not you.

  2. How about a memory surfacing of a life on the interior of the Russian plains. Talk about an unlikely place for an encounter with a Viking – and yet? They traded slaves down the rivers into the Black Sea. I see Lily thinking “aha! Safe from damned Vikings here.” Then they show up and she’s just… gobsmacked. And mad. Lots of opportunity for smart mouthing, which I love!

  3. I’d like snarky food recipes. Whether from you, Vanessa or any of the other characters. If you stuck them all in a room to make a cookbook, what would they each contribute?

    (I had Thanksgiving in May for dinner, with some homemade turkey salisbury steak, stuffing, brussel sprouts, and cranberry sauce. Worked out so well that I’ll be doing it again, but mixing up the veggie sides.)

  4. I want to say “Surprise me!” Not very helpful, huh? Then I want to channel Happily Ever After and say, “I’m only here for the food.” Also not helpful.

    Museums. I’ve been to several. When the FBMC* was in middle school (or possibly high school) I chaperoned a trip to DC and the Smithsonian. I assume the museum in the story is somewhat smaller. There’s a Mariners Museum in Hampton Roads. Very nautical. Submarine museum in Groton, CT. The only thing they all had in common was a way to support by donation and a gift counter for supporting the Chinese gift manufacturers. Does that observation help at all?

    1. OOOO Mariners Museum in Hampton Roads, love this museum, we visit it every time we vacation in the area!! I was thinking about the museum thing, this one and others like Colonial Williamsburg uses a mix of entry fee plus gift shops plus “patrons” Other Museums are free except special events. I wonder if Seb’s museum is one or the other? If free except special event, the Viking exhibit could have been going to bring in lots of $$s because of all the publicity over a very special never before exhibited ? Axe? Allowing conflict with Lily as their expert who knows it’s a fake?

  5. For me Lily isn’t a new book, it’s a delightful trip down the rabbit hole, that I really need right now.

    Just jump in and let the girls in the basement throw paint at the walls, we’ll just enjoy the ride, wherever it leads.

  6. I’m just here for the dialog. And the romance. And the food. I don’t care about conflict or anything making sense, or whether Lily seems wimpy to you, I just want people having conversations. I want the fun stuff. Reality is pretty damn real right now and my brain is close to overload. We started this for it to be fun and light and an escape without any shoulds. I think it’s okay to write a bunch of random fun scenes and give us a couple of lines of info dump/context (This scene takes place after X but before Y so Lily doesn’t know that Fin did whatever) and then just go where ever the girls take you. It’s okay to run up and down the time line, change perspectives and POVs. Whack the internal editor over the head with an ax. This isn’t a book so it doesn’t matter. Fences, swing for ’em.

  7. Your blog is entertaining no matter what!

    Your dialogue is always fabulous and extremely entertaining, so whatever noodles your way is great!

    Do you see the other characters also in the flashbacks, do you suppose? Like there’s always a Cheryle and Van and Fin somewhere in Lily’s sphere?

    1. I can see Lily and Van in kindergarten. Fin and Bjorn growing up. Elsebet. But just flashes, not conversations.
      Cheryl I’m afraid to look at in the past. I’d never get out of her back story alive.

  8. Things I would love to hear about —

    Vanessa in her kitchen. I want to know what she sounds like and how she cooks (i.e. does she sing? do elaborate mises en place? Dance around the kitchen? or is she taking notes like a scientist?

    Nadia. Have her looks changed? Does she have more kickass T-shirts, and if so, I want to hear about them.

    Quirks of Pangur. Or really anything about Pangur. We had a mouser at one point, and he would just quietly catch a mouse, bring it inside to his lair (basically the hallway outside the bathroom) and eat all but the head, tail and paws, and leave them in a little pile for us.

    Updates on what Fin has been drawing, and is it still on the specials menus?

    Signs of spring in LilyWorld, maybe….

  9. I wanna see Louis in blue paint and inaccurate Viking garb.

    Or whatever the Girls say. Yadda yadda grocery list.

  10. I would love a scene of snarky dialog. Whether it’s from Lily or outtakes from somewhere else, or something completely new doesn’t matter; snarky dialog just always makes me happy, especially yours.

  11. About museums… a long time ago, my mother and I took a trip to York (I 🤔 think) anyway we went underground to a representative of life in the Middle Ages, anyway sometime long ago. Could you have a Viking life display somewhere?. Underground would be best, I 🤔
    I am really enjoying this slice of unreality at this time. Thank you

    1. Jorvik Viking museum, with smells. It’s still there.

      When I worked in a fabric shop I met the director. She came in regularly for the fabric to make Viking replica costumes for her staff.

  12. I also would just like to read some more snarky dialogue. It doesn’t have to take the story anywhere to be fun to read.

    Also more descriptions of Vanessa’s specials.

    And I want to see Seb get what’s coming to him. I don’t like him looming and insisting Lily just listen to him like he has a right to explain himself. Weasel.

  13. I want Pangur to talk. Well, not really talk, since no paranormal. But Lily to have a conversation with Pangur. Snarky dialogue between a cat and a human. Yum. 🙂

    But I will also echo everyone else – I will take what I can get with gratitude and a grin.

    Have a great week!

  14. I am very interested in the museum, but that is because I love museums, especially quirky ones. I have worked in a nature center and a museum so I’m interested in the details of what type of museum it is. What is it quirks?

    Talking about artists in museums reminded me of a museum in Scotland that had a folktale written and illustrated on the floor. It made a path through the museum that was cool on its own but it also tied into some of the exhibits. It was beautifully done.

  15. Has there been a breakfast scene yet? I feel like sometimes diner breakfast crowds are different from evening diner crowds. Or maybe Lilly and Fin making breakfast together? Or the brothers? Or Cheryl and the not-a-hitman?

    Oh yeah. I am intrigued by the not-a-hitman.

    So yeah. That’s my big idea. No need to leave the diner. Just explore other meal options.

  16. Posting first, I don’t want any one else’s suggestion to influence mine. Read later.

    I think I want a scene with Alice and Ethan from Haunting Alice. Maybe one where she displays her total competence at lepidopterology.

    1. Face. Palm.

      When you said choose your own entertainment, my brain did a headlong dive into Crusie WIPs. I expected someone to pick Monday Street, and someone to pick Stealing Nadine. Sigh.

  17. My York museums snippet is a lot older, before Jorvik. The then director of the Castle Museum (I think, but this is forty years ago, so could have got the name wrong) gave a talk on spinning, and boasted of being the finest spinster in the land. I think NASA had got him to spin some ultra-fine thread for them. He spun throughout his talk, starting with a pebble as a weight and showing how it evolved until machines took over.

    Nothing to do with Vikings, although of course Viking women would have been spinners in every spare moment, just like other nationalities at the time, and for thousands of years before and another after.

  18. Oh, one world building detail, cookbooks aren’t very viable anymore unless the cook has built up some name recognition, and right now, the way to do that is the internet. Running a blog, doing videos, appearing on other Foodtube channels, etc. What is Vanessa’s in, and has she drawn any of the other characters into those activities to help? (The most popular Foodtubers are the ones that emphasize personality, let people get attached to the relationships they see on screen. For example, the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen.)
    And even if we handwave doing all that before writing the cookbook, the publishers will certainly want Vanessa to start doing some of that stuff for promoting the thing.

  19. I knew it! I’m so sorry.

    I know you’re being nice about it…but I also know I didn’t help/made it worse for you. So let me have my apology, it helps me deal with my birthright (Catholic guilt).

    And on the plus side, my evil powers must be growing, it’s taken me years to get in my kid’s heads like that.

    Also, I for one wouldn’t mind reading bits of Nita again. Every time there’s a new version it keeps evolving, and she is in motion working on fixing things and kicking ass, which feels cathartic at the moment.

    But I’m also happy to just hang out.

  20. “I’m quite sure Tennyson felt strongly about Shoulds and I know Byron noodled. With everybody.”

    This is why I read you. It’s the unexpected little snippets that make me snort with laughter.

    I’d find more snarky conversation fun. Maybe Dorothy being snarky with Seb or Uncle Louis. I bet she’s got it in her.

    Or really, any woman being snarky with any man who thinks he should be in control. I’m sick of men like that.

  21. I’ve been thinking about Lily and the Museum.

    1. Maybe in all her lives she clung to security and safe choices and isn’t good at experimenting, taking chances – that’s why she was at the monastery. The museum might have subconsciously reminder her of the monastery (it could even have a cloister garden or collonade) and Sebastian looked/sounded/acted like the Sebelius in the first life so she ignored all the warning signs.

    2. Maybe her job at the museum was part-time (so many of them are) and not paid much or even just volunteer. She’s never found her passion because all her lives ended early so inside there is no drive to get anywhere because it would be futile.

    The bonk on the head is only important because it removes her from the museum and opens her eyes to Seb and opens up the past. (It could have been caused by Pangur somehow- either because he followed her into the museum and Seb was trying to catch him, or he was really the one who knocked it down – and for that matter it could have been insecurely placed on a wall, not the table, and cat’s like high places)

    3. The past lives could be affecting her behavior like fugues and she wakes up having done something anachronistic…like caching food, or weaving all the straws together or running and hiding when she sees ‘Vikings’. I’d love to have her do some crazy stuff and that’s why she needs the therapy – where the underlying problem is revealed that she is always running away from risk. Or something.

    4. I seriously think her passion should be collage. Maybe when in fugues she collects little pieces of things – torn napkins, string, buttons – perhaps something from the museum and that’s why she is let go. She starts laying them out as she gets each piece and it starts to make a picture – perhaps Pangur walks through it a time or two to rearrange.

    5. Pangur could go through the museum with a body-cam. I don’t know why or what he would record. Something like the Shedd aquarium penguin: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9zx-xDD9DL/

    6. I’d like Pangur to be the one who always reveals things: the axe falling, what’s happening in the museum, the collage re-organization.

    7. Random thought: in the Isle of Man, the Vikings raided, then invaded and then ‘colonized’ marrying into the Manx community. They lived side by side, then became the same people. Something there maybe.

    8. Lily is a Viking when she goes out and takes the risk to pursue her passion. Only Fin sees her that way. She needs to see herself that way.

    Whew! that’s a lot of ‘wants’!!

  22. I am so far behind and Lily that for me you could take a week off or three and I’d be OK. I keep waiting for a night (or a week of nights) when I don’t run out of time, as I have settled down, & can go back to Lily 1 and progress thru. As it is, when I’m finally able to dig in, it’s bedtime. 😞

    1. I’m thinking about putting everything so far into one doc so you could catch up with that. The comments are the still the best part, but it’s probably time to kind of arrange what I’ve got since it’s all over the place.

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