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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Lily 7 Notes

So one of the things that the Girls sent up that’s been bugging me is Vikings.

I mean, why the hell Vikings?

I remember starting with the title, Surprise Lily, and then thinking she’d pop up in different centuries like a surprise lily, mainly because I couldn’t think of any other way she’d just pop up out of nowhere. If I was going supernatural, she could time jump or walk through walls or something, but I wanted something simple and fun. This is not a book. Let’s not make playtime difficult, Crusie. Continue reading

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Lily 7 1/2

Normally by now I’d have figured out what the hell was going on at the museum, but since this isn’t going to be a book, I can just keep noodling around. Why can’t you just noodle around for a book? Because one of the many reasons people read fiction is to get a tidier version of reality. A book that just meanders, listening to people talk, gets annoying very quickly. This stuff is starting to annoy, especially since every scene with Seb in it has the same damn dialogue–Structure Rule #47 You Cannot Arc What You Do Not Know–but I’m getting the impression that you’re reading these more as short stories than pieces of a novel, so that’s good.

Still, I am feeling the need to put some grit in the oyster, so to speak, so when a new character showed up out of nowhere, I noodled. Continue reading

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Lily 6 Notes

So remember that brilliant idea (really more of a realization) I had going to McD’s for a Big Mac? It’s this:

Lily has a Five Man Band: Lily, Fin, Bjorn, Van, and Cheryl.


(For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Five Man Band concept, it’s on TV Tropes, but

WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING
That site is a trap, you will be drawn into its infinite links and it will take you hours to escape. I mean, you’ll have a really good time, but the damn thing will suck out your brains and steal a huge chunk of your life. You have been warned. Continue reading

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Working Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I got so hungry for normal yesterday that I went out for a Big Mac. I’m not a huge fan of Big Macs, but I just wanted to go through a drive-through and get a burger and fries like a normal small-town person who was too lazy to cook. Which meant I had to get in the car and drive into town, and it was a gorgeous day, really stunning with the sun and all the new green and balmy breezes, just Edenic. And because I was driving and happy and about to go face down in fat and protein, I relaxed and my mind wandered back to Lily and scenes started going through my head, bits and pieces, so much fun and then something occurred to me and I almost drove off the road. (I’ll talk about it on Friday in the Lily 6 notes.). I was so enthused I put a chocolate shake on the McD’s order, which knocked me off my socks–not supposed to have that much sugar–and I fell into a really deep sleep and had this incredibly detailed dream that gave me the end of Lily. None of the details or the hard work, you understand, I just know what happens at the end. It even fits in the whole “taking care” theme. I’m pretty sure the Girls ordered that milkshake. Also, I may be a genius.

So this week I worked by going to McDonald’s. What did you do?

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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. Continue reading

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Lily 5

I had a moment of panic–one of many this week on a variety of topics–when I looked at this non-book and thought, “There’s no there there!” Some of you may remember I had a similar moment with Nita. Several in fact. One of the hardest parts of doing a discovery draft is that you’re dancing on air. Remember Wile E. Coyote running off the cliff, doing just fine until he looked down, and then he fell like a rock and usually got run over by a truck when he hit the ground? That’s why you never look down during a discovery draft. If the fall doesn’t kill you, the truck will.

However, five weeks into this I do have to do some cautious looking down. Continue reading

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