Been there for awhile…

I write a lot of blog posts in my head. Mostly while I’m in bed, staring at the wall, not sleeping, debating if I should just relent and get up, or force myself to stay put in the hopes I’ll get tired enough to fall asleep.

It’s fun times.

The downside to writing posts in my head…when I finally open up a blank draft, I pretty much lose everything I wanted to say. That’s not really surprising, but it is frustrating.

This is probably why there are currently nineteen posts sitting in drafts.

When it comes to writing, there are times I get into a solid groove, hammering out words for days. But all it takes is getting hung up on one little detail and the whole thing derails in spectacular fashion. Then I find myself grappling for a hold, desperately trying to get back into that comfortable groove of progress, and eventually I realize I’m sitting in the middle of an indecipherable mess of multiple projects that may or may not stand a chance at getting finished in a timely fashion, if at all.

This is a pretty good descriptor of everything in my life, but right now we’re talking about writing.

Every so often, I’ll start working on a new idea that seems to hold a whole lot of promise. I know where it should start. I know where it should end. I know a pretty good path to take to get there. I start putting words down, things are going well, and then…

Good ol’ Basil comes skulking along from whatever cave he hides out in and starts whispering, “But what if THIS happened???

NOBODY ASKED YOU, BASIL, SO SHUT IT.

But he’s persistent.

And convincing.

And I’m pretty sure he isn’t called a gremlin muse for nothing.

So I start writing these other what-if scenarios. Most of them end up being a little ridiculous, but they tend to be really fun to write. And purging the what-if crazy from my overloaded brain clears the path for the usable material that’s fighting to make its way back to the forefront. Sure I’ll end up with half a dozen different scenarios revolving around the same group of characters, that will sit in a folder and never actually go anywhere, but I’m still writing. Even if it’s utterly ridiculous.

I’ve been trying to articulate the issues I’m having with the latest writing project(s), but it’s just not coming out right. And to get to the root of the problem, I’ve been trying to trace my way back to where this convoluted mess all started.

Best I can figure is it might have started with a Train song. (Oh but don’t so many stories start with a song…) But more specifically, certain lyrics…

I’m not coming back for round two
I just want to love you like a friend would do
You weren’t wrong for the feelings you had
But the man that I was isn’t coming back
So stay
It’s okay…

It got the gears turning on an idea that dates back…a really long time ago…that has been revisited countless times in countless variations since.

What could I do with it this time?

Then I started looking at a pair of characters from a different project, that have been sitting around for an indeterminate amount of time, wondering if they could work in some variation of that old idea. Pieces started falling into place, and a story started to manifest, and progress was happening.

And then…

One goofy, little hangup started an avalanche that—somehow, months later—is still careening down the side of Basil’s mother-effing WHATIF mountain.

I had Stephen, Hannah, and Tyler. When I realized why things sounded so awkward with Stephen and Tyler, I kept Tyler and changed Stephen to Parker. Then for some reason, Hannah no longer sounded right, so she was changed to Alison. (Though I briefly considered Olivia, but then I would have Liv and Tyler.) Then Basil threw in a different Train song to intervene and an entirely different story was born.

Going back to the first idea, however, I decided Alison didn’t fit and changed her back to Hannah, and then changed Parker to Justin. Tyler stayed the same, and other plot points in the story started to evolve and change. And things are still evolving and changing because Justin became Joel but now may actually be back on his way to Stephen. Because WHY NOT.

In the meantime, the ever-scheming Basil threw another wrench into the works—though I can’t quite place where the idea originated (for once, not a song)—and a third plot cropped up, putting those three characters into yet another different situation. After a whole lot of character naming and renaming (and renaming…) I landed on Stephen, Olivia, and Tyler because fuckit, it makes me laugh, and I like to have inside jokes with myself.

There are also three other plots that have been briefly entertained, but really haven’t resulted in much more than a few scenes without stories, though they all have the common element of the character Tyler, because apparently I’m stuck in a naming rut. It almost feels like I’m producing some bizarre Tyler to the Infinite Power in a cloning experiment gone awry.

The name Tyler has long been on my go-to list of reusable character names. I have a sub-list of names I use specifically for kid characters and Tyler is one of the most commonly used. (Nieces and nephews, kids of friends, varied and sundry side characters, et al…) This time, when I pulled the name off the list to use for the teenage son of the main character (or nephew, or little brother, or pick a story, any story…) I had no intention of cramming him into half a dozen plotlines, but here we are.

The other two characters have seen countless name changes, but for this one, I’m stuck on Tyler. It fits. And I like it. There are many similarities between each of them, but there are also a lot of differences as well.

It’s like my constant use of the name Kate. Yeah it’s redundant, excessive, and a little confusing to keep them all straight, but it fits the given character better than any other name I’ve tried, so it sticks.

Infinite Tylers aside…I find myself spinning my wheels on each of the three main storylines, struggling to get my bearings after so many character and plot changes.

Lightning v2.0 Parker, Alison, and Tyler are pretty solid in terms of what’s happening and where things are going, but I’m running into ye olde narrative problem as I hash out all of the major plot points.

Next Gen Stephen, Olivia, and Tyler have kind of hit a wall as they keep getting shoved to the side to make way for Basil’s constant what-if-ing.

Lightning v1.0 Hannah, Tyler, and Justin (or Joel, or Stephen, or…) are sitting at a bit of a crossroads as I contemplate some plot changes that could steer things in a slightly different direction than originally planned. That and I can’t make up my damn mind on one freaking name.

It aren’t that hard.

Does any of this make a single shred of sense?

No.

No it does not.

But I’m starting to think that Tyler is in cahoots with Basil in some bizarre scheme to acquire Aerosmith’s entire discography.

Or I’m just severely sleep deprived.

Maybe.

Probably.

This is my brain, and welcome to it.

Perhaps I should just start from scratch on all of it.

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