One eye on the clock…

Sleep has been an elusive little bastard lately.

Though that detail seems a little irrelevant at this moment. I started writing this in the middle of the night, but now I’m editing it in the middle of the afternoon. Because I am efficient like that.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve started and deleted this post in the last twenty-four hours. (More like forty-eight at this point.) In part because I’ve been in a foul mood and everything just comes out as a bunch of bitching and whining. In part because I don’t have any real clear idea of what I even want to write about. I just feel like I need to write something here, so I keep hacking and slashing at this draft, hoping something worth saving* will manifest on the screen.

I average about one post a month around these parts.

I used to write more.

Sometimes I still do.

It’s certainly not for lack of trying. I open up blank drafts (or existing ones) all the time. But I generally stare at the blinking cursor for an indeterminate amount of time, before closing it out and return to tabbing between Twitter and Word.

I suppose if all else fails, I could easily ramble on for a few hundred (or thousand) words about whatever story project I’ve been beating myself about the head over. There’s no shortage of commentary in that department. But the true challenge with that idea, is writing something that actually makes sense. My thought process when working through ideas (and their multitude of details and problems) is so disjointed. When I write about it here, I put a hell of a lot of effort into making sure it makes sense, so when I come back to it somewhere down the line (because I always do) I have at least some idea of what the hell I was talking about.

My biggest issue tends to be that everything sounds so damn cryptic, even though it isn’t meant to be. Like I’m protecting my ideas from getting spoiled or stolen, so I have to be super careful about what I say. I have no intentions or delusions of publishing this stuff I’m writing, so keeping details under lock and key isn’t a high priority concern at this point. I just want to finish something for me. Bonus points if I don’t absolutely hate it.

But really, there are only so many posts I can spit out in a row of incessant babbling about stories before even I’m just JFC SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY.

I annoy myself.

I haven’t made much progress on any one story as of late. I’ve been jabbing at a lot of different ones, and maybe if I combined all that I’ve written into one place, it would add up to a lot, but on a single project? Not so much. I keep revisiting the same ideas, trying to figure out what the block is preventing progress. A lot of it is lack of a proper timeline. Narrative is always a bitch. And some are just vacant in the overall plot department. I’ve designed half a dozen floor plans in the past couple weeks, but the stories they’re intended for have barely moved.

And then there’s the ever-helpful** BASIL and his relentless WHATIF campaign.

What if you combined these two lackluster ideas to make one much more interesting story? Wait–wait, what if you added in this third plotline? Hold on, what if you took that one idea and wedged it into this story that’s super boring? You’d have to pretty much rewrite everything you have written, but it could work. Hey, this story doesn’t have Tyler in it. We need to shoehorn him in there somewhere. Let’s take this story from ten years ago and update it with a complete cast overhaul and major plot changes and Tyler. Wait—hear me out—what if…

STAAAHP.

Though I am considering one of those. Taking an idea that falls a little short on its own and combining it with one that’s far too boring—even for me—and potentially making something else entirely. It would require a hell of a lot of rewrites to make it work. It would change A LOT with the dynamic of the characters. (It already has Tyler, but it would add some pieces to his story that are currently lacking.)

I just don’t know if it’s actually a feasible idea, or if I’m just grasping at straws on a story that really isn’t salvageable. I’m not ready to let it roll over and die just yet. I’m convinced there is a way to fix it. I just don’t know if THIS is it. It would really change a lot with the dynamic of the characters, and I don’t know if I actually like what those changes would be.

Worst case scenario, I try making the changes and it’s a colossal failure. But then I would know, instead of constantly wondering about Basil’s latest whatif, and not getting any writing done because I’m too distracted by that one thing.

If I take my time figuring out what needs to be changed with the existing material, it could work. The story as is, is lacking conflict. This would add some. But I don’t know if it would feel like it’s a natural part of the story, or if it would feel like I just crammed it in there as an afterthought just to make conflict where there really is none. I could be just making everything far more convoluted than it needs to be.

Which…is really every story I’ve ever written.

Oof.

 

* I stared at that line for far too long, thinking it seemed weird, until I finally realized that it’s the title of Gavin DeGraw’s latest album. Despite my penchant for using song lyrics as post titles, that was completely unintentional.

** Not at all helpful. Seriously. Not at all.

One by one they drive me crazy…

Wherein Sara babbles, at great length, about the writing projects currently burning holes in her brain.

In other words, none of it will make any sense to anyone but me, and even I probably won’t understand any of it either.



There are times I sit and stare at the projects sitting in my writing folder and find myself wondering what the hell all these code names mean. So many of them have nothing to do with the actual project, I have to wonder what I was thinking when I named them. Then again I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder that about the newest projects too.

It’s kind of sad that even I don’t understand what the hell any of it means and I’m the one who CREATED IT.

@reference… Varied and sundry reference files I’ve felt compelled to save from research I’ve done over time. I could probably delete a lot of what’s in that folder because when I look through it, I have no idea what a lot of it was even for in the first place.

@stalled… Projects that have been put to bed indefinitely, but still hold the potential to turn into something if I ever find new inspiration to work on them. Folders get moved in and out of this one at random depending on how I feel about them at a given time.

baylor… Darren Baylor is the newest artist signed to the Chance Records label under Will Jenkins’ tutelage. He finds himself recording his major-label debut with the famed Jenkins siblings, Kate and Marc. Inane late night conversations and romance ensue along side of familial drama.

boy nextdoor… This thing probably belongs in the “seek therapy” folder, but it hasn’t been buried there just yet. Hallie is a 33 year old former high school teacher who tutors her 18 year old neighbor Chris. All is business as usual until he professes his love for her and she finds herself seriously considering the prospect of a May December romance, while fully acknowledging she’s likely going straight to hell for even thinking about it.

She wanted to restore a little more of his confidence, even though she knew she was just packing her things into the hand basket for her one-way ticket to hell.

brother’s keeper… Alex opens her door to her delinquent stepbrother Nick, knowing full well she’s going to regret it. It doesn’t take long for him to end up in the hospital after an accidental drug overdose, followed by a 90-day stint in rehab. In the meantime, she finds an unexpected supporter in Ryan, one of Nick’s friends. Shocking, because she’s pretty much guaranteed to hate any of Nick’s friends. Romance ensues. Because it always does.

“Take a shower and burn your clothes. You smell like bong water in a dirty ashtray.”

desmond… Marissa has been Emery’s assistant for five years. He was engaged when they met, to a woman who eventually broke his heart. The pair have been dancing around the fact that they’re in love with each other, both denying the truth, until one night Emery gets drunk, calls Marissa for a ride, and ends up drunkenly professing his love for her. They find themselves toeing the line of professionally acceptable (he’s her boss after all) and what they really want.

“Alright fine. Stick with your platonic business lunches. Just know you’re not fooling anybody. Except maybe yourself.”

dreamweaver… Alison and Parker have been roommates for three years, and friends for more than twenty. A blast from the past resurfaces unexpectedly and apologizes for being a complete dick in high school. The ex-husband regrets ever asking for a divorce. The best friend ends up in her bed in the midst of a depressive slump that has everyone worried and on edge.

executive decision… Juliette and her small-time web design business get hired for a personal project for Andrew Gaynor, local self-made multimillionaire. He’s a shameless flirt and she doesn’t deal in bullshit. Personalities clash until Juliette caves and agrees to a date with Andrew, wherein she finds out he’s not the pompous ass she thought he was. Romance ensues amidst medical emergencies and a whole lot more drama.

The air of arrogant confidence that had once radiated from him had crumbled, gone completely. In its place stood a timid, broken, kid.

freelancer… There are two separate projects sitting under the Freelancer moniker and probably half a dozen other side projects exploring what if scenarios. There is a lot of crackpot drivel sitting there that should never be allowed to see the light of day, but is often way too much fun to write. The legitimate projects follow the same character Kate and the two ways she gets a job with Flammable Tech Productions…one in which she ends up with Michael and the other where she ends up with Joel. Both scenarios were spawned by bizarre dreams that had me wondering if I should stop smoking crack before bed. It’s this hodgepodge of projects that made me realize Kate’s like the office bicycle—everybody’s had a ride. Kate’s kind of a h0r. (Not really. I just make her look that way every time I concoct a new scenario of what if THIS happened?)

grammer check… Andrew Mason was the second ever Chance Records artist I created. He was somewhat of a veteran in the music business when I initially wrote him into another story, but when I decided to give him his own story, I moved him to present day Chance Records and signed him as a new artist all over again. The famed Jenkins siblings (Kate and Marc) are on board to produce his debut album and after spending twelve weeks working together, Kate finds herself in a position she always swore would never ever happen—in love with a musician, a one Andrew Mason.

“You probably think I’m a raging, insufferable bitch right about now.”

He laughed, shrugging, “I wouldn’t say that. I think you have little patience for people who clearly don’t know how to do their job—justified. But you’re still nice enough to answer their stupid questions even though it drives you crazy.”

“Out of that you concluded that I’m nice?”

“Why are you up at six in the morning for a conference call with people you have no obligation to talk to?”

She opened her mouth to respond and promptly snapped it shut.

grey matter… I have the whole timeline planned out on this thing—where it should start, where it should end, all wrapped up in a nice five-day package. But I can’t get the characters right. There have been so many changes made, I’ve lost count how many different people have been through this casting call. It might be on the way to the stalled folder until I can get this shit figured out.

missing in action… Ryan Mills is a rockstar on the rise signed to the Chance Records label. He’s on a hiatus between touring and recording his next album and returns to his tiny hometown for the first time since he left fifteen years ago. He never thought he’d return after the way things fell apart with his dad, but if his sister has her way, there will be reconciliation before he leaves town again. In the meantime he runs into Hallie—the high school crush he’s held onto all these years—and finds himself rethinking everything he thought he had planned.

Now that he could see her clearly, Ryan realized he’d recognize her anywhere. He watched her curiously as she walked toward him, his heart hammering in his chest.

She looked up at him and smiled, “Can I help you find something?”

He shook his head slowly, trying to swallow past the sudden knot in his throat, “Hey, Hallie.”

So maybe there were two reasons he’d braved coming back.

reunion… Ben and Marina are spending two weeks in their tiny hometown for Lanie and Sam’s wedding. As best man and maid of honor, there’s not much getting around it—especially considering Lanie is Marina’s sister and Sam is Ben’s cousin. It should be a fun, albeit chaotic, trip home. Drama strikes when the long strained relationship between the two comes to a head, putting everyone on edge until tragedy strikes with Marina’s little brother Jake. The two week vacation gets extended while they rebound from Jake’s trip to the emergency room and Ben and Marina finally decide that they’ve had enough of the bullshit drama they’ve been shoving around for a lifetime. They focus on mending their friendship, while everyone focuses on healing after almost losing Jake. And when the trip finally comes to an end, Marina finally admits what she’s been denying was true for years.

Oh Ben and Marina…never have I loved two characters I created so very much. They’ve been stalled at 63,000 words for far too long and as I start from scratch on the timeline of events, the gears are turning on what it is I need to do to fix what’s wrong and make new progress. Much like Ben is the bane of Marina’s existence, this story is the bane of mine.

Ben let her go and bent to kiss her cheek. At the last second Marina turned her head, catching him on the lips. He froze, dark eyes wide. A slow smile spread across his lips and he shook his head, “That’s my move, Gator.”

“Then I’ve learned from the best,” she smirked.

round two… Jacey loved Austin from the time they were twelve years old. He was her first everything. When they got married they had high hopes and aspirations for a lifetime together, and everything was perfect…until one day it wasn’t. It’s been six years since they got divorced and they’re both miserable. Jacey has been looking for an apology from Austin, but despite asking her repeatedly what he’s supposed to be apologizing for, he still has no idea what it is. He wants her back and he’s determined to make things right, but she keeps pushing him away. Nobody believes her when she says she wants him gone for good. She doesn’t deny she still loves him, but refuses to admit she wants him back too. It’s not until Austin tells her he’s finally done chasing her that she admits she doesn’t want him to stop.

After six years she’d almost convinced herself she didn’t want him in her life anymore. If she didn’t have to see him, she could forgive herself easier for giving up when he decided he was finally ready to fight.

saints and sinners… Kailyn is the tour manager for rock band Subtle Definition, and questions several times a day what the hell she’s doing with her life. Dealing with groupies and girlfriends and endless drama, she has five horny twenty-somethings under her supervision, and the last thing she has time for is a relationship. A medical emergency with a member of the band brings everything to a screeching halt and has everybody reevaluating what’s really important.

seek therapy… Where the crack-laden pipe dreams congregate. The home to the ridiculous and inane fanfiction and varied and sundry projects labeled “never see the light of day.” It’s what I write when I need to purge the crazy from my brain. It makes me question my own sanity, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play with.

smoked… Lia is a writer who works from home. She finds herself fixated on the neighbor’s new roommate, the chain-smoking, unemployed younger brother. Despite his multitude of flaws and questionable life choices, Sam turns out to make an interesting friend. A whole host of family drama on both sides keeps them stressed as all hell, but that doesn’t stop the breeding of romance. Because it never does.

spoiled brat… The original idea for executive decision had Andrew Gaynor being a complete douche canoe. But as I developed the character, I realized, it just didn’t fit him. I had a lot written in that direction, so I shoved it aside for awhile, until the brain dredged up a different plan that could use that material. A chance encounter in a coffee shop lands Olivia a photography gig with Parker Investments—the biggest real estate empire in the Midwest. She also garners the attention of Christan Parker, the younger of the two Parker sons poised to one day inherit the empire. It’s unwanted attention for more reasons than she can count, but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing her. Christian doesn’t know the meaning of the word commitment or the word no, but he’s fixated on getting to know Olivia. Olivia has her own life to deal with and has little patience for the spoiled rich brat who won’t leave her the hell alone. In a surprise to no one—romance ensues.

“Are you purposely trying to avoid me?”

“As much as I’d like to say yes to that question, no I’m not purposely trying to avoid you. You just happened to show up at a very inconvenient time in my life.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

She frowned, surprised by the sincerity in his question. The smoldering gaze was softening into one of concern.

“Well I’d appreciate it if you’d dislodge your boner from my hip. But other than that—there’s not much you can do for me.”

He took a fraction of a step back, but didn’t remove his hand from her waist. She felt a drastic shift in his demeanor, from possessive lust to protective concern.

What is with this guy?

teacher’s pet… Hannah is an eleven-year veteran high school English teacher. Chris is fresh out of college starting his first year teaching at the same school. They make fast friends and the more they get to know each other, Hannah finds herself wondering what if and if only. Much to her great surprise (but not the kids playing along at home), Chris is on the same page.

teenage dream… Matt and Alison first met at six years old, started dating at fourteen, and found themselves with a baby just shy of seventeen. They split up at twenty but managed to maintain a close friendship (and then some) in all that time. Fifteen years later, their son Zach is almost ready to graduate high school, and they’re finally ready to try being together again. At the same time Zach’s relationship with Remy is ever-evolving as Remy deals with more bullshit from his family than any one person should in a lifetime.

“I’m seventeen, Mom. I know what sex is. And while I really don’t care to hear the details of my parents’ sex lives, I don’t delude myself into thinking you never have it—with each other. But if there is something actually going on between you two, and I don’t mean sex, I think I deserve to know. Being your son and all.”

Alison nodded, setting a glass of orange juice in front of him, “We’ve been doing a lot of talking lately—more so than usual, anyway. We were thinking…maybe we’d try dating again.”

“Each other I hope.”

No, we were planning on joining a singles’ group together,” she rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

“It might be a little…weird…after all this time,” Matt rubbed the back of his neck, eyes shifting between Zach and Alison, “not quite sure how people will respond to it…but…you’re the first to know.”

“I certainly hope I’m the first,” Zach snorted, “I’m the gay kid of teen parents who never got married…I think I can handle a little weird. And you know how people are going to respond? It’s about fucking time.”

the older man… Once upon a time I had a dream wherein Kiefer Sutherland propositioned me in an elementary school auditorium. The scenario played over and over in my head for far too long as I contemplated the prospect of somehow turning it into some sort of story. Eventually a usable idea manifested and Kailyn finds herself being propositioned outside of an elementary school by Alex. (Though he is not actually based on Mr. Sutherland.) Many curse words are launched, accompanied by the threat of twisting balls, and after an apology and some tense conversation, friendship develops. Adding in a health scare, a spiteful ex-wife, and an excess of varied and sundry drama, the end result is romance. Because of course it is.

I blame Kiefer Sutherland.

theatrical debut… Darren moves home to Colorado after six years living in New York and finds his long-time crush on the [older] girl next door is still going strong. Hannah is finally on the rebound after a divorce from a cheating bastard. When the adorable neighbor kid she used to babysit moves home virtually unannounced, she finds herself wondering when then hell Darren grew up on her. Friendship ensues, long held secrets are revealed, tragedy strikes, drunken confessions are made. And maybe eight years isn’t such a big age gap after all.

unconventional roommates… Jordan decides to open the door to the prospect of a roommate and ends up with a whole lot more than she bargained for in Melissa and Andrew, a mother and her adult son rebuilding their life after escaping a toxic situation on the other side of the country. Twenty-seven years of being heavily sheltered, controlled, manipulated, and abused, Andrew doesn’t trust anybody or know which end is up. Despite being absolutely terrified, he finds himself trusting Jordan as she offers support and teaches him about the world at large. The damage of his toxic upbringing is extensive, making adjusting to his new life nearly impossible, but Jordan is determined to help him heal in whatever ways she can.

This project started out as something VERY DIFFERENT, spawned from a dream that would have put it in a completely different section of a bookstore. But as I toyed with the idea, it morphed and evolved, and pretty much turned into a heavy reflection of my relationship with Bob and how we cope and deal with my mental illness. The circumstances surrounding Jordan and Andrew are so completely different than what Bob and I have experienced in life, but at the core there is a lot of personal experience poured into their interactions and emotions. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to writing about us.

Normal is highly overrated. Also—it’s a bullshit concept. It just gives people the liberty to be judgmental assholes because they wouldn’t do something the same way as somebody else. There are a lot of things about this situation that people would consider weird or wrong, but there is nothing actually wrong with any of it. The only thing wrong here is the fact that you had to go through the shit you did. Nobody deserves that. As far as weird? I don’t care, I fully embrace weird.”

actor list… A list of varied and sundry celebrity types that serves as inspiration when I’m building character lists for projects.

Chance Records… Notes on the multitude of Chance Records artists past and present. There are many that never had their own stories or were merely mentioned in somebody else’s tale. Many I remember the band name, but not the story to go with them. Chance Records is sixteen years old. There’s a lot of history in that fake record label.

name list… A simplified list compiled from hours of scanning through baby name books, whittling things down to acceptable choices to use for characters. I recycle the same names all the time, but occasionally I need something different. This is where I start.

In short…I’ve got too many fucking irons in the fire and it’s really no surprise I haven’t finished a damn thing in about ten years.