All the mess we’re in…

Writing is hard.

Yes, we’re on this again.

It’s two-something in the morning as I write this and I’m not even close to being tired enough to go to bed. Which is great because I have an appointment at 10:15 and I’ll be good and exhausted for that. I had a surge of bad anxiety hit right before bedtime and…here we sit.

The obnoxious thing about it, is it was mostly innocuous nonsense that spiked the anxiety in the first place. But once I went to bed and tried to sleep, I lasted about an hour before I couldn’t stand to stay put any longer. So I got up and made tea, and I’ve been staring at a computer screen doing nothing productive since.

Par for the course.

Anyhoo.

Writing.

…) I’ve been trapped in the manic phase of the writing cycle for quite some time. I jump from project to project, unable to focus on any one thing long enough to make an impact. I read things I’ve written and think, “This doesn’t suck. Why am I not working on this one?” And then I jump to another folder because attention spans are for schmucks.

…) Basil finally seemed to run out of Tyler ideas and then decided to just piss right off. Because he’s an asshole. I suppose I only have myself to blame for conjuring a muse that’s a damn gremlin.

What?

…) I’ve been mulling over a new idea for the past…week?…or so. Though I don’t think I can really call it a new idea, as it really just pulls pieces of existing plotlines to cobble together a slightly different path for essentially the same group of characters. (Perhaps Basil’s well hasn’t run completely dry just yet.) I’ve felt hesitant to actually work on it, because it’s really just another iteration of the thing I’ve been stabbing at for well over a year at this point. Is this one going to actually work? Only one way to find out I suppose, but it’s difficult to get past the paralysis currently blocking my path.

…) There are two stories I actually really want to be working on. One…we all know which one. The other…has issues. I know what the issues are. I just don’t know how to fix them. I’ve tried to shoehorn half a dozen different subplots into it, only to throw them out after realizing none of them fit. It already has Tyler in it, as this was actually the very first Tyler disaster to hit the page. Part of me is beginning to wonder (and by beginning I mean yes, definitely) if Tyler is actually the problem in all of this. But if I’m being honest he’s actually the most interesting character of them all. By comparison at least. Hannah and Joel, as they currently exist, are just really, mind numbingly boring.

…) So where does that leave me? Here, I suppose. Writing this nonsense instead of the stuff I really want to be working on.

This is my brain and welcome to it.

From the time he learned to talk, it was difficult to get a word in edgewise. He was a social creature, always in the middle of the fray. He never had difficulty making friends or charming every last adult to cross his path. Now rapidly approaching his fifteenth birthday, he was practically mute. He rarely looked her in the eye. It was nearly impossible to get him to smile.

Part of her wanted to attribute it to broody teenage independence, but her gut told her it was so much more than that. His anxiety seemed to spike a lot more frequently and he was often agitated with no discernable triggers. He didn’t strike her as being depressed. Experiences with her youngest brother had given her a pretty solid reference point for identifying the signs. There was plenty of melancholy, but he seemed more annoyed than anything. When she prodded him for answers, he claimed he was fine—if he said anything at all—and more often than not, just rolled his eyes when she expressed her concern.

They’d always had a close and candid relationship. He’d always been able to talk to her about anything, no matter how awkward or upsetting it might be. Now he didn’t want to talk to her about even the most innocuous subjects. Change was inevitable she knew, but the changes he’d gone through were so completely out of character, they’d left her reeling. She had a theory or two, but she wasn’t sure if she was reading too much into things, so desperate for answers, or if the truth really was staring her right in the face, just waiting for her to speak first.

She felt helpless and clueless, in a constant state of worry that she was missing something obvious or doing something wrong. After nearly fifteen years, she thought she’d have more figured out when it came to parenting, but clearly that wasn’t the case. It was absolutely paralyzing. She knew it was futile to keep beating herself up over her struggle to communicate with her son. It wasn’t doing either one of them any good. However, she’d never been very adept at taking her own advice.


Yes. Hello. I realize you should be writing, but I would like some snacks.

What?

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.

Swinging at smoke…

Writing is hard.

It’s a very cyclical thing for me. It moves along in stages. What those stages are, how long they last, and whether or not I recognize them as they’re happening all vary on a case by case basis.

Right now I’m in the JFC everything is crap stage.

It happens.

I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my writing folder—like I do—trying to discern what I should be working on. Truth is, I really don’t know.

Once upon a time I went through and summarized all of my “active” projects. It was a lot more difficult than it should have been. And I’ve been trying to do an updated version of it with the current active list for…a long time. It’s an exercise in brevity and it’s incredibly difficult for someone like me who has a tendency to ramble incessantly, especially when it comes to talking about writing.

I want to write a brief summary of the plot, a few notes on where my brain is at on the given project, and a snippet of text from the actual story. Problem is I could go on for hours about each one when “summarizing” the plot. (I might need to lookup the actual definition of the word summarize, because clearly it doesn’t mean what I think it means.) As for where my brain is at with each one, a lot of it generally comes out as fuck if I know. And when it comes to pulling out a few lines of text…I want to take paragraphs.

And then I have a twenty-thousand word post.

Give or take.

I’ve considered doing an individual post on each one in a series. Then I could ramble all I want. But it’s supposed to be about brevity. And while that’s clearly not one of my strong suits, that’s what I want it to be.

So as it goes with everything in writing, I keep hacking and slashing until it resembles something I’m more or less okay with.

Or I shove it back in the drafts folder and forget about it for awhile.

Fair warning…this whole thing is five-thousand-some-odd words. (The last one I did was 3000+…so…)

So much for that whole brevity thing, I guess.

Hey—it’s fairly brief commentary for each story. But once you pile them all together…

Continue reading “Swinging at smoke…”

The heart don’t listen…

…to words of wisdom
I could never get myself to understand…

I am in an extremely fortunate and privileged position in that I don’t have to work. (Not that my mental state is really in any condition to, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Bob has a good job that provides us with a comfortable income. We can pay our bills, save money, and budget for the things we want. He is okay with me not having a job. To certain degrees, he prefers it that way because he knows me. I struggle a lot (a-fucking-lot) with feeling like a leech and being completely useless, but again, a whole other discussion.

I have an opportunity to focus fully on the one thing I know I want to do with my life.

Write.

I don’t have any aspirations to publish anything—aside from here—but maybe someday if I ever finish something I don’t hate, that plan may change. I really don’t see that, but stranger things have happened. (I met a boy on the internet and married him, after all.)

ANYWAY.

Writing is hard.

This isn’t some brand new epiphany I’m having over here, but sometimes it slams home a little stronger than others.

For the last…lengthy frame of time…I don’t remember when I really started it…I’ve been making a more deliberate effort to write every day. And by that I mean, sitting down and actually focusing on writing while attempting to avoid other distractions. (see: the internet) It feels like I’m rarely very successful, but I think I have made marginal change.

In my efforts to write more I also decided to make an effort to focus on one project instead of juggling the eight…ish different ones I had been spreading myself over for too long. And I did that…to a certain extent. I did allow myself ventures into other folders when ideas struck or words stalled, but for the most part I was focusing on just one story.

I did get some decent writing done. But spending so much time on it made me realize how many things were wrong with it. And I had no idea how to fix it. I spent a lot of time beating my head against the wall trying to figure things out, and ended up getting incredibly frustrated and burnt out.

That last tweet is supposed to say then Bob but instead it says the Bob, but really he is THE Bob, so it still works, even with the typo.

I’ve been talking to Bob a lot about all my writing woes and the issues with the project I’ve been working on, trying to sort out what I need to do with all of it. The conversation that followed that series of whiny tweets knocked me on my ass.

Maybe I need to just be done with that project.
Be done with trying to fix it.
Put it to rest and let it stay there.

To say I was bordering on a panic attack would be an understatement.

To my recollection, I have never actively stopped working on a story. Yes, I have quit working on countless projects, but it has always happened gradually, fizzling over a long period of time as the inspiration sputtered out and other stories took over. I have never made the conscious decision to just stop.

Facing that decision literally brought me to tears.

It scared the absolute shit out of me.

Bob reminded me that is OKAY to fail. It doesn’t make it suck any less, but it’s okay.

Being the natural problem solver that he is, he made a number of suggestions to help me with my problem, and one of them made me panic even more than just stopping one story.

A writing cleanse.
No writing at all for a week.
Actively stop thinking about it.
Focus on something else entirely.

The very idea of stopping one story made me cry.

I couldn’t even breathe at the thought of not writing at all.

When the writing is in short supply, the mental health takes a tragic hit.

How could I survive not writing on purpose?

And then…without even realizing I was doing it…I took a break…

Sort of.

I didn’t make the conscious decision to take a break. I just…did. I opened Word. I opened files. I stared at them. But I didn’t write anything. I did read through some things. I spent a hell of a lot of time thinking about all of it. I even found another story in the archives to shoehorn ∞Tyler into. I didn’t write anything on it, but I spent plenty of time brainstorming it.

It wasn’t exactly a cleanse.
It wasn’t even a full week.
But it was far more than I was open to trying, even if it wasn’t entirely on purpose.

It was absolutely miserable.
It was a really shitty four days.
I cried a lot.
(Though that has also been heavily influenced by the horrific state of the world as of late.)

By Friday night I was in such a bad place. Bob and I spent several hours talking through it while I cried even more. (It wasn’t just writing at that point. There’s other shit tormenting me too.) We didn’t find much resolution, but unloading helped immensely. Snotty, weepy pillow talk can be incredibly cathartic all on its own.

Have I mentioned lately that my husband is fucking fantastic?

Because he is.

I don’t have a damn clue how, but I really did hit the jackpot with him.

Maybe if I had done a true cleanse things would have been less miserable, but I don’t know. Past experiences have me inclined to believe it would have been just as bad or even worse. I’ve gone long stretches without writing. Those were miserable times I don’t care to revisit on purpose.

At the time Bob and I were having the initial maybe it’s time to stop conversation, I had music playing—as I do. (Nine Days on repeat.) Somewhere during that, the song Star started playing—the life and struggle of a musician trying to make a career out of the trade. Not exactly something I can relate to, but a line stood out that so perfectly fit my mindset at that moment (and in general) and caught me completely off guard.

But if I give up I’m afraid I’ll disappear…

If I don’t have writing, what do I have? Putting all my eggs in one basket isn’t the smartest move, but I really like that fucking basket and it’s the only one I have. Writing is such a significant part of who I am. It has been my one true passion since I was twelve years old.

The ridiculous thing about all of this is it’s really JUST ONE STORY.

Nobody told me I can’t write anymore.
Nobody told me I have to give it all up.
It was just a suggestion to put ONE project to rest and stop torturing myself with it.

But this is how my brain works.
One little thing goes wrong and suddenly everything is in CRISIS MODE.
I KNOW it’s ridiculous.
I KNOW it’s anxiety being a royal dick.

I KNOW.

But there’s very little I can do to control it. It’s incredibly frustrating and absolutely exhausting.

So I cry.
I unload my woes on my saint of a husband.
I wrap up in blankets and cuddle my stuffed animals.
I listen to the same music on repeat.

I will survive.
This will pass.
Things will get better.

I’ll sit down in front of my computer and write.

I don’t know which story it will be, but I will love it and hate it and fight with it and obsess over it and things will be okay.

It’s a reminder I need far too often.

Things will be okay.


(Star … Nine Days)

Don’t wanna mess this up…

Sometimes I find myself falling into the abyss of reading old blog posts. I’ll go to look for something I wrote and suddenly it’s six pages of posts later. And in the process I usually completely forget what I was originally looking for in the first place.

Par for the course.

Most interesting to me are the posts about writing.

A lot of my writing about writing is pretty much just me talking my way through (thinking out loud, in a sense) whatever project is currently eating my brain. I reread posts so many times before I actually publish them, by the time I finally hit that button, it’s all just a blur of letters that may or may not spell actual words. The surprising thing is—things I’m pretty sure are just absolute shit are actually a lot more coherent than I originally thought. Not all of it. But far more than I expected.

What makes me wonder, is how much sense does any of it make to some random stranger who happens to read this stuff. (Though I can count on one hand the number of people who visit this place and I don’t need all my fingers.) (I am okay with this.)

It all makes sense to me…to a degree. Sometimes I read things and have no flipping clue WTAF I was talking about, but I’m sure it made sense—in some bass-ackwards sort of way—at the time. But since I know all the details of whatever story I’m rambling aimlessly about, I don’t always see what does and does not make sense from an outside perspective.

If it comes off as absolutely incoherent drivel, that’s fine. I write for myself here. If other people choose to read it—hey, I appreciate it, but I won’t be offended if you run screaming and never come back. If I had any aspirations to be social with people, I might seek out actual feedback from kids who are not wholly familiar with my demented little brain.

But we all know that ain’t gonna happen.

Guess it’ll just remain a mystery.

The past six months (Already??? WTF???) worth of writing can pretty much be summed up in two tweets.

(The fixating is a whole lot more than just writing, but right now we’re just talking about writing.)

I started a story dubbed Lightning. Why Lightning? Your guess is as good as mine. It was a mix of old ideas from various projects and some new[er] inspiration from a few different sources. It took some finagling of the character names, but I was mostly content with the way things were playing out in the early pages.

And then BASIL showed up and initiated an avalanche of Whatif??? and Tyler to the Infinite Power.

Because he’s an asshole.

Scout was intended to be just a pile of Scenes Without Stories, providing me with an outlet to purge some of the crazy rolling around in my head. It’s since been reworked into something entirely different, that may or may not actually make a complete story. The reworking probably belongs under its own code name but…ehh…logic.

Haven (versions 2 & 3) spawned after I started looking at an idea I’d recently stuffed in the Stalled folder. (Code name Haven, in case it wasn’t obvious.) It was short lived on both versions as something wasn’t quite meshing with the [new] characters. Which was fine because a certain creature shoved a wrench in my face in the form of a Train song.

Lightning v2.0 kept a few elements from Haven, but shifted in an entirely different direction with the core characters. Why I named it Lightning 2.0 is a mystery (though it’s slightly more fitting to this story than the first) but I haven’t come up with a different code name for either version so…it stays.

Next Gen is a little muddy how it was spawned. I can’t pinpoint anything specific, but there were pieces that I really liked so it grew rapidly into a full-fledged storyline. And aside from the characters, there’s not really much for overlap with other stories, which may or may not have everything to do with why progress has been very slow on this one.

Trust Fund v2.0 came up while digging around in the Stalled folder in a bout of writer’s block and frustration. I started mulling over the original story and a plot point that I had considered in the beginning, but ended up cutting out. I put that piece back in and it ended up changing the entire story considerably, giving it a level of substance it didn’t have before.

Pictures stemmed from a separate trip into the Stalled folder, pulling pieces from other ideas that warranted revisiting. Certain parts make it largely similar to Lightning v1.0 with a role reversal, but digging deeper into the story, it’s different enough to keep both.

Fleet is just an outlet to purge the crazy from my bad-addled brain. It’s not meant to be a complete story. It’s just a series of conversations between characters that don’t fit in anywhere else. Writing this kind of stuff is surprisingly effective in clearing the murky waters Basil stirs up when he’s on a rampage.

Every single one of these “stories” falls under the Stephen Tyler marker because every single one of them revolves around a group of characters that can be largely interchangeable from story to story. It’s repetitive and confusing and I’m okay with that. The circumstances vary from story to story (mostly) but the core characters all largely stem from the same inspiration point. This is how my brain works. I’ve stopped trying to figure it out. If I just go with it, things eventually fall into place in a way I can actually work with.

I’ve been beating my head against the wall over all of these ventures, knowing that if I’m going to have any success at all, I NEED to focus on just ONE AT A TIME. Balancing all of these attempts simultaneously is never going to work no matter how hard Basil tries to convince me otherwise. Some of them belong in ye olde Stalled folder, but they’re staying put just to keep all of the inanity of Stephen Tyler together.

The other night Bob and I spent a good chunk of time talking through all of this stuff. He challenged me to summarize each story and tell what I liked and didn’t like about each one. We do things like this every so often, especially when I’m spinning my wheels at the bottom of a hill. He’ll be the first to admit he really doesn’t know anything about writing, but hearing the details of a story as a potential reader, he asks a lot of questions and gives me some perspective I have a hard time seeing as the writer who knows all the useless and dirty details. I had to keep clarifying which version of Tyler I was talking about (because seriously) but when all was said and done, he gave his opinion on which story I should focus on, and when I step back and look at them all from a distance, I think he’s right.

Doesn’t mean I won’t still keep stabbing at all the others when the inspiration strikes, or the blocks interfere. But my primary focus needs to be on ONE.

So Lightning v1.0 it is.

Makes sense.

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.

Holding down this spot…

It’s three in the morning. I have an appointment at 10AM. Sleep is for the weak, apparently.

I’ve been trying to sort out the latest writing debacle happening in my head and I think I’ve only served to confuse myself further.

I am good at things.

It’s no secret that I repeat myself constantly when it comes to writing. (And everywhere else, but we’re not talking about that right now.) When a story loses steam or interest, it gets shoved into the archives and sits until I decide to start poking at it again—either to pick up where I left off, or to mine it for ideas.

A lot of my repetition, however, is unintentional. I’ll have pages and pages of text sitting in front of me and suddenly, something reminds me that I’ve written this before, or at least something very similar. Or a character will start out on a given path that veers off toward territory occupied by a character in a different story. I’m running into this with the projects currently eating away at my brain.

Fostered… Ryan and Hallie struggled for years trying to have a baby, hindered by Hallie’s health issues, and make the decision to pursue adoption. Several years into the foster-to-adopt journey they finally get a promising placement with Emery, a teenager who has been in the foster system for half his life after his mother died. It’s a rough road to heal all of the emotional damage, but they figure things out with a whole lot of trial and error, and a whole lot of patience and unconditional love. And, inexplicably, a stuffed mouse.

I’ve been working on this one for about a year and a half. It’s currently the longest story in the active pipeline. It’s just kicking my ass on the narrative front. Par for the course.

Lightning v2.0 *… Parker and Alison have been married for twelve years, together for twenty, and friends for nearly thirty. Currently they’ve been separated for five months after two years of a declining marriage following a painful struggle to have kids. Divorce isn’t on the table, but the effort to fix their problems has thus far been entirely one-sided as Alison tries to get Parker to acknowledge they need help. Everything gets knocked off its axis the day Parker’s sister shows up and asks him to keep her son Tyler for the weekend. It doesn’t take long to figure out that she has no intention of coming back anytime soon, if ever. The sudden arrival of their nephew forces Parker and Alison back together and to finally deal with their own issues while balancing an emotionally damaged, recently abandoned teenager and his unexpected health problems.

There is an unintentional connection between these two stories with Alison, like Hallie, struggling to get pregnant. The two main differences being Hallie knows why she can’t have kids, whereas Alison can’t find a doctor who can figure it out. And Ryan and Hallie’s marriage holds up to the trauma of infertility, while Parker and Alison fall apart because they don’t deal with it in any healthy way.

I also feel like I’m starting to turn Tyler into Emery 2.0 with his damaged emotional state and overwhelming fear of rejection.

Emery…age fifteen.
Father disappeared before he was born.
Raised by a single mother until age seven when she died unexpectedly from meningitis.
Spent half his life in unhealthy foster homes.
Highly emotional, sensitive, doesn’t trust anybody, and expects everyone assigned to take care of him to reject him.

Tyler…age fifteen.
Father died when he was a baby.
Raised by a single mother until age fifteen when she dropped him at his aunt & uncle’s house and disappeared without explanation.
Spent last five years in an unhealthy home with a presumably mentally ill mother.
Highly emotional, sensitive, and fears rejection from his extended family in the same way his mother rejected him.

 

The more similarities I find, the more I wonder if I should be making significant changes to this tale. There is a lot that I can trace back to some older ideas too, but those have been sitting in the stalled folder for quite awhile and probably won’t be making any moves anytime soon. Bouncing ideas off Bob, he suggested making Tyler less damaged (not too far of a stretch) and changing the reason Parker and Alison are having marital troubles (harder than it should be). Tyler’s general personality is drastically different from Emery, and I think it’s adequately conveyed in the story. And in terms of damage, Tyler has had other family to mitigate a lot of it, whereas Emery has been shipped from one foster home to the next with no constant support in his life.

Though unless I start letting other people read all these stories—in their wildly disjointed state—does it really matter how similar they are? As long as I’m writing, and not just staring at a blank page, I consider it a victory.


* v2.0?

There was already a story with the code name Lightning and then Basil intervened and I haven’t figured out a new name for it.

Alison and Parker were once best friends and had a falling out that ended their friendship. Meanwhile Alison gets pregnant unexpectedly by her fianc√© and he leaves her because he doesn’t want kids. Currently Alison is a single mother to fifteen-year-old Tyler and Parker comes back to town for familial obligations, bringing the pair face to face once again. Reconciliation should be on the agenda, but Alison is preoccupied with problems with her kid—inexplicable personality changes and a whole lot of aggravating silence—and doesn’t have the mental fortitude to rehash the fight that ended her friendship with Parker. Romance isn’t necessarily in the cards for Alison and Parker, but he does help her figure out what is going on with her kid, if only indirectly.

Initially Parker was named Stephen and I couldn’t figure out why things seemed so off until I realized I had Stephen and Tyler and awkwardness ensued. Stephen became Parker and I considered changing Alison to Olivia but then I would have Liv and Tyler and then I started to wonder if Tyler was the problem or if I should just relent and use only Aerosmith songs for the soundtrack. Instead Alison became Hannah and then Parker was changed to Justin, and Tyler is still the scheming teenager in between them trying to rope his mother into dating her once best friend.

Emerson Mouse just wants more live O.A.R.

Me too, critter.

I tear so easily…

Building a story soundtrack at two-something in the morning because sleep is for the weak.

Every time I sit down to write here, my brain turns to mush, and I seem to get Vyvanse levels of incoherency happening up in this place.

That’s probably a sign I should just step away from the internet, but…nah.

There are days I think, I am thirty-six years old and wonder, how the hell am I that old and how the hell does anyone expect ME to be a responsible adult?

Then there are days when I get really excited about the prospect of a new kitchen faucet or new appliances or furniture made out of real wood instead of MDF—which all just kind of proves that I am, in fact, old.

We’re not getting new appliances any time soon (I’m in denial about the loud clunking the washing machine makes on the spin cycle.) (I also probably just jinxed us.) but we did get a new kitchen faucet. I’ve wanted a new faucet since we moved in—a nice, high goose neck number—but it hasn’t been a priority because the one we had was fine and faucets are bloody expensive. The lever had been feeling rather loose lately, so Sunday afternoon Bob decided to take it apart and see if he could tighten something to hold us off for awhile. Instead he found a broken piece of plastic that couldn’t be cobbled back into place. So for a day, we had to operate the faucet with a needle-nose pliers.

Classy.

We went shopping with a list of parts and tools and spent far too long staring at an aisle of endless faucet options before narrowing it down to two, and then picked based on the available inventory. Then we brought the heavy sucker home and installed it. Or rather, Bob installed it. I stood around and handed him things while singing Train songs and eating Bridge Mix—because why else do we shop at Menards if not for the Bridge Mix???

It took a solid hour to get the old faucet removed. Those nuts were not budging. Then I scrubbed the excess of hard water deposits off the sink (vinegar and Dawn dish soap FTW) and then we (still just Bob) installed the new faucet. Aside from the stubborn nuts on the old faucet, it was relatively painless. We got the whole thing done in about two hours. We’re not the handiest of homeowners so we were prepared for a struggle, but it worked out and nothing is leaking…yet.

And now I have a nice, high goose neck number with a pull-down sprayer.

It’s shiny.

(And we REALLY need to paint those flat, white walls.)

On the writing front…

I’ve managed to derail myself multiple times with the story project I’ve been trying to work on. Every time I think I have things figured out, that little gremlin that’s always poking me in the brain keeps whispering But what if THIS happened???

Last week I was driving home from an appointment, listening to TRAIN—like I do—and suddenly at a stoplight, that effing gremlin was all WAIT A MINUTE!

Because of course he was.

And things completely changed direction and now I’ve got an entirely different story on my hands with the same group of characters. Focusing on one project at a time just…ain’t gonna happen for this girl.

From the beginning of this whole fun fest, there has been something bugging me about this story for unknown reasons. (Regardless of which plotline I’m trying to follow.) There was something off about it, but I couldn’t figure out what it was until I realized I had two characters named Stephen and Tyler.

Stephen and Tyler.

And suddenly things got really awkward.

I tried to push past it, but it was bothering me way more than it probably should have. I knew I had to make some changes. I kept Tyler—that name fits—but I changed Stephen because I wasn’t entirely sold on the name for that character to begin with. I ended up changing a lot of names and now things seem to flow better for the time being.

I WAS supposed to be working on Ben & Marina but SOMEBODY keeps being all, “WAIT! WAIT! HOLD ON! We got THIS idea we need to address! And I’m not about to let you sleep until you write it down, girlfriend.

NOBODY ASKED YOU, BASIL.

I’m drinkin’ tonight…

Not really.

It’s just a Train song. (I really need to ask Bob to help me with getting the custom “now playing” field back on my posts.)

Though if I actually drank I probably would be blasted right about now. But I don’t. So I’m not. Alas.

Instead I’m sitting here at ungodly o’clock with a mug of tea steaming up my glasses and I’m pretty sure it’s mocking me.

The anxiety pit has been out in force for the past week or so and I can’t pinpoint exactly what’s causing it. It hasn’t been this bad in quite some time so it’s throwing me all out of whack. But I gotta say, I haven’t missed it or its glorious side effect of physically gagging at the mere thought of putting food in my mouth. I’ve lost six pounds because of it. Which I wish I could be happy about, but I feel like absolute shit, and I’ll gain it back as soon as the pit finally clears and I can eat without wanting to hurl all over everything. Bob and I have spent a good chunk of time puzzling this out, trying to pinpoint some sort of trigger, but we’re coming up nil.

I guess that’s why they call it Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Severe anxiety for no discernible reason whatsoever, but you’re ready to start hucking rocks at people.

It both sucks and blows and not in the fun way.

Pat Monahan is helping. (Oh Red Rocks…I wanna go back.)

*ahem*

Anyway.

I’ve been writing things. Not a lot by any means, but a newer take on an old idea with a lot of new…ish parts factored in has currently caught my attention. And I’m not going to argue with several thousand words in less than a week when I’m lucky if I get a handful on any given day. I spent a good chunk of time this weekend talking at to Bob about this project because I was having a difficult time figuring out the conflict between the two main characters—because I really don’t know how to write conflict of any kind—and while he doesn’t know much about writing, he’s gone through a lot of conflict resolution training at work and was able to apply it to my dilemma. Having a husband to indulge my crazy is the greatest thing ever.

My writing tends to follow trends over time and as of late I’ve been putting in a lot more kids. As in, main characters have them. Usually snarky teenagers. It still screws with my head, because we all know how I feel about catching pregnancy, but it doesn’t stop me from writing it. I have a tendency to write about vomit too, and we all know how vomit gives my panic attacks panic attacks.

ANYWAY.

It’s been twenty-some-odd years (give or take) since I was a teenager and I really have no clue how to write them. (I barely knew how to write them when I was one.) Because I’m apparently a relentless glutton for punishment, I’ve found myself reading twitter feeds and tumblr blogs written by teenagers, and then I find myself reevaluating my life from the things I have learned.

1.) The memes. They are endless. And I do not understand the reference to most of them.

2.) Tumblr is beyond my realm of comprehension.

3.) I really would not survive being a teenager in this modern age. I barely survived the 90’s and the assholes I went to school with. If the people I went to school with had, had access to the technology kids have now…oh ye gods it would have been an even bigger nightmare than it was and I didn’t even think that was possible. God speed, Kids. I do not envy you in the least.

4.) Like, can you not?

5.) Reading things written by a fifteen-year-old makes me feel like a creepy old woman. Because I probably am.

No matter how much I want to hug the shit out of them for being so bloody adorable, if I need to research teenage behavior, I should probably stick to the ones I actually know. I’ve got three of them at my disposal. Even if it leads them to [justifiably] believe that Auntie Sara is out of her freaking gourd.

So stay…it’s okay…

1.) The beginning of this week was sixty degrees. It snowed on Thursday. (Barely a dusting that didn’t last but it still snowed.) Today didn’t even get above freezing. Oh hey, Minnesota. You finally figured out it’s November.

2.) On a recent stop at Chipotle, we saw Chris Colfer’s teenage doppelganger. I noticed him standing in line and had to do a double-take because his profile was so distinctly similar it was bizarre. I wanted to point him out to Bob, but couldn’t figure out a way to be subtle about it. When we got home, one of the first things he said to me was, “Did you see that kid in line that looked just like that kid from Glee?” It’s like he knows me. Not-Chris-Colfer sat awkwardly at a table with two teenage girls (who were not eating anything and just giggling and smiling) and it took all I had to not pat him on the head and pinch his cheeks and tell him how bloody adorable he was when we walked by on the way out.

What.

3.) Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find tennis shoes that aren’t freaking DAY-GLO colors? I just want some decent shoes. I don’t want people to see me from twelve miles off. I needed a new pair of tennis shoes because the ones I have pre-date Bob, and they don’t have a whole lot of cushion left in them. Cold weather is here and I’m gonna have to retire my Chucks for the season. I managed to find a pair that are navy blue and white and have not a single spot of neon anything. Yes, I realize the 80’s were thirty years ago and everything horrible eventually comes back in style, but seriously. Neon? Stop it.

4.) Bob is currently in a FFXIV dungeon with music that reminds me so much of Farscape and now I want to rewatch Farscape again, even though we just rewatched the entire series last year.

5.) Wednesday was November 18th. That marks eight years since my first date with Bob. One year for every hour we spent together sitting in that Caribou on a cold and snow-rainy Sunday afternoon. He is the absolute best.

6.) I made myself a yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting for my birthday. It came out a little dry. Despite following the recipe, I think it baked too long. But it’s covered in enough frosting to make up for it. Someday I will find a good white/vanilla/yellow cake recipe that turns out right for me. (That doesn’t call for a whole dozen egg whites FFS.)

7.) I am thirty-six years old. What. The hell. (Hunter is going to be 18 in January and he’ll be exactly half my age. Auntie Sara is old.)

8.) Sometimes I find myself sitting on writing ideas for a long time before they really manifest into something worth putting down on a page. Then I spend even longer poking and prodding them, trying to spread them out into a full-fledged story. More often than not, they end up in the scenes without stories pile because that singular idea doesn’t really fill out an entire plotline. If I’m lucky, I find other ideas to combine them with to make something worth while. The gears have been turning on some ideas that have been in the arsenal for quite awhile and I finally started putting words down on the page. I’m not entirely sure where it’s going to take me, but it almost forced me out of bed at some ungodly hour to work on it. I was unbelievably tired, so I did manage to get back to sleep instead, but sometimes giving in to the gremlin poking me in the brain pays off.

9.) It’s taken me about a year and a half to reach this milestone number, but progress is progress is progress. (See: Giving in to the gremlin.)

Also, this song is still like a punch in the gut.

Every.

Damn.

Time.


(Train … Bulletproof Picasso)