Tag Archives: Susan Bischoff

I, Antagonist, Part 2: The beatings will continue until morale improves

You know that story where there’s the hero who’s a decent guy, just trying to be decent. And there’s an antagonist who freaking HATES this guy. Because the hero did him wrong at some point. And it was totally an accident. Or it was when they were just kids, or something else we find excusable because this guy’s the hero and a decent guy.

But the antagonist, man, he can’t get over it. This dude is psycho. I mean, it’s obvious he should just get the fuck over it and not pick fights with this really decent, guy who helps old ladies and is finally about to win over that girl he’s been too shy to approach. Hey, we like this guy, he’s all right, don’t screw up his shit with your bullshit vendetta.

At the same time, we sometimes feel sorry for the antagonist, because this yahoo has legit screwed up his life because he can’t forgive and move on. He’s gone Dark Side. This hatred is who he is, hating the hero is his identity, and punishing the hero is his mission in life. He coulda been somebody. He coulda been a contender. But he’s let this obsessive hatred screw up his possibilities, burned bridges with it, and ignored opportunities to be something more. Instead, he’s  playing the part of the freaking psycho and it’s gonna end badly. (Unless this is horror, in which case he maybe wins…)

So I’m reading about procrastination, and over and over again I have to be confronted with this concept that many of us, band of brooders, have issues regarding self worth. We see our sense of self tied up in things outside ourselves, needing approval from others, needing accomplishments to make us feel worthy. And they say it not like that for everyone, but they don’t say where other people get it, this other way of being.

I have considered this issue before. But it’s like the motivation and organization stuff. I legit don’t get it. It’s not like I have it buried somewhere inside and just need to find it. To me that’s like saying the collective unconscious has buried the secrets of calculus within my mind, and I have only to pay attention in math class to awaken the knowledge. Oh hell no. I have no idea what you are talking about.

But okay, I accept that this is a serious problem that other people do not have. And if other people do not have it, it logically follows that I shouldn’t have to have it either. So back to Google to figure out how to get self worth.

Which leads me to effing Oprah who feeds me this blurb of an article in which the author basically has an epiphany that she should just forgive herself. So she starts doing that. And she lives happily ever after.

Which led me directly to this whole idea that I am not only my own antagonist, but I’m the absolute psycho antagonist who can’t forgive. Objectively, on the outside looking into the story, it is sometimes clear that the shero didn’t mean to be fuck-up. That she tried, that she has some decent qualities. And I’m like, damn, dude, give the kid a break. But then I go back into the antagonist character and have nothing but contempt. Meanwhile, settling into the shero character, I know I have my faults, I feel bad about the things I did wrong, guilty. But I’m bewildered by the antagonist. Why does she hate me so much? Why can’t she cut me some slack?

Is it supposed to be that easy? Are you supposed to be able to just flip the self worth switch and let the self esteem flow in and make you a happy, productive member of society?

That’d be a fine kettle of fish, wouldn’t it? Every single Talent I’ve got is dealing with some issue of not understanding how awesome they are. If we all got right in the head, what would we have to talk about?

 

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I, Antagonist, part 1: The Procrastination

Yesterday I said we were going to talk more about this procrastination issue.

Here’s how I got here. I can’t get anything done. I feel like I’m busy, but nothing gets done. I’m constantly stressed. I must be disorganized. I need to learn how to buckle down and get things down.

I’ve read Eat That Frog! Twice. Makes sense, I guess. But I can’t prioritize. I go to make a list and I can’t discern what the important things are. No matter what I decide to call the “important” things, I feel tremendous guilt over what was labeled “less important” thereby.

And yes, I know I think like a crackheaded idgit.

So I read Brian Tracy, David Allen, Julie Morgenstern, and somewhere in the quest to organize my shit to get it done, I realized–wait, I don’t think I’m really trying to get this done.

Because I’m not actually mentally impaired. If I had been trying to get stuff done, stuff would be a hell of a lot doner than it is. I’m flat not doing the stuff. I mean, I’m stressed out all the time like I was when I had jobs and was busy, I feel busy, I’m doing something, but I’m not really doing anything. If you follow. I’m doing a lot of purposely avoiding that which I mean to be doing.

So I go to Amazon and I put in “overcoming laziness.” And out pops “procrastination,” because Amazon loves me and doesn’t want to agree with me about the laziness to my face.

Now I don’t know why I keep wanting to reassure you that I’m not actually stupid, but it’s what I keep feeling like saying here. I’m not stupid. I know I procrastinate. I know it’s a problem. A big one. I lack discipline, I lack motivation, I lack organization.

I am the biggest lacker this side of Mississppi.

And I read and read about discipline, motivation, organization, and it’s like…I keep missing something. I don’t understand how to do what they’re telling me to do. I try, but I don’t get it. And, I repeat, not stupid. Pretty sure. Have test scores. But I feel stupid because I don’t get it. It’s like the books are written for people who somehow, somewhere, have discipline, motivation, and organization, and just need this book to bring it out. But I look and I don’t have it. Does. Not. Compute.

So on this particular day I grabbed the sample for Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It Now, and then I bought the book.

Ho-lee Shit. How fucked over am I by this procrastination crap?

Very.

You know, it’s like you think you’ve got a cold and you go to the doctor and find out you have some kind cancer that’s been there for freaking ever and it’s grown into all your parts. This avoidance crap is everywhere! I do it all the time!

Aaah! Make it stop! Well, the book just goes on and on and on. Lots of psychology. Very interesting. And lots of new stuff since I was in school.

And the reason the productivity books don’t work for me is apparently that if I’m disorganized, it’s at least partly on purpose. Because what I really am is afraid of failure, afraid of judgment, afraid of putting forth quality effort and having it not be enough, afraid of doing well and having that lead to more pressure and responsibility and losing my choices…and a whole host of other things that are much harder to ignore when someone spells them out at you for a couple hundred pages.

So I procrastinate to avoid all these things that I’m afraid of. And I’m afraid of a lot. It’s been my way of life. I hardly realize when I’m doing it. I stress about the things that are scary, so I don’t do them, and then I stress about how they’re not done. And I can’t think for all the stress-headedness.

In the writing, I’ve done a lot waiting for the inspiration. Waiting until I’m “in the right place” when I can really think. But honestly, that “right place” is usually just the state at which I can’t stand the pressure and guilt of not having done what I ought to be doing anymore and I have to do something so that my head doesn’t explode. And then I feel marginally better, having righteously accomplished something, and then start to stress about having moved forward toward judgment, and then have to avoid it again.

Anyway, it sucks. I’m working on the problem. If what I’ve said sounds familiar, check out the book’s sample, see if you want to read more.

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Filed under insecurities, writing

What’s that, Universe? You want me to journal?

Lately I’ve become attuned to signs. This might sound a little kooky to you–and maybe you think, hey, it’s Susan, who’s surprised? I get that. There was a time I would have thought so too.

But right now? Totally into the signage.

See, whether or not you care to believe that there’s a force out there that tries to work with you, try to deny that there’s a force within you that has thoughts, desires, and ideas that you don’t even know about. Look, if you’ll just admit that, I won’t ask you to tell the class about that hinky dream your subconscious sent you last week. “…undigested bit of beef”* my ass. That place that makes those thoughts (the ideas that become stories) can’t seem to find a way to contact you, so it’s is reaching out, making you notice things outside that pertain to inside. You dig?

So anyway, when this happens, when I manage to notice a bunch of random things linking up on the outside, I pay attention to corresponding thoughts on the inside.

Today’s outside linkup: journaling.

It all started with procrastination. Which is a WHOLE ‘nother festering cauldron that we shall surely visit another day. I’ve been reading about procrastination, and to fight the procrastination, we need to maintain a procrastination log for a few days to see not only how we procrastinate, but what we do instead and how we feel about it, and a whole bunch of other stuff that we do up in the playhouse of my brain.

Naturally, given that perfectionism is part of the procrastination CONDITION, I needed to find the right tool to log this shit. Is there an app for that? Off to the app store. Well, I’ll probably have to write something myself, which I’ll put in Evernote, because I have a sick and twisted devoted love and obsession regarding Evernote, as some of my peeps will tell you. Hey, maybe someone’s already made this thing and made it a public notebook. Off to Google. Which led me to a forum post on using Evernote for journalling, which was very interesting–esp. if you’re an obsessive Evernote fangeek.

And I was thinking about journalling, and, you know, I don’t journal anymore, but I loved it whenever I did, and this guy on the forum had, like, 40 years of journals he was moving to Evernote, and other people thought this was really nice. And I thought it was kind of nice, but I can’t move my junior high and high school journals to Evernote, because I burned them in a fits of shame over various imperfections.

Oh well.

Hey, it’s my birthday. One of my besties from those days, the one who’s still speaking to me, only we rarely speak at all because, you know, life stuff and etc.–she sent me an email this morning and we had a bit of back forth in which she told me that her dad just gave her a bunch of boxes for which he got tired of paying storage, and inside were her junior high momentos. And when she has time to go through them, she’s going to tell me what she finds. “You figure prominently,” she says.

A bit scary, that. But maybe it will be nice for her to go through and remember some of that stuff, and maybe it will be nice for me to hear about it, and to gain some perspective, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have those journals I burned and be able to look back at what I said and how I saw things. Maybe it would be cool to read those stories of wish fulfillment and Mary Sue mania. Maybe I’d see a spark of talent there or the beginnings of my love of snarky dialog.

But whatever.

So I’m reading the forum about the journaling, and I’m making a mental note to consider passing this along to A, who is looking for his voice, because I remember that this is how I found mine. And maybe not only how I got comfortable hearing myself talk and understanding what sound like as opposed to what a book should sound like, but blogging–which was really journaling, every day, all the time–was when I got comfortable dumping how I feel on the page. So, yes, journaling, important for writer growth. Make a note to mention it.

Wait. My friend’s dad just happens to dump boxes in which I “figure prominently,” and she just happens to write me about it when we never talk, getting me thinking about my burned journals and lack of mementos, on a day when I’m reading about procrastination and looking for the right logging tool, which leads me to information on using Evernote for journaling, which makes me remember how invaluable that experience was for me as a writer (and perhaps as a person?) which I should note for–

Myself.

Dear Susan,
We think you might find a return to journaling beneficial in your quest for personal growth and getting your far flung shit together. Why don’t you give it a try? (before we have to send mementos of you to someone else to get your attention again.)
Hugs,
The Universe
You might think this is the natural conclusion to this post. You wish. But no. There’s one more thing we needs to address.
I journaled in middle and high school. Every paper attempt since then has failed, partly because I’m not good keeping up with paper when I’m not in school, and partly because of my tendency to destroy my imperfections in that format.
Over a decade later, I kept a LiveJournal very actively for some time when I first moved here (to TN) and had my daughter and all that. (I don’t look at it.)
And now, at 41, I’m going to start again? I mean, what’s the point? That guy on the forum is 54 and has 40 years of ticket stubs and crap. I don’t have that stuff. I’m just going to start it up again and ignore that my life is half over and I’ve hardly recorded any of it and what’s the point now??
Dear Susan,
This would be the perfectionism issue. We have sent you numerous memos on this topic. We’re just going to go ahead and get you copies of those memos. Meanwhile, we’re going to have to ask that you come in on Saturday to work on the perfectionism issue.**
Kisses,
The Universe
:recalcitrant eye-roll: This is one of those journey is the destination things, isn’t it?
Yes. Yes it is.
*Ebeneezer Scrooge, A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens.
**in which the Universe is sinister and amused by its Office Space parody

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Batman vs. Iron Man, he who dies with the best toys…

Those of you who own blogs or websites, are you getting a lot of requests to post info-graphics? Now that’s a topic all by itself, as some of these people can be kinda pushy. I even had someone write me recently–whom I assume was either in the use my info-graphic business, or was in the let me post my freelance stuff that has nothing to do with you business– to ask if I was the person in charge of the website, but she DID NOT STATE HER BUSINESS or why she wanted to know. So I ignored her. You know, in hopes that she would go away. Nope, she followed up and wrote me again, asking me the same question, and, again, not giving me any idea to whom I would be responding or what I might be getting into if I clicked reply. Not cool.

And most of these requests are from people who don’t really get me, who I am, what my site is for, or what I might want to bug my readers with.

BUT, I got a very nice email today from a content director pimping an info-graphic that’s clever, amusing, and is relevant to stuff we really care about around here:

Whose toys cost more, and who’s getting more for their crime-fighting buck, Batman or Iron-Man?

And, if you clicky, you can go get a quote on homeowner’s insurance for your own modest superhero HQ, but I hereby disclaim any knowledge or affiliation thereto and you are on your own.

The Billion Dollar Hero

Created by HomeownersInsurance.com

(Sorry if this is cut off in your view. Check out the original here.)

Let me just say that Alfred is steal, especially compared to Jarvis who, while admittedly probably better at the math stuff, can’t possibly compete as a caretaker. Also, I fantasize that Alfred makes kickass scones. Mmmm…scones….

Speaking of Marvel vs. DC, remember the Hi, I’m a Marvel…and I’m a DC videos on Youtube? So much fun. Dammit, I’m going to have to spend the rest of the day watching them. You should too.

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Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

Sheepdog Pimpin’

Seriously, you click a title like that?

Once upon a time, I thought Jay Donovan (formerly known as @techsurgeons, now @jaytechdad) was just another fun Twitter peep. He has a very sharp wit and, hey, he likes my work. What more can you ask?

One day he wrote to me and very kindly suggested that I should take care regarding my virtual security. First he explained to me how he was a “white-hat hacker” and “a sheepdog” and “not a creepy stalker,” then told me how the information I had out and available could get me into trouble, and made suggestions for what to change to make me safer.

During my privileged time as a friend of TechFamily,  between charming and amusing tidbits about the TechWife and TechKids, Jay has walked me through the writing of DMCA takedown notices to sites pirating my work, pointed me to the right information for rooting my NOOK Color, and helped me with other such points of tech note.

To sum up, Jay is a Friend To Authors, awesome, amusing, brilliant, (currently the owner of a big, swelled head, no doubt,) and the guy from whom YOU should learn more about your internet security.

What is with this outpouring of TechLove? No, it’s not just a Valentines Day warm-up, it’s to let you know that Jay is giving a class on Internet Privacy and Security that I think you should check out.

You’ll shudder in fear, laugh, and learn in a serious but fun class that teaches how to be safely social on the Internet while keeping your personal information private.

I’ll introduce some simple techniques for safer web surfing, keeping your address & phone number offline, reducing the chances of your accounts being hacked, better ways to hide behind a pen name, and much much more.

Jay has been a geek since before geeks were cool.  He’s done it all, from remotely debugging the Internet connection for a US aircraft carrier deployed to *REDACTED*, to being responsible for the servers and networks for one of the largest Internet sites in the world, and the most challenging job of them all – parenthood.  He’s trained as a Certified Ethical Hacker (yes, really!) and always uses his geeky powers for good.  When he’s not neck deep in wires and computer parts, you’ll find him hanging out on Twitter as @jaytechdad.

Now, I know you’re going to rush right over there and sign up. At the bottom of the form, you’ll see a box where you tell who sent you. Feel free to drop my name. I think my column of our friendish deeds balance sheet is looking a little bare by comparison and surely I will need another favor in the future.

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The Universe wants YOU to find the book…

My dear friend, Claire Legrand, wrote an AMAZING post today. Partly, it’s the kind of post we all wish we could write every day, the kind of thing so that, on any given day, someone could stumble upon our blog and say, wow, this girl can write, where can I get a whole book? Claire took something that happened to her on the street and turned it into a lovely bit of entertainment, a story, a lesson, something moving. Go read it.

This is the most basic of writing alchemy. Take something that happened, tell a story, move someone.

And I was so moved. I was excited! I immediately began an email to Claire with the subject line: YES!

You know that moment, don’t you, when, out of the blue, someone up and says just what is in your head?

I’m currently TOTALLY into this idea (you can tell by the glazed eyes and generally demeanor of excited, passionate, demented insanity) that…

the stories are in you, and the Universe just keeps sending you signals to bring them out

I mean, the Universe (and you may give this whatever name fits your framework) put them there in the first place. Everything you’re going to write about is somehow inspired by your experience. And the reason you’re the only one who can write about it is because you’re the only one with the exact experiences that add up to the ability to tell that story.

The one the Universe gave you.

The one that’s already in there.

But you can’t just click your heels three times and suddenly know the right way to put all the random bits of information together with just the right words to make something awe-inspiring. Oh, ho, nooooo…

how can you inspire awe without experiencing awe?

And don’t you, experience awe, every time you come out of a passionate writing trance and look back and go–

At this point, I get a little me and start using descriptive language, so don't scroll any further....holy fuck, that just came out of my head? I fucking wrote that shit. [And then, later, sometimes, you go back and say, holy shit, I fucking wrote that shit. And that shit smells. But that is not the point of this emologue, so I shall now recommence my ode...]

The Universe wants you to write great books. That’s why the Universe planted all the seeds that looked like every day things in your every day life. That’s why the Universe put you in situations to feel different things and to develop the perception to understand, in the way that only you can understand–all of it.

 

If the Universe just gave you the great book, it would break the system.

 

So it keeps sending you signs (See, swing away!) and inspirations. It sends you music that directs your thoughts and all kinds of books, movies, and art to inspire you. To remind you of that incident that happened, that thing you saw, that emotion you experienced, that you’re supposed to weave into the story.

Isn’t that amazing? It keeps trying. Because the Universe so much wants YOU to share its stories.

If anyone could share the stories, everyone would be able to listen like we do.

But they don’t listen like we do.

The Universe wants them to understand the stories. So it gives them all kinds of experiences in their lives. Then, when they get your story, they relate, they understand, they feel, and sometimes they even change.

Maybe the books that I wrote weren’t exactly what the Universe wanted them to be, despite all the signs. The Universe is okay with that. The Universe will keep trying.

 

And so will I. 

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In which I am more puritanical than I think I am…

This is hardly enough of a thought to make a post, but it keeps coming up and I’m just going to put it out there.

I don’t think of myself as a prude. I don’t think people who know me do either. I like sexy books and sexy movies. I have this thing for “foul” language and the way it’s used for posturing, to show passion, for the ways it can be amusing. Etc. I’m not going to spend all day building up my freak cred here. Point: not a prude.

“Gird my loins”

I don’t know why this phrase bothers me. I would not use it. I don’t want to talk to anyone about my loins, and I’m certainly not going say, “I have something really difficult to do, so I’m going to go provide the region around my pelvis with extra protection.”

This is not something you need to know.

Also, as much as I try to be a modern woman (and, come on, if you’ve read Joss, and her relationship with Dylan, you’ve got to believe that I’m as feminist as the next person), I find that I’m not only puritanical but sexist, because I find it especially disturbing (if I had a word that meant a very low level of shockingly vulgar, that’s what I’d use here) when women say this. We women are definitely not supposed to be talking about…that area…and certainly not in mixed company!

Maybe I need to lay off the period drama…

So what about you? It’s just me, right? No one else is taking all this talk of loins as literally as I am, no one else is bothered by it, and, like many a Puritan, I’m just hyper focused on anatomy and have a dirty mind.

Okay, so if the rampant girding of loins doesn’t bother you, make a girl feel better and tell me what common cliche does bother you even though it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else.

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I will finish the book that I started…for Kid President.

People have been wondering what happened to me. I mean, plenty more just plain forgot about me or aren’t interested, and that’s cool, but a number of people have been kind enough to ask where the hell book #3 is (but nicer than that), and I’ve been really rude and not answered.

Because that’s what I do when I’m upset. I go away and ignore everything.

I have life stuff that was upsetting. and it’s stuff I don’t have the luxury of ignoring, so something had to give. Writing, housekeeping, friends, personal hygiene… Apparently that was all optional and I opted out for a while.

But I’m back and freshly scrubbed. I shoveled chest high piles of crap out of my office–true story. I’ve started to get back in touch with a few of my friends.

And I’ve started over on Heroes Under Siege. I think the fact that I’m comfortable with the idea of starting over shows that 1) I’ve been away long enough that I can really clean slate it and start fresh, and 2) what I had written could not have been that awesome if I can be easy about trashing it.

What that means for you and the answer to that burning question–When is the next Talent Chronicles book coming out?

Well, I still don’t know. (And this is a huge part of the avoidance of everything and everyone, I feel like a huge failure and I HATE having to say that I still don’t have a book and don’t know when I WILL have a book.) At this point, the fact that is still IS coming out is a thing. But I hope the break and the fresh start will eliminate the foot-dragging and avoidance problems that have plagued it and that it will be soonish rather than laterish.

I’ve been working on notes for the series and the current book, refreshing my memory, getting solid about where I’m going. Yesterday I worked through Joss’s character arc for this story. Today I’m working on Dylan’s.

And…that’s where I am.

This is my new motivation:

  • Kid President wants YOU to be awesome.
  • If you refuse to make awesome, Kid President will be sad.
  • What kind of an ogre would make Kid President sad?

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Halestorm Music to Plot By and Some Thoughts on Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

The Strange Case Of... album coverOkay, so I’ll admit it: Lzzy Hale is my latest girl crush. I really like the second Halestorm album, “The Strange Case Of…” And maybe especially if you’ve got characters that happen to be brash young women with a bit of potty mouth, you might want to check it out for yourself. There are several songs I find really inspiring.

The one I wanted to post about is “Beautiful With You.” To me, this is like a romance novel set to music.

Okay, so this is a thing with me: I know that the genre has traditionally been one of escapism, in which heart-breakingly beautiful women hook up with sinfully sexy men in dazzlingly exotic locales. Thinking back to my days as a writing teen, I can see this influence in all the extraordinarily lovely people globetrotting about. What do I really know about globetrotting? Or being an extraordinary beauty, for that matter.

Bupkis.

I KNOW that I’m not the only woman around who is touched by the “beauty in the eye of the beholder” trope which explores the phenomenon that affection changes perspective. How many of you have found yourselves especially touched by a Regency in which it’s the Plain Jane snags the wealthy duke? The duke who might have overlooked her if not for some extraordinary aspect of her character–imagine–and, by the end of the book, can’t remember a time when he didn’t see her as the most beautiful woman in the world.

The Enchanted CottageOne of my favorite movies is The Enchanted Cottage, a 1945 film starring Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire. Oliver comes home from the war (WWI) disfigured from a plane crash and tries to hide from his family, his fiancee, and the world in a seaside cottage where he meets Laura, a homely local girl with no prospects. They’re wonderfully lonely and damaged characters who hopelessly decide to marry for companionship only to find themselves more miserable for the sham of it. Until the magic of the cottage transforms them into beautiful people and they fall into love and happiness.

But, of course, it wasn’t the cottage at all.

I can hear that in this song. Or choose not to. Whatever suits. So here it comes. I couldn’t find an official video on YouTube, so here’s one with lyrics. Listen to it, pick up the MP3, then get inspired and go write my next favorite book, okay?

If you’d like to leave suggestions for similar books and movies or enthuse over Halestorm, please feel free.

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What I learned from a Sexy Old Book

Fire bad.

Tree pretty.

Writing hard.

I may have mentioned this before. I’ve been stuck on HEROES UNDER SIEGE again. And, to be honest, not so much on the book itself, but on writing, or me as a writer, or some such nonsense.

I have issues. We know this. I have a serious case of subsequent book syndrome and every time I take some steps in the right direction, I tend to run away and hide from the work again because I get really scared about finishing things. I’ve never been good about finishing things because I always relate being done with judgement time. If something’s never done, you can keep saying, sorry, not done yet, and then no one can really tell you how much it sucks.

It’s a perfectionism thing.

The other day I got Dragon Age 2 from Gamestop for $6. Kait about had a fit. I thought her head was going to explode. And I get it. I’ve been really absent, hiding, for the better part of a year. And when I’m hiding in a video game, I’m completely gone. So I put the game aside and tried to go back to work and still couldn’t settle.

This has been The Summer of the Sexy New Book. For the last few years, I’ve been so focused on the Talent Chronicles that I’ve been incapable of thinking of anything else. And then suddenly, this summer, my brain exploded and it’s been plot bunny central up in here. And every Andreweekend, poor Andrew shows up on GoogleTalk and I’ve got a new book or a new series to babble about.

And by this time, Kait and Andrew are about ready to tie me to a chair for some BICHOK action until SIEGE or something gets written, when I decide to take a side trip down memory lane and pull out the book I almost finished five years ago. I think it was the last thing I seriously worked on before I did that thing where I decided to quit writing altogether.

I didn’t expect to get very far. I expected to spend a few chapters cringing, and then to pat myself on the back for how much I’ve grown as a writer and be inspired to get back to work.

But I was kind of blown away by what I found.

WEST OF THE MOON (the working title I gave it because I came up with most of the plot while listening to a-ha’s East of the Sun, West of the Moon album), at 86k words, was nearly finished when I walked away from it. I remember the last plotting sessions, visualizing my way from where the characters were in act 4, all the way through the climax and how that was going to go down, all the way to the denouement and happily ever after scenes at the end of the book. I knew exactly where that story was going and I guess it scared the crap out of me.

Five years ago, I just didn’t understand the stuff about plotting and structure that I do now and I was really running just on the instinct developed from reading a few hundred books in the genre. I expected to find a formless mess that couldn’t be salvaged. I didn’t. I expected my voice to be so much different. And it was different, but not so much. It’s like this weird mix of the same-old same-old melodramatic romance writer tone I was trying to stop emulating with these moments where you can absolutely hear the same voice I have today. It was so cool!

And it had dirty bits! I used to write grown-up books. I think that, over the past two years of being steeped in YA, I’d forgotten that I used to write that subject matter. Oh yeah, I remember those parts and how they fit together. Ooh, did I really write that? And that? :blushes:

The point is that I kind of loved reading it. And I am soooo not objective about it. It needs objective eyes to help me rewrite and finish it because it has plenty of problems.

And if there are any Talent fans who actually read my blog, they’re all getting pissed off right now, thinking that I’m abandoning the Chronicles for Sexy Old Book.

I’m not.

Because, honestly, one of the first lessons this should be teaching me is not to abandon good things because they get hard or because I’m scared to finish them. Because realizing how close I came to abandoning Matt and Alex and never sharing them was kind of tragic. Not tragic for you. You’ve got plenty to read and you’ll be just fine. But sad for me because I get a hell of a lot out of sharing characters and stories with you. These guys were totally worth sharing, and I just threw them away.

But here’s my other epiphany of the day…

I used to have this thing about saving material. I did this with the Talent Chronicles, absolutely. I didn’t touch that idea for years because it was so important to me and I didn’t want to waste it until I was good enough to really do something with it. Do you ever do that? Do you ever hoard concepts, characters, witty lines, or moving scenes because you’re saving up all your best stuff until you’re really good at this and then you’re going to put it all together in one perfect storm of a book?

Reading through WEST OF THE MOON, it had moments. It had moments of self-deprecating snark that made me smile, lines that made me laugh out loud. It had moments of achy tenderness, and moments when the aches were of a different nature. It had “good stuff.”

There’s no way to excise that good stuff and move it somewhere else. I can’t transplant Matt and Alex to another story. I can’t pull out those witty lines and give them to someone else. Because they come out of these characters and this story.

But there’s good stuff in HUSH MONEY. There’s good stuff in CURFEW, and there’s already good stuff that I love in SIEGE. There will always be more good stuff. Like love, it’s not something that comes in a 2.5 oz package and has to be used sparingly or you’ll run out. It’s already there, and it just comes out when you’re open to it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m god of my fictional world. I make the shit happen, and I make the hard, conscious choices that make it a story instead of the amorphous emo-fest my subconscious would have you read. But, you know, maybe I need to have a little more faith in her [my subconscious]. Like Alex, maybe what’s held me back in this relationship is fear and refusal to trust that I can have this next book and have it be just as good, and hey, maybe even better than the last one.

A few weeks ago, Kait pointed out that I made this big lifestyle change with regard to food. I cleaned up my act a lot. I controlled portion sizes, I stopped emotional eating–I really made all these changes to the way I even think about food. And here I am, nearly forty pounds lighter for it, at a healthy weight I hadn’t seen for 20 years, and I’m not having a problem maintaining it. She said something like, if you can make those changes in the way you think in one area of your life, you can change your thinking about writing.

That’s…kind of empowering. And it’s been rolling around in my head since she said it, along with the notion yeah, as soon as I figure out WHAT to change, and HOW to do it, I’ll get right on that.

So here’s a thought: What if I stop being the baggage-laden, can’t get over herself heroine everyone wants to throttle and have a little faith? What if I start believing that the book, and all the good stuff I want for it, is already in there? In me. And all I have to do is sit, Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard, and be open to it.

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