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Do Not Disturb (Writer Writing)

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This is me. Except that, you know, it’s not. (freedigitalphotos.net)

I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month!

This is my first year doing the challenge. I’m excited and hopeful and motivated and kicking a$$, and I have a good team of supporters cheering me on.

Anyway, since right now so many words need to go toward my WIP, I’m leaving only these few here today. I will tell you all about my experience next month.

Wish me luck!

Are you participating? I’m jdwrites if you’d like to connect over at NaNo.

Voices in my head

I’m about two-thirds of the way through a rough first draft of my current manuscript, a story about the daughter of a country music icon trying to step out of her dead mother’s shadow. The End is in sight, and from this point on, the rest should feel like an easy downhill slide; a last, easy charge to the finish line.

The reality? Some days it does, other days it doesn’t.

On really good days, the story plays out in my head like a movie. My characters take the lead, telling me what they want to say, showing me where they want to go. They dictate what happens next, paying no attention to  my carefully plotted outline. I always let them, because those are the days when magic happens, when my characters surprise me by doing or saying something I didn’t see coming. Those are the days I can’t type fast enough. I love every word, too, even the ones I know need tweaking. 

On other days, my characters fall flat and silent. They stand around, wooden and lifeless, shrugging and sighing and rolling their eyes. I move them around like chess pieces, trying to prod them into action. They dig in their heels and glare. They tell me I’m too pushy. They tell me they need space. I put down the laptop and stalk away, angry and frustrated. I created them, and now they don’t they love me anymore?

museI have enough writer friends to know my characters aren’t the only ones to have split personalities — happy and helpful one day, surly and silent the next. Some writers attribute it to their muse, but to be perfectly honest, I think the concept of a writing muse is a load of baloney. Hard work is my muse. Determination is my muse. Stubbornness, too.

When my characters tell me they need space, it typically means need space. For me, physical exertion — a run around the neighborhood, a trip to the gym — does the trick, and I return to my keyboard with new energy and ideas. But my point is, my muse has nothing to do with it. If I sat around waiting for her to strike, if I didn’t push through the bad days to get to the good, I’d never finish writing this book. 

Yes, there are some magical moments when the story seems to write itself. Enough to keep me in love with the process, and with my story.

But most days, I slog through and write it myself. I’m a writer, and that’s what I do — write.

Other writers, what about you? Do you have a muse? How do you handle things when she stops talking to you?

Hello, Little Doggie

This guy looks lackadaisical like Phillip. (Say that three times fast.) freedigitalphotos.net

This guy looks lackadaisical like Phillip.
(Say that three times fast.)
freedigitalphotos.net

In my current novel-in-progress, which is women’s fiction, my main character has a dog named Phillip. He’s a grumpy beagle who, despite being “just” a furry sidekick, steals every scene he’s in. Whether it’s his sheer disdain for everything going on around him (truth is, his discord is all a ruse), or the way he lovingly gets under the MC’s skin, this guy has what it takes to be one of my favorite dogs.

And of course now I’m thinking about my other favorite dogs, so let me introduce you.

Let’s do the fictional pooch first: Enzo, from Garth Stein’s novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, my favorite (I said favorite!) book. (You can read the review I wrote here.) He is a loyal, intelligent dog who stole my heart in paragraph one.

Then there’s my friend Melanie‘s dog, Owen, who’s quite the handsome miniature schnauzer. You can find him on Facebook. He’s smart, well-spoken, adventurous. And he may or may not have a Spanish accent.
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chloeBest for last: My niece, Chloe! She’s an English bulldog with the best temperament and sweetest face you’ve ever seen. See? –>

Life is so much better with a dog. Even a fictional one.
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What about you, do you write pets into your stories? As a reader, do you feel fiction is more fun when there are “furbabies” to round out the family?
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Tell me about the dogs that are most memorable for you.
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