Were you good at maintaining a post-break-up cooling off period? If you had a spat with a friend and she hung up on you, did you wait for her to calm down and call you back?
I failed at both of those things: over-anxious to go from kissers to companions, I’d want to call and hang out while battle-scarred heart tissue was still exposed; I’ve never handled tension well either, I want things resolved and reassured before the fight’s begun.
Mostly, when I love someone, I want him/her near me.
Granted TBALMCSAP is not a best friend, boyfriend, or even human – but the two weeks of self-imposed separation have been hard on me.
I’ve missed my WIP; missed the characters, had songs I wanted to share with Gyver (we’ve got similar taste in music), and comfort I wanted to offer to my conflicted MC. My finger’s twitched on the mouse, itching to click the ‘open’ icon; I’ve wandered into the spare bedroom and stared longingly at my storyboards, written in color-coded marker on whiteboard walls. In a show of impressive self-restraint, I’ve steered my mouse away and refrained from paging through print-outs.
It’s not permanent, I’ve told myself. It’s better in the long run. I need distance to gain perspective and clarity. I’m not ready. Strangely enough, these words would apply to post-break-up scenarios as well – is that why they’re familiar?
Two weeks – they’ve passed in a blur of insomnia, Jace-flavored Distraction Fairy’ness, caffeinated mornings, midnight workouts, and catching up on grading.
I’ve got big plans for tomorrow. Plans that include not changing out of my pajamas or eating anything that requires cooking. Plans that include turning the ringer off on my cell phone and selectively answering e-mail (so if you’re curious about if I really love you, tomorrow’s a good day to drop me an e-mail).
Before you write this off as a self-indulgent waste-away day, let me correct you; It’s a self-indulgent day of all-consuming revisions.
It’s rare that I can find a whole day without commitments, interruptions, or company – and this one’s timing is fortuitous. It’s been two weeks since I finished the first draft of TBALMCSAP, I’ve suffered through my forced separation from the MS, and now I’m ready and able to belly flop in – purple pen at ready.
My first revisions are brutal – they’re comprised of amputations, reconstructions, and -dectomys of all sorts. There’s a reason I don’t use red pen – I can feel my WIP’s non-anesthetized pain – I don’t need a bloody visual.
So while St. Matt’s at work, while the puggles are snuggled in sunbeams (*please, please, puggles – feel like sunbeam snuggling tomorrow*), I’ll be pajama’d and purple-pen-prepared to tear down and build up.
Let me at TBALMCSAP – I’m ready. I’ve missed you.
On Twitter today I noticed this acronym: IRL. At first I thought it was a typo for URL, and then using my best teacherly context clues, I decoded it: In Real Life.
But as writers, don’t we have a different definition of real life than others do?
It’s not always my house in Pennsylvania, my mischievous puggles, or my saintly husband that seem the most real to me. I’ll go for a writing-run and come home not knowing which Doylestown roads I paced down, but with images of fictitious East Lake blurring past my footsteps.
There are days I’ll shave the same leg twice and emerge from the shower with my head still sudsy but full of conversation between my protagonist and her love.
Yesterday I looked up from writing – and just a blog, not even TBALMCSAP – and turned to St.Matt and said, “Hey, if you want to go for a run, you should go before it gets dark and then we’ll do dinner.”
“Tiffany, it is dark. I already ran and I cooked dinner. I ate sitting right next to you, don’t you remember?”
I didn’t. But should I admit that?
Should I confess that sometimes the settings, people, and stories in my head seem more realistic than the ones playing around me in 3-dimensions? That chasing Distraction-Fairy-Jace to Idris taints my dreams and re-directs my thoughts until I find myself surprised not to find runes carved on my own skin? Or that my kiddos’ discussions about the characters in Angie Sage’s Magyk infiltrates their math class, recess talk, and casual conversation until we’re all wishing for a cat/duck or a messenger rat? That I broke my heart and sobbed early morning tears for my main character but rolled my eyes at the co-worker drama that unfolded a few hours later?
I’ve always struggled with this – the real versus the envisioned. My imaginary friends required places at the dinner table and had an alarming habit of ducking out of the way so my dad had to make at least three attempts before he could nail them with goodnight kisses. I caused a minor scandal at the grocery store when my five-year-old self started bawling and screaming at the shopper who’d hit Harvey with her cart.
The bewildered woman looked around, “But I didn’t feel anything. Where is he?”
“He’s around the corner crying and bleeding,” I bawled and the woman went wide-eyed and white faced.
My mother, frantic at the sound of my howls, then embarrassed as she tried to reassure the terrified, apologetic shopper she hadn’t run-over my younger brother, lashed out: “Tiffany Allison, Harvey is NOT REAL. He’s imaginary. You MADE HIM UP.”
If I’d been the recipient of the cart collision, it couldn’t have hurt more than those words.
But it didn’t stop me from making things up – from creating, imagining, and living dual lives: one corporal, one mental.
It’s possible I’m alone in this. Doubtful, but possible. Even if I were,, however, I wouldn’t feel lonely. How could I? There are stories to live and create, both IRL and IMH.
When I pictured the Distraction Fairy – which I frequently do while being distracted – I always pictured a her. And she had a pointy chin and ears, blonde hair, wings, wand, the whole sparkly shebang. Come to think of it, she looked remarkably similar to Tinkerbell, only she wore pink instead of green and obviously she has a tiara.
That’s not how I picture the fairy anymore. If you read yesterday’s blog you know that my Distraction Fairy is currently named Jace. And even though he is a blond, Jace would not don pink ruffled chiffon or a tiara for anyone. He’ll sulk, he’ll pout, he’ll be all-around angsty, but he’s not putting on a skirt.
At least he didn’t in Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones…
I don’t know about City of Ashes or Glass yet because I don’t have them YET! Despite having finished book one in The Mortal Instruments Trilogy before going to bed, I don’t yet have numbers two and three.
Frustrating, I know! I turned the last page, looked around and noticed that it was dark out. I looked at the clock: 2:30 AM. Was my first thought: ‘oh geez, it’s really late and I should get to bed’? Nope. It was: ‘aw man, it’s hours before the bookstores open and I can call around to see who has the second and third books in stock.’
It’s quite possible that at this point I became a Distraction Fairy and peppered poor Emily Hainsworth with endless questions, predictions, and what-if’s about the rest of The Mortal Instruments Trilogy.
I take this to be evidence for why I need a Kindle or Sony e-book reader. With a few simple buttons I could have been blissfully re-engaged in Distraction Fairy indulgence.
I presented this argument to St.Matt when I woke him up at 3:30 AM. He disagreed. He thinks this is evidence for why I shouldn’t get a Kindle or Sony e-book reader. Let’s quote him, shall we? “You don’t need anything that’s going to make you sleep even less than you do now.”
But doesn’t he realize the Distraction Fairy flew away as soon as I ran out of pages to read? And then what was left? An overwhelming, itching desire to dig into TBALMCSAP revisions and not emerge for days, which isn’t an option right now.
I can do this.
It’s only an hour ‘til I go pick up doses two and three of the Jace-version of the Distraction Fairy and only two days ‘til I can bleed purple ink on TBALMCSAP.
As for St. Matt’s suggestion that Distraction Fairy take the form of culinary masterpieces or a spring cleaning binge, doesn’t he know the fairy can’t hold a wand and cook/clean at the same time? (And I seriously can’t picture Jace in a French maid’s uniform… guess I’ll have to wait and read).
I have RMS. It’s a second-cousin of Restless Legs Syndrome. This one is Restless ME Syndrome and it has one cause: forced separation from my WIP.
Last Sunday I finished my first draft of TBALMCSAP. ~*Hooray*~!
But then comes the waiting… I like to think waiting two weeks between writing the last word on a draft and beginning revisions gives me a bit of detachment and objectivity.
Or, I like to think that when I’m NOT in the two week waiting period. Waiting stinks. Stinks like sixth graders post-recess in May.
I’m itching to crack open the file. I’m craving the feeling of my purple editing pen against still-warm-from-the-printer pages.
And I’m telling myself: no. wait. be patient. (Apparently I don’t know myself very well)
So what do I do in the meantime? There are still 7 more days ‘til I’ll let myself play with TBALMCSAP again; I need something to fill up the hours that normally would have been spent defining the W in WIP.
I signed up for BEDA. I stocked up on books. I made the haircut appointment I’ve been forgetting to schedule since October. I’m attacking piles of grading. I’m in negotiations with my ankle about running without pain. I’m heading to NYC tomorrow to see an A-squad of writers (which, let’s be honest, is only going to make me more anxious to tackle TBALMCSAP). I’m filling hours and counting them down.
But mostly, I’m driving St. Matt nuts because the only real cure for RMS is writing.
Suggestions/ Distraction Fairies welcome.
It wasn’t a lack of interest that was keeping me from Dust of 100 Dogs, but rather a lack of backbone.
I didn’t grow one over the weekend, but the visually stunning and slightly creepy cover sitting on my kitchen counter began to taunt me. Also, I got tired of feeling like the kid at school who doesn’t know the inside joke. Quite simply, I was sick of feeling left out: “What are you talking about guys? Huh? Huh? Tell me. I want to know.” And all the other readers looked at me disdainfully: “Oh, you wouldn’t get it because you haven’t read D100D.” I’ve already survived middle school once – I refuse to go back to that place again.
Although apparently I haven’t out-grown peer pressure…
I was going to start reading it this weekend, but the writing bug bit. Hard! I think it drew blood and left a bruise. Not that I’m complaining, I’m *thrilled!* that I was able to finish the first draft of my WIP (working title/synopsis: The-Book-About-Leukemia-MacGyver-Cheerleading-Superstitions-And-Playlists. TBALMCSAP for short). There was no time for reading. Yesterday I didn’t shower or get out of my pajamas until 5 pm. (Okay, I’ll say it with you: ewwwww!)
I was barely even a presence in the Twittersphere. And sleep? Forget it. The writing bug’s bite is made of caffeine (or maybe that was just the pots of coffee St. Matt made me each night before he and the puggles went up to bed). I don’t know the total number of hours I slept from Friday ‘til this morning – I don’t think I want to know, and I doubt I could do the math at this point anyway. Suffices to say, the number would be a single digit.
But this is GREAT! No, that’s not just the sleep deprivation talking. This is great because I know I’m going to sleep tonight. Like a baby made out of rock who’s overdosed on Nyquil. So all my fear of D100D keeping me up all night – no longer relevant!
I may still be an invertebrate, but my D100D problem is solved.
Can’t wait to join the cool kids club and discuss it when I’m done!