Book in a Week… and then some

I survived my Book in a Week marathon and did pretty well, if I may say so myself. Not surprisingly, though, I broke some rules AND I did not write the entire first draft. I’m not sure I expected to. Not really. Though I had hope.

I noticed something vital about myself and my writing during my marathon week. I need the details. I need character reactions. I cannot just write the story without all the layers, the angst, the passion, because those layers and passion are what drive my plot. The way a character responds to a given moment, leads me in the direction s/he needs to go.

That’s not to say my story gets away from me and winds up in the fickle hands of my fictional characters. No. It means, I have direction and will get there, but whether I take the highway or the scenic route is up to ‘them’ not me. Forcing the story out is like driving through a torrential downpour. Yeah. You’ll get there but only because you wanted it to be over. Not because you were enjoying the ride.

When I give my characters a chance to absorb what I’d thrown at them, they reward me with texture I could not create on a second pass. Well, maybe I could, I don’t know. What I do know is how the freshness of the moment, of the reaction, drives my story forward. And so, BIAW might not work for me as it works for others, but then, everyone’s process is unique and I find it rewarding to have found just a little bit of magic in mine.

Giving Thanks

Another Thanksgiving Day has come and once again it’s time to stand back and take a long look at our lives. We have so much to be grateful for, so much to take pleasure in, and yet many of us, myself included, fail to see it and instead look for more.

I suppose it’s a sense of comfort that overtakes us. A sense of familiarity. And when, perhaps, some of our luxuries are taken away – maybe the dryer doesn’t work, there’s a long line at the grocer and the self-checkout machines are out of order, or maybe we run out of flour when we feel like baking some brownies – we forget what life would be like if we never had those luxuries in the first place. Like so many people in the world.

This Thanksgiving, like all, I am grateful for all I have that makes my life complete – family, friends, health, shelter, food… and a wonderful country, faults and all. I am grateful I’ve been able to travel back and forth from home to Colorado – again this fall – to be there with my mom while she battled yet another illness. I’m grateful for the doctors and for my sister – also a doctor – who helped my mom recover from a month-long hospital stay. I’m grateful for the craft of writing, that takes me away from life’s upheaval and helps me turn it into something more manageable.

In writing, I create hell for my characters. I deal them one adversity after another, make them suffer and decide whether to give up or fight. And in the end, I give them something for which they are grateful – a happily ever after where they’ve learned to bend, adjust and overcome.

To all of you, I wish the same on this Thanksgiving Day – a happily ever after you appreciate and never, ever take for granted.