Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Locked in a Room for a Million Years

Let me preface this with a short explanation:

I have three sisters, but one has always been my mentor-of-all-that-is-bookish. I started writing first, but she started reading long before I did (she was the pretty little girl with long golden locks, blue eyes, and purple-rimmed glasses which she hated but was forced to wear in school where she got punched in the face because she was already reading high-school books at age eight and that annoyed other kids apparently), so it all evens out.

When my mom stopped reading to me, Amy was always there to help me learn to read faster, so 'reading by myself' wasn't just turning pages and picking out all the three letter words.

Then Amy and I started a friendly competition over who would read all the books in the house first, which turned into all of the books at the library. She was five years older than I and had that headstart, so of course she won. grumblegrumble.

When we grew up a little bit, we took the friendly competition to the next level when we started writing. Who could finish writing more books faster, etc... <- I always won, because Amylalala kept getting stuck in a room.

She was writing a Tolkienesque questing fantasy (just to spite me) and got to this chapter where the characters were in a bedroom, confronting a baggage eating frog in the closet. She began that scene twenty years ago, and has since moved on and written other things, but has never been able to get her characters out of that room. Doesn't stop her from trying - and rewriting the book up to that point over and over.

This morning, I thought about my sister's poor characters staring an enormous frog down for twenty years... and I cringed. Some days I feel like I'm falling into that exact same hole! <- As in, for the past three weeks (or so), I have not proceeded past a certain scene in BSW. Aack!

On the plus side: While rewriting the scene over and over, I've discovered interesting things about the characters and the plot. It is a different novel than it was before I got to this scene... I hope a stronger novel.

On the negative side: I'm afraid of turning into my sister and never finishing this book. Unlike Amy, who is a bit more stubborn and patient (yes, somehow those two attributes go together) than I am, and willing to stare at the same scene for ten years... I'm more likely to let this book slide through my fingers while I turn to something else. Or worse, I might RUIN it in a frantic attempt to get it back to rights and moving forward.

When we were children, we had a huge wooden spool thing in our yard (it came from a construction site, and was one of those things which got tossed). My parents recognized it was a better toy than any of those expensive dollhouses or playcenters from Toys R' US and wheeled it home and into our backyard. I accidentally dropped one of my dolls (Jenny! I remember you!) inside the spool and couldn't get her out. Her head was too big to pull back through the small hole.

Amy was happy with slowly working the doll and squeezing the head down bit by bit as she could get at it. I wasn't. Being a horrible five year old, I reached in, grabbed my doll by her feet and gave her a mighty yank. Her head tore open like a nightmare. :O

That should help explain my mindset right now....

In that, when I pick up my novel and type out the scene bit by bit and hope that I like it tomorrow so I can move on... I feel like I need to give the scene a lot more thought before I hammer it out and move on.

This is what I have:

NS drives W home, where she witnesses a friendly and familiar greeting between him and her sister. Turns out that his family and hers were close, but she doesn't remember anything of him or his mom from that time. Though T clearly does. T shrugs off W's questions and then announces she's preggers.

That above part is set in stone and I'm really happy with how it plays out. The part that follows the announcement is where I start to feel a little lost and confuzzled.

W retreats to her room to change out of her uniform and sort her mind out about T's announcement. She finds her old art journal and then hears a THUMP in her closet.

I feel like I'm on the right track, but I don't have everything lined up right, or I'm rushing it, or I'm not seeing the scene properly yet.

If we look at this scene like it is a computer game, the character has just found three important pieces or clues....

1. The charm from her Grandmother Kazegian
2. The art journal - the last gift from her father before he disappeared
3. The THING in her closet

There is also a fourth piece or clue -

4. The lump of coal that LRF, her best friend from BS, gave her for luck.

I know I have it all here and I have to use them. But I want to be careful so I don't ruin the novel - tear the doll's head, so to speak.

But that doesn't stop me from getting anxious and feeling like time's a wastin'.

My character is stuck in her room, staring at her bedroom closet door.

The only thing I'm missing is the baggage eating frog inside the closet. :O


  1. That is such a cute idea, a baggage eating frog! LOL. Sounds like you and sister had an interesting time growing up and both writing! I'm selfish so I'm glad that I was the only daughter and the only writer in the family :) I couldn't abide so much competition! Your story sounds fascinating and it's great that you kept that thing-in-the-closet element.

  2. *grins* Definitely, that is one thing... in a large family (especially with four girls), competition is a way of life. :)

    Thanks Julie<:


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