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A magnificent obssession…

August 15, 2010

Writing can be like slogging hip deep through mud with lead weights attached to your ankles or it can be like flying, an intoxicating high. Usually it’s somewhere in the middle.

In the past two weeks, I haven’t blogging or posting—or reading, or surfing the net, or playing computer games—because I’ve been soaring. I had been plodding along on a WIP, when I got an idea that was so strong, so vivid that it yanked me away from everything else I was doing and demanded I write it.

 

In thirteen days, I completed the first draft of a 26,000-word erotic romance novella, a domestic discipline story.

Besides the hundreds of news and magazine articles I’ve written in my career, I’ve completed four novels, three novellas and dozens of short stories. Only twice—this time and one other—has a story emerged so fully formed in my mind.

I flew through the story. It pretty much wrote itself (if you don’t count the hours I logged at the computer). Getting this story from of my head into my computer became an obsession. I couldn’t write it fast enough.

I wish writing were always like this. Or maybe not. My days and my nights were consumed by this story. Every moment I could squeeze out of the day, I was at the computer. I’d wake up at three a.m. with the characters talking to each other in my head.

“Ssh!” I’d hiss. “Go away. Let me sleep.”

But they wouldn’t.

In the middle of all of this, I had family visit—family I hadn’t seen for while that I really wanted to see. I’d creep out of bed at five a.m. (not that difficult since the characters woke me up at three a.m.) and sneak off to the computer to log few hours before everyone woke up.

I’ve been thinking about what made this story so much of a pleasure (an obsession) and these are my conclusions:

  1. I didn’t allow the idea to cool. Rather than adding it to my to-be-written list and continuing with my WIP, I jumped into writing while the idea was still hot.
  2. I knew the ending—at the beginning. This doesn’t always happen to me.
  3. The characters were so real, so vivid, they were like people I know. And they were quite talkative. In fact, they never shut up.
  4. The time I spent writing this story wasn’t the only time I spent on it. I thought about it constantly—while driving, while showering, at dinner, while exercising— at 3 a.m. I fell asleep with the story on my mind and I woke up with it.
  5. Perhaps because of the amount of time I spent thinking about it, each scene was fully formed in my head when I sat down to write. I knew exactly what was going to happen. I didn’t have to think through a scene at the computer.
  6. I loved writing every single scene. Usually there are some scenes I like more than others. Some scenes are scenes are bridges, scenes I have to write to get to the one that’s pivotal or the one I want to write it. I looked forward to writing every single scene; each one was a joy. Writing this novella was like sitting down to a dinner that was all dessert and no Brussell sprouts.

I had a bit of a woo-woo experience when I stumbled across a photograph on someone’s blog of a man and a woman embracing. They were my characters, EXACTLY as I pictured them in my mind. Freaky.

I finished the first draft this morning. I feel a sense of calm. I can begin the slower, non-manic process of rewriting. The characters, like my recent houseguests, have stopped talking and have left.

I have my life back.

But I miss those people.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2010 5:13 pm

    I wish writing were that easy ALL the time too. But I don’t have the luxury of dropping what I’m currently writing, so I have to plod along and try not to forget the memorable characters that show up so often. *sigh* Glad you got the story on the screen.

    • August 16, 2010 12:38 pm

      I know that it is a luxury that I was able to drop everything and work on it. It also helps that its a shorter piece, a novella, rather than a novel.

  2. August 16, 2010 5:41 am

    Oh, how I wish!!! Yeah, I have had those magnificent obsessions, those times of flying… congrats on getting that first draft done!

    Fabulous blog!

    • August 16, 2010 12:43 pm

      Thanks! Although I’m no longer obsessed, I’m looking forward to the first couple of “pass-through” rewrites. That when I can see it improving but I haven’t gotten sick of it yet!

  3. August 16, 2010 11:27 am

    HI Cara,

    I’ve had a couple of experiences like that too. It’s heaven when that happens. And those stories are usually the best ones. I think readers can tell when the story evolved so organically that it flows from one scene perfectly into the next.

    I love it when I see a scene like a movie playing out in my head. It’s so much easier when you know it’s purpose.

    Ash

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