What is the "I suck" portion of the manuscript you ask? It's when the excited newness of the idea wears off and my characters have decided to clue me in that they never had any intention of going along with what I had planned for the plot.
These new characters are being exceptionally cruel in cluing me into this. Almost like they are reveling in watching me bang my head against the desk as I near page 200 of the manuscript and I hit the realization that nothing I had thought was going to happen will.
Now, I have three books that have been published with one more planned for publication in May 2014. It's safe to say that I've written a few novels. You'd think that I'd be used to this happening to me by now (because it always does), but yet I have this eternal hope that my plans will always work out though they never do.
You'd also think that after writing several novels, I'd be able to trust my characters to tell their story without my intervention, yet I still find myself grieving.
Yes, you heard me right--grieving.
See, at the beginning of a story I am super excited for what I think is going to happen and when I discover what I wanted to have happen won't, I grieve what I thought the story was going to be.
It's my writing process. As much as it frustrates me, I'm glad this is what I go through. By letting my characters tell their stories I have produced Pushing the Limits, Dare You To, and Crash Into You. All stories I am very proud of.
After I go through that period of time where I learn to let go of what was, I end up embracing what the story will be and more often than not, I end up hitting my stride.
As a for instance, I originally thought Beth and Isaiah were going to end up together and I actually had written part of their story. It didn't take me until page 200 to realize that they would be better apart than together. Instead, it took me only a couple of chapters.
I totally grieved the loss of Isaiah and Beth together as a couple, but I love how their individual stories turned out. If I hadn't had written those couple of chapters of them together, I would have never learned some very important character issues and traits that ended up being in their individual stories.
This is a chapter I had written before I realized I needed to write Beth and Isaiah's stories separately and it taught me a ton.
I used to be good. A young girl with flowing blond hair. Pigtails. Braids. Curls on occasion. Ribbons. I loved ribbons.
I used to smile. And laugh. I loved to laugh. I made people laugh. Good natured laughter. The type that makes you cry.
I had a friend. A best friend. I spent hours playing dolls at her house. A shy boy stole our first kiss in third grade and I wrote about it in my journal because I couldn’t tell my mom. She wouldn’t have cared, but that was okay. I didn’t have to talk to her or like her or be her. I could be anything but her…
I was someone likeable in elementary school before....
Before-Beth tortures me. Actually, she goes by Elisabeth. I hate her. More than anything. She sits beautiful and prim and proper as a child on the other side of the room while nurses and doctors race around my bed. She wears the dress I got from the clothes closet in second grade at a local church.
I loved that dress. Black velvet top. Short sleeved with white lace around the edges. A big white poofy skirt with lots of fluff and roses embroidered around it. Her beautiful golden hair is pulled up on the sides with ribbons.
I wore that dress every chance I could. To school. At home. Even to church. I went by myself because Mom never went. I liked church. Those were the days when church liked me.
Elisabeth shakes her head sadly and I see tears in her eyes and her pain makes my heart feel like it’s collapsing. She can’t be sad. Elisabeth was the only part of me that remembered happiness.
“We’re dying,” she says.
“I’m already dead.” I can barely mumble. The words slice my raw throat and fall apart in my dry mouth.
“You’re very much alive and we’re going to keep you that way,” says a woman with brown hair and blue scrubs as she pushes a strand of my black hair out of my face. She’s older than me. Maybe my mom’s age. A grown up and she has soft eyes. Kind eyes. “Welcome back.”
For the first time I hear beeping and realize they’re from machines. Several voices speak around me and I don’t understand the conversations. Fluids. CC’s.
“What’s your name?” asks the nurse.
“Elisabeth,” answers the small, cute blond in the corner chair.
“Beth,” I whisper.
“Which one?” The nurse wipes a cold wash cloth against my mouth. “Elisabeth or Beth?”
I don’t know.
What's your writing process? Are you like me and have to write quite a bit that you won't use to figure out what you will use? Do you plot then end up grieving when your story takes a different turn?