Another plan bites the dust

I had it all planned out. Today was my day off, and I was going to sit and write. I’m almost at the end of my book, and I had hoped to be done today, or at least almost done. Instead I washed dishes and started to deep clean the kitchen. It’s amazing how dirty a kitchen can get!

It wasn’t a matter of procrastination, at least this time. The cleaning needed to be done. I got done. I feel so much better now that I got it out-of-the-way. Then I started on the windows, putting in the framing around the windows we installed but never finished. Got too much going on. I hope to finish that project after work tomorrow and start staining the frame and putting several coats of urethane.

As for my book, rewriting a story line wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. On the one hand, it’s difficult because it entails reimagining the plot to get me to where I want to go, but on the other, I already have an idea of how I would like to write the closing scene. I just need to sit down and write it. I believe that the changes will make for a stronger story.

I’ll write a better update later. I just wanted to check in before bed. I’ve been neglecting my blog lately. I need to do better.

Obsessed

Obsession. That’s what’s fueling my character Eli, his obsession with Jasmine. He’s a man so in love with her, that he’s ignoring everything around him, risking his own relationships and his job security for a woman who wants nothing to do with him. He’s following her, stalking her, fooling himself into believing he only wants to keep her safe while becoming a danger in his own right.

I know how it feels to become obsessed with something. I often fixate on things to the exclusion of everything else. Usually it’s a certain subject or maybe it’s a book. I became obsessed with The Lord of the Rings and I read almost anything related to Middle Earth. I did the same with Harry Potter, and I became fixated with Catholicism that I read everything Wikipedia had to say about the Popes, from St. Peter to Benedict XVI.

I also know what it feels like to free fall into an obsession with a person. Though I never went so far as to stalk her, I would imagine it would be a very short slide from interest to full-blown psycho. That’s a scary confession to make. It happened after my split with my ex, and I wanted to keep tabs on her even though the thought of her with someone else hurt me. Seeing her happy without me stunted my own road to recovery. I eventually shut her out, not wanting to feed the madness that threatened to consume my sanity. Eli never makes that decision.

For me, that’s what scares me about Eli. He loved her once, and now that love has become a perverse mockery that threatens Jasmine, her new beau, and even Eli’s own relationship with Cyndi. He doesn’t care. Could that happen to me? Could I become that obsessed that I’m willing to lose everything for a love that doesn’t even exist? Could it happen to you? Has it happened to you?

I hope not, but it’s a legitimate fear. It’s too easy a trap to fall into. We can obsess over an ex-love, an unrequited love or crush, or even a celebrity. Have you felt that pull into madness? Have you felt yourself drawn down a path that leads to oblivion, where reality ceases to matter, and only the object of your desire does?

My characters tend to be an exaggeration of my own flaws. Eli is so myopic that he fails to see the damage he is causing even to the object of his obsession. He willing follows the road to perdition whereas I turn it inward and chose to walk away. I don’t believe in hurting others if I can help it. I don’t believe in pursuing a love that does not return my affection. That’s a masochism, pure and simple.

I write about my pain, and I write about my fears. I write about the betrayals that hurt me and I write about the hope of finding love on the other side. I write about my experience in life and love. As I write them, they become separate from me, a creation born from my experience, but made to fit a story I’m trying to tell. There may be elements of truth in the telling, but a fiction all the same.

But obsession scares me. It’s like a drug whose call burns in your veins. It’s a longing that’s hard to ignore, and it’s a perfect way to fuel the madness one Elias Grey.

Today’s update

I just finished rewriting the first scene of the second chapter, where my main character run into who will fast become her love interest. Doing so, I hope, will jump-start the action, like I stated on my previous post, but also resolve a persistent question that has been bothering me. Can two people fall so quickly in love that they immediately begin a relationship?

Maybe it is possible, but I’m not a fan of the whole love-at-first-sight story arch. Instead, I rewrote it so that I introduce the idea that they were classmates back in high school, and though Jasmine shoots down the idea that they were an item back then, there is an obvious chemistry between the two, one I hope to exploit to make their quick transition into becoming a couple a little realistic.

Of course, such a monumental change means adjusting everything that comes afterwards. I believe I can do the necessary work without disturbing too much of what I have already written. Further, I hope it succeeds in drawing the reader into the story sooner rather than later.

The Fix – The beginning

One of the complaints I heard from my beta-readers was that the story took too long to begin. Specifically, the actual hook didn’t come until the sixth chapter. I had to ruminate on this for a long time. I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to start the story without destroying the integrity of the whole. I needed to introduce my main characters and set up the story first, right?

I figured out that I needed to introduce my main character’s love interest sooner in the story, before she runs into her ex. It’s her ex’s obsession with her that jump starts the action. It’s the idea that my protagonist has found someone who she’s interested in that motivates her ex into stalking her.

It’ll mean more rewriting, but I’m going to get this blasted book finished! Sometimes I think I should just let it go and move onto something else, something that’ll take a little less work to whip into shape. To bad I’m stubborn and I don’t know who to let things go. I will get this done. I will, won’t I?

The fix

I’ve been thinking about the problem that has had my stymied for the past several weeks. I just couldn’t find a way around this little stumbling block and I was at a stand-still. I’ll admit that even though my goal is to publish this year, I wanted to give up and move on to another project, one that I hope would be far easier to complete.

But I’m not one to give up so easily. While I waited patiently at work for customers to show up, and yes I worked on Mother’s Day, I pulled out a sheet of paper and started to jot down notes.

Who’s after Jasmine?

I began by writing down the names of my characters, the ones who are the most likely suspect to be terrorizing my main character, detailing their history and the reason why they may be stalking her. As I scribbled my notes, I had one of those moments of brilliance. I may have figured out how to save my story! I finally had my Eureka! moment.

And now the dread washes over me, hours after that brief elation. I realized that by figuring out how to fix what’s wrong with the story I would have to sit down and introduce a new character. Well, that not quite true. My savior is already in the book, but they haven’t been fleshed out thoroughly. My task is to beef up their part, including their motivation for seeking out Jasmine. Luckily, that all came to me while I jotted down my notes throughout the day.

I’m excited about this. The way the story ends has bothered me for some time. One of my beta-readers actually called me out on how I resolved the story. I made a liar out of my character. They are not duplicitous in any way. Awkward? Yes, but not malicious nor psychotic. Now, that character can be true to themselves while this new character gets to enjoy a promotion of a sort and fully embrace a role that I could never really develop.

It should only take a few minor rewrites to incorporate them into the narrative. I’ll have to tweak some dialogue and create a few key scenes along the way, but as I have already deleted some other scenes, I should do so seamlessly, or at least that’s my hope.

To think that I’ve been wracking my brains in search of an answer and all it took for me to find it was to write it down. It allowed me to focus on the problem while not confronting the issue. It worked itself out organically. I just hope I do it justice. Also, I hope I remember how to fix it.