Thursday, March 10, 2011
It’s the hatching season. Not just of the various critters that appear to be attempting to invade the house, but of a new story.
It struck me this morning as I waddled around the kitchen that I felt thoroughly pregnant. Like the egg was ready to be laid. I’m speaking metaphorically, and I hasten to add there was no waddling, just the sensation that I should be waddling because I’m carrying this huge “thing” that needs birthing. Then I remembered that I’ve had this feeling several times before and always at the same time of year. It’s as though there is a season for bringing a new story into the world.
When I started my paranormal novel a few years ago, it was in March. When I started each book in my midgrade fantasy trilogy, it was the end of February. When the novel I’ve just finished first appeared, it was late February/early March. And now it’s happening again.
As with the others, this story has been composting and brewing in my subconscious for a long time – this one for perhaps longer than any of the others. I’ve started first chapters of it on several occasions, but it’s never been the right time to really bring it into the world. Now it is.
The trouble is, I decided that I would really like to try and plot this story. I figured I’d take control, avoid the endless rewrites, and condense the whole process. But I’m not by nature a plotter – I am a complete “pantster” – I write on the fly – I have nothing but the barest hint of what is about to happen and I don’t know where the story will go. I have a concept and I have a character and I go from there, to who knows where, on a huge adventure with my characters. You might say the story happens to me as much as it does to my characters.
For me, this is the “magic” of writing; it’s like “channeling” the story. That’s the wonder and richness of it. For someone who is usually very organized, disciplined and well-grounded in business and process protocols, this is where the creative energies force me to trust them and take me on an alchemical ride of their own. It’s once the first draft is down that I regain my power, and my work (the rewriting and editing) begins.
This time, however, I thought I could try and change the process. Ho-ho-ho.
For the last few weeks, knowing the story has been reaching boiling point, I’ve been trying to find the various bits of it so I can sit down and plot the thing. Ha! Not a chance. It’s just not going to happen. Every time I try to sneak up on the story to unravel its secrets, it hurtles off and blows raspberries at me from behind a bush. Each time I try to cajole it and encourage it to reveal its inner workings to me, it slinks off and sulks. It becomes capricious, petulant and single-minded. Any attempt to pin it down, just makes it thoroughly elusive.
Let’s not kid ourselves, stories have minds and lives of their own. They are alive and they live on their terms. Some people’s stories may allow themselves to be captured and tamed into submission to reveal their inner depths. The stories that come to me don’t.
So, I will now capitulate and sit down in front of my blank screen and wait for the story to reveal itself. It’s the only way to do it and frankly, at this stage, I’m so heavily pregnant with story that if I don’t, I’ll probably explode. And we all know how messy that might be - chocolate and vanilla will be splattered everywhere!
As it is, just having said all this, I can hear the gentle rustling of wings as the story settles itself down and readies itself to be told.
Here we go…!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Someone on Twitter just happily told me they had just discovered me and were reading my book… Oh dear, not again.
See, I’m going to start getting a bit snarky about this. So can we please, for the record, get something straight… I am NOT a chick-lit author. And frankly, I wish the chicklit author who is using my name as her nom de plume would relinquish it.
For heaven’s sake, girl, use the name your parents gave you or use your husband’s name. Come out of the closet, ‘fess up and tell the world who you really are. I’m sure your real name is a lovely name. You should be proud of it - and of the books you write. And, er, you are aware, aren’t you, that Freud was pretty clear about alter egos being tendencies of the narcissistic personality? As I recall, he said something like “The idea of the "double"...sprung from the soil of unbounded self-love, from the primary narcissism which holds sway in the mind of the child.” Ahem. Alternatively, you don’t perhaps just want to be done with it and to call yourself Ms Hyde, do you?
Okay, so some of you reading this may be wondering how I’m so sure that the Other is using a pen name. Well see, she says so on her blog (for which, as a matter of course, I will not provide the URL) that: “I work in publishing and sneakily write books by day…” “…as most of you may suspect, my true identity is hidden from the world-at-large. The reason, of course, is that should the world-at-large (read: those with little or no sense of humour) discover my serious daily persona actually hides a slightly deranged cake-eating chick-lit author, me and my reasonably large rear end will become too-well acquainted with a Jools'-style cardboard box in which to live. Well, okay, I probably won't get booted into a box, but certain people I come into contact with on a daily basis may be less than impressed with my schizo tendencies. Having said all that, it is kind of nice living a double life, particularly as I get to admit to my hero worship of sugar without it affecting any stuffy board meetings.”
I’ll probably find myself in agreement with her employers here in saying that I’m not overly wild about her schizo tendencies either. (My own lunar tendencies notwithstanding, of course).
Now let’s be quite clear about a few things in distinguishing Chick-Lit Author - aka the Other - from the Real Nicky Schmidt (that’s me):
- I do not have a reasonably large rear end. Mine is neat and trim and regularly visits the gym.
- I do not eat cake – which is why I do not have a large rear end.
- I do not hide my true identity – mostly because I’m not trying to kid myself or the world at large that I’m somebody else, and I don’t have employers whose time I’m nicking to write my books.
- I do not attend stuffy board meetings. Been there, done that, got several t-shirts. It’s so 20th century.
- I do not hero worship sugar, which is why, see note above, I do not have a large rear end. Mostly, I detest the stuff. Give me vanilla instead.
- I don’t have rubbish computer abilities as my nemesis claims she has. In fact, I’m quite a dab hand, if I say so myself.
- I am totally not into pastries whereas the Other claims to have no self control in the pastry department. Again, see that note about the large rear end…
- I’m far better at blogging than she is – she really doesn’t appear to be getting the hang of it.
- I’m listed on Linked-In as me – she’s not – well not under her nom de plume anyway.
- The real Nicky (i.e. Me!) is currently the first hit on Google.
And finally, the most important points:
- I’m not trying to build a brand based on sugar and a big bum.
- I own the relevant top-level domain names…and they’re not for sale – unless she’s offering millions and billions of pounds.
I will say this – it’s pretty disconcerting how the Other has named herself - not only does she have my name, she also uses the initial letter of my second name as hers in her Twitter profile. I’m starting to think there’s been full on identity theft. It could mean war. I might have to start with a “cease and desist” letter. It might have to be followed by a disclosure of fur and fangs coupled with some lunar tendencies - and perhaps an attempt to lay claim to her royalties as my own...
Alternately, given my many years in marketing, I might just turn all this to my own advantage…
Oh, and for the record – I’m also, most definitely, not this bloke… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyp6GUhV1wk