Friday, February 8, 2013

A Hideous Betrayal...

The premise and hook of my romance was already done (almost identically) on an episode of some show that shall not be named because I'm being pissy about the whole thing.

My lovely friend Meika text-ed me, saying, I know there is a way to make you love your story again. I hope she is right. I have listened and read a lot of advice from my wonderful friends and fellow writers on how to handle this. I've decided that first, I need some time away from my manuscript to deal with my disappointment. I had never been more confident in any of my work as a writer than I was in my ability to sell this novel and now that confidence is shaken. Maybe it's not original or interesting like I thought. Now I can't stop wondering how much of it is trite and derivative and maybe I just couldn't see the truth of it because I am too in love with my own work.

After I shake off this new found insecurity, I need to get back to work on the novel. Though I'm going to make some changes to distinguish my premise from the POS show that got there first (insert colorful cusswords here, followed by grumbles).

But truly, the hardest part is the betrayal I feel. Because all of this time I thought it was just me and my premise; laughing, drinking caramel hot cocoa in cafes, painting our nails and admiring the hell out of each other. I never asked how my premise felt, I just assumed that she felt the same way as I did. That we were perfect for each other and belonged together. Little did I know, my premise took a much looser approach to relationships than I did. Where as I am a one premise kind of gal, she turned out to be a filthy cheating whore. 

She rubbed some serious salt in my wounds too. She didn't just cheat on me with some newbie writer from Scappoose, oh no. She cheated on me with famed Buffy writer, Jane freakin' Espenson (who co-wrote the episode which will not be named). I cannot express to you how much that pisses me off  because it's awfully hard to be mad when I'm secretly sort of thrilled that Jane Espenson and I had the same idea.

Can I be both a sore loser and a squealing fangirl?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG: My novel is now royally effed...

 My first IWSG post couldn't have come at a better (or worse time).

I completed my rough draft of this novel in 2009 during my first NaNoWriMo. Years earlier I worked at a medical supply and I had to watch an employee safety video for home nurses and it was all about checking under your car and in your backseat before getting into the car. It was designed to create horror and paranoia. I scribbled on one of my many scraps of paper that it would be a funny idea if the person in the backseat were the victim and the driver was dangerous. That idea became my first novel, a romance about an accidental carjacking in Detroit.

It's my hook and it's a huge part of the entire novel. I worked very hard to come up with a believable premise as to why my hero would be in the backseat of his car. I have labored over every scene and built a friendship between unlikely characters.

Tonight (I'm writing this a hair before midnight) a friend of mine informed me that she saw a television show that had a romantic episode with my EXACT PREMISE. I do mean exact. The episode aired in 2012.

It's enough to make a writer reflux and cry, which is actually what I'm doing right now.

I've been tooling around with this novel for three and a half years. Eight months ago I finally started making headway on my editing and I've been rewriting like crazy. I really thought I had something unique and funny. And now I find out that my brilliant gem is going to look like costume jewelry from the dollar store.

I have no idea what to do or how to proceed. I'm so disgusted with myself for not getting on the ball and getting my novel ready to publish two years ago. Now no matter what, it will look like I stole my premise from the show.

My friend who dropped the bomb on me suggested I move on and work with the pieces. So easy. Just rewrite the thing you've bled over. I know it's a romance novel and not highfalutin' literature but it's my greatest achievement, something I dreamed of creating and putting out there since I was twelve years old. And now I just have to throw it out and start over.

My stomach is burning and in a big knot. I'm at a complete loss.

What the hell do I do now?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Mythical Organized Writer

This is not what my office looks like.
I'm not one of those writers who has everything neat and tidy. But I long to be a be one of the few, the fabled... the Organized Writer. A writer who is never buried under piles of paper bits and dozens of half empty notebooks. Someone whose computer files are sorted and organized for easy access. A Wonder Woman of organizational prowess who has her stories cataloged and organized so manuscripts can be easily picked up and edited on the go.

But I am not that writer. I'm more of a, I'd work on my manuscript but I can never seem to find it, it's around here somewhere, kind of writer. The week before last, I lost the jump drive with all of my novel edits on it. That weren't backed up anywhere because sometimes I'm an idiot. I was in tears and I searched for about three days. Luckily my husband located it buried in the debris of scrap-book stuff and receipts that litter my home office.

When he handed it to me, I was disgusted with myself and my inability to be organized. I vowed to work on becoming an Organized Writer. I began doing Internet searches to get some helpful advice. I needed an organizational muse, someone who could give me concrete advice on how to get out from under the paper piles, sticky notes and disheartening file cabinet.

Twenty different websites later, and I still haven't' found any useful advice. Oh there are websites that will all give you the same general ideas, written different ways but it's never helpful (sort of like Cosmo articles about sex).  Most of them say something like, If you aren't going to use it right away, toss it or file it. Well sure, but then I end up with bloated file cabinets and no room for things like receipts and bills and the instruction manual for my toaster oven. Does no one think of the toaster oven?

Throwing scraps of thoughts or ideas away is out of the question. Those are little bits of my genius just waiting for the right moment to be useful! The scrap I'm holding right now says, peanut butter diva sings the blues. I have no idea where that came from or what I might do with it but it's intriguing don't you think?  I don't want to throw it away yet, in case I eat a PB & J with some Ruffles and inspiration strikes me.

I've tried the filing thing and organized baskets and file sorters too. I even tried using a cork board for a while. It was great. But  then my notes began to devour it. All you could see were tiny peeks of the wood frame trying to escape. It was so full of paper that the angry cork began spitting the pushpins out and onto the floor (and into our delicate foot meat). My clutter hating husband took it down because the chaos was giving him palpitations.

So in my mad Googling, I had hoped to find someone who could tell me in detail, not just in vague generalities, how to organize my writing on the computer and on paper. So far I've found almost nothing. Most of the advice isn't practical or truly useful. It's like the paper inside of fortune cookies. You know when you break open that stale cookie and the paper says, You are a very nice person and you are like, well sure I am but that's not a fortune, it's a statement. The advice for disorganized writers isn't really advice. It's a list of commonly known strategies for being organized with no further instructions as to how to implement them. If I knew how to file papers in an organized manner, I wouldn't be looking it up online you douche-canoes! I'm completely useless at this and I need you to walk me through it as though I don't speak English.
The Organized Writer in it's natural habitat.

So I have come to believe that there is no such human as an Organized Writer. This creature appears to be as fictitious as a unicorn.

Oh I know you'll say, Nu-uh Mencara Christina, cuz my friend's sister's cousin is a writer and is totes organized! Well after I sock you for saying "totes" un-ironically, I will tell you, Your friend's sister's cousin was ALWAYS organized.

Here is the key. I think the reason that the organizational advice is vague is because organized people don't know how to explain what they do to unorganized schlub writers like myself. It's instinctual and intuitive. Either you are a person who always kept things tidy or, like me, you will always be struggling to stay ahead of your papers. You can't explain something that is simply inherent to your personality. I imagine to an organized person, it seems so basic, Just throw it away or file it neatly. But that sentence is so foreign to me, it might as well be written in Klingon. How the hell do I let go of the need to keep every stupid thing and how do I organize my files so they'll be neat? The advice seems to reply, You just do it. I throw my arms in the air and shout, How? Where do I buy the unicorn magic necessary to figure this out?

So perhaps my unicorn simile was inaccurate but I'm a writer and I like it so I didn't edit it out. It's not that there are no organized writers out there, it's that there aren't any previously sloppy writers who became organized. The myth is that with some vague generalities, you will shift from a person drowning in papers to a happy, organized person. And I call shenanigans on that.

Now that I think about it, I read a great book once about home organization. I can't recall the name of it and that's a shame, but I do remember one piece of advice. The writer said there was no point in buying bunches of boxes or baskets or pieces of furniture in order to force yourself to be organized. It just doesn't work. The writer suggested instead that you work around yourself. If you always leave your papers in this area, make that the paper area. It's that simple. If you always leave your shoes by the front door, arrange the area to accommodate what you are likely to do. Because it's unlikely you'll actually shift from what you're doing to match some arbitrary system.

So I guess I had the unicorn magic in me all along. My shit is in Mencara Christina order and I just didn't know it.

Also I've been staring at the scrap of paper that said, peanut butter diva sings the blues, and now I'm more interested in eating a PB &J than in organizing my office. Mmm, PB & J with Ruffles on the sandwich. Salty. Sweet. Perfect.

So screw organization, how do you like your peanut butter and jelly sandwich prepared? Leave me a comment and let me know.