Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Stuck, again! February 15, 2010

I’m wanting to write Meg and Nick’s story, the one I pitched to Donna Alward for her pitch contest. I need to get the first chapter done and polished to send off as she’s generously offered to still give me a critique (though I know she’s on a tight deadline this month, so maybe she won’t mind not getting it till next month!). But I’m stuck. Again.

What is it with this story? I love the characters. I love the setting. I love the whole set up. I know how to fix the first chapter. I know I need to rewrite rather than keep tweaking the existing chapter. And I’m just not doing it.

Maybe all my willpower is being used up doing Menopause Makeover  (I lost 2 pounds and even better an inch and a half from my waist in the first week, so that’s going okay). Maybe I’m just being lazy. Maybe I’m having another crisis of confidence. Maybe I know, like my Presents contest entry, I’m yet again making the story too complex and convoluted, creating something I just don’t have the skill to carry off yet.

As Donna said reunion stories are hard to write- so much backstory! Also, I feel maybe I’ve overthought it, planned all the life out of it. I’ve completely lost enthusiasm for it. On some level, it feels like the story has already been told. I feel that I need to let all the thinking I’ve done on this story sit and simmer for a while, before I write it, let all those ideas and plans sink down to a deeper level and hopefully my subconscious can play with it and turn it back into something alive again. When my colleague who’s been off sick all last month is finally back working normal hours, I’m going to take a week  of vacation, and do a personal Book in a Week. Just write this story with no time to stop and think.

 What I would love to do right now is dive in with something different, and just write like crazy. First draft without stopping to think too much and work things out. Let the characters surprise me.

I have two options, the bush nurse story, Fool’s Gold, with Kate and Adam, which would be a Super; or Nellie and Mace’s story, which was originally going to be an Modern Heat. I can see how it could be even better as a Super, because both the hero and heroine’s emotional issues are family based, and the hero just wasn’t working out for MH, which is why I shelved the idea before. I can even see how it can link in to Meg and Nick’s story, as the start is Nellie trying to get out of the city to go to a wedding out in the country, but everything goes wrong. It was going to start in London with the wedding out in the wilds of the Cambridgeshire fens, but no reason it can’t start in Sydney with the wedding in Haven Bay. Though ideas for Kate and Adam are popping up all the time too!

I hope I’m not doing a “Bright Shiny New Story” to run away from just buckling down and writing Meg and Nick! I do genuinely feel I’ll write that story better with a bit of space from all the thinking I’ve done on it.  I just hope that now I will stick with whatever story I decide to write and at least see it through first draft and not let myself be seduced again by either a new story, or one of the ones I left on the shelf for now. My characters do hate being sidelined, waiting their turn, they all want to be the star!

I can’t help feeling I am lacking in Michelle Style’s Four Ds.


13 Responses to “Stuck, again!”

  1. Jackie Says:

    New ideas are the bane of my life. I have to be really disciplined not to to be distracted. Can you give yourself leave to do a quick and dirty synopsis or something? That can sate the urge temporarily. In fact I sometimes just write a chapter and that can have the same effect.

  2. Marcie Says:

    It might be your inner self trying to trick you. The past couple days I felt everything I wrote sucked. Then I read an article in an old issue of Writing Basics from Writer’s Digest called Baby Steps. The premise was to stop obsessing about writing the whole book and take 15 minutes to write. It also mentioned about breaking the mental barrier by identifying your inner voice and turning its negativity into something positive. For me it was me giving into self-doubts so to turn it around I told myself it was only my inner voice trying to trick me. Sounds mental (which it is), but today I did my five pages. I told myself write this one scene and the next thing I knew I had two scenes and my five page quota!
    Get that chapter to Donna – she offered and you don’t want to miss the chance by waiting a month. She will always be busy.
    I agree with Jackie – write that one scene or synop for those other characters, then get back to Meg and Nick.
    Good luck.

  3. Eileen Says:

    Dude, I wish I had pertinent advice. I’m spinning my wheels as well. I just found a new short story that is distracting me from all sorts of work/life.

    I do have a few weeks of break coming up. I have to devote one to research but perhaps I’ll attempt a novel week as well. 🙂

    Jackie: I love the sound of a “quick and dirty synopsis” — it’s so much sexier than just a “synopsis”. We should all vow to never again think of it as anything other than a quick and dirty synopsis and give our computers sultry looks whenever we say it.

  4. Francine Says:


    Why not give your characters a makeover!

    Change hair colour, eyes etc., a bit like revamping the mind: yours!!

    Maybe the reason you’re tired of the story is because you’ve revamped the overall structure too much.

    I know an editor at Orion kept telling an author to change this and that and more or less every angle of the plot, until even she (ed) didn’t recognise it any more. She then up and told the author to go back to the original plot and it was published!

    Sometimes, too much feedback from other people can ruin the story = the old one about two many cooks!



  5. 1. Donna will not forget and she is on a tight deadline. So do not put yourself under pressure there.

    2. I am allowed to disagree with Donna. I am her cp after all. Reunion stories are not hard to write. You do have to make sure that the conflict is in the present, rather than in the past. So yes, they are meeting up again, but they are different people. The past simply a richness and complication. There is a connection there but the central conflict is in the present.

    3. Sometimes you can’t rewrite when you know that you have to go forward. What is holding you back? have you thought about emotional wounds (and how they have healed and why they are important), hole in the soul, yearnings and what the goals are. Look towards giving your protagonists more richness and texture.

    4. I find I have to be monogamous with my writing or I never get anything finished. (SOme of this is the discipline) Believe in your story and that you can do it.

  6. waitingforthecall Says:

    Great advice, guys!

    Eileen, you made me giggle with your take on quick and dirty. We’ve been telling Jackie she should try writing a Blaze, maybe you need to as well! I know what she means though, chuck down the ideas and then move on.

    Yay for trying Book in a Week. It’s great fun to find out just how much you can manage to produce in one white hot week. Most of what I wrote in mine was dreck, but there’s the core of a story that might just work. I think the mistake I made was trying to edit it afterwards into something it didn’t want to be. Hope you enjoy whatever you write in that week.

    Marcie, I think you are right. I need to read that article! So glad you are making forward movement with your story. You’re targetting Supers too?

    Francine, I know what you mean. I love my writing group, but I got totally confused once when they gave totally opposite advice on something I’d asked for critique on. I think it’s important to look at what we write and consider that all advice & critiques may be valid, but ultimately we need to have that faith in our characters and our stories to be able to hold on to our own vision. The characters are great as they are, it’s elements in the conflict that need to change.

    Michelle, wise advice as always. I now know what the problem is. Yet again, I am looking in the wrong place for conflict. An over complicated sub-plot that also brought them back together again. I don’t think Thoreau was necessarily thinking of writing when he said “Simplify, simply”, but it’s certainly what I have to do with my writing. That’s what I was looking for in a new story- a simple conflict I could dig deep into. The real question isn’t “What new story will I jump to?”, it’s “How can I simplify this story, with the characters and setting I love?” It can be done!

  7. Marcie Says:

    Hi! Yes Supers for me.
    I knew I wouldn’t make the pitch – I hadn’t anything started, but I decided to see how far I could get. Usually it’s 2 months for a first draft and it seems I’m right on target. I’m almost at my 30day mark and I have 32,830 words.
    Michelle does give awesome advice!

  8. waitingforthecall Says:

    Fab, Marcie! I’m so far behind target it’s a joke, but no worries, I’ll get back on track once I simplify but dig deep. I realised just this minute that the biggest place I go wrong might be keeping on throwing new stuff at my characters, when instead I need to work more intensively with what is inent in them and their situation right from the start. Which I guess is exactly the same thing as “Keep it simple, dig deep”. I can be a slow learner sometimes!

    It will be fun watching the pitch from the sidelines without the anxiety of actually pitching! Maybe next year…

  9. Kaily Hart Says:

    I think we’ve all been ‘stuck’. I also sometimes have these wonderful ideas and also can’t help second guessing myself thinking I may not have the craft yet to carry it off. The other characters and stories calling my name to be written is another challenge. I try to jot down as much as I can in my ‘idea file’ and get back to the task at hand. It works. Mostly :). In some cases it doesn’t flow. It does feel like it’s coming naturally. That’s why writing is just plain hard work sometimes. I feel like in those instances, I just have to push on and through until it starts flowing again. If I start something else, I’ll never finish anything!

  10. Jane Holland Says:

    Writing is like exercise. You never want to start, but once you’ve started things get easier, and by the time you clock off, it feels wonderful!

    It’s that first step that’s the killer, actually going to the keyboard and starting to write. Conquer that and the rest should – um, theoretically – follow. Even if all you type for the first few mins is blah, blah, blah etc. Just to get your fingers moving over the keys!

    Wanting to write the wrong story, i.e. not the one you’re writing, is absolutely normal. I’ve said it before here. It’s classic manuscript avoidance. Next you’ll spot some hoovering that needs to be done rather than return to the hard work of developing that original story.

    If you’re able to escape your usual surroundings and be alone with the story for a few days – or even half a day – that might help jog you out of ms avoidance syndrome. Just a thought. Hope this issue has resolved itself by now and you’re typing feverishly …

  11. waitingforthecall Says:

    Jane, I saw yesterday that Carina Press were buying erotic historical. Somewhere else for you to sub while waiting to hear from HH?

  12. braon Says:

    it’s when the brain (whichever part of it it is) gets into the creatvie mode: you’re not finished creating ONE thing, but the brain is spitting out ideas like confetti. I’ve never found any way to stop it from happening.

  13. waitingforthecall Says:

    Love that anology- ideas like confetti! That’s my brain, one big confetti gun!
    Now if I could only convince it to stick with one idea long enough…

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