I, unfortunately, didn’t really get my writing retreat like I wanted. I tried! I packed up my things, kissed my boyfriend goodbye for a few hours, and went to Starbucks. When I got there, everything seemed normal. A little more crowded than usual, but otherwise normal. I sat down at a table, got everything situated and started working. A Michael Jackson song came on the radio and they bumped up the volume. Given that I have always been and still am to this day a fan of MJ’s this made me smile. But when the song was over…they didn’t turn it down. In fact they put on music that wasn’t their standard “coffee shop” music. Instead they put on something with a heavy beat and kept the radio turned up quite a bit. It was impossible to think, let alone write. At one point I was one of those obnoxious patrons that asked them to turn the radio down because I couldn’t even concentrate and they never did. I packed up my stuff a few moments later and left.
I talked about all of this on Twitter that day, and got two different responses. One person was telling me that is their new standard which made me very sad. Going to Starbucks to read and write is a favorite past time of mine. If that is gone I’m going to be so sad. BUT another friend of mine (who actually works at Starbucks!) tweeted me and said that they are instructed to turn the music up during Happy Hour, but NOT during the rest of the day. So maybe I had just gotten there in the middle of Happy Hour (which, I did get my drink at half price) and it was so obnoxiously loud for just those few minutes. I haven’t been back to test the theory yet, but will probably head back in the next few days. Because…
Last night I was driving home from a recording session. It was late and I had the music on loud and was singing along to Maroon 5 and Hot Chelle Rae and was just…at peace. Oddly enough when I’m driving, that’s when my brain works out my stories and I have the really deep revelations about other things in my life. So, driving home from recording, I realized an issue that I’d had with the very first book I ever tried to write about Arabella and Sadie, Acceptance (that was the working title).
Acceptance was the story of their first meeting. They both went away to college, escaping from families that treated them Not So Good but in very different ways. There they met each other and fell head over heels in love almost instantly.
That story was written on a very old computer that didn’t even have internet capabilities, couldn’t save to a thumb drive, and since I had no printer (and the library computers wouldn’t read a floppy disk anymore) that story got lost when the computer finally gave out. I was very sad because I had worked on that story for a long time. It was the first novel I’d ever completed in it’s entirety. It was BAD and needed severe edits. There were problems with it that I didn’t even know where to begin to fix.
I’ve been working on The Selkie for about five years. It’s my problem child. Anyone who has followed me here for a time, or on Twitter probably knows that by now. But it was never the first book in Arabella and Sadie’s story. It was at least book 2, if not 3 or 4. Still, I wanted to complete it and release it. I was hoping for a late June release, but in all honesty, if I don’t break through this writer’s block soon, it won’t happen. That makes me very sad. I was talking to Angelo the other day about all of this though and he asked me “what kind of story do you want to tell?” He wasn’t asking about genre or anything like that. He meant character arc type thing. And the problem with The Selkie is that…I can’t answer that. At least not yet. I know that’s what’s keeping me from being able to finish that book.
HIs quesiton got me thinking about Acceptance again, too. At first, Acceptance was about Arabella fleeing from her Too Strict Christian Family and finally being able to be open about being a lesbian. But she kind of already knows who she is. She knows that she is attracted to girls and not guys. She knows where she stands religiously and spiritually. Other than being free of chains, she doesn’t have a whole lot of self discovery going on in that particular story. Know who does? Sadie.
Acceptance is Sadie’s story. It’s her own self discovery. She has all these theories about herself, but because of how sheltered she’s always been (not because of religious restrictions, but more because her parents didn’t believe in technology and preferred to live the kind of life you’d only find in the 50’s) she hasn’t had a chance to explore them. When she goes away to college, she finally gets that chance.
I think I might try revisiting Acceptance. Maybe working on Sadie and Arabella’s initial story, and seeing how they change and grow as they gain freedom and find love, will help me break through this writer’s block on The Selkie. At the very least I’ll have another book completed and know more about my two favorite characters!