She Said What??!!!

Listen at me over here hollerin'

The book….

with 5 comments

OK, I’m working on it.  Really.  Just not everyday like I should be.  I know.  I’m disappointed in my progress as well.  It’s a great book.  I picked a title that continuously surprises me, inspires me, and makes me want to keep writing.  I love my characters, I know their stories like I lived them myself. The bits that I have left to write were not as interesting to me dramatically last fall when I put the book down.  But, now that I’ve had a little break, and the story has had a chance to rest and rise (I always think of it as a yeasty kind of bread dough and the kneading is all that poking and prodding that you do when you’re working out the prose), I’ll be able to get back into it and accept this part of the story for what it is instead of judging it for not being like the beginning and the end.  Does that sound crazy?  (**Crickets**  M’kay….)

I was reading Nichelle Tramble Spellman’s blog recently and she has a great post about her process.  Makes me want to write a process post myself.  LOL. That would be cheeky of me considering I don’t have one.  I try to go into a trance state and just… sprint. I call it binge writing.  I just gorge myself on story, setting, characters, set pieces, conflicts, try to find the best and worst ways the characters can solve their problems then split that emotional value down the middle and dump some words on the page.  It’s worked alright so far, but it’s pretty exhausting so I’ll probably try a different method for this portion of the book and see how it goes.  I’m not up to the level of Nichelle — notebooks and highlighters and all that — but I think I might be able to squeeze a character list out and try to assemble some basic facts in one location.

The story is now so complicated that I have to hold a lot in my head in order to work through the sections I’m working on right now.  A lot of little story threads that I set in motion need to be developed because I wrote the beginning and the end before I wrote the middle.  Anyway, not that exciting for people who haven’t read the book, but I feel like I have to get this information out of my head to keep the book real and alive to myself.  HAHA.  (How about just finish the book, chica, then it will really BE alive?  (See?  I don’t buy my bs either.))

My writing group, the finish party, is a fantastic group of ladies.  They are so compassionate — but not so compassionate that I haven’t been given what-for over my need to finish this sucker. LOL.  I’ll write more about the group in a separate post because I love these ladies so much I won’t do them short shrift here….

Truckee near Lake Tahoe

Truckee near Lake Tahoe

Every year we go on writing retreat.  Usually someplace that’s like a fairy tale version of what my life ought to be like.  We did Maui two years running (thanks, Deborah!).  Since that was a private residence I won’t post any pix of the place, but last year we did Tahoe (thanks, Jackie!). I got a ton of work done, took some excellent pix that still inspire me and enjoyed the hell out of my ladies (ZZ, Lalita, Jackie and me were the only ones who made it last year, Renee, Nichelle, Deborah, and Farai were off being fabulous elsewhere).  Since I drove I brought waaay too much stuff, including a fancy new printer that I bought in the Office Depot on my way TO  the retreat…they were having a SALE!  I couldn’t resist.  And I’m a WRITER.  I needed a new printer.  And it has a copy function.  And it scans.  And did I mention it was on sale…

The year I planned it we ended up in Joshua Tree and there was a flood.  And a black out.  And spiders… and let’s just say I’m not allowed to plan it anymore.  LOL.

The Flood in Joshua Tree Circa 2005

The Flood in Joshua Tree Circa 2005

I grew up in Oregon camping and fishing so I have a very different idea of what “rustic” means.  Heck, we had hot water and running showers and an above-ground pool!  Heaven on Earth! Haha.

Did I mention I was raised by a Marine?

The place itself was actually three places:  A main house with two bedrooms and a kitchen and living room, a “Bunk House” with a bedroom and a bunk room and a pool table and kitchnette, and another small guest house that had two bedrooms.  Then there was the above-ground pool which was surprisingly nice to swim in out there in the middle of the desert.  Even though I did catch a jackrabbit trying to hop the gate to get at the water.  I won’t talk about the stink bugs or black widow spiders I saw everywhere.  I’m still blocking those images out.  LOL.

Anyway, I recently came across a quote by author Michael Lewis which I now use on my emails as the signature:

“I’ve written in awful enough situations that I know that the quality of the prose doesn’t depend on the circumstance in which it is composed. I don’t believe the muse visits you. I believe that you visit the muse. If you wait for that ‘perfect moment’ you’re not going to be very productive.”

Amen to that, brother!  I’m definitely guilty of placing circumstantial conditions on my writing (e.g. I have to have tea, there needs to be music, I don’t want people talking to me, blah blah blah).  But, the reality is that this is as much a discipline as it is an art.  So, with that in mind I’ve come up with a new place to visit my muse.

Catalina Island

Catalina Island

Whenever I start writing I spend a couple (sometimes more than a couple) minutes looking at this pic, relaxing and inducing my writing “trance”.  I feel my muscles start to relax, the pressures of why I’m trying to finish something (usually monetary) disappear and I can stretch my brain and start making random connections.  Synapses, go!  Or something like that.

OK, I have to put together the last 20 pages of the finale action sequence on my freelance script.  Very exciting stuff, I assure you.  Then I’m off to a workshop and then I have to check in with that man whose name I’m using (identity theft!) to make sure he’s still alive and not buried under boxes in the storage unit…..

5 Responses

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  1. I like Anne Lamott and her musings on writing. God luck with your “process” – it seems to be working for you – can’t wait to read the book.


    April 17, 2009 at 6:22 pm

  2. Alyss, Aggghhh! I love this. Smiling and riding high and planning my trip to see the muse (that’s you ya know). I love reading what u write. (Self-check – how many times will u read this b4 going back to writing) And “identity theft” explains the Alyss Dixson-Morris on FB! I adore you honey. Keep shining.


    March 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    • @ Renee — I need authorization before I can print anything….

      @ Farai — Thanks and you know I love you too. What link should I use to put you on my blogroll? The one on your site was broken… 😦

      @ Taj — You know I already re-read it like 5x before posting? You are my Serenity, mujer. Believe that. Just saying your name lowers my blood pressure. Haha.


      March 22, 2009 at 5:13 pm

  3. YOU ROCK! Love this! More!


    Farai Chideya

    March 22, 2009 at 4:56 pm

  4. so, blushing bride, when ARE you going to tell the full Tony and Alyss love story?


    renee swindle

    March 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm

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