The Ugly and Sometimes Beautiful Truth: The state of Writing at the Castle of Us-ness

"So, how’s the book coming?"

*smiles**mumbles something about things rolling along, learning curve*

Look, writing’s not a bed of roses, okay?

Well, maybe the thorny part, and bleeding and aphid infestations and the beestings part. And killing things you’re trying to grow.

OKAY, so I’m not good at cultivating roses. Maybe I could get that way if I worked at it, but I have to care a lot to get good at things like that.

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Maybe I should grow a bed of thorns? Nah, it’d probably come up roses.

Photo Credit: ARG അര്ഗ് via Compfight cc

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Novel writing’s a big thing for me. I’ve been writing stories since I could clutch a crayon.

But writing, and writing better-er, aren’t the same.

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

via Poetry Foundation

(While I love the closing stanza made famous on many posters, this one’s about that moment of hesitation, when the choice hasn’t yet been made. Discernment.—-e3)

Irritating Problems Inspire Character Development—-Leave My Stuff Alone, Dammit!

He did it again.

My usually patient, usually reasonably thoughtful husband managed to piss me off.

He took my shampoo to the gym, so when I reached for it, it wasn’t there. MY shampoo, the one NO ONE else is supposed to use, much less borrow.

These things happen when you’re with someone for a long time. Plenty of what used to be mine and used to be his is all blended together, so it doesn’t matter really who takes what for whatever reason. 

Every now and then, however, he just flipping irks the hell out of me by taking something, or emptying something, or laying down his shoes in exactly the wrong spot, and I lose my cool. 

Okay, short skip to writing:

EVERYONE is territorial.

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"Will you freaking quit touching my fur?!"

Photo Credit: fPat via Compfight cc

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Sure, monks may try to be as non-materialistic as possible, but there’s always something that infringes on space. The one “good” pencil someone hogs, the way another sits just a little too close or chews too loudly or…

So…what bugs your characters—-what can you show us readers about that character by what bothers her? What’s “his territory”? What is one object he possesses that would cause a freaking hissy-fit over someone borrowing, or touching?

It doesn’t have to be life-threatening. 

Territorial incursion shows something about people. The people who do it, the ones who react to it.

You’ll get the story about the missing object pretty fast from an angry character—-maybe it was a treasured heirloom or something symbolic.

Maybe it was just the one “special” thing that makes her feel like a million bucks or helps him have the courage to face the day.

"Do Not Trespass" is the sign around spaces and objects of value.

TRESPASS, writers. Go on, walk through those boundaries and see what happens. (on the page, don’t be a jerk in real life, okay?)

It can be crazy what you’ll find. Look at people who are hoarders, who can’t differentiate between a treasured antique and a collection of gum wrappers…people who were sometimes deprived, sometimes in mourning, some who are afraid, building barriers of objects against pain.

Maybe it’ll show you what someone worships, or a personality quirk, or an area for growth that’ll lend momentum to that character arc.

Meanwhile, at the Castle-of-Us-ness, peace is restored. Apologies have been made. I’ll recover from the shampoo debacle.

So to drive the point home, maybe I’ll just “borrow” the husband’s running shoes sometime…

;-)

Elizabeth Ellen Everson