by Camela Thompson
If you read my post about writing a book in a month and a half, you're probably wondering how writing a book in a week could be a good thing. Last time I pushed myself, worked too hard, and snapped up an opportunity to take some time off. This time, it was different. An idea popped into my head and kept spinning around and kicking things until I had to write it down. After months of wondering if I would ever get another idea, I ran to my laptop. I typed for hours, only walking away to figure out where to go next. Within five days, fifty-thousand words had spooled out of my head and onto the screen.
Even my loyal assistant grew weirded out
with the amount of time I spent typing
When I was young, I asked a ton of questions as I tried to understand how things work. I still do. It's why I'm an analyst during the day. It has always frustrated me when the answer to a question is, "It depends." I prefer answers to be straight forward and logical. It's why I often fall on my face as an artist. Now I have discovered that the amount of time it takes to write a book is fluid, and how that time passes--how it feels--also varies.
I started this hiatus from work back in April. It ends next Monday when I start up the day job again. In that amount of time I expected to write a book, maybe two. I spent the majority of my time writing chapters only to delete them. I started my third book in The Hunted series three times. THREE. None of them felt right and my editor agreed when I met with her. The good news is she helped me see what wasn't working. We brainstormed. It is a gift to have someone in my life who understands my characters and will let me talk it out. Plus, we met at a bar with hard cider and bacon. That took the sting out of learning I was looking at another rewrite.
The next morning, I wrote some decent chapters. I feel optimistic that they won't be going in the trash bin, but the next scene didn't jump out and beg to be written. Being on the right path was enough. I accepted I would not write a book. Determined to enjoy the rest of my break, I scheduled time with friends. And then something happened in the last place I would expect: a movie theater viewing of Magic Mike XXL.
The movie wasn't good so far as storylines and dialogue goes. The men were gorgeous, the dancing was great, and I will never look at Cheetos the same way, but I didn't give a rat's ass how Magic Mike got the bros together for the big show. But something Donald Glover's character said wound up something in my brain and it would not stop ticking:
"...these girls have to deal with men in their lives who every day, they don't listen to them. They don't ask them what they want. All we got to do is ask them what they want and when they tell you, it's a beautiful thing, man. We're like healers or something."
I write thrillers. Sometimes I even crank out horror stories. I don't do chick lit. But that line got me thinking about all of the women in the world who feel invisible. Ignored. It spoke to my history. What would drive a woman to seek validation of her existence? What would make someone crave acknowledgment on such a basic level, something that could be fulfilled by the simple question, "What do you want?" The answer: Emotional abuse.
A character came to life in my head. I could picture her leaning over her sink in her shitty little apartment. I could feel the pull to wipe off her makeup in response to years of programming by her ex-husband--an ex-husband who had left her. This woman has good friends who rally around her now that she's not isolated any more. It isn't until she finds herself that he comes back because he can't stand to see her happy without him. I followed her down a rabbit hole and I ran to keep up. Scenes played like movies. When it was done I had a migraine and wondered if I had written fan fiction (I don't think so, but the migraine left me a little muddled).
I have used this break to figure out where the strain and weight I felt last time came from. I've looked at ways to make life easier. I looked at different career options and asked myself what I should do with my life. I can't claim I have everything figured out. But I found joy in writing again. I had a new idea. Most importantly, I have faith that I'll have more. I have no idea what I'll do with this book--whether I'll publish it or even what genre it's in--but I feel lucky this happened. Now I have to apply the lessons from last time and not force the rest.
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.