Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Out with the Fluff!

This week Macy asked us if we think the Voice class has changed the way we write. I think, with a resounding yes, my voice has changed quite a bit. I think it is simpler and more to the point than ever before. As I peel back the layers, I lose the flowery prose covering of the heart of my writing. Although, that was a bit flowery, wasn’t it?

What my heart wants to write about has changed as well. I spoke last week of feeling raw and tender after completing two Barbara Samuels’ classes in a row. At first, I felt as though I needed to be writing about things that matter, not just things I enjoyed reading. These “things” would change the world and speak to people in deep and meaningful ways.

This initial feeling is starting to wane as I am falling in love again with my favorites; regency and medievals. I love the lightness of the regency, and I love the medievals for their dangerous edge.

As National Novel Writing Month Approaches and I delve further into the MIP, which begs to be completed in time for Golden Heart Deadline, I will have a greater sense of what my voice has become. But for now, I think it is striving to be simple, and profound, with a reverence for peace.

Good writing to you all today. Namaste.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A love hate relationship with my MIP

The greatest secret of success in life is for a person to be ready when their opportunity comes. - Benjamin Disraeli

A few weeks ago Alyson and Macy chose a blog topic of "Things we love and hate about our MIP". For me that seemed to get lost in the doldrums several of us went through, the May Mopes. Now that I see the light at the other end of the tunnel, I thought I could let you know why I love and hate my MIP. Don’t you just love my self promotion?!

What I love:

1. My Hero. He is strong Alpha Male type. Typical for a Historical Romance, I know. I spent a long time deciding who he was and who he resembled. I considered the three most important men in my life: My grandfather, a devastatingly handsome Nordic god who was a dashing rouge, and the twinkle of every young (and old) lasses eye. My Father, also very handsome swashbuckler who could charm his way in or out of any situation you could imagine. And lastly my husband, solid as a rock, strong and sacrificial, the Chief. Well, Ian had to be the chief. He knew he could be nothing other. He is strong and sensitive, and knows what direction he wants to take in life. He is a bit opinionated, instead of wanting the last word, he wants the only word. In fact he says that “Everyone should just shut up and just listen to me!” As you see, our heroine has her work cut out for her!

2. My setting. Medieval Scotland. I know the movie Brave-heart spurred a torrential flood of medieval scottish novels, and people may be sick of them by now, but I have always loved medieval history. Since my Mother has me searching the family archives for her genealogy I am surrounded by all things Scottish. Oddly enough, this search of the ancestors of the Buchanan clan is what started the story in the first place. One of my Mother’s Ancestors were refuges from clan wars in Norway in the 900s and settled in the Loch Lomand area under the protection of the Buchanan clan. They themselves are not Buchanans, more like the adopted little siblings.

Although I have romantic ideas about living in that time period, I am not sure I would be too happy about getting up at 4 am to milk a cow, spend an hour churning butter, and another hour baking bread; all before I could feed my family. Geeze! I would definitely have to be part of the nobility. What? Only a 1% chance? Hmmm.... Good thing I can pick up my bread and butter at the quicki-mart and read about living in medieval times.

3. My plot. I do not want to give away any secrets, but I think I have a pretty original idea, which is very hard to come by in the historical romance genre. Since I have yet to read every historical romance every written, I could be completely off base. Interestingly the plot started from a phone call from my Dad. He called to tell me he was marrying again. His third wife is three years younger than myself... After stewing for a few minutes and deciding it really was none of my business, the idea for “His Father’s Bride” was born.

What I hate:

1. Conflict. Conflict. Conflict. Before I took the Gotham class I knew nothing of conflict, motivation, goals, character arcs. I was just going to happily type my life away, spurning out pages that would be brilliant, funny, and endearing. Every editor would want to publish me and I would sell to the highest bidder! OK, back to reality. Seriously, I did not expect it to be that easy, but I also did not expect conflict to be so hard. It took me so long to understand the reasoning behind “contrived” conflict and why it is harmful to your story. I thought ”What do you mean I can’t make my characters do what I want them to do, I’M WRITING THE STORY!” Yes, you are writing it, but unless it is believable and makes sense, no one is going to read it. “OK. point taken”.

SO there it is: Three loves, One hate. Not too shabby for only being half way through. I am sure I will have a different perspective when I am finished. I will let you know when that golden day arrives.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Oh The Power of Me!

What I learned in Voice Class.... This sounds strangely like the topic of a 3rd grade theme! I hope I do not write it like a third grader as well! hahaha! Well, What did I learn?

I came out of the voice class fresh from the soul exploring, wall tearing class of the Girls in the Basement, and truly, I have not completely finished that either. But when I started Voice, I was at a point in the Girls class where we were digging into our ancient raw and reopened wounds. This had a dramatic effect on my ability to think clearly and write from the heart. I started the voice class raw and disturbed, just like I was feeling at the time. I think many of the comments from my classmates helped me along the journey of realistically looking at my mental and spiritual scars and examine them so closely. Once these were out in the open and I began to deal with them one at a time, the voice seemed to wander from happiness and fulfillment to anger and frustration and back.

For me, this was more about dealing with who I thought I was, who I wanted to be, and who I truly am. Instead of discovering my voice, I discovered me. Some of the comments, although heartfelt, really angered me at first. I did not know how to respond, because I did not want to lash out for what was clearly my problem. Upon more reflection, I wondered if I was basically just lying to myself. I started to panic, and my heart and mind filled with doubt and apprehension. I wrote to Barbara about owning everything. I thought I had, but how exactly do you do that, for maybe I did it wrong. I wrote to another classmate about the overwhelming process of “owning” this life. Along the way, everyone gave me so many wonderful and beautiful things to ponder. I mulled them over for many days and nights and came to the conclusion that I really did not see these things as they were, but in only one way; I was terrified of looking at my life as the whole picture and digesting it all at once in it’s entirety. Instead, I took everything piecemeal, one event and experience at at time. I had advised others that all these experiences make you who you are. I did not realize it was the SUM of all these things TOGETHER AS ONE which amounts to who you are. Elated, I could now move forward. For all the wonder, beauty and even ugliness in my life, this is what I learned in voice class:

I am a really great human being. I have a huge capacity to be caring, considerate, and forgiving. I am a good wife, loving sibling, forgiving daughter, a devoted mother. I am conscientious, responsible, and a hard worker. I love God, but I am not limited to where and when I can be in his spirit, nor am I closed to all the possibilities of the nature of his (or her) existence. I am courageous, enduring, and my spirit will bless others and live on forever. I know that I can handle anything life gives me, with a smile - at least at the end. When the world crumbles, I will not only still be standing, but I will be standing strong!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ho Ho Ho! Christmas Comes Early!

Man, it has been a great week. Other than the kids getting the tummy flu, I mean, it has been a really great week! One of the many highlights included Santa Claus finishing her shopping for the kids - One limited edition, almost out of stock, Nikki - girl of the year American Girl Doll, and the ever elusive Nintendo Wii! Santa has never been so generous, EVER. (Santa has been peddling stuff on Ebay for months. )

I already know what I want for Christmas...Internal conflict. Well, not for me, for my characters. I can’t seem to wrap my head around this one. I write a scene, and toss it. I type all day and then hit delete. The conflict that seems so obvious to me, does not present itself in my writing in an obvious way, or even in an obtuse way. I thought it was genius at first, lending my character a bit of a selfish flaw - but it sits there on the edge of my mind hovering, taunting me at every waking moment.

We know that conflict is what interferes with a character meeting his or her goals. We also know that these said goals are spearheaded by our character’s motivation. This is where I seem to get lost in my head, the a dark forest with so many twist and turns it makes a compass spin.

Perhaps to solve the conundrum of conflict we need to back up. Here is where I am running into trouble. Follow me here:
Internal Conflict for my heroine: (Naming it was the easy part) “fear of abandonment”

OK, this is a paralyzing fear for many people. Now, how does this interfere with her goal, or more specifically what is her internal goal? Well, if she wants to live alone alone she will never worry about feeling abandoned. But living alone would be external, not internal, right? If she surrounds her self with many people, not wait...still external. Internal goal and internal motivation. Find security and true love..well, no not if our heroine is focused on saving her brother and keeping him safe. She has raised him, and she is the only mother he has known. A-hem...External Jackie...get back to the internal. Ok, Internal goals: Security, Safety, to sleep at night and not have to worry about who will take care of them. To feel secure and know that her family will not leave her. Motivation? She is overwhelmed and terrified that yet another person will leave her alone with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Do you feel like your head is spinning? Well, mine does! Does that make sense to you? Let us recap:

Internal Goal: To FEEL secure and safe from harm.

Internal Motivation: She is overwhelmed and terrified to be left with more responsibility.

Internal Conflict: Fear of abandonment is paralyzing her from doing the things she needs to do procure safety and security.

Wow, for the first time in months I feel like I am getting somewhere. This blog started as a desperate Christmas wish, and the universe instantly answered my prayers as I wrote! All I needed to do is just ask. OK - Here is your assignment for this week. Blog about what you are having trouble with. Ask for your enlightenment. Sit back and write as it is divinely given to you.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!