I’ve been editing today in my novella, Sweet Sixteen, and my main character uses an old cliché in Chapter 4. Here’s the passage:
She sat down and folded her legs. “I’m turning in my resignation. Effective immediately.”
“Immediately?” He sounded shocked. “Why immediately? Did something happen?”
“No,” Mercedes started, “I’m just done. Ready to move on. And when I’m ready to move on, I don’t like to dottle.”
The cliché in question? Dottle. If you’re an American, you’ve probably heard someone say “don’t dottle” in your lifetime. But I didn’t realize where the word actually comes from, so here’s a little background on that interesting word.
"I don't dottle."
"I'm not a piece of tobacco hanging around in your pipe after you've smoked it."
As of Saturday, I’ve been going through some old notebooks from the garage. I used to be a notebook junkie, back in my youth. Why? Because I was always writing something. Whether it was fiction, a journal, notes, etc. I’ve always been a note junkie, too. Unfortunately, before the cloud age, this meant a lot of notebooks and being afraid to throw away any of them in case there was something in there that didn’t eventually get realized somewhere else.
I’m mostly throwing away the stuff I’m going through, but there is an occasional gem here and there. These notebooks date between high school and college days. Any fiction I was writing at that age is pretty bad, but sometimes an idea was good. I try to keep ideas with potential, but stuff that’s just bad I toss. And then there’s the notes upon notes upon notes. You never know what you’ll find in a notebook of mine. There could be like ten pages of Algebra II notes followed by a short scene for stage, and then notes on a two act play. Good gravy.
I mostly went digital several years back and have made little use of notebooks since then. While a lot could be said about the fragility and non-ownership of digital, a lot could also be said about notebooks sitting in cardboard boxes in your garage for years and fragility. Those notebooks easily could have been chewed up and dumped on by mice or whatever. Or flooding in the basement of our previous place could have destroyed them.
The key to me when it comes to your work, notes, etc. is that you have multiple copies. Period. Some people put all their eggs in Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox, or Box, or Evernote, or OneNote, or whatever other digital platforms/clouds. But I try to make multiple copies in several of these places. I may draft in one place, but then edit in another, or simply copy stuff over to another place at some point just to make sure I have a backup.
Backup, backup, backup. That’s what you want to do.
Never underestimate backing up. Because at some point a service you use everyday will shutdown, or the cloud will hiccup and dump your stuff or whatever. Backup, backup, backup. Always backup.
After a long break from musical writing prompts, I’m bringing them back. Today’s musical writing prompt is I Want Love by Elton John. This particular song comes directly from the playlist of my WIP and is a super powerful song.
What is a musical writing prompt? It”s like a visual writing prompt, but instead of staring at a picture to come up with an idea, you listen to a song. Simple.
Now, go forth and write my kittens!
You may share yours below in the comments, if you want.
I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog as of late. But I’ve been hard at work in my writing. Last year I wrote a novella, Jessica Wright’s Double Vision, and I’m currently working on two for this year. And guess what? They’re all part of the same series.
I made a commitment this year to write 2 novellas in a Mercedes Masterson, Private Eye series. The Double Vision novella will likely end up being book 2 or book 3 of the series. I’m currently waist deep in the first novella, which is due June 1.
Unfortunately, I’ve fallen behind, after being ahead of schedule up until February where I hit a brick wall (despite having most of it outlined in front of me). I only recently got my groove back, this week actually. Gonna fight hard to beat June 1 or come close. I am roughly 10k words from the end, so close. Super close.
If you like old hardboil, crime, noir, detective, private eye style stuff–you’ll probably like Mercedes and this series of novellas I’m working on. It’s got strong female characters, which I love to write. I hope everyone will be as excited about these stories as I am, especially since Mercedes is my favorite character I’ve ever written and I’ve been writing her off and on since 2005. I’ll write again soon with a description and title of the first book.
Here are some snapshots/excerpts of what’s to come, hope you enjoy:
Writing, when it comes, is a glorious waterfall of emotions and glory. The feeling is one I can hardly describe. But there are moments, times, days, weeks, months when you become beaten. Slapped. Kicked. Beaten with a bat, run over by car. Shot. Stabbed. Trampled by a stampede.
It’s a moment when you sit down to get to work and there is a void. A great nothingness. Thus begins a struggle with an invisible foe. It feels like it’s you against a black hole. It sucks you in and you can’t quit it. You stand no chance.
It’s nothing. Nothing.
So you try to turn your thoughts away from the typing part of writing, try to focus on other things like notes. Research. Something.
Punched. Spit upon. Scarred, cut, wounded.
You’re not sure you can go on. You try desperately to trick yourself into it by turning to music. That trusty playlist you’ve been building up with music to help inspire and guide you. So you listen. You listen. You listen still.
HOLY MOTHER OF NOTHINGNESS.
There is no end in sight. She has her hands around your neck, strangling and digging her fingernails into your skin. She looks deeply into your eyes and you can see her smile. She grins with delight. She enjoys your bitter end.
A tear escapes your eye and trickles down your temple. She’s on top of you now, crushing your chest. It’s getting harder to breathe. You can feel your life force giving in to her desires.
What is this? Could it be? No, surely not.
But, ho! It is!
A glorious, wondrous thought. A beautiful thought. An idea. Perhaps the thing you’d been missing all this time. Your eyesight returns from the blackness. You can see that wretched woman’s smile fade from her eyes. You grab her arms and pull them apart, her hands unlatching from your neck.
Somewhere in the distance opera music plays, reaching its crescendo. A triple forte.
You look her in the eyes, you tell her to go. You have an idea after all. You toss her across the floor, she springs up on all fours like a cat. Her back hunched, she hisses.
“Not today, old maid!” You scoff at her. “I’m a writer, and I have an idea. A wonderful, glorious thought.”
You sit down at the desk once more. The opera chorus sings in triumph now, louder and louder. You pick up your pen, your weapon. You shall die by it, by gum. You put pen to paper and suddenly…
An organ crashes. The chorus halts.
An overwhelming feeling. A dark, heavy feeling. It bears down on your back like an Acme anvil. You physically begin to cave under its pressure, its weight. Can it be? No. No. YES! It is!
It’s been done before.
HOLY MOTHER OF BACON BITS.
You look to your old adversary. Her eyes smile once more. She let you believe it. She led you to this outcome. It was her all along. She was merely toying with you, like a cat with its trusty toy. Fooled. Again.
“Well played, milady.” You tell her. “Well played.”