Today I’m going to turn the blog over to a guest post from LUCIENNE DIVER.
Lucienne is a literary agent, and she’s also an author of numerous short stories and a YA novel, VAMPED. Her newest, BAD BLOOD, is available TODAY from Samhain Publishing.
And now…here’s Lucienne!
My Can’t Write a Blog Blog - Lucienne Diver
There’s an adorable little girl here who insists that I noogie her instead of write my blog. No, really, she insists. I’ve tried to convince her to play her DS, but she stuck it into my shoe instead. I then tried to convince her that she wouldn’t want it back because of the eternal stench and thus it was mine now, but apparently, I have to work on my sensory details to up my verisimilitude. In other words, she wasn’t buying it.
I’m sitting here at my son’s Boy Scout meeting in a room reserved for parents and siblings who didn’t want to drive all the way home between dropping off and picking up. Clearly this isn’t the blog I sat down to write. I switched over in the hope that if I wrote about said noogie girl (hey, Madison), she might let me keep going. (Yeah, that didn’t work either.) But as I switched gears, I realized that I could actually turn this into something, a blog about change, distractions and going with the flow.
First of all, I’m not good with change, which is funny, because I’m also a travel junkie, and I’d almost always rather visit someplace new than retread old ground. But outside of that, I really, really prefer knowing where everything stands, with life traveling along at a nice, even keel. Great for the blood pressure. Not so much for writing. Do I get my ideas when I’m going about my daily routine? No, I get them when I people-watch or take trips or experience something new that shifts my thinking. I’ve written since I was eleven years old, but was I headed for publication before perhaps the biggest change in my life—the birth of my son? No, I was not. I didn’t write for almost two years after he was born, too taken with this beautiful boy I held in my arms to look away. When I did restart my writing, it was a conversation between two baristas in my local Starbucks that started the ideas flowing again. It led to my first published novel (Playing Nice by “Kit Daniels”). The point is, his birth changed me. My earlier attempts at writing were all so horribly self-conscious. I don’t know if the sleep deprivation broke down my sense of self, letting me get out of my own way, or whether it was the fact that I woke before the sun (and thus my inner critique), but something was different when I sat down again to write.
My process continued to evolve. Later, as a young mother taking my son to exciting places like the ball pit at McDonald’s, I discovered that I could either continue to stare unblinkingly at my son for hours on end, or I could stay sane. (Not that sanity is necessarily a prerequisite for writing.) Now, as many of you know or can guess, McDonald’s isn’t the quietest place in the world. It’s about as far from distraction-free as their food is healthy. But I learned to write amidst the noise and the stolen glances every three or four seconds to be sure my son was where I expected him to be and that no other toddler was trying to bounce the balls off his head. I learned to tune out the exterior noise and target in on the voices in my head. Because, as E.L. Doctorow says with great accuracy, writing truly is “a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
All that focus was also really good practice for weeding through the noise of potential plot paths. In writing, as in life, every choice you make leads to multiple branches that will take your storyline in divergent directions. It’s important to be able to decide which branches to take and which to prune. Think of your novel like a bonsai tree. You do have to give it constant care, nurture and shape it, but you also have to let the tree grow organically, and look at what’s natural for its development. Because of this necessarily organic growth, you don’t know exactly how it will develop just looking at the seed. The same goes for your fiction. No matter how serious a plotter you are, chances are things will diverge from your initial outline, because characters will surprise you or something struck you as you wrote, and you have to be able to go with the flow (and, of course, let your agent and/or editor know if the changes are significant).
So, this isn’t the blog I set out to write, but it’s the one that seemed to want to be written.
See how sleep deprivation can work for you!
Bad Blood, first novel of the Latter-Day Olympians
Available digitally June 28, 2011, print in 2012
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/lucienne.diver
Buy Bad Blood today at: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/bad-blood-p-6360.html
meow! Thanks, Lucienne! and my human totally agrees: characters do have a way of "taking over" an outline!
Thursday: I announce my schedule for July! Stay tuned!
SCI FI BLOGGING CAT