Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Project Inspiration Time

I saw this image on Pinterest (love that site) under Laini Taylor's board and fell in love with it. It's just so darn creepy. I imagine she's been stuck under an icey lake for centuries, and some people finally stumble across her. So. Here's a little glimpse at this chick:



It’s like floating in a bed of needles. There’s no air to push through my lungs, no sound to force through my mouth, no room even to close my eyes. I’m buried head to toe in water. Frozen. Permanently.

I forget how long it’s been, but I know it has been years. Many years.

Or maybe it’s only been seconds, and the panic has made it seem endless. I know I will never escape this prison; I will never see my family again. I will never know the warmth of the sun, or the touch of dewy green grass, or the sticky, sugar smell of cotton candy. Ever. Again.

Pain is my only companion, and he’s a constant one. He caresses me with insistent fingers, forcing me to bend to his will. Screams push themselves through my chest over and over, though even I can’t hear them.

Mute.

Pressure. It pounds against the inside of my mind, pushing back against the ice like an explosion. My ears are filled with thick knives, and my hot blood throbbing.

I know it will never end. It will never stop.

Madness.

A crack. Somewhere deep within the unused folds of my mind, it happens: a crevice appears. It crackles like broken glass; shatters. I am losing it.

Breath. It careens into my body in a sharp blast of heat and cold. I can’t stand it. I try to cough it up.
Crack.

Fresh air folds itself like a lost lover around the contours of my face. This is a dream.
I close my eyes, and open them again. Above me I see trees and a pink dawn sky.

I see.

Now I see a face. A girl. She looks my age – my physical age.

“Holy crap,” she says, and yanks someone’s arm. “It’s a girl.”

A girl. They are talking about me.

A boy’s face appears, drawn with horror. “I’m not sure it’s a girl. It looks like a skeleton.”
“It’s a girl, look at the hair!” She bends down and touches my cheek with a gloved hand. Nylon scratches painfully against my skin. I try to move away, but I can’t. I blink.

She screams.

“Brett!” she screeches, falling backward. “She’s alive!”

“That’s impossible.”

I look back up at the sky; the blue. Bright, sapphire, sparkling blue.

Alive.

I am alive.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No, Gump. Life is NOT like a box of chocolates. They have keys now.

For Valentine’s Day this year my husband and I both got each other the same thing: a giant box of chocolates. So now we have TWO giant boxes of chocolates in the house. Not good for a chocolate-addict, but that’s another story (one which will inevitably end with my waistband expanding.) No, I got to thinking about the chocolate boxes, and how irritated I get when there’s no key. You know, the little map thingy that lets you know which chocolate is which, so you don’t accidently take a chomp out of the “Norwegian fruitcake nugget.” Or whatever.
I like to know what I’m eating. I don’t like surprises.
This also applies to my writing, I realized. I’m currently plotting a new novel, and I am so manic about this book being flawless (which I know is impossible, but I want it as good as I can make it) that I can’t bring myself to leave any element unexamined before I begin writing. Plot. Character. Relationships. Setting. Beginning, middle, and end. I need to know exactly what I’m writing about, so that when I finally start writing it, I won’t have any nasty surprises.
Like plot holes. Or… *shudders*….contradictions.
I absolutely HATE it when I send out a book to my agent or editor, and they point out a giant, gaping plot hole, or some area where I unintentionally contradict myself. It irritates the ever-loving crap out of me, and makes me feel idiotic. And I sit there beating myself up, wishing that I’d worked harder. I don’t want my editor thinking I half-assed this thing. I totally worked hard, but you can’t see EVERYTHING, can you? (The answer is no. No you can’t.)
So this time around, I want no part in all of that mess. I don’t want to take a bite out of the orange cream pie.
Now, that’s not to say that a few (good) surprises aren’t allowed. If I suddenly have an insight into my character halfway through writing a book, that’s totally fine. I’m excited about those kinds of surprises. And I know some authors write without planning just for the thrill of that euphoric ah-ha moment. I can’t be that way. Call me a control freak, but I need that chocolate key when I write.
What about you all? Do you plan when you write? Or do you throw the key away, and take a chance?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Project Inspiration Continues

Wow. So last week was a little crazy. A lot of ups and downs, ending with a major down, which I've somehow managed to turn back into an up.

I got some meh news about my WIP, and was feeling seriously bummed out, because I knew I hadn't put my best work into it. I felt rather...embarrassed that my agent read such garbage, and I wished like crazy that I hadn't even sent it to her.

But that would mean I need a time machine. And I so don't have one of those.

So I kind of had to get over it. And I did. With flying colors. I don't know when, and I don't know how, but somewhere last week I had a little epiphany. I figured out why I've been struggling so much with my writing.

It's you. All of you!

Haha, no I actually mean it. The thought of you (you readers out there) actually reading and critiquing every word I write stopped me from writing. It's terribly scary to put your writing out into the world (no, authors are not immune to this!!), and even more terrifying to know that everyone will be judging it. Harshly. Sometimes, you get glowing reviews, other times people tell you ever-so eloquently that you SUCK.

And, uh....as much as I'd like to pretend that I'm all strong and junk, I'm not. Not at all. Those words hurt like hell, and it's taken me a LONG time to recognize just how much it hurts. And how it's been affecting my writing.

It's like I have an evil minion living inside my head. And after every SINGLE word I write he screams "THAT SUCKS!" And I think, yeah I know. I'm letting the bad criticism, and the mean comments get to me. But in order to write from the heart, you can't do that. Or at least, I can't. It's been driving me crazy, and making me SO depressed.

No anymore! The ah-ha moment has come and gone, and I have started anew. I refuse to let my evil minion get the better of me. I have shut him up, and will continue to squash him until his guts explode like a roach under a shoe.

So.

Now that I got that out, I want to share with you my newest addition to Project Inspiration. It took me a while to feel comfortable enough with this to post it (thanks to the minion), but now I'm throwing it out there with wild abandon! Hopefully you all like it.

I was inspired by one of my favorite bands, Death Cab for Cutie. The song Cath has always inspired me, since it already tells a pretty cool story, but I wanted to elaborate on it. Really get a feel for this chick, Cath, and why she's marrying some guy she doesn't really love. And why she didn't marry the guy who loved her more. So. Here are the lyrics. A link to the song. And also my little story.

Thanks for listening to my outpouring of emotional vomit. I hope, if someone else is feeling hurt by the words of others (and this doesn't just pertain to writing) that you'll take a page out of my book (hahah!) and try to squash you're evil minions with HUGE ARMY BOOTS!

Cath

Cath, she stands with a well-intentioned man
But she can't relax with his hand on the small of her back
And as the flashbulbs burst
She holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child

And soon everybody will ask what became of you
'Cause your heart was dying fast, and you didn't know what to do

Cath, it seems that you live in someone else's dream
In a hand-me-down wedding dress
Where the things that could have been are repressed
But you said your vows, and you closed the door
On so many men who would have loved you more

And soon everybody will ask what became of you
'Cause your heart was dying fast, and you didn't know what to do

The whispers that it won't last roll up and down the pews
But if their hearts were dying that fast,
They'd have done the same as you
And I'd have done the same as you

Now is the time to say no, but I just can’t. Everyone is staring at us. Everyone I love; family, friends, co-workers, my soon-to-be in-laws. Everyone I know watches me with dewy eyes, as I stand in a white dress, and calmly devote my life to a man I will never love.
At least, not really.
The preacher drones on. I feel like he is lecturing me. Or perhaps, scolding me for making a mockery of this marriage thing. This thing which he – and the rest of my family – hold in such high esteem.
I wrinkle my nose against the insufferable aroma of jasmine and roses. My sister says they are meant to be romantic. Sexy, even. I want to ask her if she knows how I am dying inside.
My eyes flick over at her, and I fight off a sigh. She is beaming at me. At first, I wonder if it’s genuine – it seems so fixed – and then tears well up, and I look away, disappointed. She doesn’t know me so well, after all.
The preacher starts to do the “will you take this man” thing, and suddenly, I can’t breathe. Every single cell in my body screams at me to say no. Tell the truth for once in my life.
But to humiliate James like that. I just can’t. I don’t have it in me. Never have.
Eric’s face appears where James’ just was, and something strange flutters through me like the trembling of a frightened animal. We’re in his living room, and he’s holding my hands. I think he is about to propose.
I am so very wrong.
He’s leaving – some internship in Spain or whatever. It’s my future, he says. I can’t just give this up. I notice he says it’s his future, not ours, and I begin to cry.
He pulls me to his chest, and I breathe in his t-shirt with ragged sobs. He smells of butter, and cooking wine, from work. He asks me if I will go with him. I won’t. He tells me, it’ll be over before I know it—it’s just a year.
But it wasn’t.
It was three years, and we broke up after one. I met James six months later, and fell quickly into like. I liked how easy he was. How I never had to worry about how much he loved me – he said it every day. All the time. I liked that he made random romantic gesture that made me feel like the most important person in his world. I liked that he had a good, safe job as a lab tech at Memorial Hospital. He would never leave. And I liked that.
So when he asked me if I would marry him, I said yes. I knew I didn’t love him like I’d loved Eric. But I figured there was no harm in marrying someone who loves you more than you love them. Right?
Except now, standing here in this massive church, in front of all these people, all I can think about is Eric. And how I wish it were him standing beside me. I wish I’d told him I didn’t want him to leave – that I’d done the wrong thing, for once, and the right thing for me. I should have fought for us.
And now I will never see him again. I will marry James, and live happily ever after with Price Charming.
The preacher asks me to recite my vows. I feel my voice betray me, yet again. James pours his heart out through his eyes as I speak the final words.
“I do.”
Suddenly Spain is a minute away, and the space between James and me is infinite. He crushes me to him for a kiss, and everyone claps. Music shrieks. My body goes rigid.
James has never smiled so big.
He all but carries me down the aisle, as people toss rose petals at us. They feel like hand grenades. I cringe away, forcing my smile to stay in place for my mother, my father…my aunt, uncle, cousin…they all expect me to smile. Their faces blur past me in a spiral of Technicolor. My head spins. My friends from work with their catty grins, high school friends that attended as seat-fillers, James’s work buddies, and…my feet turn to lead.
Eric.
Sitting in the last row. Not clapping. Not smiling. Not even invited to attend, but here. Somehow he’s here.
 And I am married.
He is feet away from me, and leans in before James can see. He slips something into my hand as he presses his cheek to mine in one of those fake kisses everyone does at weddings. I hear his voice in my ear, but I can’t make out what he says.
James tugs me away, but I whip my head around to keep looking at Eric. His face is pale, drawn, and the pain in his eyes is palpable.
The doors bang shut.
We walk toward the bridal suite to await the reception. James won’t stop talking, but I drown him out, fully focused on what Eric handed me. I can’t look, or it’ll draw attention. I feel it. Soft, flat…I suck in a breath at a sharp edge that draws blood. It’s paper.
A note.
We enter the suite, and I stand there in the center, idly hugging James. My hand comes up around his back and I see the paper. I stare at it, listening to James tell me how much he loves me.
And I crush the paper.
James pulls back and says it’s time to head over to the party. I tell him I need a minute, and flee to the bathroom. Inside, I hold my hand over the trash can, tears slicing my cheeks in two as they run down my face. All I want is to read the note. But I am married now, and no matter what the paper says, it won’t change that. It’ll only make throwing the paper away that much harder.
I squeeze my eyes closed, and with a stifled sob, I open my hand and let the note drop into the trash.
When I open my eyes I see James standing there with this face on. One that says clearly that he saw the whole thing.
 
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