I am an experienced non-fiction blogger –– politics –– all day politics. Then I went into rehab, came out, went in again. The first time I went into rehab we were traveling to Hilton Head to meet my brother and sis-in-law. I had a notebook in the car with me. Hadn’t written anything with a pencil other than a grocery list for a long time. I began, for the first time, to flesh-out a fiction book based on politics with a woman as the protagonist. This went on for two or three years. We write with inner dialogue, but my own inner dialogue was telling me, hey, too much perfection in these characters. I needed some dirt. Even thinking about it didn’t come easy, let alone doing it. I left rehab. Just too frustrating and time-consuming. There wasn’t a cure for me. See a video below.
Over three years I developed the characters for an Italian family. I wrote paragraphs and full chapters –– so many I’m not sure it’s possible to organize them. I still find one tucked away in a folder with a title that surely meant something at the time, but . . . I’ve been delighted at an angle I came up with, or a phrase that might be important in the story that wasn’t going anywhere, because I had left rehab and relapsed.
I was reluctant to enter rehab again. It’s a lot of work. It meant that I would have to think, and think, and think about how my murderer got into the place he got into, to murder my guy. A state of relapse was more comfortable, and besides, I could still write about politics and make endings go away. When you write about news, there’s always an ending for, at least, that day and that story.
Still in that sad state of relapse, I met neighbors, husband and wife, both published fiction authors. It was my lucky day. They encouraged me to keep trying. I went back into rehab. When we need rehab, and are willing to fix our problem, we learn things, don’t we?
A big step: I found a way for my murderer to be where he was supposed to be. Oh, happy day, because I complained plenty that I could start stories but couldn’t find a decent ending –– so why bother? I wrote the day I found the ending on my calendar so that it will repeat every year, a reminder that I did it. It was such a big day that I came out of rehab.
My protagonist is still much too much a “good girl,” but she isn’t the antagonist, so at least there’s that. I’m finding she has eruptions from-time-to-time that plague her, not like an outbreak of acne on prom night. More like sprouting a brown wart the size of a grape on the tip of her nose, minutes before interviewing for the most important job of her career. Her husband is no longer tall and handsome, but I like him better, and it’s fun to watch other characters look at this marriage –– trying to figure out what she saw in him, a woman who could have any man she wanted (the huge brown wart disappeared at midnight on the same day it appeared).
Then (not supposed to use the ‘then’ transition, but I think it works here), my neighbors encouraged me to try writing a short story. I did. I found an ending, and I wrote The End. For all its usefulness, no longer needing rehab was freeing. I have fairly confident hopes that when I sit down to write, I’ll have, at the least, some good ideas.
After writing my short story, a few other stories were birthed, and had an ending. I met a very sharp editor, and an insightful publisher who listened as I read in a critique group over a period of several weeks –– the same story. The entire group was so very kind and encouraging, but they did their job and offered good advice. The editor told me I needed “to get meaner” because it was a terrible time in history, and since I was talking about Italians, my two characters, a man and woman, needed to use their hands in emotional moments, because that’s what Italians do. I also needed to add “smells,” and where better to conjure smells (good or bad) than in Italy? Everyone in the group had similar things to say, along with good things. The combined result meant I did not need to re-enter rehab.
What I do need to do is write serious “bad girls,” at least one to go along with my really mean bad guy. Again, today is a lucky day. Who can inspire to carry it off, in colorful, clear language, better than Kristen Lamb: how to “. . . channel your inner ‘bad girl’ to reach your dreams” (and more importantly, why we must do it if we “want our name in lights”).
I’ll know it’s time to re-enter rehab if I “feel comfortable losing.”
#1 BAD GIRLS DO IT AFRAID: Nothing remarkable happens in the comfort zone. You are going to have to suck it up and writer up. Only sociopaths don’t feel fear. Fear is natural and normal but it gets in the way of greatness. I feel women are far more afraid of failure than men. We wait to be “perfect.” We can’t say anything until we have the perfect book. But perfect is the enemy of the good. .
#2 Bad Girls OWN IT
#3 Bad Girls ASK FOR IT
#4 Bad Girls DO IT
#5 Bad Girls ARE IN IT TO WIN IT Read about #2 – #5 at Kristen Lamb’s Blog and read the four points of why Good Girls are losers.
Male writers don’t have these problems. Kristen explains why.
Maybe you’ve never been in ‘real’ rehab. I haven’t, in the traditional sense of the word, (just so there’s no misunderstanding) but when I try to write about girls that aren’t “good girls,” I imagine drowning in sap, yet it comes so easily. Take a look at the actions of the ultimate bad girl in the video below. It’s short.
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