Thursday, April 8, 2010

Have a spat with your WIP

So you might have noticed I've been a bit quiet lately. The truth is there have been some personal issues. Normally I don't air my dirty laundry in public but for this I'll make an exception. You see, my manuscript and I hit a rough patch. Oh it's the same old story - the two of us just were going along about our daily business, maybe taking each other a bit for granted. When the first rifts appear you say to yourself "It's nothing. It's normal. We're solid." Then you start to notice little things: you don't see eye to eye on fundamental issues. Chilly silence where there used to be easy laughter. And one day I had to be honest with myself. My manuscript and I were on the brink of a divorce. How had it gone so wrong?

I blamed myself. I blamed the manuscript. I blamed my mother (because that's what I like to do.) Finally I had to sit down with my story and ask that question I have never asked anyone before: where do you see us going together?

Stony silence. You have to understand the natural communication gap. I'm a pantser from way back involved in an intricately plotted mystery. We don't always speak the same language. I quickly realized that if I was going to save this relationship, we were going to have to compromise. And as much as I hated to admit it, the first step I had to take toward healing the rift was one I have always avoided: I had to outline. Once that trust bond had been made, the healing could begin. I gave in to chapter length demands; I got to throw in a little extra sarcasm. Cliff hangers emerged when I was allowed to give my bartender an eyepatch tattoo.

Little by little my manuscript and I have been working our way back to that blissful personal space we had taken for granted in the beginning. We're not quite back to that "I can't wait to see you again!" stage, but we've both noticed a willingness to linger just a bit longer and the sounds of whispers and giggles once more fill the air. It will be long road to recovery but I think we've both learned an important lesson about taking each other for granted.

I have to sign off now. If I cut my social networking down I've been promised at least two major plot points by the weekend.