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.

12 comments:

YS#1 said...

So glad that you and the manuscript are back on speaking terms again. perhaps we might see baby manuscripts in the near future?

SG Redling said...

You know how I love to beat a metaphor to death! Bring on the offspring!

Tina Michelle said...

Glad you two are working things out. Patience and communication are always the right way to a perfect union. What the hell do I know about unions Shelia, Im in a nasty divorce myself.

So, new comment, if you cannot make it work, save yourself! = TM

Anita Clenney said...

I'm happy that you and your MS are reconciling your differences :) If the problem continues, maybe you should consider having an affair. Start writing something else, see if it doesn't spark some more fire into the old relationship.

Aonia Grafton said...

Haha, great post. I think I'm on the verge of estrangement with my manuscript, so perhaps your approach will help us get back together.

SG Redling said...

Don't think the manuscript isn't well aware of my series characters strolling in the background, casting longing glances at my much-missed hands. And I am not above using that to get what I want!

Donald V. Phillips said...

Ever thought of... manuscript swapping??? You write mine, I write yours!

Bob Redmond said...

Sheila--First think, hello after, um, 22 years. I found you via Gayle Vandenberg's Facebook page, and saw that you are a fellow traveler/writer. Plus my last name still follows yours in the cosmic alphabet. Good luck with that MS, and drop me a line sometime at http://www.facebook.com/bob.redmond. Hope you are well.

SG Redling said...

Bob, wow! Who knew the cosmic alphabet would still wrangle us into such compact groups? I guess all those A-E's have the banking jobs. We get the fun stuff! Stalked you a tiny bit - cool website.

Jen Bee, a writer said...

*Stares thoughtfully at the glimpse into post-uni-writing-land*

Reckon I shall be laying down some ground rules. Soon as I'm done with these assignments that is.

SG Redling said...

Jan Bee - You can try to lay down all the rules up front, but you know how a WIP is. If there's a hard way, a WIP will find it. I guess it's the payoff for the pleasure. All things considered, we're getting the better end of the deal.

Robin Kirtland said...

Eyepatch tattoo...interesting concept.