As my writing goal for this year, I am determined to get my third book in the Carrie Mae series fully outlined and at least one draft done. Carrie Mae (for those who haven’t picked up Bulletproof Mascara or Compact with the Devil) is the at home make-up sales company that is a front for an international, all-female, espionage organization. And my heroine Nikki Lanier is one of their top agents. My original plan for the series involves 5 books, but life (marriage, new business, new baby, changing book deals) has managed to delay my production speed. I made this goal in January and as of Sunday had made zero progress toward that goal. Every time I went to open up my notes I got pissy and decided to do something else. It got so bad, that I actually did the dishes one day instead of working on my outline. If you knew me at all that’s like saying I decided to have root canal instead of going on vacation.
So Monday night I gave myself a stern little talking to and opened my notes. I can’t imagine going through someone else’s writing notes and attempting to make sense out of them. Going through my own notes is like trying to track an elusive animal through the underbrush. I followed the traces of my own thoughts and began to realize that I was further along than I remembered. My outline was more complete and my research was fairly cohesive. But just as I remembered what I’d been planning to write, I also remembered why I stopped.
The first problem I had was that my plot involves pot smuggling on the Canadian border and Washington State just legalized plot. Thanks a lot Washington. Thanks for deciding that if the medical research indicates that pot isn’t all that dangerous maybe we should stop spending money on prosecuting people and also try to make money off of it. Or in other words, thanks for making my writing life more difficult.
The second problem was more emotional. As I had been working through the plot I came into a strategy conflict with my writer’s group. They thought the novel was a too much of a leap ahead in my story arcs and wanted at least one short story before the book to fill the gap. I wasn’t convinced they were right and, even worse, I wasn’t convinced they were wrong. The more we discussed the matter, the less certain I became. And of course the more uncertain I was, the more grumpy I became about the whole project. So then I put it aside to “think” about it. Which is writer code “I give up.”
But now I’m back, dang it. I refuse to give up on my characters! I will revisit the advice from my writer’s group. I will put on my big girl panties and make some decisions. Because if I can’t dictate what my fictional characters are going to do with their lives then I’m not much of a writer now am I?
Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.