Monday, May 18, 2009

Just keep swimming.

I was going through all of my old "the next great novel" attempts, and, inspired by the Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent contest (sorry, link's not working for me tonight), I decided to post a few of my beginnings. I'm limiting it to about 100-200 words on most of them, though, b/c the majority are a little traumatizing for me. Only 3 of the 6 below made it into full-length manuscripts, which is about 1, maybe 2, too many. So here goes ... don't say you weren't warned.

1) Title: none. (I labeled it as "stuff" so it would sound boring on my computer and no one would open it out of curiosity and laugh.) Genre: ? (first chapter is about a teen, but then it shoots to her in college ... so maybe YA? Heck if I know ... didn't think about genres then.)
At age 15, in a dark, crowded room full of teenagers, Danika Benson’s life finally began. Because that night, Danika met Austin Dunaway.

As she sat in the corner of the gymnasium, her white sneakers lit by the black lights and disco balls around the room, Danika silently watched as other students talked, laughed, and danced with one another, ringing in the new school year.

At age 15, and in her sophomore year of high school, Danika Benson had been thrust from the comfort she had known for years when her father lost his job. She had been forced to move to a new school, to make new friends, and to try to fit in all over again. Like other teenagers, Danika desired to be accepted by her peers. However, her insecurities always held her back. At 5’6, with chestnut hair, hazel eyes, and a face full of freckles, Danika wasn’t exactly a beauty queen. She didn’t turn heads when she walked into the room. She didn’t have guys lined up just for the chance to get to talk to her. And she never got asked to dance. So why was she here?

---Yeah ... I used the phrase "At age 15"--not once which may have been forgiveable, but two stellar times. And I sounded like i was dictating my shopping list. Total word count on this one? 19,354 too many. (And from a cursory look back over it, I think I was just about finished. Yeah ... Uh huh.)---

2) Title: A Triangular Affair. Genre: chick lit/women's fiction
Prologue –

Three hours of cheap beer and vodka shots later, the seven of them gather in an intimate circle on the living room floor, an empty beer bottle spinning clockwise between them on the large white tiles. It slows, somewhat meticulously, and finally teeters to a stop. Their eyes meet for the briefest moment, and then quickly dart away. They carefully lift themselves onto their knees, slowly leaning toward one another. And then they kiss. When they both pulled away, their cheeks are flushing bright pink. It suddenly feels as though the room has grown ten degrees hotter, only the thermostat still reads a comfortable seventy-five degrees. Surely it isn’t the kiss that has caused them to feel this way. Surely a kiss between two friends, while playing a silly little game nonetheless, hasn’t caused their extremities to rise to a temperature that nearly lights the room on fire. Surely it is something else, they both assure themselves. But what if it isn’t?

---I don't even know what to say about this one. First w/the title: Like an affair with 3 people involved is so unusual that I had to label it a triangle. Let's just say I was going for literal. Next w/the writing: I swear, it's like I was setting the stage for a screenplay, using my best Mr. Moviephone voice. Who did I think I was, and what did I think I was doing, exactly? And, yet again, I might as well be reciting the pledge of allegiance. Except I think that the pledge is way more interesting than what I have here, and much better written. Total word count on this one? 15,197, and about 2000 more for my outline of what I had left to complete this little doozy.---

3) Title: Matched Up. Genre: Chick lit/Women's fiction.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It really wasn’t. And by “it,” I mean my life. I was supposed to be married to Alex—my first and only love, my high school sweetheart—by now, and we’re supposed to be living our own happily ever after. Alex and Alyssa—seriously, how cute would that look in calligraphy on our wedding invitations?

Being the typical girl that I am, I’ve had our wedding planned out for years—from the invitations to the honeymoon (never mind the fact that we’re not even engaged; that’s a minor detail). Of course, I change my mind at least once a month, but here’s the latest (Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all the details. Just a select few.) We’ll get married at The Dunes, the private beach where we used to make out for hours, and where he asked me to go steady when we were sixteen. I’ll wear a strapless white gown, something simple and tasteful with beautiful beading on the bodice. My bridesmaids will wear classic black cocktail dresses (because I’m just not interested in a taffeta fiasco) and will carry small calla lily bouquets wrapped in white satin.

---So you may sense a couple of themes here: a fascination w/chick lit (which has passed, btw), backstory-backstory-backstory, telling-telling-telling, and at best very blah writing. It's not necessarily that I don't have a good idea inside my head, it's that w/all of the crap I've given to wade through, no one would ever know. For instance, if I told you this was about my MC's attempt to hook her best friend up with a guy from a dating website, where my MC goes online and pretends to be her friend and ends up falling for internet guy instead, creating all kinds of turmoil when everyone meets, would you get any of that from what I have above? If you would, you have powers beyond this realm. Be very careful, or scientists will lock you in a lab and study you for all of eternity. Word count: 2, 681 + about 1k of outline.

4) Title: Running Backwards. Genre: Chick lit/Women's fiction.
Reunion, T minus 1 day

“How the hell did I let you talk me into this?” Jocelyn shot a glance at her sister, Kendra, as she threw a black cashmere sweater and hip hugger jeans into her already overflowing suitcase. She rummaged through her closet full of shoes before deciding on strappy black sandals, brown wedges, black flats, pointy high heel boots, running shoes, her favorite fuzzy slippers, and her trusty flip flops.

Kendra giggled, adjusting the bright red scarf tied loosely over her pixie cut hair. “You know, you can’t fit your entire wardrobe into two suitcases. And you’re only going to be gone for five days.” Kendra caught Jocelyn’s eyes before slowly continuing.

“And you’re going because it’ll be good for you … and because you wanted to.”

Jocelyn furrowed her brow as she stood in her closet, trying to decide which belts and scarves to pack. Later tonight, she would fly back to her old stomping grounds, and in a mere twenty-four hours, she would be at her ten-year high school reunion, sitting in the midst of forty-five people that she was friendly with but never really knew.

---This one, I actually queried. Finished it, edited it, and sent it on its merry little way. Got about oh ... 20 or so standard rejections. Got 1 partial request, followed by a "No thanks; too much backstory for my tastes." I was attached to this one, but it took me awhile to realize why. It wasn't b/c I loved it, or b/c I thought the writing was any good. It was b/c these characters were based on real people--me, my sister, my clique of high school friends. The story was about a group of friends--my group of friends--going to their high school reunion, each with their own secrets and struggles. It was immensely cathartic and enjoyable, b/c it allowed me to extract quite a bit of written revenge on old classmates that I thought deserved it. But did that make it good? Not so much. I considered reediting it, changing it up, etc., but then I realized I just had to let it go. The only reader it ever had was my sister. And you know what? She ate it up. But that was b/c she knew these people, too, and it was like being in on a secret that the rest of the world wasn't. Total word count: 97, 828 (hot damn! I didn't realize that!)

5) Title: Beneath the Skin. Genre: Women's fiction (if it's chick lit, then it was of the darker/more dramatic variety, due to its subject matter).

Prologue

“Holy Mother of God, it hurts!” I shrieked as a tattooed man named Sober dug a buzzing needle into my wrist.

Kendal wiped the sweat from my forehead and cocked her head to the side. “You can’t quit now,” she said as she looked at my half completed Chinese marking. “What will people think when you tell them your tattoo means ‘younger’? That doesn’t even make sense.”

I opened one eye and glared at her. “Please, for all you know, yours says ‘I smell like egg rolls.’ No offense,” I said with a quick glance toward Sober, “but it’s not like a man completely lacking Asian heritage is the most reliable source.”

“Oh, ye of little faith. Sober’s super-skilled in the art of Kanji. Aren’t you Sober?”

Sober grunted in response.

I rolled my eyes and glanced back at Kendal. “And just so you know, genius, the second word is younger. The first is sister.”

“Sister younger? Now you’re just being silly.” Kendal furrowed her brow and held her wrist up to mine. When she noticed that the first symbols were identical, she shook here head and tossed up her hands. “I swear … English must make zero sense in other countries.”

“S***!” I yelled as Sober began drilling the second word into my arm.

“Keep still,” Sober mumbled—his first words in over an hour.

“I’m trying, but you’re killing me.”

He shook his head and tightened his grip on my arm. “The drunk ones aren’t usually such drama queens,” he muttered.

---Okay, now this may not be your thing, and I certainly respect that. But it holds a special place in my heart. One day, I will go back. I will make changes. I will make this one work. Right now? I'm not ready for that. It needs too much attention, too much reworking, and I think it may need a younger narrator. Problem is, I can't make her that much younger and have my story still work as it is. So it remains in limbo. I did "finish it" at one time. I queried it to a handful of agents. I got about 3-4 rejections and 2 requests for partials. One, I was stoked about--I emailed a query, she replied the same/next day, and I sent her a synopsis and the first 10 or so pages. Result: not her thing, not into the writing, or something like that. I think I still have the reply saved somewhere. The second agent requested a partial, which I sent, but somehow it ended up marked as unsolicited and returned. By that time, I realized it wasn't ready--it wasn't anywhere near ready. So I never resent the partial. Word count: 85,174.

6) Title: Into the Dark. Genre: YA paranormal
PROLOGUE

I was four years old when I first saw a ghost.

We met in the guest bathroom of my mother’s latest “gentleman friend’s” house, while I was searching for a clean towel to dry my hands.

Bottom drawer, an unfamiliar voice said. Behind the razorblades.

I gasped and turned toward the sound, my wet hands collapsing at my sides.

The stranger sat on the bathtub’s ledge, his arms crossed over his chest and one foot kicked over his knee. He wore black boots, black pants, and a long black trench. His skin was an unblemished pale, his eyes brighter than stars against a dark canvas.

You are making quite the mess, he said with a disapproving nod toward the puddled white tiles.

Everything I’d ever been taught told me to run, but all I could do was stare, my eyes bulging from their sockets like marshmallows under heat.

Are you ill, child? he asked.

N-no. I tucked a loose curl behind my ear, tracking water across my cheek. I’m uh, I mean I um

Ah. Plagued by the stutter. He frowned and shook his head. How very unfortunate.

D-do I know you?

No. And you will do well to maintain such an arrangement.

I braved a step forward, my eyes wide with curiosity. What are you doing here?

Things that I should not.

I don’t understand.

Of course you don’t, he said with a scowl. You are just a child. A brainless prey for the taking.

---I included the first 248 words or so, b/c it has been through some changes recently. I'm keeping the old version, just in case, b/c I can't be sure yet that I'm going to like where I've taken it. This is my latest WIP. It's my first YA, so in many ways, it feels like my first attempted novel. Is it great? I really don't know. I think it could be. I may need to tighten some things up and/or lose the prologue in the long run, but I could have something here. Rest assured, however, that it didn't come easy. (and oh ... word count: something like 90k--it's been changing a lot lately, though.)

The point of this, other than to make a fool of myself, was to note that writing is a craft. And, like any other craft, you have to work at it. You may have great ideas, but that doesn't equate to great execution. But that doesn't mean you should throw down your pen (or slam your keyboard into a wall). It just means that you need to keep practicing. Keep working at it. Join critique groups. Enter contests. Do whatever you can to learn and grow, both as a person and in your writing. In the words of someone very famous: "When life gets you down do you wanna know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim swim."

9 comments:

Omi said...

Ellen Degeneres is my HERO. And I don't think I would have loved that movie as much if not for her. XD (*sits on Nemo plush that's half-on/half-off bed*)

But she gave fantastic advice, and you're giving fantastic advice in repeating it here.

I still stand by what I said, that your YA thing is great. And I'm not putting it down when I say that of course it could use some tightening. It's never going to be completely, 100% done, because that's a very sad place to be as an artist/author. If you can look at your work and say, "This is my magnum opus - the greatest thing I've ever done. It's perfect in absolutely every way." then you're done as a writer. There's no room left to grow and improve.

Now, if you're looking at something that's horridly flawed, and calling it your magnum opus, then it's more a mental problem than the end of your career. XD ('you' here as the you-of-the-general-public, not you specifically.)

But my first opinion (and I'm going to break out that honesty you said you liked in the MSFV contest) is that your chick lit doesn't quite measure up. I don't know what it's supposed to be measuring up to, but none of them really reached out and said, "READ MORE!" to me. Into the Dark did, is, and probably will, until you finally get it published, at which point I will happily screech out to the bookstore and tell everyone within earshot that I know the girl who wrote it. X3

I'm going to dig through some of my saved work, and see if there's anything worthwhile to post to my own blog, and I'm also very slowly making my way through the awesome comments you've left on other entries, and making OMFGHUGE replies to them.

The only thing that's making me wary of posting my own WIPs, is because they're first draft. Haven't even reread them to see if they work or not. I'm cringing at the thought of rereading them, actually, when I finally do go through and edit. But this is at war with a desire to share what I write with people, and get a little bit of feedback on it (especially now, before I've polished it to what I think is a gleaming shine.)

Lisa and Laura said...

Writing is HARD and it's a little terrifying because I read stuff we wrote only a couple months ago and cringe. Why is it always so embarrassing when we don't get it quite right? And the worst is when you read a really amazing book and just know that you'll never be quite that good. Hmm...frustrating, but I love it all the same and I'll never give up trying.

jessjordan said...

I hugely, massively, very-big-time HEART Ellen Degeneres. She's beautiful and funny and an amazing role model for girls/women. And she made that movie for me. No, she IS that movie for me. Without Dori, it would've have been anywhere near the adventure it turned out to be (which, essentially could spark an entire post about the importance of secondary characters ...).

I veryveryohsomuch appreciate your comment, and your honesty. Although I know you're still being nice, b/c the most honest answer would be, "Wow, those chick lit things suck!" :D

Seriously, though, I really felt like I hadn't found my voice until my most recent WIP. Perhaps that means I have the mental aptitude of a sixteen-year-old, or maybe I just relate to teen readers more. Whatever it is, I don't care, b/c it clicks. Even if I wasn't any good at it, I would still write YA, if for no one else than me.

As to your WIPs: POST THEM! Okay, I didn't mean to yell, I just got excited. I love to read the work of others, and the absolute best time is to get feedback on your writing is in its earlier stages. That way, if your audience says, "But why did she do xyz here?", you can address it, before you use xyz as the basis for plot abc and it becomes a big huge mess of sorts. Make sense? Probably not. Ah well.

I cringed in the severest of ways when i read through my old attempts posted above, as many of them had never been edited, even for typos. It's different for me than for you, though, b/c I have abandoned those with no intention of returning to them. I can see how it woould be nervewracking to post current WIPs that you feel aren't ready. It was horrifying to enter the SA contest, so I get it. But ... I did get a lot of really good feedback, so I'm glad I did it.

jessjordan said...

Lisa and Laura: Writing is SO hard! I don't think most people realize that when they get started. I know I didn't. When I was writing all of the above, I thought, "Wow! This is so easy! I am awesome!" Yeah. Not so much. I don't know why it's so embarrassing, but it really is. I haven't even shown friends or family most of this stuff. I do it here, under an anonymous guise, b/c I have to laugh at myself with SOMEone.

It's amazing how quickly you can learn and get better, though, if you just keep workinig at it. And if I had to gander, I'd imagine that Kate's adventures will get even better as you progress in your writing career.

I love the dedication of writers. The ones that stick with it--the ones that say, "Screw you, word salad on a page! I'm going to get better and show you!"--these are the true writers, imvho.

Omi said...

Word Salad needs something. Perhaps an icon. Maybe a banner. I don't know, but that was brilliant.
I have so many names... XDD Amber/Amy (real and nicknames) are, of course, my real-life names. Omi is a nickname based off of both Amy and a character from a much-beloved anime. Kori is my general internet handle, and what pretty much everyone calls me (it's to the point where, when I'm talking to myself, or about myself, *IRL* I say things like, "YES! KORI FOR THE WIN~!" or, "Kori likes this.") Omi or Kori are both fine, whichever you choose.

And funnily enough, I've never considered writing to be hard. I ought to post snippets of my more brilliant fanfiction (with names changed, so it's not 'copyrighted' in any way) because most of the time, when I'm writing, I'm telling myself, "this sucks, it's terrible, no one's ever going to like this!" and then I post it online, and leave it alone for a month or two (in one case, I left off writing fanfiction for two years.) and then reread, and absolutely amaze myself. *egotist* And even as long as I've been writing, (started much earlier than 2oo2) I still notice myself with the same issues that I noticed in Sorrow of Memory. Dialogue. I'm fantastic at it. I know I'm fantastic with it, because I reread the things my characters say, and I'm utterly wowed by myself. Even in Sorrow, old and crappy as it is, I can see the beginnings of my brilliant dialogue (at the end, between Anei and the other one, especially) but the actions and descriptions part doesn't measure up, and it still doesn't. I could fill books with dialogue, and never have the characters do more than shift in their seats.

And I've been desperate for 'beta readers' to read over what I write, and act as 'editors' - tell me what doesn't work, doesn't make sense, needs to be changed, etc, so that I don't get the whole thing done and then send it in, and have a real agent or editor look it over, and say, 'xyz totally ruined the whole thing for me' when I could have had it nipped in the bud, so to speak.

Another thing I'm going to point out, is, I'll never ask you something I'm not willing to answer myself. I'm not willing to blithely give out my rank and serial number via the internet, and I'd never ask someone for that info from them, but I am curious about things like what state (time zone, at the least) other people are in, and how old they are, mostly so I can get a feel for who I'm talking to and where. (I've got friends all over the world, something my stepmother doesn't quite understand, and she's therefore always 'encouraging' me to 'go out and make some real friends' instead of staying 'cooped up inside on the computer all the time.' She doesn't quite realise that I'd rather stay on the computer all day and talk to people from the UK and Germany and Japan and whathaveyou, rather than go out and have to deal with the idiots who live around here.)

Omi said...

Character flaws make it interesting. x3 I'll answer to anything, pretty much, as long as I know you're talking to me.

I never really edited my fanfiction... occasionally I'll go through my old stuff and rewrite it/add stuff in, but it's like... very occasionally. Like... once every three years or so. XD And I haven't gotten to that part of my novel writing yet. I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to it or dreading it. At the moment, editing and revising are just 'things I'm going to have to do' like writing query letters and researching more agents than just the ones whose blogs I follow.

Fanfiction is exactly what it sounds like. It's fiction written by fans. You've read Twilight, so I'll use that as an example. Obviously, Bella ends up with Edward in the end (or something like that) but lets say you didn't want her to, you wanted her to end up with Jasper. (I really had to stretch my brain to get that name. XD Is it Jaspar or Jasper? I'm gonna go with the 'E' cause it looks better.) So you write your own story, in which Bella scorns Edward, and makes Jasper fall in love with her instead. That's fanfiction. And there's MASSES of it all over the place. Fanfiction for live action TV shows (NCIS, CSI, Bones, etc) manga, anime (Naruto, Inu Yasha, Full Metal Alchemist... Weiss Kreuz is a personal favourite of mine) movies, books (Twilight and Harry Potter, which is another another favourite) - pretty much anything you can think of, there's fanfics for it. And they can get WILD. Slash pairings (guys with guys) femmeslash (girls with girls) threesomes, moresomes, general fics with no pairings, all sorts. Pretty much whatever tickles your fancy, you can find.

I'm pretty much always good with dialogue (in my own opinion). I never look at something I've written and say, "ugh, why did he/she/they SAY that?" (unless it's fanfiction and REALLY out of character) but I often look at it and think, "This could be more... descriptive. Okay, he cocked his head to the side. What else is he doing?" but I often think about that after I've written it. Or I don't think of it at all. And since you've suggested that, I'll write up a short little thing of nothing but dialogue and seat-shifting.

I'm sure there are places you could pay people to beta your work, but as far as I know, 'beta' itself is a fanfiction term, and it's basically just someone who volunteers to read over your work for free, and correct errors that they see. Basically, act as an editor for you. There are probably communities where you can ask people to volunteer to beta for you, or a lot of people have friends that do it for them. (the only few fics of mine that were beta'd were done so by a friend of mine.)

Omi said...

haha, it was too long. XD

and mine, since I wrangled yours out of you:
state: Virginia (by the coast), eastern time
age: 23 (in june. hush. close enough. XD)

That's what I've been trying to tell her. I've had three good friends "IRL" within the past five years who've completely backstabbed me, and utterly ruined my trust in them, and other people. Not to mention, I'm painfully shy, and not so hot with meeting new people. I can make small talk about things like the weather and how my day is going, but I don't really open up to people, not the way I do on the internet. When i'm online, I'm ME. When I'm with people in real life, I'm quiet, and unobtrusive, and basically try not to get noticed by anyone. (at least, not any more than superficially. I DO wear a bright orange sweater, and that makes people notice me no matter what, but it's generally in passing, as I'm walking through a store or whatever.)

I'm fairly nocturnal, and while I like to get outside and stretch my legs, I'm a homebody. I don't leave the house if I don't have to (as much as it pains the two 'real life' friends I DO have) and if I had my choice, I'd become completely nocturnal. The only thing I can't agree with you on is my computer. it sucks HARD, and I hate it. XD But the first thing I do upon finding a job is going to be 'buy myself a laptop' and then transfer everything over to it, and never touch the desktop I use again. It's not really 'mine', and it was old and full of my stepdad's stuff when I started using it. It's not that I don't appreciate being able to use other people's computers, but I've been using 'other people's computers' my whole life, and I'm really tired of it. I want one that's solely MINE, that has nothing but what I put on it, and is touched by no one else for any reason. But I have no shame about loving to be on the computer, either.

I'd rather sit on a computer all day, and have access to friends all over the world, dictionaries, informational websites, amusement sites, and pretty much anything I could possibly ask for, right there in front of me with just a few keystrokes between me and whatever I need, than sit staring at a television screen all day. Granted, when I do turn the TV on, it's mostly educational stuff, but I still get bored with sitting there... staring at a plastic box. At least on the internet, I'm using my brain, and my fingers, if nothing else.

Omi said...

reply to your reply:

This is going to come across as weird/creepy, but I absolutely love talking to you. I saw two replies to the entry within the same 'minute' time, and was like, "YAY! JESS REPLIED! 8D" I don't know if I've mentioned here or somewhere else, but the older I get, the more immature I find myself acting at times. If I ever do end up teaching, I vow to become 'that awesome teacher' that all the kids love because I don't just talk at them, I make the lessons fun. I remember that much from high school, about what made a good teacher even in a boring class. (My government class was like that. When I first found out I'd be required to take Gov't, I groaned and dragged my feet and hated it, but the teacher was AMAZING. Sometimes our class 'news discussions' would get so off topic, we'd end up talking about what we did to our barbie dolls as kids all class, and not get any work done that day.)

As for the blogging thing - I'm between jobs right now, and have nothing better to do with my time than find people to talk to, or things to talk about.

I tend to avoid the beginning of American Idol, because I absolutely can't stand all the audtitions, and people who think they're gods gift to the vocal world, and then Simon tells them the honest truth, and they break down and scream and cry and throw things... it just pisses me off to watch. XD But then I forget about remembering to watch it after the audition phase is over with, and just end up hearing about really great contestants in the news and whatnot (like Adam Whateverhisnameis). Even when I make a mental note to myself, like, "Okay, it's on Tuesday, I'll remember to watch it" that'll be a few days ahead (saturday or sunday) and by the time Tuesday rolls around, I've completely forgotten to watch. I used to keep up with it every week, when I was living with my ex and their family, because it was a nightly ritual to crowd into the living room and watch the shows, but since moving out, I don't turn the TV on at all for weeks on end.

I do feel like I'm taking things from other ideas/novels/movies - there's a scene in Eversong where she goes home, and is miserable and alone for a few weeks, and then suddenly everyone turns up at her house and they have a party - the inspiration for that came straight out of Labyrinth, with David Bowie, but by the time I actually get around to writing it, it'll be so much it's own thing that I don't think people will make that connection unless I point it out specifically - "Inspiration for such-n-such scene came from the movie "Labyrinth" etc."

Vicky being at the 'aimless drifter' part of her life is part of what I was aiming for in making her likable. So many people either are, or have been at that point in their own lives, and they're going to recognise a kindred spirit in her, and want to see her have a great time more than they would if she slayed dragons for a living.

You said it best: Music=Life. I couldn't agree more. And you're totally welcome about the reminder. It was Mami who first reminded me again in the first place. I love all types of music, too. The only things I don't actively seek out are rap and jazz/blues. I live for classical, and foreign, and some pop is awesome, and rock, and I like old music (Frank Sinatra, etc) and 80s music (Queen, Poison, Blondie, etc.)

Omi said...

When I seek out work, I specifically look for places that will cater to my schedule. I could NOT get up at four in the morning every day, no matter how much I loved the job, and I'd ideally love like... night stocker, or after-hours janitor or something, so I can work from six until midnight, and have the rest of my day/night to myself, while still avoiding the masses. I'd love an office job, but I haven't the foggiest idea how to go about getting one.

I've always known that some scents trigger memories, or thoughts, and I'm always going on about wanting a 'vanilla' scented perfume, so that whenever my friends smell vanilla, they think of me, but I never had it so clearly defined as one day when I was at Subway. Someone came in smelling of sun screen, and I got a good whiff of it suddenly, and was very powerfully reminded of my childhood spent at the beach and Busch Gardens (Williamsburg).

I don't think I've ever had writer's BLOCK... I just use that as an excuse for having zero motivation to write. I'm almost never without INSPIRATION. It's like being tied to a chair; I WANT to stand up, but I can't.

"...none of your ideas suck..." made me grin. That's a real relief, in and of itself. And I'm glad about you offering to be honest about it. I'd like to think I can take criticism, but it very rarely happens. Most of the time criticism for my fanfics is powered by someone nitpicking ("the 'bed thingy' is called an 'examination table.') without consideration for characterisation (-- I know it's an examination table, but I may be writing a character who doesn't--) or morally outraged ("Cancer is NO EXCUSE for romance like that it totally makes fun of such a serious situation blah blah blah") My take on it - everyone dies, so have a good time before you go.

The character thing from the beginning is great, too, because I don't know if I've ever had that problem yet (seeing the same character in an utterly different way than my reader) but it'd be something I'd want cleared up if it ever happened. And you're constantly saying things that make me smile (like Riley's description in situ and my description of him outside the story matching up) so I'm also looking forward to being able to say awesome things about what you're doing. It's good to share my ego around sometimes, otherwise it gets too big for my head.