It has been a great writing week here in Southern California. I was finally able to return to writing on my work-in-progress The Valley of Fear, which is the third in the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson mystery series. I made it my goal to complete Chapter Three, and it was rough! The book had been waiting so long while I rewrote and edited and re-edited Till Darkness Comes (my lesbian thriller) that I’d forgotten how to pick it up again. When I sat down to the computer to work on it (in Scrivener), I re-read it, edited the first two and a half chapters, and then …. crickets. Not one word would come.
I got up, got a pen and paper and went to the dining room table. I did a mind map until one of the circles spoke to me, and bingo. I was able to start writing. I did the same the next day and the next, and the chapter is finished. Now I’m at work on Chapter Four, same technique.
And after I write, I feel so good! Here’s why:
- Describing a crime scene makes me picture the set in great detail.
- Describing a murder give me vicarious feelings on behalf of my characters: fear, excitement, revenge, satisfaction, and sometimes I’m also grossed out.
- I learn something new every time. And sometimes what I learn brings personal growth.
Let me explain the last one. My entire life I carried around two stories from my childhood in which I saw myself as the victim. Then I used both stories in a novel. In writing them I saw things differently. Now I see I was the bully in the story. What a shock. A tiny bully, but the perpetrator nevertheless.
I was lucky I didn’t spend my childhood in the girls’ equivalent of Boys Town. (Believe me, my mom threatened to send me away plenty of times. For no reason I could see at the time. Now I wonder, did she know me better than I thought?)