Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt1


Dear Trish

My teenagers ARE driving me insane, I'm in love with ... Richard Armitage actually and I have a horrible addiction to YouTube.

Also would love to know how you get the words down when you're on a tight tight deadline. Doesn't your brain ever go to mush in pure panic?
Natasha

Dear Natasha,

I'm so glad you got in touch when you did. As it's best to deal with some of these addictions before they become PROBLEMS. If you'll allow me I shall work through each of your issues one at a time with some helpful hints that might help make your life much happier. Though obviously simply knowing me should help with that some...
Oh my. Teenagers can be so testing of one's patience, can't they? And there are days when it's heartbreaking to watch all the years you spent training them to do things like walk and talk go down the drain to be replaced by the dragging of feet and the incessant mumbling. The only upside these days seems to be that it's not limited just to the teenage years - these symptoms can set in much much earlier which should hopefully mean by the time they hit sixteen or seventeen they'll be ready to become productive members of your household...And to help with this I suggest a little game I like to call... MILITARY SCHOOL....
Oh yes. Military School. This is a wonderful way of educating teenagers, especially when it comes to the walking and talking they've been having so much dificulty with. Here in Military School they can practise walking FOR HOURS on end until they get it right - and they're encouraged to shout 'YESSIR' and 'NOSIR' until they can get the hang of the english language again. It's wonderful.
And if there's not a Military School close to you then why not set up one of your own in the house? The trick is to keep it spartan and to practise your Sgt. Major voice as much as possible beforehand. Children should be given ABSOLUTELY NO LUXURIES and should have duties that if not fulfilled are punishable by 50 press ups in the rain and mud (these can of course be monitored from inside the warmth of your house from a window...) Up at 5am for a five mile run (you or your partner can of course drive this while yelling instructions from the window that are answered with the YESSIR or NOSIR so they're practising speech too) and in bed by 8.30 after a ten mile run and having cleaned the floors with toothbrushes should help too. Yes - Military School - fun for all the family and it's EDUCATIONAL TOO.

Remember: If you can't get your teenagers to hate you then they might never leave home...

Now Richard Armitage. I have heard that this addiction is increasing in numbers on an almost daily basis. It is somewhat worrying. I think there are several stages of the addiction and I'm just going to walk through them to check what stage you are at so we can decide if you're eligible for therapy or so far gone that you might be best to buy the T-Shirt so that people are warned you're coming... This is best for both stalker and stalkee I feel...

1/ See him in passing on TV and think 'ooohhh he's nice'

2/ Make a point of ordering all dvd's he's in because he's rather yummy and you're interested in his 'body of work'

3/ You have gone through the TV guide with a highlighter pen and have rescheduled your work/family life/socializing in order to make sure you see him in everything he's in even while you tape it at the same time (taping AND watching at the same time are a very common sign of approaching addiction)

4/ You've done ALL of the above and are now spending at least an hour a day trawling the internet for new pics and details of upcoming work and latest rumours and are IM'ing people who don't actually care to pass on the information you've found because its 'important they know' and they might be single and could marry him for you so he can come round your place for dinner...

5/ You have done ALL OF THE ABOVE, named your friends children with him, know the weather report for where's he's currently filming and have joined what could almost be considered an underground movement of women (who may one day invade the country) just so you can read what they're learned about him while not sharing anything you've found out in case anyone thinks you're being a bit of a fan-girlie.

Really, I think as far as '3' can be considered *research* for a writer, but anything after that is both procrastination and frankly a little worrying... Maybe you need to look at what it is about Richard you find so fascinating. If you've not *cast* him as one of your heros yet then maybe you should so you can work through this *fantasy life* in a productive way that could get you PAID for the effort. Or perhaps you need to get your husband to dress in either Victorian Gentleman clothes or leather for an evening... And remember too that by focussing your stalking energies on several dozen actors/singers etc you are not only spreading the love, but lessening the addiction for ONE IN PARTICULAR... which is a very good way of putting the police and mental health authorities off the scent...

Youtube however is a much larger problem. And is now, I believe, more problematic than either coffee, wine, chocolate or indeed valium for many writers as the approaching torture of deadline or finishing a book approaches. It is one YOU MUST CONTROL before it takes over your life and you cannot travel ANYWHERE without a means of attaching yourself intraveniously to the internet to watch medievel men doing computer instruction in a language you cannot speak or twenty five million of your fellow RA fans with the music videos they have made using ALL THE SAME CLIPS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Get an egg timer or an alarm clock and LIMIT YOUR TIME with this spawn-of-satan-site. Pin this Youtube Downtime pic (above) to your monitor to try and convince yourself there's NOTHING THERE if you go look. Which lets face it isn't too much of a stretch for the imagination most of the time...

If all else fails then Youtube have kindly created another OFF SWITCH for you to use on your computer. These are very reasonably priced I'm informed and it is well worth considering investing in one cos I believe it might be useful on the teenagers as well...

Now as to the GETTING THE WORDS DOWN ON A TIGHT DEADLINE I'm rather afraid, that like successful weight loss, it involves a certain amount of pain and sacrifice. As I've proved many times I'm unable to apply this discipline to the latter it has become somewhat of a requirement I apply myself to the former.

The biggest problem for ALL WRITERS when trying to just finish the damn book is the disease of SELF EDITING. And this is almost worse when you have plenty of time to work on a manuscript than it is when you're pinned down to a schedule. In order to write the next scene IT IS NOT necessary to re-read every single word of every single chapter you have done so far - adding in ONE WORD here and there. ONLY when you are completely and utterly stumped is it necessary to do this. Reading the last chapter at most should be enough to continue from where you left off. And by the time you get to the last third of the book you will probably know your characters well enough to be able to go back and fix whatever might have been wrong at the beginning...

Also you run the risk of getting to the stage where you've read the flipping thing so many times you're not even seeing it anymore. Your MIND will fill in blanks where you're SURE you MUST have put the words but MAYBE DIDN'T. And if there's one thing that reading through copy edits has taught me it's that!!! I tell friends to imagine you read a book you love... you loved it you'll maybe read it again... but as a writer we can read a manuscript of a story we love anywhere up to 20 or 30 times BACK-TO-BACK. And THAT my friends becomes a BLUR after a while. So leave the damn thing alone and TELL THE STORY FIRST.

I do several things:

a/ I NEVER leave myself with a blank page to come back to - no matter how tired I am I will have at the very very least a half a page of a new scene so I can jump straight in when I re-open the file...

b/ I nearly ALWAYS leave the preceding scene with something said or done in one characters POV that will have a reaction in the OTHER characters POV in the next chapter. This has a roll-on effect and also hopefully helps with the page turning quality of it when someone is reading it. So, say the hero finishes the scene telling the heroine she's 'too weak to cope and that's why she needs him' then in the next scene I'd start with the heroine either ranting to a friend 'how dare he and who does he think he is' or with her proving him wrong while thinking 'how dare he and who does he think he is'. Action and reaction...

c/ I give myself permission to write a MESSY FIRST DRAFT. This kinda falls under the self editing but it means I'll allow myself to write scenes I might never keep in order to get me through a slump - that old adage of CAN'T EDIT A BLANK PAGE. And when I go back to edit if it hasn't moved the story along or revealed something about my characters I SIT ON THE DELETE KEY. Which is fine, cos it'll have done it's job by letting me write scenes later on I might never have got to if I'd just wallowed in the pit of dark despair...

d/ Is probably gonna contradict a/ a little but bear with me. I write scene by scene - no matter how long that scene may be. And I do it WITHOUT checking my wordcount until the scene is DONE. It's AMAZING how fast your wordcount will go up if you just blank everything else out and allow yourself to TELL THE STORY. Don't worry about ANYTHING ELSE just tell it as if you're seeing it on a movie screen or reporting back to someone else what you saw. Then when it's finished I do a/ and make sure I have somewhere to start next time - make sense???

So yes Natasha, my brain does turn to mush - but I force it to work. I'm bloody minded that way ;) Hope all my sterling advice helps no end...

AND REMEMBER FOLKS you can keep adding your ASK TRISH ALMOST ANYTHING questions to the end of the last post and I'll work my way through them... More answers tomorrow...

And feel free to ask questions day by day too if you like ;) Still can't believe this actually WORKED...

Ooooh and AUTUMN is now called The Millionaire's Proposal and you can find an excerpt on my Website by clicking on the new title...

17 comments:

Natasha said...

LOL That's just sooooooooo helpful. I shall, of course, set up a military school forthwith - and naturally give you all the credit. That way when you next come to stay they'll be able to thank you properly.

My Richard Armitage obsession is nothing to some of yours so I remain in denial. May I just suggest that anyone reading this ought to join the Armitage Army immediately and check out some marvellous photos gathered together by the ladies of C19.

And YouTube. LOL. Hang on I'll be back!

Natasha said...

Ah here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFAWR6hzZek

I must say you're most ungrateful. I find these marvellous ones for you - particularly apt since you spent so long explaining how I set up a blog in the first place.

And how about:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXXm696UbKY

Natasha said...

Oh and this is quite nice if I'm feeling jaded:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brz8jjXuKyg

Oh and:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9kY0zJEL-Q

and:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx9ZHExRAKA

Trish said...

Well it's obvious I've FAILED HERE...

Can I suggest Google Alerts for Richard??? Not that I'd know about those of course...

AND GET OFF YOUTUBE

Natasha said...

lol Don't you love the one of the baby laughing ....?

Natasha said...

Also there's a problem with google alerts for Richard - you end up with loads of stuff about the Deputy Secretary of State which isn't quite what one is looking for.

Trish said...

Oooohhhh I'm sure you PERSEVERE with them... I have a sixth sense...

And how SAD is it you got all those blasted Youtibe links THAT FAST??? Huh huh huh???

Go set up the Military School.

Kate Walker said...

Dear Trish I wonder if you can help me. I have a friend with whom I would like to keep in touch. I keep sending emails etc but I rarely if ever hear from her. Do you have any suggestions for getting her to at least say Hi?? I know some people would say give up on her but really she's quite nice - if a little crazy. And I stole the name of her horse for my latest book so I reckon I owe her something.

love

Kate

PS thanks for the advice on the RRAVS - Repetitive Richard Armitage Viewing Syndrome - it's a prblem I suffer from myself

Ray-Anne said...

Well there goes 20 mins of my life I wil not get back - BAD NATASHA. BAD. [Have to love N and S best]
Swoon.

Sue said...

Dear Trish,

I would be eternally grateful if you could advise me on a couple of things:

1. How can I stop 'real' life eating away my energy that I have stock-piled for creative endeavours aka writing?

2. I now write collaboratively with Gray (supposed to prevent prob no 1 from taking all creative energy from wip). This arrangment is brilliant but I have one problem that I just can't solve - how on earth can I get through to him that his squashed croissant and orange juice in the opening chapter has to go?

Love,
Sue -- who is busy trying to avoid the lure of Natasha's temptation to visit YouTube again...

Anonymous said...

Richard Armitage and North & South -- I can say I have extensively reviewed and written about Richard's body (of work), and that he measures up to any level of obsession or interest a gal might have! Both The Armitage Army and C19 provide endless food for the Richard Armitage Diet, too, and I highly recommend it!

Leonardswench

Trish said...

WELCOME Leonardswench!

Yes I'd heard very god things about those places!!! Perhaps Natasha would fit in there??? I'm more and more of an expert of RA every day but am afraid it's a little by default ;)

Tho I do have North & South on DVD and LOVE IT... I think I'm still hovering somewhere between stage 1 and stage 2...

Is RRAVS quite common???

Anonymous said...

"Is RRAVS quite common???"

As a member of the Armitage Army and C19, I'd have to say not only is it common, it's an epidemic. But one we don't want to cure!

-Librarygirl

Anonymous said...

Hi Trish,
After finding your blog it has been carefully studied by many of us in the underground army of women devoted to RA. I don't think any one has seriously considered seeking a cure for RRAVS. We even learned some of us had SADS (Severe Armitage Deprivation Syndrome). Most of us have long since passed Stage 5 and are planning a bulk order of the T shirt.

The reasons intelligent and discerning women across the world are being afflicted by these RA syndromes are too numerous to mention here. Infiltration is more our style than invasion. The world has been warned.

Yellow Rose

Natasha said...

Isn't it wonderful when an army is on maneouvres!

Anonymous said...

Oh, being a member of c19 and AA is so much more than fan-girling!

ania

pomo housewife said...

omg that was so funny. I really needed that - it's been a long and un-nice day. So a good laugh and a cute bloke... just what the doctor ordered.

Shall I admit that after spotting the pic on pinkhearts, I spent a good half-hour checking out screenshots from Robin Hood? Nah. Erm. It was research. I think my hero needs lace-up breeches like those. Truly.