Friday, November 9, 2007

Ask Trish Almost Anything Pt2

Dear Trish

I don't have any teenagers or pets to drive me insane, but.. well, it is a bit embarrassing really.I have a strange desire to talk about people who only live inside my head. I write what they say down, and, well, imagine them talking to each other. Inside my head.There. It is now out in the open. I feel a lot better.Is there any hope for me?The medication does not seem to be working...

I also wonder how to keep the motivation up when writing and editing a specific story. Are speed and focused activity in that specific world the answer? Or do you just have to accept that there will come a point where you simply do not want to open that Word doc one more time without groaning? You can see I need help aunty Trish. :-)


Dear Ray-Anne,

I can indeed see that you need help!!! Though I should possibly first up say CONGRATS for the lack of teenagers in your life. This will help more with your overall sense of sanity than pretty much ANYTHING else possibly could...One need only look at poor Natasha to understand this...

Now imaginary friends are only really a problem at the point where they begin to do things like eat your chocolate or avoid their share of the housework. Up until that point many's a rational and meaningful conversation can be had with them. And if they're good-looking then all the better! Though I would advise you not have the conversations out loud with them while in public places like the supermarket or the bus stop and especially not when in the company of anyone from the medical profession... unless you have a real love of jackets that button up at the back and nice padded wallpaper that is...
Also we should probably make sure that you aren't actually communicating with the dead. Do you *see* dead people? Or, like the majority of us just the usual levels of *stupid people*? Once you're quite sure this isn't the case then it might be time to look for other clues:

a/ Do you find that these people normally arrive in you head after you ask yourself 'what if' about something or other?

b/ Are you *naturally inquisitive* when it comes to what other people are talking about in places you go to and you then find these imaginary friends *telling you*?

c/ Have you been prone to *crushes* and find your imaginary friends telling you the story of how all those crushes then become *happily ever afters*?

d/ Do your imaginary friends often act as *matchmakers* when they see pictures of people?

e/ Do your imaginary friends often argue about the endings of movies or books and supply you with alternatives?

f/ ALL or the MAJORITY of the above?

In this case it might be advisable to find an outlet for these imaginary friends before it becomes so crowded in your head you forget the simple things - like how to open a carton of milk or where your car keys were or that you put something on the cooker three hours ago... Writing down what they say is certainly a step in the right direction! And it might help to know that this is a much more common problem that you might think. Maybe a help or support group or by visiting blogs you may find the support you need. In fact, this is the very month to seek such help with other afflictees around the world supporting each other in a thing called NaNoWriMo - which could possibly stand for National-non-existant-friends-words-written-down-month... or something like that...

Now as to motivation when writing - this can be a tough one - especially without a firm deadline or the guilt associated with knowing you can mess up your lovely editors life for months by constantly delivering books late. (We Irish do *guilt* terribly well btw.) It really depends on your personality *quirks* so lets have a look at a few examples and what solutions might work best for them shall we???

The Guilty Party:

This one works just as well away from the guilt associated with letting editors and schedules down as it does with it... You'll know if this is you because you'll be the kind of person who considers everything from Global Warming to their cats recent hairball problem as being ALL THEIR FAULT.

And you can USE this to help with your motivation! How can you possibly leave those two people where you left them??? They were almost ready to kiss or they'd just had a misunderstanding or they were just about to reveal something that might make all the difference or - HORROR OF ALL HORRORS - you left them mid-horizontal-mambo!!! How can you leave them like that? Suspended in time! Angst ridden! Upset or angry or just plain old EXHAUSTED by now!!!??? Don't you CARE??? Those POOR PEOPLE! HOW COULD YOU!!!
As you can see guilt works perfectly in this situation...

Then we have The Competitive Nature:

Are you the kind of person who works best with a challenge - who likes to push themselves - who when they're told they can't possibly do something goes straight out to prove yes they flipping well CAN??? You're likely to be one of those people who won't settle for the trolley with the wonky wheel at the supermarket cos that wonky wheel might hold you back in the race to get to the check-out before everyone else... you might be the kind of person who feigns an injury rather than allowing their five year old to win a race... you may be one of those folks who waits til everyone else puts their christmas decorations up so you can make yours BETTER even if your house ends up looking like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation gone nuclear...

Wellll then you can use this. If you don't have a writing buddy who can enter into a word-count war with you then do it secretly! Yes - find some poor unsuspecting writers blog where they have a word-counter and make sure you make your own wordcounter go up FASTER than theirs - bwahahahahaha!!! And if you don't quite have that evil a streak then just simply PUTTING a wordcounter on your own blog can make you competitive about seeing it go up (therefore competing with yourself). Add a touch of paranoia (like I'm about to- YOU'RE WELCOME BTW) by thinking someone else might have chosen YOUR wordcounter to BEAT on a daily basis - et VOILA!!!

And there's always entering contests... now THAT should help with your competition needs... (in fact if you go to my links page on the website you might find a couple...)

The Pat-On-The-Back-Type:

This is the kind of person who will get soul deep satisfaction from a days cleaning (this ISN'T me I should point out) They'll find nothing better in life than an organized cupboard or an alphabeticized filing system or colour coding or... well they're all about the REWARD at the end of the hard work (and sooooooo not on the same planet as me if they do even two of the above...though I do like a good list and some colour coding as much as the next gal...)

So in this case you have to learn how to BRIBE YOURSELF. Chocolate is obviously useless at this point 'cos you'll have been using it as your staple diet while writing... wine... same... erm... Maybe a DVD you've been waiting forever on or a manicure or some nice new wonder cleaning product for your other addiction. Whatever floats your boat. And it can be a little reward for every so many words - you get to choose. It's either that or you bribe another member of your family to pat you on the back every time you add 2k onto your wordcount. I can recommend the *books you'd love to read* bribe for the end... ;) I have several EXCELLENT titles I can recommend in fact...
The Safety In Numbers Type:

This is where you can combine all three personality needs... Guilt, Competition and Rewards... At the SAME TIME.

By joining a group of like minded people online you have a nice set of *invisible* friends to go with the invisible people talking in your head. And there's a very good chance these people will have invisible friends of their own too!!! SCORE. You can feel guilty if you let the group down by not keeping up with your writing, you can compete with them to keep your word count up and you can get lots of praise and cyber pats on the back when you do well. What a RESULT!!! So by trying the boards at eharlequin or Romance Divas you can meet lots of these new friends and maybe even set up a Yahoo Loop where you can talk to each other about any stumbling blocks you hit.. (again you can find links to some of these places on the Links page of my Website...)

For moi it's all about the guilt in the final stages. I don't want to mess up my lovely editors schedule, I don't want her to have to find something else to fill a slot - thereby quite possibly putting someone else under pressure - and I don't want to let down the lovely, lovely, lovely readers who have been good enough to go out and buy my books up til now!!! That's the first thing. The second is the guilt for the characters; they become so real for me that I just can't leave them without the ending they deserve. I like nothing better than when the final edit is done and I read through it and think 'I can do no more'... mind you this feeling usually only lasts until the revision notes come back and I get that head on the desk moment where I wonder why in HECK I couldn't have seen what was missing the way my lovely ed did!!! Oh and lastly, if I'm brutally honest, being paid is a great incentive - especially now I'm writing full time and have no other source of income... ;)

But before that happened - waaayyyyyy back in the anals of time before I had even thought of SENDING IN a partial - I wrote for me and for my friends. I did it because I enjoyed telling the story the way I saw it in my head and I FINISHED IT because I had friends reading it and they badgered me for the next chapter and the one after that and the one after that and the one after that until it was done. I even had one who prompted me to add the *twist* of flashbacks by saying she'd love to have known more about their relationship before the story started. Without that the story wouldn't have had the depth it did in the end I think. That book became The Bridal Bet... and the rest, as they say, is history...

So a combination of things have worked for me in the past and now Ray-Anne... Hope helps...

More answers to ASK TRISH ALMOST ANYTHING coming your way... and you can keep 'em coming as much as you like ;)


Ray-Anne said...

Wow. Thank you Aunty Trish. I had not expected such a full and detailed answer.

Yes to all questions a to f.

Now I know how to avoid becoming one of those charming but eccentric old ladies who DO have a conversation with themselves in supermarkets.
And so can my imaginary friends.

I shall cogitate on the motivational options over the weekend but there is plenty for me to go on.
Re: guilt. Did I mention that I am mostly Irish?
I suspect my characters will win the many arguments about being left hanging mid-story.
As for being competitive? Moi? The very idea!

Oh. And here they are again, talking away. Now, stop that or Get a Room while I take notes!

Take care all, and thanks again, Ray-Anne

Trish said...

You're MOST WELCOME Ray-Anne - yes indeedy spot the author without a book to write.... ;)

Mostly Irish is as near Irish as bedamned!!! USE THAT GUILT.

And while in the house let those little friends talk and talk and talk and...

Hang on? Do I hear a voice????