I’m looking for some ideas of things someone would do to wash/clean/disinfect their hands if they don’t have those little bottles of waterless hand cleaner stuff.
Wash them with a certain kind of soap? Hot soapy water for a long time? Weak bleach solution? (Yes I know bleach is highly toxic, etc, etc. I’m just looking for ideas….no matter how extreme.)
And yes, this is for fiction, not real life. Thanks.
Yesterday I wrote about the confusion I was having with my current WIP, wondering if it was even the book I was supposed to be writing. I could hear my MC talking to me but when I tried to put it into the book I THOUGHT it belonged in, nothing fit. I thought I was working on another verse novel, MTLB. I had a few poems, an idea of where it was going but the more I heard the MC talk the less he fit into MTLB. But doggone if I didn’t keep trying to jam him in there.
I sat myself down and had a little talk about form and function and all the various WIP I have. I was so fed up that I thought about working on a picture book even though I promised my agent I’d commit to novels for a while. Funny thing was, as I reread all the bits and pieces of unfinished stories I started to see a bit of a pattern. Many of them had one really great scene, a few pieces of dynamite dialog, or an image in words that showed exactly what I wanted to show. One them had a perfect title. (I love titles and can’t work on a book until I have the title.) They all featured a boy MC who was a big brother. Yet each of these bits and pieces were in different stories. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the excitement that got me started fizzled without a plot (a common occurrence for me) or perhaps something else grabbed a tighter hold of me and begged to be written. I think a lot of these are stories that just didn’t work, won’t work, but I was afraid to let them go. They had “pretty pieces” in them and I wanted to save all the pretty pieces until I could fix the story to go with them. And I’m sure I was thinking that if I had 5 unfinished picture books with some good parts in them, with revision I could have 5 new picture books. I was thinking quantity, not quality, which is a bad idea with writing. I know better. I know that’s not the way I work. I know I’m an instinctive writer who needs to trust herself to let go and hold on according to some invisible inner guide.
Annie Dillard says, “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.”
It may not have been what Dillard meant but I had the feeling a few of those pieces still spoke to me and still belonged somewhere, just not spread out across 5 picture books that had no future. With some cut and pasting, I yanked the pretty pieces from the gaudy frames of poorly written stories. And as I reread them all I got that little electrical charge of adrenalin, you know the one, your personal geiger counter as Stephen King calls it. There was a voice here. Someone worth listening to. Someone who needed me.
For a few minutes, I confess, I contemplated trying to shove the pieces into the verse novel even though I knew they wouldn’t fit. (Yep, sometimes I’m a slow learner.) Then I got to the title I had saved, TMT. I remembered when I first found the title. I remembered knowing that I would use the title. I remember being sure it would be a picture book.
That was about the time that Frankie tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, that’s me! I’m TMT.” And it hit me, yes, it was time to tell Frankie’s story but MTLB wasn’t Frankie’s story, TMT was.
Nancy Werlin says, “When I write a thing, I write it with a ferocious trust in the unknown stuff that lurks somewhere in my mind.“
Keeping that trust in mind I looked at my saved scraps again, only this time through Frankie’s eyes, and the picture became a little clearer and his voice a little louder. (He even told me about the dog and the little girl.) So this is it. I will put aside MTLB and work on TMT and try to help Frankie’s voice be heard. Most of all I will trust that the rest of the story is hiding in my subconscious and will be there when I need it most.
I worked late, again, which meant I was driving home later than usual, which means traffic. While I drove I let my mind wander, knowing that I needed some good thinking time to figure out what is going on with MTLB (my WIP). I’m trying to figure out where a good thinking place would be because other than the drives through the backroads on the way to Santa Cruz, I’m fresh out of thinking spots. The doctor told me no walking the dog until my knee heals. I don’t think my husband, as supportive as he is, would agree to just drive back and forth through the woods for a few hours every night so I could think. But this book is new. It needs lots of thinking time. Traffic got worse. Cars slowed down. Slower still. I inched along waiting to merge into the metering lane which would merge into another metering lane and then it happened. One idea popped into my head. Then another. I couldn’t reach for a pen, not in that traffic. I couldn’t reach my phone to call home and leave a message for myself (yes, I do this sometimes if I’m afraid I might forget). So I started repeating the few lines to myself over and over again, like I wanted to remember them for a play. I didn’t want to forget a single word.
Frankie (my MC) tells me this is VERY IMPORTANT STUFF. I mutter to myself. I merge. I keep muttering. Merge again. Add a couple more sentences. Mutter louder. Harder to remember them all now. I never was any good in drama class. 4 lane freeway, at last. I drive faster. Frankie talks faster, like he’s afraid he won’t have enough time to get it all out. I accidentally hit my horn and tick off the guy in the white truck next to me. My heart is beating like crazy so I know this is good. I can’t wait to get home and write. I can see the entire scene unfolding and Frankie is screaming “no no no” in my ear. I miss my turnoff so I have to get off at the next exit and make a U-turn. Frankie is still yammering at me but I don’t want to tell him to slow down because he might run away again. He does that a lot. Finally I pull into the driveway and shoo the squirrels out of my way as I race into the house, throw open the back door for the dog and grab a pen and my tablet.
As fast as I can I write it all down. Every single word. I reread it once then twice. Suddenly I’m the one screaming “no no no” in my own head because Frankie is nowhere around and he left out a few important pieces of information.
Was it the little girl or the dog?